Mojave River Valley Museum
Gold in Inyo County
Probably the most inaccessible gold-producing district in Inyo County, and also its most productive, has
been Beveridge. Wood was scarce, and no natural wide pathways existed to make it easy to haul the ore
out and supplies in. Yet the gold was there, and miners beat a path to its door.
William L. Hunter, after having sold his lead mine in the Rose Springs (Ubehebe) district to M. W. Belshaw,
prospected to the northwest and discovered the Big Horn gold mine in 1877. The Beveridge Mining District
was organized on December 7, 1877, at Big Horn Spring in Hunter Canyon. Beveridge took its name from John Beveridge,
noted inyo County resident. Hunter's Big Horn Mine consisted of 8 claims and one millsite. In 1878, Hunter
built three arrastres in Hunter Canyon to treat his ore. That same year the Keynote Mine went into operation. Its
five-stamp mill was located in Beveridge Canyon. The Big Horn Mine was worked continuously until 1893, the Keynote
until 1894. The Big Horn had a total production of some $10,000 while the Keynote produced $500,000. Both mines
were worked shortly during the 1930s.
In 1878, gold was discovered in Mono County and the rush to Bodie was on. Production on the Comstock fell to
$20,000,000 (half it's 1876 production) while Darwin and Cerro Gordo were also declining rapidly. In spite of
the re-introduction of a silver purchasing plan (the Bland-Allison Act of 1878) Inyo County silver mines could
not recover. Their high grade ore bodies having been depleted, most fell into inactivity.
The Bland-Allison Act was joined by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1890. Both required the U. S. Treasury
to purchase an increasing amount of silver bullion and coin it. Most of the European nations were on the gold
standard and viewed the stockpiling of silver as an indication of our inability to stay on a gold standard. This
and other economic conditions culminated in a depression in 1893. People once again were soon looking for gold.