Something that the book Desert Shadows in many ways focuses on is the older mining facilities. In this story it mainly focuses on a particular time-frame and in a particular area. To not ruin anything for everyone who hasn’t read that far in I am going to concentrate on the general feelings that people often have towards these mines.
The Open Pit Mine Shafts:
Now I don’t know which one strikes me with a more eerie feeling so I’m going to talk about the two more common ones starting with the open pits. The thing that probably gets me the most with these is the possible accidentally fall to the bottom, bouncing of rocks and whatever other debris exist before you hit the ground. As a child growing up in the desert around these pits I found a fascination and a certain respect for these pits. First you understood the surroundings and made sure of your footing and the ground around you before getting too close. Also you visited the sites with a friend in case something were to happen. Open fissures over the years from un-compacted soil or non-visible erosion from beneath can open up areas around these shafts without warning and only the slightest pressure change. So the fall was enough but then there was the sinking into a dirt tomb that swallowed you up near the pit that bothers me and then, finally, the finale at the bottom. Rattlesnakes.
If the Fall Don’t Kill You:
Unfortunately there are usually rattlesnakes at the bottom of a majority of these open pits. At least where I grew up. We would often throw rocks down the pits trying to judge their depth or to see if we could hear water. Both were fun little games but about half the time we heard the rock crashing to the bottom and the sounds of high speed rattling coming from down below. Now they weren’t just in the pits waiting for you if you survived a fall sometimes they were lying and waiting for you inside one of the more tunnel style mines. Unfortunately we spotted a lot of these rattlers on the way back out and had to move past them to exit the mien with safety.
I call them tunnel mines because that’s what they are to me although I’ve heard them by other names. These are the ones that go in horizontally and can sometimes be confused with caves. But like the horizontal mineshafts bot all caves go in this way and some are straight down. But enough of that I want to get back to my main point. These mines seem to have the eerie effects to me because they provide a possible place for something to live. Maybe even myself someday. Kidding. I often found animals waiting in these mines besides the aforementioned rattlers. There were often times bats, barn owls, javelinas and other creatures seeking refuge. Unfortunately this creates a dangerous position when you are between an animal and its exit. Still when I think of where some type of evil might seek refuge from the light of day or the scorching weather of Southeastern Arizona I think they might choose one of these spots.
I have more tales to share about the mineshafts but they will have to wait for another day.
Thanks for reading,
Joshua Crane Dowidat