Marble Bath

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AJ
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Marble Bath

Post by AJ » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:46 pm

I would like to plan a trip to Marble Bath. I know that it is near Steel Pass but I have never seen a good description of the exact location. Could someone provide a description of the location or better yet, the GPS coordinates of the bath?

D.A. Wright
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by D.A. Wright » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:11 pm

There seems to be confusion as to Marble Bath. A natural feature named such was featured in journals of the first Caucasian government explorers in the mid-1800s, but to my knowledge it has never been found.

The current Marble Bath was placed a hundred yards from the road just south of Steel Pass in the 1960s or 1970s as sort of a joke. It consists of an old bathtub half set into the ground and is full of blue marbles. Over the years marbles have come and gone and the “water” level has remained fairly consistant.

If you are looking for the current Marble Bath, a short distance south of Steel Pass the road drops into a gulch and makes a sharp turn. Park in the apex of the turn and walk up the gulch about 325 feet. The tub is set into the south slope of the gulch next to a small Joshua tree. If you are on the summit of Steel Pass, walk up a closed road a short distance, go over to the side of the same gulch and you can look down on it.

As for the natural, mystery Marble Bath, you’re on your own. Some Google research might turn up details from old journals and guesses. Maybe someone might have found it by now.
D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by MojaveGeek » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:57 pm

I believe I have been to the "real" Marble Bath, but it's a bit of a story.

First, the bathtub full of blue marbles is a joke, albeit a very well executed one!

Second, the "Marble Bath" marked on the old topos has been officially deprecated by the USGS. A few years ago one of our members did some research, I think at the USGS office in Menlo Park, and found a note, typed on an index card I believe (I probably have a photo of it some place if I could find it) noting that the location was marked erroneously in reference to some water source which both whites and natives depended on in that very dry part of the area.

Third, where is the real marble bath then? IIRC, that typed note referred to the "mouth of a nearby canyon". Up in the higher reaches of the Steel Pass area there is a now closed track that runs toward the Last Chance range from the Steel Pass road. I went in there once, on a fool's quest for a route up Dry Mtn. That road ends at the mouth of a canyon. A few hundred yards in is a highly water polished limestone chute, with the pool beneath full of gravel. Someone chiseled "WATER" with an arrow pointing down into the basin, presumably to indicate that the basin would be holding water long after any precipitation. I did not make the full connection at the time, but when I saw that place, I certainly said to myself "Now *this* could be the real Marble Bath". And, with the evidence from #2 above, I suspect I was right.

That was about 20 years ago.

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TacoLand
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by TacoLand » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:49 pm

Great info, thanks Mojave ...

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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:51 pm

MojaveGeek wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:57 pm
That was about 20 years ago.
Well darn, it will probably be another twenty years until I start exploring this portion of the park. In the meantime, I sure do enjoy reading detailed posts like this about the quirky distant and fairly recent history of Death Valley.

I mean you have to hand it to the folks who bothered to take a heavy old bathtub out to Steel Pass, half bury it and then fill it with marbles. I know we're not supposed to mess with the wilderness, but sometimes an exception to the rule is appreciated? LOL
Life begins in Death Valley

D.A. Wright
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by D.A. Wright » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:03 am

MojaveGeek wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:57 pm
Up in the higher reaches of the Steel Pass area there is a now closed track that runs toward the Last Chance range from the Steel Pass road. I went in there once, on a fool's quest for a route up Dry Mtn. That road ends at the mouth of a canyon. A few hundred yards in is a highly water polished limestone chute, with the pool beneath full of gravel. Someone chiseled "WATER" with an arrow pointing down into the basin, presumably to indicate that the basin would be holding water long after any precipitation. I did not make the full connection at the time, but when I saw that place, I certainly said to myself "Now *this* could be the real Marble Bath". And, with the evidence from #2 above, I suspect I was right.
I went up to the point you mentioned about a dozen years ago. I didn’t know it at the time, but the road was technically closed, but no indication of that was found on the ground. I wondered why an NPS vechicle was parked on the summit of Steel Pass scoping me and a buddy for about 20 minutes as we were eating lunch on my tailgate; but he didn’t bother driving up to meet us. When I updated my Steel Pass page on my former website, Charlie Callahan, with DVNP emailed me of the situation, thus I modified my website and removed photos of my truck at the end of the road.

I hiked the short trail to its obvious end, but never saw the chiseled rock, instead pondering what it was in the first place to bring someone to start the first tire tracks in that direction. Nice views, though.
D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

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Re: Marble Bath

Post by D.A. Wright » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:08 am

MojaveGeek wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:57 pm
First, the bathtub full of blue marbles is a joke, albeit a very well executed one!
My dim memory tells me that the late Wendel Moyer hauled in the tub around 1964, but my memory is dimming.
D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by MojaveGeek » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:24 pm

Yes, D.A., back then the road had no real markings of closure, and I don't know if it was closed or not. My friend and I did drive it. You can see it on the sat images as well. I presume the only reason that road exists is the water source. Sure wasn't much else up that canyon except for some tough scrambling to get up and into the high country. But it does drain a considerable area, and there is a really high dry fall at the end of the right fork of the canyon; we were trying to get out that way but as we came down we hit a 15 foot fall that we were not certain we could ascend again if we got cliffed out, and we wisely gave up and went back the long way. Might have died in there if we'd gone on as there is no way we'd have gotten down the big fall at the end.

So that inscription about the water could have been more than a few hundred yards in... but certainly within the first mile.

It's not a very heavily traveled place :)

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Re: Marble Bath

Post by AJ » Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:28 am

Thanks to all for the excellent information. Your description of the location should make this easy to find. I am really looking forward to seeing the bath in person.

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by MojaveGeek » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:42 pm

Post pix :)

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ETAV8R
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by ETAV8R » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:50 am

Been there within the past year and there was a bee hive at the top of the chute.

Finding it is more than half the fun. I have discussed this area with other people whom I know that have found it. The general consensus is that there is a strange feeling in the area. One is welcome to visit but not to stay. YMMV.

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TacoLand
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by TacoLand » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:32 am

ETAV8R wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:50 am
Been there within the past year and there was a bee hive at the top of the chute.

Finding it is more than half the fun. I have discussed this area with other people whom I know that have found it. The general consensus is that there is a strange feeling in the area. One is welcome to visit but not to stay. YMMV.
Would be interesting to come up with a list of places in DV people had that exact same feeling. Can't say I've ever been spooked myself but I've definitely given the heebee jeebees to a few friends I've taken through.

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Older Fossil
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by Older Fossil » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:09 pm

I find it amazing that the NPS has left that bathtub in place for all this time.

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Re: Marble Bath

Post by TrailHound » Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:00 am

ETAV8R wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:50 am
I have discussed this area with other people whom I know that have found it. The general consensus is that there is a strange feeling in the area. One is welcome to visit but not to stay. YMMV.
Maybe you felt a mountain lion's eyes on you.

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ETAV8R
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Re: Marble Bath

Post by ETAV8R » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:59 am

TrailHound wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:00 am
ETAV8R wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:50 am
I have discussed this area with other people whom I know that have found it. The general consensus is that there is a strange feeling in the area. One is welcome to visit but not to stay. YMMV.
Maybe you felt a mountain lion's eyes on you.
Maybe the first time I was up there...found a fairly large, and recent, scat pile.

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