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It is hard to believe, standing in Eureka Mine, that all of the buildings, shafts and mill were the handiwork of just one man, Jean-Pierre “Pete” Aguereberry, who lived here in the first half of the 20th century. Abandoned after his death in 1945, the mine has been buffeted by the elements ever since. However, traces remain, including his surprisingly well-preserved home, with the refrigerator and stove still standing in the kitchen. Look for the rusted-out shell of his beloved car. Get an eerie inside perspective of the reality of the mining experience and imagine living here, far away from everything.
Walk to Eureka Mine from the neighboring ghost town of Harrisburg, on the other side of the ridge. It was once a much bigger community started by Aguereberry’s former business partner. Peek into the mineshafts and listen for the sounds of the big-eared bats that hibernate here in the winter.
In summer, when the shafts are open, bring flashlights and venture in as Aguereberry did every day until the end of his life, looking for the telltale gleam of gold in the rock.
Down the hill from the mineshaft is Aguereberry’s old homestead, made up of his two-room house, still pleasantly painted in shades of mint and white, and a guest cottage. Imagine him waking up every morning and preparing his breakfast on the gas stove before heading underground in search of gold. He eventually found enough pieces of the precious metal to earn an estimated $175,000. Look at the rusting equipment scattered all around and the demolished old car, a symbol of the solitary miner’s only connection to the outside world for years.
Eureka Mine is close to the center of Death Valley National Park on the road to Aguereberry Point. Drive here in 40 minutes from Stovepipe Wells or in 70 minutes from the entrance to the park. Parking is available nearby.
You can visit the camp year round; however, the mine shafts themselves are closed during the winter. Pick up a brochure from the information office of the park to supplement the limited historical signage.
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