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Mining History: Desert Fever

San Bernardino County:

Savahia Peak Area

West of Copper Basin, probably one of the first mines to be developed was the American Eagle. A somewhat confusing account in 1905 linked McGuire to the discovery of the claims, perhaps as early as 1875. At that time a large quantity of high grade gold and copper ore was shipped to Swansea, Wales. In 1902, five men were employed at the mine, and by 1905, the American Eagle boasted a 110 foot deep shaft with 200 feet of additional underground workings. In 1908, they were completing arrangements to begin work again, and it appears they did, sinking the shaft to 300 feet and making a small shipment, with which they failed to break even. In 1912, the property was leased to James S. Douglas, and it was last operated in the winter of 1918-1919. 57

The town of Vidal was founded as a trading post in 1907, and soon after, Wyatt Earp, the famous lawman, and his wife settled there. He had a small mine in the Whipples on which the deepest shaft on the property was 100 feet. Earp operated his mine intermittently until he died in 1929 at the age of 80. In 1971, his house still stood “in the shifting sands and tumbleweeds east of the highway.” 58

Other mines worthy of mention in the vicinity are the Tuscarora, the Savahia, and the D&W. The D&W, named after the locators Dayton and Wilbur, was by far the biggest. The D&W was incorporated in 1906 and work then began in earnest. The main shaft probably reached about 300 feet during 1907. In November, 1909, good ore was showing up at considerable depth, and by 1911, the shaft had reached 700 feet. While cutting a drift on the 700 foot level, a vein of free milling gold ore, running $10 to $14 a ton was discovered. Additional work on the other levels also discovered this vein. Up to that point, work had concentrated on a vein carrying mostly copper values. In October, two shifts were at work, after being closed down from June to September because of the heat. 59

There was some talk of installing a mill as early as January, 1912, and after a busy season of mining, when the mine closed for the summer of 1912 the D&W Company felt enough ore had been developed to warrant a mill. Water was to be obtained from the third level of the mine. 60

Grading began that November for the mill, which was to arrive in “Vidal most any day,” but in January of 1913 the machinery for the mill still had not arrived. That did not dampen spirits much, as plans were announced for a real celebration party when the mill began on March 1, 1913. Two Pullman coaches were to be run from Los Angeles with the stockholders and friends, an estimated 200 people. This bash was going to last two days “and everyone is assured the time of their lives. There will be plenty to eat, and plenty to drink... Besides a barbecue, there will be dancing.” March came and went, and it was not until November 6, 1913, that the mill began operation. While three shifts worked for awhile, the operation soon slowed. The mill was idle from the beginning of 1914 until April, 1916, when work resumed on a small scale. 61

The G. A. M. Mines Company, with G. A. Marsh and R. C. Sanfley of Parker as principal stockholders, at least during 1911 and 1912, owned the Savahia Mine. In February, 1911, the Cedar Rapids Claim was leased to Bert Hitt, mentioned elsewhere as a co-discoverer of gold at Hart in 1907. He soon was sacking gold ore that ran better than $100 a ton from the bottom of a 30 foot shaft. His brother, Clark Hitt, who was still living in Hart, was going to join Bert and help out. This ore was shipped in the fall to the El Paso smelter, and returned a good profit to the G. A. M. Mines as well as to the Hitts. In November, 1912, work resumed at the mine for another year. 62

After tracing stringers of ore for two years, in early 1912, John Jarvis of the Tuscarora Mining and Milling Company discovered a huge fissure vein 7 feet wide. He sank a 30 foot shaft at one promising point, and 2,000 feet away, dug a prospect pit at another outcropping of the vein. The announcement of this stirred interest among stockholders, and funds were obtained to continue development. By December, the shaft had been sunk to 100 feet and the company was going to open the ledge at several places. By July, 1913, they made some shipments of ore to the Douglas smelter. Five men were employed at the property when geologists from the California State Mining Bureau visited the property in 1916. 63

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