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Mining History: Desert Fever

San Bernardino County:


In 1905, G. F. Kunz described the discovery of turquoise in the Halloran Spring area: "Mr. T. C. Bassett had observed in this neighborhood a small hillock where the float rock was seamed and stained with blue. On digging down a few feet, he found a vein of turquoise - a white talcose material inclosing nodules and small masses of the mineral, which at a depth of 20 feet showed fine gem color. Two aboriginal stone hammers were met with, as usual at all the turquoise localities in the southwest, and from this circumstance the location was named the Stone Hammer mine." The first claim, the Gem, was located May 20, 1896, one mile due west of Solomons Knob. Three addition claims were located adjacent to the Gem, August 9, 1896. Reports of these ancient turquoise mines reached San Francisco, and an exploring party was organized by the San Francisco Call, newspaper, with Gustav Eisen, an archeologist from the California Academy of Sciences accompanying the party. They departed in March, 1898 going via rail to Manvel, then to the prospects.

Early operations are vague. In April, 1898 the Mining and Scientific Press noted the greater part had been shipped to Amsterdam, with the largest piece weighing 210 carats. Due to the soft rock, all work was done with pick and shovel. Eventually two companies acquired the mines. One company, the Toltec Mining Company, headed by J.B. Wood of New York purchased three groups of claims in October, 1898. The claim groups were located one mile due west of Solomon's Knob, on Turquoise Mountain and about one and one-half miles due west of Turquoise Mountain. They were known as East Camp, Middle Camp and West Camp. At East Camp, a well was sunk and a boarding house and frame house were constructed. The other company, known as the Himalaya Mining Company, was headed by Lippman Tannenbaum and Benedict Lederer. The Himalaya Claim, located August 7, 1899, adjoined the Toltec Company's claims at West Camp on the south. Tannenbaum purchased four claims in this group in March, 1901. An office/boarding house was located on the millsite claim in the wash just south of the Himalaya Claim. At this same time Woods patented Halloran Spring and Francis Spring as millsite claims.

The turquoise from these operations was shipped to New York. In 1900, an estimated $28,000 worth of turquoise was shipped. In 1904 it was reported, "The Tannenbaum turquoise camp locally known as the Himalaya group..closed last week after a run of seven months. Julius Goldsmidt, the manager and Martin Keane, superintendent started for New York today." There is no mention of mining at these deposits after 1904.

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