Difficulty: Clues require some thought and observation.
Distance: Under 7 miles hike from start to finish.
Elevation: Less than 1000 feet.
Stamp: Custom-made. Black ink pad included.
Condition: Great - 1 Apr 2007.
This Letterbox is a LETTERBOX-HYBRID GEOCACHE. It is located on Texas Parks and Wildlife property near the El Paso Tin Mines. This cache is approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. LETTERBOXING STAMP, INKPAD & LOGBOOK ARE NOT TRADE ITEMS!
The BLACK logbook, stamp and ink pad are the letterbox portion. If you are letterboxing, stamp your stamp in the letterbox logbook, and stamp the letterbox stamp in your logbook. Write a personal note in the log if you like. It is that easy!
If you would like to hunt this as a Geocache, it is waypoint GCRACX.
The GREEN logbook is the Geocaching logbook. If you write in this logbook, PLEASE LOG IT ON-LINE at GEOCACHING.COM TOO! DO NOT put letterbox stamps in the Geocaching logbook. The waterproof paper will not take the ink, and it will make a mess.
A search for domestic deposits of tin-bearing ore in the United States was a failure. Small quantities of tin were produced during the early 1900s in the Franklin Mountains of El Paso County, Texas. The only active tin mine in the United States was located in the Franklin Mountains, where its ruins are visible today. A complete history with photos is placed inside the cache. Please leave the cache copy inside after you read it. The tin mines are safe to enter, but bring a good flashlight. Be sure to follow the stairs down to the lower entrance, there is much more to see down below. Just watch you step, your head clearance, and use that flashlight.
The Franklin Mountains extend from just north of downtown El Paso Texas into southern Doña Ana County, New Mexico. They are roughly three miles wide by twenty-three miles long and rise to an elevation of 7,192 feet above sea level at North Franklin Mountain. The mountains divide the city of El Paso and have influenced its shape and growth. This range comprises the bulk of the second largest state park in Texas and what is said to be the largest urban park in the nation, Franklin Mountains State Park. North Franklin Mountain was once 7200 feet, but a road was cut through to the top, and the top was flattened 8 feet by a developer before the land became property of the State of Texas, Parks and Wildlife Department.
Typical Chihuahuan Desert plants and animals are found in the Franklins Mountains. Some plants, such as the large barrel cactus, are found nowhere else in Texas. El Pasoans are especially fond of the native Mexican poppies and introduced California poppies that tint the rocky slopes each spring. Animals range from many species of rodents to deer, mountain lions, and occasionally black bears. Though the mountains look arid, a number of springs can be found during periods of adequate rainfall. These springs are particularly conducive to plant and animal life. Stands of cottonwood, hackberry, oak, and juniper grow in some of the more remote areas of the park.
How to get there? Go to the intersection of War Highway (Martin Luther King Blvd) and Jon Cunningham. Turn west (toward the mountains) on Jon Cunningham. Follow the road west to the parking area at the end. N31º 55.952 / W106º 26.946 4182ft. You will be at Chuck Heinrick Park. You will begin hiking from the concrete dam at the end of the pavement. Grab your gear and hike to the top of the dam. From there, you can see the North Mine. Look for two rust colored squares easily visible on the hillside about 2.8 miles ahead and due west. You will spot the North Mine intermittently throughout the hike.
From the dam, look to the northwest. You will see a fence-line, and 4 steel posts along that fence-line. The 4 posts are a gate. Hike south on the dam until you find the road down to the bottom of the dam. Then hike back to the gate. Enter the gate, and please - close it behind you! Remember to look back often so you remember the return path. Hike southwest on the jeep trail, turning west then northwest into the arroyo. Follow the jeep trail going west, up the hill, past the Franklin Mountain State Park signs, and through another gate. Once past the gate, do not turn. You are halfway there. Continue West, up the hill on the jeep trail. The road will curve north, go through a dip, then back up and curve west again. When you come to a major T-intersection, you are almost there. The mines are 0.3 miles apart. Turn south for the South Mine (0.1 miles), or turn north for the North Mine (0.2 miles). The South Mine is closer. The climb to the North Mine is much more difficult, but it is worth it. The cache is near the North Tin Mine. Sticking to the trails as much as possible is the easiest path. As the trail to the north mine enters the last wash, watch for the exit trail almost immediately on the left. When you get below the mine, follow the trail up the hill to the mine.
Once you get to the North Mine, go to the southeast corner of the mine cover. Shoot an azmuth of 143º true to a large rock dome about 50 feet ahead. This rock dome has a Sotol and a Prickly Pear catcus on top. Start walking toward that rock dome. As you approach the rock dome, look on the left side. You will see another Sotol, a Prickly Pear, and an Ocotillo cactus in a bunch. To the left of this bunch is another Sotol. Stand between the two Sotols. Shoot an azmuth of 111º true. On this azmuth 2 rock domes further down (about 20 irregular paces) you will see a pile of rocks just before a cluster of four sotols. The letterbox is under the pile of rocks. Please re-hide it as well as you found it.
Remember all the usual safety rules. If you hauled it in, you haul it back out with you. If it was there when you got there, then leave it there. Take PLENTY of water along, watch out for critters, and have a great hike. NOTE: I try to keep a few bottles of water hidden with the letterbox for emergencies and eastern fools who enter the desert unprepared. Use it if you really need it, but remember, I have to backpack it in, so don't waste it. Please carry the empty bottle out with you, and let me know how many are left so I can replace them if needed. Or better yet, take a spare bottle and leave it there for the next finder. Thanks.