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Mining History: Desert Fever

Kern County: Mojave District

Soledad Mountain

On Soledad Mountain, richest of the four mineral-bearing mountains, the Queen Esther and Echo mines were originally located during the excitement created by George Bowers in 1894. The Queen Esther ore was treated at a 75 ton cyanide plant built in 1903. The next year the plant was enlarged to twice its capacity. The mine closed in 1910 after having produced $1,000,000 worth of ore. In 1933 both the Queen Esther and Echo mines were idle. George Holmes, along with Bruce Minard, discovered the Silver Queen Mine in December of that year which revived mining activity throughout the district. In the first 11 months of 1934 Holmes shipped 300 carloads of ore to the American Smelting and Refining Company smelter at Selby. The carloads yielded $600,000. The Los Angles Times reported a “huge gold strike” in the Mojave and a rush was on. Holmes sold out on January 11, 1935, to the Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa, for $3,170,000 plus royalties. The Golden Queen Mining Company was organized in 1935 to consolidate and mine the Queen Esther, Silver Queen, Echo and Golden Queen mines. Two years later the company was producing 300 tons of ore each day.

The Golden Queen Mining Company produced over $6,000,000 in gold and silver from 1936 until it shut down in 1942. The mines from 1894 to 1942 produced more than $10,000,000, making the Golden Queen Mine Group second only to the Yellow Aster in Kern County gold production. This mine more than any other brought the Mojave Mining District to new heights. For 10 solid years between 1932-1942, all 4 hills southwest of Mojave were humming with activity. The Golden Queen, and the entire district were dealt a fatal blow when Limitation Order L-208 shut down mining operations. High costs after the war prevented a renewal of activity. 57

The Wegman Mine, originally the Karma, is located just east of the Golden Queen Mine and was discovered in 1896. A twenty-stamp mill constructed in 1904 was shut down in 1909 along with the mine, due to poor recovery. Ore mined between 1896 and .1909 contained 50 ounces per ton of silver. In 1917, when reopened, the average ore value was from 5 to 9 ounces of silver per ton. By 1933, the Wegman Mine had 200 by 50 foot glory hole, an assay office, shops, dwellings, and a twenty-stamp mill. 58

The Bobtail Mine, west of the Golden Queen and between the Elephant and Excelsior mines, was discovered about 1900. About $80,000 worth of ore was produced during its most productive period, 1923-1942. The Elephant Mine was discovered in 1896 by E. T. Baker. By 1916, he had driven a 100-foot shaft and a few hundred feet of horizontal workings. An exceptionally rich part of the mine averaged $2,000 in gold and silver per ton. In 1930, a twenty-five ton ball mill was installed on the site, and ore was no longer sent to the American Smelting and Refining Company at Selby. Ore was hauled to the mill by way of a 2,500-foot tramway. The mine produced 3,000 tons of ore worth $60,000 from 1931 through 1942. The total production is estimated at a quarter of a million dollars. 59



recreation - ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - 360 photos - glossary - comments

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