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Name: Brouse Mine Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on one user vote)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Demanding 4WD)
Time: 2 - 3 hours Region: Southwest Arizona
Length: 10.5 miles total (roundtrip) Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +616 ft / -616ft / +0 ft (roundtrip)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 4000 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Medium
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: February, 2015
Short Description: A challenging 4WD trail to some stone ruins and an old arrastra
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area: Cholla Hill; Jolly Roger; It's Mine!
References / Contact Information: None yet
Points of interest: Stone ruins, Brouse Well and Mine, Corona Well, arrastra, interesting old aircraft engine containers
Special Considerations: Although Forest Service MVUM shows trail is open, the trail can be difficult to follow and is in rough shape. Much of it passes through a canyon. The canyon has been washed out in many places. There are bypasses, but some are hard to find. VERY BRUSHY. Trail is located in illegal immigrant and smuggler high traffic area, see page regarding warning (it's not as bad as it sounds).
How to get there: See Coches Well adventure for directions. Drive to WPT011 in the Coches Well trail (which is WPT001 here) and turn right onto FR4419.

Trail Description

Note: We did this trail after two days of almost continuous rain and the canyon was full of water. It was one of the best days four-wheeling ever! Unfortunately, I believe this canyon is usually dry, though it would still be a nice run without the water.

This trip is a great combination of history, four-wheeling, route finding challenges and beautiful scenery. The first half of the trip is easy 2WD/4WD that takes you through the San Luis Wash. You will pass serveral wells, water tanks and corrals.

You can also get to the Corona Well and the stone ruins at that site without too much trouble. From there to the Brouse Mine is a little more difficult. The trail is seldom used and is very overgrown. Portions of the original trail through the canyon are washed out. There are some bypasses, though these can be hard to find. Sometimes there are not any bypasses and you have to go through the obstacles. It was great fun. I did it without any issues at all and without lockers. I can see that some stock low-clearance 4WD vehicles may have issues here.

The trail ends up at Brouse Well and Mine. There are some really cool 1950s aircraft engine storage containers and an old arrastra there. This is a great trip that shouldn't be missed if you're in the area.

General Information and History

What is an arrastra?

From Wikipedia:
An Arrastra (or Arastra) is a primitive mill for grinding and pulverizing (typically) gold or silver ore. The simplest form of the arrastra is two or more flat-bottomed drag stones placed in a circular pit paved with flat stones, and connected to a center post by a long arm. With a horse, mule or human providing power at the other end of the arm, the stones were dragged slowly around in a circle, crushing the ore. Some arrastras were powered by a water wheel; a few were powered by steam or gasoline engines, and even electricity. Arrastras were widely used throughout the Mediterranean region since Phoenician times. The Spanish introduced the arrastra to the New World in the 1500s. The word "arrastra" comes from the Spanish language arrastre, meaning to drag along the ground. Arrastras were suitable for use in small or remote mines, since they could be built from local materials and required little investment capital. For gold ore, the gold was typically recovered by amalgamation with quicksilver. The miner would add clean mercury to the ground ore, continue grinding, rinse out the fines, then add more ore and repeat the process. At cleanup, the gold amalgam was carefully recovered from the low places and crevices in the arrastra floor. The amalgam was then heated in a distillation retort to recover the gold, and the mercury was saved for reuse. For silver ore, the patio process, invented in Mexico in 1554, was generally used to recover the silver from ore ground in the arrastra.

Arrastras can be very old or could have been built more recently (early 1900s). They were a cheap and fairly easy way to extract desired minerals from ore in small quantities.

You will see different spellings for arrastras, sometimes with only one 'r' (arastra) and sometimes with an 'e' (arrastre).

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The Trail

At WPT001, head northwest on FR4119. The first section of this trail is a relatively new section created by the Forest Service. The old route (in YELLOW on maps page) went through private property and is now gated off. You will travel approximately 1.0 miles on this road until it connects with the old road. I did not place a Waypoint here since I could not distinguish where the old road came into to the new.

Keep going for another 1.1 miles until you reach the intersection and well at WPT002. You will first come to a large circular tank on your right, then a road on your left. Bear right and head down into the wash. You will be traveling along the San Luis Wash for the next 1.63 miles until you get to WPT003. When we went, there was LOTS of water flowing in the wash, but I'm sure this is usually dry. If there's water flowing, have fun as you go in and out of the wash. It was a blast to drive this. One of the best four-wheeling days ever. See video page.

After about a mile you will pass a corral and tanks on your right at Lower Tank (no Waypoint) and 1.63 miles from WPT002, you will drive out of San Luis Wash at WPT003. Drive another 0.27 miles until you reach WPT004. Take a left onto FR4877.

You will almost immediately see stone ruins on your right. Keep driving for 0.15 miles until you reach WPT005 at Corona Well. You can park here and take a look at the well and ruins from there.

Once you're done with the investigating this, you can continue driving along the Corona Wash toward Brouse Mine. Be warned: after this point the trail becomes much more difficult, hard to find and can be very brushy. The trail goes in and out of the wash. Some of the more difficult obstacles have bypasses. Some of these bypasses are hard to see and brushy. Some obstacles don't have bypasses and you'll have to get through them. It wasn't super tough and I didn't need to use any lockers, but stock, low-clearance 4WD vehicles may have issues.

Continue heading up the wash for 1.10 miles until you reach the Brouse Mine at WPT006. There's a nice parking area next to the wash. You will notice a bunch of strange metal storage containers next to the parking area. After investigating these, we found the were aircraft engine containers from the 1950s. Very cool.

Even cooler is the arrastra that's about 130 feet southwest of the aircraft engine storage containers. We found a few rocks that were used to crush the ore. There's also a flat spot with some discarded metal stuff (looks like a stove, etc.) just a few hundred feet from the arrastra. When you're done exploring the area, head back the way you came in.

Have fun and be safe!

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