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Mining History: Desert Fever

San Bernardino County:

DRY LAKE AND VICINITY

In the fall of 1879, George G. Lee, the man who generally is credited with the discovery of silver at Calico, died on the desert near Emerson Lake,. That next August a large party of men headed out to prove the existence of gold in that area, perhaps looking for one of Lee's mines. The party was headed by Dr. C. G. Campbell, a San Bernardino doctor who had been given half-interest in any discoveries. They were successful in their search and the Colton Semi Tropic a month later predicted that “a lively camp will spring up and much wealth come from there.” 241

In March of 1881 both the Ridge and the Desert Chief Mines boasted 50 foot shafts. Two months later Dr. Campbell and his partners announced they would erect a stamp mill, while in the interim, several arrastres were employed in crushing ore which when handpicked, ran up to 5 ounces of gold per ton. A ten-stamp mill was reportedly erected in 1887, however, it never ran steadily. Small-scale operations continued through the nineties, including 1893, when a Mr. Means was reported to be working his property. 242

In September of 1894, Messrs. Fry and Nisson were sinking a well near their mine in the Fry Mountains in the vicinity of Old Woman Springs. Old Woman Springs, 16 miles from the heart of activity in the Dry Lake District, was the site of its own gold strike during 1894 when a Mr. Dryden and his sons struck a gold-bearing ledge in June. However, a real curiosity was the reported discovery of gold-bearing “scoriaceous basalt” (lava) in July and August. That of course proved to have “no foundation in fact.” 234

In the spring of 1905, the Dry Lake Mining Company was getting under way at their mine 22 miles from Lavic. Recently having sold 50,000 shares of stock, they had enough money to purchase a hoist for their shaft, at that time 125 feet deep. They already owned a five-stamp mill and cyanide plant. In 1906 this mine was listed among the productive mines of the county, sharing the limelight with mines the caliber of the Copper World and the Baghdad-Chase. The Engineering and Mining Journal on May 6, 1908, reported “a new hoist and new mill are to be purchased, there is a three-stamp mill on the ground now.” In July the hoist was installed and in operation, but the stamp mill had not yet been operated. The location of this mine or the mill can at best be termed vague. In 1909 Walter C. Mendenhall of the U. S. Geological Survey recorded that Mean's Well, on the north end of Mean's Dry Lake, was sunk by the Gold Pin Mining Company. They installed an engine to pump water directly north (possibly west) of the lake to their mine. 244

At Ames Well, near Ames Dry Lake, in 1917, there was situated “an old stamp mill,” perhaps one of the first ones in the district. This mill was probably utilized by the mine situated about a mile to the north, known in the 1940s as the Crystal.245

In 1923 L. S. Emerson began developing a gold prospect, and the nearby “Old Fortuna Mine.” He built a mill whose ruins stand at the southwest edge of Emerson Lake. The Emerson Mine produced a small amount of gold, operating intermittently from 1927 to 1938. The Lost Padre Mine, southwest of Emerson Lake, was described in 1940 after the mine had become idle. A twenty-ton mill had been erected and a well sunk about mile west of the mine. The mill foundations remain and the words “Green Hornet Millsite” appear on them. The main tunnel at the mine now has a highly sensitive seismograph installed by Lawrence Livermore Laboratories of Palo Alto. 246


Emerson Dry Lake


Old Woman Springs

ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - book store
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