NSS SW Summer Regional 2019

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NSS SW Summer Regional 2019

Gate to Galena King Mine

Location Tajique New Mexico
Author Lee Ann Dean
Date May 21, 2019

As part of the NSS SW Summer Regional meeting in Tajique on the weekend of May 31st, 2019 hosted by Mike and Kathi Mansur, Robin and I joined a group of cavers touring Galena King Mine. The visit was hosted by a representative of Friends of Galena King Mine, Matt Thompson. Trip leader was Scott Christenson and the party consisted of six other members of the SW regional.

A highlight prior to the trip was being escorted through Kirtland AFB where members parked at the AFB golf course and consolidated into two high clearance vehicles for the drive to the base of the Manzano Mountains where we hiked an increasingly steep trail to the entrance of the lower “adit” of the mine.

The name Galena King Mine is misleading as while galena is present, it was actually a working fluorite mine in production until 1914. Actual fluorite samples inside the mine are a deep blue to dark purple color. Minerals exposed to the sun turn white to clear resembling quartz in about two weeks. Early mining was hand chiseled through granite to reach and follow seems of fluorite ranging from 5 inches to 5 feet in thickness. The official closure of the mine exposed it to illegal scavenging and extreme vandalism perpetrated by rock hounds and mineral collectors. In more recent times the Friends of Galina King (FoGK) have installed impressive barriers and gates plus improved shoring where 100 year old timbers have begun to rot. They have also installed ladders and a bridge to allow safe transit through passages enabling visitors to cross deep pits. At the entrance to both adits are large piles of granite rubble and a series of sorting piles where fluorite was hand sorted to extract the fluorite to be carried down the mountain by both mules and a chute system to the road below. No chemical processes were using in separating the ore thus no possibility of future environmental hazards.

The mine was actually purchased by Max Evans in the ‘60ies to protect it from closure or destruction. FoGK share that passion in hopes to allow future generations to share our experience. The aim of FoGK and Max are to transfer ownership to a university, Indian tribe, or other group whom can insure the mine will be protected, remain open and protected for future generations. I am grateful to have met new, passionate cavers and FoGK whom appreciate the beauty and grandeur of our amazing earth and work tirelessly.