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Baja California's Onyx Schoolhouse and Cold Water Geyser

Discussion in 'Travel' started by David K, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Apr 28, 2010 at 12:38 PM
    #1
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps the world's only school made of onyx is located in Baja California at the site of a former onyx mine, called 'EL MARMOL'.

    4 miles away, over a 4X4 road is the location of a cold water geyser, called EL VOLCAN along with other soda springs where onyx continues to be created over thousands of years.

    El Marmol is located just over 9 miles off Highway One on a good dirt road. The turnoff is 56 miles southbound from El Rosario. El Rosario is 220 miles south of the border at Tijuana.

    The onyx was mined until the late 1950's. When operations ended, the residents were relocated. A caretaker remained for about 10 more years. By the mid 1970's the locked door to the schoolhouse was opened, and over the next 30 years the roof and the back wall has been removed. A fence has been erected around it as an attempt to preserve the historic structure.

    Small amounts of onyx is still being removed for artisan craftmaking. Now, some photos, map, and road log with GPS waypoints:

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    Highway One, south from El Rosario.

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    The graded dirt road to El Marmol.

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    The schoolhouse built of onyx is the only remaining building standing. See photos of the town and school from a 1953 book, below.

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    2.0 miles northeast and beyond El Marmol, the less used 4WD road forks. Take the right fork for El Volcan. The left fork goes north for a few miles before ending.

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    The road becomes steep as it drops down. 4WD makes climbing back out easier.

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    An area of Elephant Trees is passed as the road drops down to Arroyo El Volcan.

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    This white slope along the road, just 1/4 mile past the Arroyo El Volcan crossing, is created by several soda springs. Turn around here and return to Arroyo El Volcan and drive south (upsteam) in the gravel arroyo. You will be able to go about 1/4 mile by Tacoma and then hike another 1/4 mile to El Volcan.

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    Several pools are passed...

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    Ahead, on the right, is El Volcan. The geyser at its top erupts for several minutes once a month forcing water 60 feet high. The action is created by soda action and not heat, so it is a cold water geyser.

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    One would be very lucky to capture the monthly eruption on film at the remote location!

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    There is plenty of spring domes and beauty here...

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    We returned to El Marmol as the sun begins to get low.

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    The road to El Volcan forks left just before the schoolhouse. In 2006, this sign pointed the road out, past El Vocan is an abandoned barite mine called La Olividada.

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    The graveyard of El Marmol.

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    Plenty of chucks of onyx available for protectig the graves.

    IN 1953:

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    MAP with notes on the roads we took...

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    Road Log and GPS (Map Datum NAD27 Mexico):

    Road Log (Miles)

    • 0.0 El Rosario Pemex Station
    • 14.6 Punta San Carlos Jcn.
    • 28.5 Los Martires, San Juan de Dios Jcn.
    • 31.5 El Descanso
    • 31.6 Monument to Hector
    • 37.8 Old Road to right, Mision San Fernando access
    • 39.4 El Progreso, signed San Fernando road
    • 46.2 Santa Catarina Jcn. (original shipping point for El Marmol's onyx)
    • 46.4 Guyaquil Jcn. (new home for many of El Marmol's residents after 1958)
    • 54.2 San Agustin abandoned trailer park
    • 54.3 Abandoned gas station San Agustin
    • 54.4 San Agustin highway maintenance complex
    • 56.1 Abandoned Tres Enriques cafe
    • 56.5 EL MARMOL JCN. (signed 15 kms.), just beyond is the Cafe Sonora
    • 9.3 from Hwy. 1 is EL MARMOL at 29°58.20', 114°48.53', elev. 2,190'
    • 4.0 from El Marmol is Arroyo El Volcan (take right fork at mi. 2.0)
    • 0.4 to the right/south, up the arroyo is EL VOLCAN at 29°59.55', 114°46.22', elev. 1,885'
     
  2. Apr 28, 2010 at 12:43 PM
    #2
    98tacoma27

    98tacoma27 :POOPCORN: Thor

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    Well done. Nice documentation David.
     
  3. Apr 28, 2010 at 12:45 PM
    #3
    adktacoma

    adktacoma Well-Known Member

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    Wow, thanks for the cool pics. That looks like a very fun trip, is the geyser random or do you have an idea when it's gonna go off?
     
  4. Apr 28, 2010 at 12:57 PM
    #4
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Oh, I WISH I knew when it would erupt.. THAT would be sweet!

    The books say monthly, several minutes, 60 feet high... I have yet to find a photo of an El Volcan eruption. Does anyone want to camp out there for up to a month? Heck, what if it erupted in the middle of the night!???

    More photos from our trip there on my web site (VivaBaja.com) at this page: http://vivabaja.com/marmol
     
  5. May 1, 2010 at 2:58 AM
    #5
    ToucanV13

    ToucanV13 You think I was rollin out here naked?

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    I need to go on a trip with you David, your posts are awesome! I assume I need a passport? Sorry haven't been much past Imperial Beach
     
  6. May 1, 2010 at 8:42 AM
    #6
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Technically yes... but we hear that they still accept the birth certificate + photo ID and maybe a trip to Secondary to veify... The U.S. border officers cannot keep an American from returning to America, but they can make it difficult. A passport would be good thing to have, anyway...

    We are going to Mision Santa Maria this Memorial Day Weekend, see the post I made on the TW Off Road forum!
     
  7. Oct 18, 2010 at 3:26 PM
    #7
    David K

    David K [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Our son recently returned from a trip to San Felipe and did not have a passport, just the older requirements of birth certificate and photo ID... He had no problem returning.
     
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