Exploring The Goldome Mill Complex

Inside the main processing building.Photo by Osie Turner
Inside Goldome’s main processing building.
Photo by Osie Turner

To the naked eye, the site of the Goldome Mill may look like an active mining site. Once you get closer, if you were to have a reason to stray from the main road cutting through the Mojave National Preserve, the signs of abandonment would slowly become more apparent. It is almost as if the workers just walked off the job one day and time simply stood still at this industrial complex.

Goldome proved to be a difficult mine to research. Not much turned up initially, which happens on occasion, but digging a little deeper did turn up some interesting information. The present mill seems to date to the early 1980s when the site was used to process ore mined from the Gold Star Mine located about seventeen miles away. The Vanderbilt Gold Corporation owned the Gold Star Mine and presumably the area surrounding Goldome as well. The historical site of the ghost town of Vanderbilt is actually just over the mountain to the northeast of the Goldome mill site.

The California Desert Protection Act of 1994 created the Mojave National Preserve, and with the new regulations mining within the preserve essentially ended. Some of the papers and magazines scattered about the floor of the old office building were dated to the mid-1990s, and new hired were joining the team as late as 1996. The Goldome complex seems to have ceased operation by 1998.

The lights of the Ivanpah solar Plant can be seen in the distance on the left.Photo by Osie Turner
The lights of the Ivanpah solar Plant can be seen in the distance on the left. The seclusion of the mill site has likely helped protect it from vandals.
Photo by Osie Turner

The name Goldome, means “an abnormal growth of gold;” the suffix “–ome” is a variant of “–oma,” usually meaning a tumor. Essentially, it means a lot of gold—which is what the people who named the mine were undoubtedly hoping to find there. Goldome was also the name of a prominent mutual savings bank in New York, and Goldome Financial is still going strong in Texas. Neither of them have any connection to this mine.

Visiting the complex today is an interesting experience. The area seems more like a post-apocalyptic scene from a movie. The industrial machinery is rusting but modern, a lot of glass is broken but many windows are still intact, and the entire place has an uncomfortable silence draped over it. There is a strong feeling that you should hear the metallic sound of grinding gears but nothing but the desert wind and crunching of gravel under your footsteps is all that will meet your ears here.

There are some signs of vandalism, but not much more than some graffiti and definitely not as much as one would expect for somewhere that has been abandoned for twenty years. Some trash seems to have been dumped there over the years, and the last time I was there a lot of forlorn children’s toys were found around the premises—rather out of place for a mill site in the middle of nowhere.

Leftover items from the mill's active years make for some some curious sights today.Photo by Osie Turner
Leftover items from the mill’s active years make for some some curious sights today.
Photo by Osie Turner

Caution should be exercised when exploring the complex. The flooring on the second floor seemed pretty reliable still but could go out at any time. Various items, such as nails and broken glass, are on the ground, and there were a few spots where some type of chemicals may have been spilled—the Environmental Protection Agency has listed the Goldome complex as a superfund site so it is possible that there are harmful chemicals are still there.

For more information on the Goldome Mill site, deathvalleyjim.com has some more good background on the place. Our previous article, Visiting Vanderbilt, has more on the historic site nearby.

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