The Rattlesnake Mountain really lives up to its name. We explored in early autumn and came across FOUR rattlesnakes in under an hour at NIGHT! Pretty darn scary! If you head out here I would not bring dogs and be very aware of your surroundings. This whole area was once inhabited by the Kumeyaay people. There are mortars and metates which can also be found in this region.
In the springtime, this area becomes a rainbow of color. You can spot California poppies, lupines, owl’s clover, popcorn flower, phacelia, wild morning glories, ground pink, and wishbone bush.
In this area we found an old cistern that appears to have been built sometime in the late 50's/early 60's going by aerial photos, an old mining prospect and a stone dam. In the late 1800's a prospector found gold in this region creating a small gold-rush flurry.
Here is an old newspaper article from March 4th, 1896:
"With the expenditure of time and energy in a diligent search, there seems to be good grounds for believing that there may be deposits of gold in our adjacent range of bills that might well pay for development. A dozen or two assays of specimens taken from different points have with but few exception resulted in a showing of gold ranging from a fraction of a dollar to between four and five dollars per ton.
It would seem reasonable to conclude that where nearly every specimen of rock, varying in character, and obtained a different points, has contained more than traces of gold, it is quite possible that valuable mines right at our back doors may be waiting to deliver up their weather to our town's prospective millionaires"
There are several different theories floating around by some locals:
"When I was in my early teens we used to hike back in there and shoot our 22s . There was a lot of broken arrow heads and stone flakes, also pottery shards. The rock dam may have been local Indians . We use to goof around in those caves."
"I think the dam was built to support the defunct mining operation. I don't think it was an Indian-built dam. There's metal pipes and drainage built into it."
"Thats the cave my brother lived in. He is a vietnam veteran, who is also a hillbilly. In the 1990's he was homeless after a failed marriage, so he packed up what he had left and went up there. He found that cave and it became his home for close to a year."
After talking to the local historical society, they do not believe that the wall was built by the Kumeyaay because it is a different design. It appears that it most likely was built around the same time that the mine was used.
That's an approximate 8 ft. drop below. This was actually remarkably sturdy:
We got a late start to this trip so unfortunately the majority of the hike was at night. I will return one day to get better daytime shots. I hear in the spring this canyon is filled with beautiful poppies so maybe I will return then!
The first thing we found was an old cistern:
After a little night digging we came across one of two alleged mining prospects. We did not find the second mine we were looking for as it was pitch black. Next time!
As you can see, people are already in the process of destroying history:
The old stone dam:
Yet another one:
And another one! I was told this is a rarely seen red diamond rattler:
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Anza Borrego Desert
Cuyamaca State Park