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Mining History: Desert Fever

San Bernardino County:


After lying idle for 30 years, the Copper World was reactivated in 1898. The Ivanpah Smelting Company of Los Angeles sank two wells 5 miles from the mine, on a site known variously as Valley Wells or Rosalie Wells (or simply Rosalie). Nearby, in January, 1899, a fifty-ton furnace was erected, and that April there were 85 men employed, with Mr. V. C. Reche as superintendent. 141

A post office was maintained at the Ivanpah camp until April 24, 1899, at which time it was moved to Rosalie. In a sense, mules were the backbone of this mining operation. There were 140 of them there in April. A 20-mule team hauled 35 tons of ore with every trip to the smelter, also, up to 20 tons (a carload) of copper bullion was shipped every 4 days to the California Eastern Railroad at Manvel, 30 miles southeast. Coal from New Mexico for the smelter and supplies came with the return trip.142

Obviously, transportation to and from Manvel cost the owners a great deal of money. To cut these costs, they persuaded the California Eastern Railroad management to extend the line down the steep canyon from Manvel. While the railroad was busy being constructed, operations at the mine ceased, around July, 1900, because of litigation, and the post office of Rosalie was abandoned July 31, 1900. During the year or so of operation, the mine had produced 11,000 tons of ore averaging a respectable 13.5 percent of copper. 143

In the meantime, in 1902, the California Eastern line was extended to the flat Ivanpah Valley, within 15 miles of the Copper World. A settlement named Ivanpah (the second place with that name) sprang up at the end of the line. This new Ivanpah consisted of about 20 to 30 people. 144

When the railroad reached the Ivanpah Valley, the mine and smelter resumed operations for a short time, with 50 tons of ore a day coming out of the mines. However, the operation ceased, blamed on a high loss of copper in the slag. Operations up to this time are reported to have produced $750,000 in copper. 145

Dr. L. D. Godshall acquired the title to the property in 1906, organized the Cocopah Mining Company, and operated the mine from August, 1906, until 1908. Good accommodations were available at the mine for the workers, who during this period put out 3,638 tons of ore averaging about 7 percent copper. The ore was hauled by teams to Ivanpah, and shipped via the California Eastern and Santa Fe Railroads to the Needles smelter, run by Godshall. 146

The Cocopah Mining Company, reorganized under the name Ivanpah Mining Company, resumed operations in May, 1916, and continued steadily until late 1918. In November, 1917, a 100 ton capacity blast furnace for making copper matte opened at Valley Wells. About 100 tons of ore a day were hauled to the smelter by tractor. Also, 13,000 tons of slag from earlier operations was being treated, which averaged from 2 to 10 percent copper. 147

The copper matte was hauled 25 miles to Cima (by 1916 the California Eastern had ceased operations to Ivanpah) and shipped to the smelter at Garfield, Utah. Sulphur, in the form of iron pyrite for the smelter charge, was obtained from Jerome, Arizona, and from the Francis copper mine (another enterprise of Dr. L. D. Godshall), located on the southwest slope of the Providence Mountains. The Francis Mine shipped about 30 tons of copper-lead-silver ore a month to the Valley Wells smelter. When operations were just getting underway in 1916, there were only 6 men employed at the mine, but two years later, 60 men were at work. Operations were suspended in 1918 due to the low price of copper. The average value of the ore for these operations was 4 percent copper, 3 to 5 ounces of silver and 0.04 to 0.1 ounces of gold per ton. In 1944, 3,743 tons of old tailings were treated and in 1949 copper furnace matte was shipped in a cleanup operation. 148

In 1977 Philip Rivera acquired a long-term lease from the Dan Murphy Foundation, the owners of the Copper World. In June, 1977, he commenced mining for “Royal Gem Azurite,” a combination of malachite, azurite, and tenorite. Work continues at the mine today. 149

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