Ore mill at Buena Vista Mine
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Paso Robles and the Klau Mine

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

Paso Robles Public Library Cracks caused by the 2003 earthquake

When I cycled along Santa Rosa Creek Road in the Spring I had been intrigued to pass a turn-off called Cypress Mountain Drive which led to an abandoned mercury mine ... called the Klau Mine.

Paso Robles Inn

This ride gave the opportunity to visit the mine and to explore the numerous vineyards near Paso Robles.

Hole in the centre of town where sulphurous water is pumped away

I started from the City Park in the centre of Paso Robles. At the centre of the park is a brick building which until recently housed the library.

Notice explaining the hole

Paso Robles experienced a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in 2003 ... which unfortunately resulted in the death of two ... and opened up large cracks in the library building.

Market underway in the City Park

Opposite the Park is the Paso Robles Inn which was built on the site of an earlier wooden hotel which had been constructed alongside a thermal spring to offer spa facilities.

Autumn colours

One consequence of the earthquake was that a crack opened in the ground in the library parking lot and sulphurous water began gushing out at a temperature of around 112°F.

Shops looking out over the City Park Piles of Autumn leaves

The crack was excavated and pumps have been installed temporarily to dump the spring water in the Salinas River whilst a permanent solution is devised

House on Vine Street House on Vine Street
House on Vine Street House on Vine Street
House on Vine Street House on Vine Street
Start of Nacimiento Lake Drive ... and it's a bike route! Turn off for Lake Nacimiento alongside Paso Robles' Cemetery

The main street in Paso Robles is called Spring Street ... presumably because of the thermal springs. I chose to start north along the parallel Vine Street which passes a number of attractive wooden houses dating from Victorian times.

G14 to ?? Neat orchards

From Vine Street I turned to leave town on Nacimiento Lake Drive.

Nacimiento Lake is a popular camping, boating and fishing destination ... but I'd be turning off before going that far.

Wide bike shoulder Signs to the first of the vineyards Shades of Tuscany?
Steady climb up Nacimiento Lake Drive Chimney Rock ahead

Nacimiento Lake Drive climbs steadily and before long you find yourself surrounded by orchards and vineyards.

Turn off for Chimney Rock Road No services ahead

Rounding one corner I came across a massive rock alongside the road ... this was Chimney Rock.

Chimney Road following San Marcos Creek San Marcos Dam

Alongside the rock I turned off along the eponymously named Chimney Rock Road ... where the signs warned that there were no services ahead.

The road follows San Marcos Creek and continues its gentle climb.

Lake above the dam

On the left the San Marcos Dam appears ... and continuing to climb the lake behind comes into view.

Watch out for the trucks

Above the lake more vineyards appear alongside the road.

Old barn

The foliage of the vines was all shades ... from green through yellow to dramatic reds and scarlets.

I guess this must be Janes Ranch

The hills above the vineyards are covered with gnarled oaks ... interspersed with some groves of walnuts.

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Oak tree overlooking a vineyard Leaves turning yellow

At a sharp right bend lines Adelaida's Lincoln School. This was a one room school house that operated from 1917 to 1964.

Lincoln - Adelaida School

The school only started using electric light in 1948 ... previously oil lanterns were used.

Plaque at Adelaida School

The building is now used as a community centre for Adelaida.

Oak tree among the rows of vines Stripy shadows across the road Cabin surrounded by Autumn colours
Regimented lines of vines  ... ... climbing the hillsides Turn off for Adelaida Road
Plaque describing the history of Adelaida
Pastureland Rusty barn

After passing Adelaida's school you reach town's Cemetery where you turn up Adelaida Road.

From the mid 19th Century Adelaida was a centre for livestock, grain, timber and mining mercury.

T-junction to Klau Mine

Mercury was essential for extracting gold from its ore.

Junction between Adelaida Road and Klau Mine Road

Just beyond the site of the old town ... which supported six schools, three churches, three post offices and two dance halls ... is the turn-off to Klau Mine.

The road drops down alongside Las Tablas Creek through a serene wooded valley ... giving no indication of what is ahead.

Ramshackle house near the end of Klau Mine Road

Just before the end of the road I passed the old settlement of Klau ... which had certainly seen better times

Klau Mine Road / Cypress Mountain Drive Junction

Klau Mine Road ends at its junction with Cypress Mountain Drive ... the other end of which I had passed some five months before when cycling along Santa Rosa Creek Road. The sign indicates that the road is closed to through traffic ... so it's just as well that I didn't try.

Cypress Mountain Drive closed to through traffic Old buildings at the Buena Vista Mine
Ore processing mill at Buena Vista Mine

Just round the corner lie the remains of the Buena Vista and Klau Mines.

Ore processing mill at Buena Vista Mine

Mercury mining occurred at both locations for over 100 years from 1868 to 1970.

Red stream ... I don't think I'll fill my bottle here

At Buena Vista Mine the remains of the old processing mill are still visible.

Klau Mine is hidden from view ... but a polluted stream, coloured dark red, emerges from the site.

Private enterprise?

Opposite a small mine shaft ... less than one metre high ... disappears into the hillside.

Deserted shack on Klau Mine Road

Although it has not been worked for more than 40 years Klau Mine is still causing environmental problems.

As well as mercury ... arsenic and thallium have been detected on the site ... and these leach into nearby creeks.

Satellite image of Klau Mine

The area has been designated as a Superfund site ... one of the worst pollution sites in the Country ...

Returning to the vineyards

... let's hope they can clean up the remaining problems.

After viewing the mine remains I turned round to climb back up along Klau Mine Road.

more vineyards and yet more vineyards

On reaching Adelaida Road I turned south to pass through another swathe of vineyards.

The contrast with the stark landscape around the mines was dramatic.

Tablas Creek Vineyard

As the day wore on the wind picked up and along the tree lined road showers of falling leaves were lit up in the afternoon sunshine.

Not far to Paso Robles Blizzard of leaves Olive oil tasting rooms
Shady lane One rock ... many vines

The road drops down to Las Tablas Creek and passes the imaginatively named Tablas Creek Vineyard.

After crossing the Creek I turned onto Willow Creek Road which is also known as Vineyard Drive.

Many of the roads in the vineyard area seemed to have been re-branded over the last twenty years or so.

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Turn off for Peachy Canyon Vineyard Drive / Peachy Canyon Junction

Vineyard Road slowly descends to its junction with Peachy Canyon Road.

Peachy Canyon Road snakes through orchards and stands of oak ...

Shaking road ahead Orchards

... and climbs up to the site of the appropriately named Summit School ...

... but I must have been day-dreaming as I completely missed it.

Passing orchards Junction of Peachy Canyon and Willow Creek Road Classic Airstream trailer
... not a Classic Airstream Trailer Back to Paso Robles

I passed a classic Airstream trailer ... the first of which were designed by Hawley Bowlus who was the designer of Charles Lindbergh's aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis.

View back over Paso Robles and the Salinas Valley

The trailer design used aircraft construction methods to deliver low wind resistance and light weight.

After the summit Peachy Canyon drops for some 14 kilometres back down to Paso Robles ... time to return to City Park to find a café.


Kirby James

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