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Mining History: Desert Fever

San Bernardino County:

Providence Mountains (Gold-Iron)

The gold mines in the Providence Mountains that were first worked lay south of Foshay Pass, and were discovered as early as 1882. In May, 1886, the Queen Mine, Relief, Red Cloud and Mexican Mine were being developed. A mining district named the Arrow encompassed the mines, with Sam King recorder at Arrow Camp (later known as Hidden Hill.) By 1890 little actual work had been done. On one mine known as the Domingo (or Mexican), “Mexicans” had sunk a 40-foot shaft and milled ore in an arrastre. 104

After the fall of silver prices in 1893, here, like everywhere else, gold became a much sought after commodity. In February, 1894, a discovery of gold 9 miles south of Providence, at Hidden Hill, aroused extreme interest. At a time when the Vanderbilt Mine was waning, Pat Dwyer (one of the discoverers of the Bonanza King in 1880) with Jim Walker discovered ore that ran 54.5 ounces of gold a ton. P. H. Keane located the Hidden Hill Mine, and after a few shots of dynamite, took out over $25,000 in gold ore that was worked in an arrastre. The Goldstone District, as the area was dubbed, experienced only a short-lived flurry of interest. About 1895 Monaghan and Murphy of Needles purchased 5 claims, including the Hidden Hill, and Golden Queen (or Queen) and formed the Hidden Hill Mine. They erected a small two-stamp mill. In the intervening years, until 1901, the shaft on this property was deepened from 35 to 165 feet, a modest development that yielded $36,000 (including the $25,000 discovery made by Keane). 105

In the spring of 1913 there was a serious revival of interest in this section of desert. The Mable Mine, also known in 1913 as the Gannon property, was discovered in the rush of 1894. Lying north of the Hidden Hill, 94 sacks of high grade gold ore were shipped from there in June, 1913. The Hidden Hill was gearing up for renewed mining in December, as “several tons of supplies and material” were sent to the mine. Two weeks later it was reported “A. E. Nescus, E. M. has men working building a camp on the Hidden Hill Group at the Golden Queen Mine. Myles Lund has charge of the work. John Domingo is busy with a stage and freight team.” 106

By January the camp was constructed and Mrs. Nescus moved in to join her husband. In February, eight men were employed mining on the property. On April 9, 1914, the Hidden Hill Mining Company was incorporated for $100,000. Also, it was reported that “Buildings are still going up.... and the camp is assuming the appearance of a village.” In June, 1914, the miners struck an ore body heavy with free gold. This may be the pocket of ore that reportedly produced $13,000 from 300 pounds of rock. In spite of these incredible discoveries, the mine appears to have closed down about this time. The buildings were attached by the contractor, then Sid Dennis, who was building roads, attached the contractors' team and wagons for debts incurred. Little additional work is recorded from this mine. 107

As was mentioned above, the Mable Mine was active in 1913. The property was again active from late 1918 to 1919. Production up to 1920 was about $100,000. In 1924 two men were working the mine, and in 1940, four were. In 1940 there was a neat little camp at the mine, but the mine has been idle since. 108

The Vulcan iron deposit, on the west side of Foshay Pass, probably had been known for many years prior to its patent in August, 1908. About that time there was a 100-foot tunnel at the mine, but economic consideration forced the mine to remain inactive. It was not until the demands of World War II that the mine was opened. A camp was constructed to house 65 men near the mine, and another 35 men lived with their families in trailers in Kelso. Between December, 1942, and July, 1947, over 2,000,000 tons of ore were shipped by Kaiser Steel Company, the owner of the property, to the Fontana Steel Mill. When the Eagle Mountain deposits were finally opened up in 1948, the Vulcan property closed down. Since 1947 some iron has been mined for use in the manufacture of cement. 109



ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - comments

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