Bobbi Jane Tucker (Published in Fribtuer Gazette 2011) www,WayOutWestPhotos.com
If you are fascinated by old cars, old parts, old machines and how things work then you need to take a trip. If you are a photographer then I will share my secret spot with you. Gold King Mine. The old saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, truly describes the owner, Don Robertson. The location of the Gold King Mine was originally the community of Haynes, a suburb of Jerome in 1890. There is actually a mine here. They missed the copper boom, they did discover gold. Now it’s one of the most unique living museums you will ever visit.
When you visit you may see Don, Mike and others actually working on different projects. The 1914 sawmill still fills lumber orders both for commercial grade and artisans handcrafting furniture. The sawmill is powered by a 1943 submarine diesel engine!
Don might hop on his 1942 Harley and stir up some dust for you. He may start up his daily driver, a 1939 Studebaker Coupe which is also a favorite resting spot for his Chihuahua. The Studebaker has been converted for camping. Don has set up the trunk with sleeping quarters. By taking out the back seat it allows for six feet of sleeping of space. Don says, “There’s enough room for me, my dog and my skinny girlfriend!”
You can mosey among the parts and cars but also visit buildings showcasing how it was “back then”. Blacksmith, Dentist, General Store are just a few. The clapboard house on the hill is an original building from 1890 Haynes. It was primarily a boarding house but did serve a time as a bordello. Most of the cars have been updated with signs telling a little more about their history. You can even pan for gold while you are there.
I met my first Guinea Hen here and captured one of my all time favorite photos. The Guinea posed in front of a red Studebaker grill resulting in a stunning photograph. There are chickens, goats and a donkey named Pedro. Pedro will ring bells when you walk by to get your attention and treats.
The greatest treasure on this hill is the proprietor, Don Robertson. Don blends in with his surroundings with the look of a gold mine prospector, but isn’t that who is he is? “This was what I was meant to do,” says Robertson. “I was put on this earth to save this beautiful old machinery. This is the stuff that America was built with there’s no reason for it to be tossed aside or forgotten. I only collect stuff that’s rare, that you can’t find anywhere else. People tell me all the time I could sell everything and get rich. But I’m already rich. This is what I want my fortune to be. What good is having money in the stock market or real estate? There’s no fun in that. I get to play with my fortune every day. I’m living my dream.”
Take a day trip to see all the forgotten treasures. Be sure to tell Don hi! You will leave with a new appreciation for what you once considered junk.
Gold King Mine and Ghost Town opens at 9 a.m. (10 a.m. in winter) and closes at 5 p.m. every day except Christmas. Admission charged. It is located on the Perkinsville Rd. one mile north of Jerome. Follow the signs starting at the road next to the Jerome Fire Station. 928-634-0053