A more detailed history of the Bat Cave
Amid the splendor of the
It sounded like a good idea. Engineers estimated that a large bat cave in Granite Gorge, about 18 miles northeast of Pierce Ferry Road on the north side of the Grand Canyon, would yield 100,000 tons of guano - (bat excrement).
The cave was once occupied by millions of bats that deposited vast
amounts of the "black gold," and the plan was to extract the guano, bag
it at the mine about 600 feet above the Colorado River and lower
it to a tramway for transport to a landing strip. The guano would
be loaded on to helicopters and taken to the Hualapai reservation
From there the high nitrogen bat guano would be loaded onto trucks and
Interest in the venture grew during the 1930s when a young man discovered the cave.
Upon learning of the find, two men tried to mine it, but their barges sank in the river and they abandoned their efforts and sold the property to King-Finn Fertilizer Co., which tried several methods of removing the guano.
George Steinke of Kingman flew a small piece of earth-moving equipment into Granite Gorge piece by piece, according to a story in an April 1973 edition of the Mohave Miner Newspaper.
King-Finn also managed to build a small airstrip on a sandbar below the cave. However, attempts to remove the guano by barge and then by aircraft failed after the river washed out the sandbar and the airstrip disappeared.
King-Finn sold the property U.S. Guano Corp. of
Consultants told corporation officials that the only way to get the guano out of the cave and canyon was with the installation of an extensive cable system. So a $1 million cargo-carrying tramway was built across the canyon.
The main span was 7,500 feet. The tram needed 9,820 feet of continuous one and one half inch cable (built of one-eighth inch steel rods wound together); 20,200 feet of one and one-eighth regular plow steel cable for the pulling cable; and one large bucket big enough to carry six men and 2,500 pounds of bat guano. A crew of 18 men spent a year and two months working 10 hours a day, seven days a week to build the tramway.
No blasting was allowed for fear that the roof of the cave might fall in, so all anchors for the cable towers had to be drilled 27 feet deep. Regular jackhammers were used and the rock was broken by use of expanding studs.
The guano was sucked from the cave by large vacuum hoses and stored in a holding bin where it could be transferred to the tramcar. Load after load went into the tram and was moved across the canyon to the south rim, where the guano was put into one, five, ten and twenty-five pound sacks. It was then trucked to Kingman airport and taken to markets on the West coast.
After five months of operation a splice in the cable
was deteriorating and required a specialist from
Soon after, officials discovered the bitter truth of the mine. The cave did contain bat guano but not as much as first thought. In fact, the cave contained only about 1,000 tons of bat guano. The rest of the deposit was decomposed limestone, which was of no value.
The company had spent $3.5 million to salvage 1,000 tons of guano, which sold for 69 cents a pound - a grand total yield of about $1.4 million before expenses.
A few months later, a low-flying plane from Nellis Air Force Base clipped one of the cable strands, losing six inches of wingtip and severing the operating cable.
The remaining support cable was used one last time in 1959 when Columbia
"Edge of Eternity" starring Cornell Wilde. Scenes from
the movie were filmed in Kingman and the climax showed Wilde and another
character "duking" it out in a fight to the death while stranded 4000 feet
Another movie, a promotional film called "The Treasure of Granite
Gorge," chronicled the story of the "black gold" that was taken from the
depths of the gorge for the purpose of bringing "colorful" beauty to the
gardens and homes of
In 1974 the abandoned mine became part of
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