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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
Part-time Prospector

Lane and Grant File Claims at Ord Mountain

Lane's first three claims in the Ord Mountain District were filed in February 1871, and were christened the Mount Sterling, New World and Mount Olive. These were all filed with the same partners, one of whom was an influential businessman by the name of James Grant, described as "a gentleman of great energy and perseverance." Grant was instrumental in establishing trade and communications between San Bernardino and the mines in Arizona. In 1862 he helped lay out the route for a road from San Bernardino through San Gorgonio Pass and on east over the desert to the Colorado River.

Coincidentally another enterprising individual, Mr. William David Bradshaw, was working on the same alignment. The two reported their separate findings to the Los Angeles press, with Grant's description of the new route actually preceding Bradshaw's, but because the latter provided a better description, people began referring to it as Bradshaw's Road (or Trail).

Grant worked on the road, grading out the rough spots, developing water supplies and posting signs along the route, and he continued to work on it long after Bradshaw's death in 1864. From 1863 to 1865 he owned the La Paz Express and Saddle Train, carrying both freight and passengers to Arizona, and later he owned the Arizona Stage Line, which operated until 1875 when it was sold and continued under another name.

Captain Lane, as a prominent station keeper in close proximity to the mines, was in a position to be most useful to James Grant and to other prospectors. He and Grant must have found their association mutually beneficial, as they were partners in two subsequent claims in the Ord Mountain District. Both were part-time prospectors, sufficiently well off to hire others to run their businesses while they pursued outside interests.

The partnership did extensive work in the Ord Mountains in the first months of 1871, and in March samples from several ledges were gathered to be sent to Los Angeles for assay. It was Grant who transported the ore to San Bernardino, and when he arrived in town he reported the discoveries to the newspaper:
    NEW DISCOVERY. -- Mr. James Grant has just returned from a prospect in our mountains, some 35 miles southeast of Lane's Crossing, and discovered some seven ledges of rich silver, copper and galena, which he has sent this week for a working test to Los Angeles for assay. Thus, from day to day, our enterprising miners are opening up new veins, and but a few years will elapse ere our undeveloped county will have farmers, miners and viniculturists enough to make this as it ought to be -- a prosperous county.
The fact that the ore had to be sent to Los Angeles for assay demonstrates that in 1871 the mining industry in San Bernardino County was still in the early stages of development, but in a short period of time, the town of San Bernardino would boast a full range of services and supplies for the miners. By the end of the century, mining comprised a full eleven percent of the entire economy of the county.

From his years in Ione City, the Captain was well aware that those who profited most from the mines were the tradesmen who supplied the miners. The merchants mined the gold second-hand, as it were, and Lane was in an ideal location to participate in the trade. Some of his partners over the years were full-time prospectors, and he probably grubstaked many of them in exchange for a percentage of the claims, a common practice of the time.

However, there is no question that he was actively engaged in the mining business himself; he is recorded as being in attendance at the miners' meetings, he registered many claims personally, he is credited in the newspapers as being the locator of claims, and he attended to the assaying of ore and to the buying and selling of claims. He was energetically involved in almost all aspects of the business.

The Ord Mountain District claims do not appear in mining literature, so it is unknown what profits, if any, were realized by the locators. James Crossman said that the deposits in the district were abundantly rich in copper and gold, but were too far from a base of supplies to prove remunerative. Even so, there were investors still willing to take a chance, such as Jonas Brown Osborne and H. L. Drew, who bought many of the locations and developed them during the 1880s. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that Lane, who spent at least two years working in the Ord Mountains, was able to find buyers or investors for some of his claims.

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