I was off to the Mill Creek Campground east of Sheridan to explore that area. On the way I ran into a cattle drive; using the road as the cattle drive path. The locals were probably annoyed, but I pulled out my camera and enjoyed it. Cattle on both sides of me and crossing in front of me. Plus real cowboys on horses. All made for a tourist like me.
On I drove to make my home for a few nights at the Mill Creek Campground. As I later drove up and down the Mill Creek Road I spotted a garden that I stopped at later. It is a community garden (Jackson Garden) open to everyone. Free. I chatted with two gardeners. One invited me to trivia night at the local brewery. I should have gone. The second filled me in with local history about the Smuggler Mine a bit past the Mill Creek Campground.
The mine generated their own electricity. I was told that there was a turbine and the equipment below was related to the power generation.
Past the mine the road goes to the Branham Lakes. There I met a man that was working a mine – his own mine. He had just hit pay dirt after having to construct a new adit. The old adit had caved in. He has sent off his material for lab analysis. My fingers are crossed that he will hear good news. He told me that years ago the hills were full of mines and mills. Hence the creek’s name – Mill Creek. His mine is not the only one being worked, they are all just small scale so they aren’t noticeable. I asked how he would process his ore. He replied that there is a mill in town that would develop the concentrate. After that, he will need to find a smelter.
Another location on the road was the Tobacco Root Livestock Rider’s Cabin. I wish I understood the markings above the door.
- I wouldn’t drive anything but a truck past the Smuggler Mine going to the Branham Lakes. It is slow going after that point. Five mph to 15 mph up to the lakes. You can probably pull a trailer up to the lakes, but I wouldn’t. It is mostly a single land road that you navigate around rocks and holes with some wide spots to let vehicles pass.
- There are lots of boondocking camping spots on Mill Creek Road.
- The Mill Creek campground is old and not well used; some sites were overridden with vegetation. I took the only spot that would fit a trailer. The water provided is via hand pumps. It was adequate for my stay and free.