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Mining History: Desert Fever

San Bernardino County:

Waterman

Five years before the famous silver discoveries at Calico, George G. Lee discovered what he thought was a cinnabar mine, 4 miles north of the present site at Barstow. Lee prospected the property, and then died mysteriously on the desert in the fall of 1879. In June, 1880, Robert W. Waterman and John L. Porter visited Lee's property and took samples for assay. In December, they learned that Lee's mine contained silver, and had staked their own claims. 260

Full scale operations began in 1881. A ten-stamp mill erected beside the Mojave River, was powered by the river. Trees which grew along the river supplied fuel for the furnace, with ore teamed downhill to the mill, and water back up for the steam hoisting works at the mine. 261

Between May 1, 1881, and March 15, 1887, $1,611,429 in silver was produced. Near the mill the town of Waterman thrived until the price of silver dropped and the mine was shut down. Prior to 1890 the tailings were worked profitably, and the mine was worked on a small scale until 1909. There was an attempt to recover barite from the tailings in 1931, but the last serious mining took place in 1887. 262



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