The Orphan Mine!


Did they really Mine Uranium on the South Rim?
the mine still there?





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The Orphan Mine is located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, on the West Rim Drive.

Park: Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA)
State: Arizona
County: Coconino
USGS Quadrangle: Bright Angel, Arizona (15')
Location: T31n,R2W,Sec.14


Visitor Access: Orphan Mine is located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon between Maracopa Point and Powell Memorial. The immediate vicinity is visited by at least 1.5 million people each year. Visitors walking along the canyon rim must detour around the site. The large headframe and other structures on the site attract curious visitors. The chain-link fence around the mine workings is often in a state of disrepair, and is only partly effective where it joins the rim.

Hazards: The main shaft is 1,500 feet deep and is accessible via a ladderway exposed just below the canyon rim. The remaining structures, foundations, and trash also present physical hazards. Radiation levels are elevated throughout the compound and in a visitor-use area to the west, with combined beta and gamma sometimes exceeding 3.0 mR/hour.

Magnitude: The mine occupies 20 acres of land on and below the rim of Grand Canyon. Openings consist of three adits and a subsidence pit (30 feet diameter by 250 feet deep) approximately 1,000 feet below the rim, and a 2 compartment shaft (13 feet x 5 feet) with a ladderway opening just below the rim. The main shaft is 1,600 feet deep and reaches the ore body via a drift 1,200 feet long. Five structures remain on the rim.

Resource Impacts: Approximately ten acres of land on the rim are radiologically contaminated (in excess of 0.057 mR/hour) with ore and waste rock.

Miners working in the Orphan Mine

Mine History and Current Ownership:

The history of the Orphan Lode Mine began when John Hogan and Henry Ward filed a claim in 1893 on their workings of a copper outcrop in the Coconino Sandstone about 1100 feet below present day Powell Point and Maricopa Point several miles west of Grand Canyon Village. Others say the Orphan Mine was first worked for copper in 1906.

Uranium was discovered in the ore and mined from 1953 to 1972. Uranium content in ore shipments was as much as 4.9 percent and approached 80 percent in individual samples. The patented land was acquired by National Park Systems in 1963, but extraction rights were retained by the operator until August 1988.

Gary S. Freeland, Program Manager
Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency
Radiation Measurements Laboratory
Maurice Castagne in the Orphan Mine.

Dianne Castagne writes of a new book,
The Grand Canyon Orphan Mine, by Maurice Castagne (who supervised the Mine during the 50's and 60's).

This book provides an untold history of actual happenings and mining operations, along with a number of original pictures, diagrams and geological/mining information.


To order the book please go to


Thanks to Dianne Castagne for the photos and help with this page! mikemahanay@gmail(removethis).com

The activities described in this web site are potentially dangerous. Canyoneering, rock climbing, and mountaineering involve unavoidable risks including the risk of serious bodily injury and death. All forms of wilderness recreation have a higher level of risk than most ordinary activities. The owner and publisher of this web site do not assume any responsibility or liability for your safety. Those who use this information, and those who venture onto mountainous terrain, do so at their own risk. Disclaimer

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All contents of all pages Copyright   1997- 2014  by Mike Mahanay. All Rights Reserved

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