Last Saturday, my buddy Steve and I were out doing some sightseeing. We had decided to check out the old Copper Belle mine and the nearby Jumbo Mine, and in particular an old Pelton wheel still up there in the woods north-east of Gold Bar, Washington.
Parking at Reiter Pit, we hiked up beyond the power lines up towards Zeke's Wall (which looks to have some pretty nice bouldering below the wall, BTW). It turns out Washington Climbers have a permit and an access code to the gate, so member's can drive all the way up to Copper Belle, where we had to hike up the road.
Way below Copper Belle, we had heard there was possibly an adit just off the access road. We checked it out, but it was rather boring - just a 6-7 ft hole in the ground.
Steve at the first adit
Continuing up the road, we got a splendid view of the valley below us, including some dramatic low clouds.
Mount Persis and Skykomish River, as seen from the road up towards Zeke's Wall.
Copper Belle turned out to be quite nice, once we realized we had found it. The Discovering Washington's Historic Mines book turned out to be grossly out of date, and the road must have been continued up the hill as part of some clear cutting. We ran into a mine opening, but were at first unsure if it actually was Copper Belle since we didn't think it matched the description in the book. Thankfully, we also had some more up to date informal directions to follow, and they led us to confirm our location.
The Copper Belle K level adit. It extends 2450 feet into the mountain from here, but we had no gear to go inside (though the water looked tempting).
Copper Belle was really our jumping off point to find the trail that leads to our main goal of the day. We found the trail, and started hiking back into the woods and up the mountain.
My situational awareness was absent this day, but Steve spotted the first sign that we were getting close - an old thoroughly rusted compressed air container. Scrambling down the slope and towards May Creek, we found our target; an old Pelton wheel from the Jumbo Mine.
The 10-foot wheel was fed water from the creek, and was used to generate compressed air into the container. This was then used to drive twelve compressed air drills, and a 90-horsepower dynamo used to generate electricity for lighting.
A report from 1907 claims there were two water wheels in use here, but now there's only the remains of one of them to be found. I wonder what happened to the other one. It must have been quite a bit of work to transport these components up to this location, which makes the whereabouts of the second wheel somewhat of a mystery to me.