Cinnabar Mines, Crook County OR

The Cinnabar Mines of the Ochoco’s mined just that; Cinnabar, which is what mercury is extracted from. These mines have since been abandoned and their remains are scattered throughout the forest surrounding Prineville Oregon. Most are on private land, but three are easily accessible and still reside on public lands. They are the Mother Lode, Independent Mine, and the Blue Ridge Mine (which is located right behind the Four Horsemen Hotel).


I decided to explore the Mother Lode mine, as it was the closest to us. There was a hiking trail going around the entire mining project, in which some of the old workers huts are still standing. There were a few collapsed shafts here and there, but none you could walk more than 6 inches into. Higher on the hill I came across a tower that has since broken in half and fallen over. The bottom half is still accessible and easy to explore regardless of the structural damage.

On top of the hill I found the crowned gem of mining artifact survivals; the smelter. It is still in near perfect condition and could feasibly be used today. It’s just strange to see it in the middle of a sea of trees. The hike was enjoyable, and not overly extraneous. It’s a fun way to get outdoors and explore the world around you.



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