How to Find Old Gold Mines in Texas


If legends were true, every square inch of Texas soil would be lined with gold nuggets. Unfortunately, most of the legends are just that, and the Lone Star State has very few natural deposits of gold. Most of the precious metal mined in Texas was silver, according to the Texas State Historical Association. The most active mining activities took place in the desolate Trans-Pecos region. The mines there produced millions of dollars of silver ore for several decades from the 1880s to the 1940s. In Central Texas, several mining operations produced small amounts of gold. Among the legendary silver mines, the lost and rediscovered Alamagra mine, was discovered by the Spanish in 1756, supposedly produced silver and gold for 50 years. The mythical Bill Kelley Mine and Ben Sublett's Gold Mine are a little harder to find. Keep in mind that most of these mines are on private property, and you're not likely to gain entry.

Things You'll Need

  • Map
  • Car

Presidio/Shafter Mine and Hazel Mine

Go west from San Antonio on Interstate 10 for five hours and 42 minutes to the town of Balmorhea (and stop to check out the cold springs).

Turn south on highway 17 past Marfa, where you may want to stop and witness the Marfa lights and the set of the movie “Giant.”

Take U.S. 67 south about 40 minutes until you reach Cibolo Creek just north of Shafter. The old mine starts several thousand feet southwest of the creek, and the Shafter deposits continue on a northeast line from the highway. At the time of publication, a Canadian mining company announced that construction was currently underway to reopen the Shafter Mine. Silver production is set to begin again in 2012.

Travel west from Balmorhea on Interstate 10 to Van Horn. Go north on highway 54 about 10.5 miles. The old Hazel Mine is three and a half miles west of this point, likely on private property.

Los Almagres, Heath and Central Texas Mines

Drive north on Interstate 35 from San Antonio an hour and a half to Austin, and travel northwest on highway 71 about an hour and nine minutes (61.2 miles). Off to the northeast you'll see the southern slope of Packsaddle Mountain (which is only about 1,627 feet tall). The legendary Los Almagres Silver Mine is on private property on the southern slope just south of Honey Creek, just southwest of the conjunction of the Llano River and the Colorado River, according to Texas Beyond History.

Continue northwest another half hour to the town of Llano. Go east on highway 29 for five minutes or so until you reach ranch road 2241. The old Heath Mine is somewhere north of this road on private property near Sandy Creek and Gold Mine Creek, according to Edgar B. Heylmun, PhD, in an article for the “Mining Journal.”

Travel southwest of Llano on highway 16 about 20 minutes to look for the old Central Texas Mine. Heylmun says the mine, which reportedly had “rich pockets of gold,” is 20 miles northeast of Fredericksburg, which would put it about halfway between Llano and Fredericksburg off highway 16.

Ben Subtlett and Bill Kelley Mines

Travel west to find the mythical Ben Sublett's Gold Mine, which is supposedly in Culberson County Texas, or in southern New Mexico somewhere near the Guadalupe Mountain Range.

Stop on your way west in Odessa, Texas, to see the historical marker discussing Ben Sublett; it can be found at 220 North Grandview Avenue.

Head southwest to Big Bend National park to look for the Bill Kelley Mine, which is said to be on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande River on a ridge up a canyon wall about three football fields high.

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