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You will be walking through a 2,000 foot tunnel in pitch blackness so you'll want to bring your own flashlight. Even though this is in the middle of nowhere, at times hundreds of people per day will visit so be discrete and don't disturb the desert flora, it would be best to not inform the nearby caretakers of this cache.
Since this is the desert, bring plenty of water, regardless of season. It can get VERY hot during the day, and VERY cold at night
William Henry "Burro" Schmidt was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, in 1871. At the age of 24 he was stricken by tuberculosis. Mr. Schmidt, in desperation, asked his doctor what he could do to prolong his life. The doctor said "you might go out to the high desert in California".
He filed the claims and moved to the area known as Garlock, California, in the El Paso Mountains. The only access to the area was via a canyon trail, fit for burro travel only. He purchased two burros Jack and Jenny. Thereafter, he was known as Burro Schmidt. He said he would never haul his ore to the smelter in Mojave down that trail. He decided that if he dug a tunnel through the solid granite mountain, he could meet up with the Borax Road, which ran from Death Valley to Mojave through the Rand Mountain area and the El Paso Mountain Valley.
His drilling, blasting, and picking commenced. Completely alone he labored, carrying the ore and rock on his back and in his wheelbarrow, out of the tunnel. The tunnel was solid granite and needed no shoring, except at the entrance to the tunnel.
The tunnel averages six feet high and six feet wide, but it varies greatly. He had made his way out of the mountain on the south side, where he had originally planned to carry his ore out of the tunnel and down to Mojave for assaying. But this never came to pass. He was now up on the side of a very steep mountain with no way down to the valley except by climbing. After thirty-eight years of tunneling he had dug through nearly 2500 feet of solid granite, using only a pick, a shovel, a four pound hammer, and explosives.
The tunnel is usually a cool 68 degrees year-round. Jack lived to be 21 and Jenny died at 25. He lived another sixteen years as the proud proprietor of a tourist attraction called "Burro Schmidt's tunnel".
Bits & pieces of his cabin are still standing, but the BLM doesn't have any caretakers on site any longer. They are doing a terrible job of preserving this phenominal place. There has been some awful vandalism to this fantastic chunk of American history.
The Great Wall of China is expected to last another 250,000 years. Burro Schmidt's tunnel is expected to last 500,000 years. Come see it while you still can. GPS units won't function while inside the tunnel. Once you exit the far end, you will be able to pick up the signal again. The cache is outside the far end of the tunnel.
You'll find a tremendous view at the end of the tunnel, including the super-secret, Honda Proving Center - oval track to the SW.
One way to get here is from Highway 14. Because of extremely high speeds on this road, be careful when turning off or on Hwy 14. For being in the middle of nowhere, there can still be plenty of traffic. Make sure you are out of traffic lanes, both paved & dirt. Turn off at N35° 30.040, W117° 56.929. Then it's about 8-9 miles. Parking is at N35° 24.632, W117° 52.467.
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- NCad shows the way from Hwy 14In between one of his "Denver" trips
- Historical plaque for the man himselfMounted at the tunnel entrance
- About halfway inside the tunnelPhoto courtesy ventura kids
- TT&B w/Trophy Wife & NCad's Trophy WifeView from far end of tunnel showing Saltdale & Honda Proving Center in distance
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum