Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
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This Historic Resource Study is the culmination of a two-year-plus research project focusing on the mining history of Death Valley National Monument. Its purposes are manifold:

1. to comply with E. O. 11593 with respect to the monument's mining history, emphasizing hard-rock mining, by producing an overview of the various mining phases in the valley and by completing individual narratives of each camp and mine;

2. to identify sites with sufficient integrity to justify their nomination to the National Register, and to thus hopefully correct an imbalance on that official listing by adding sites and structures significant in the very important theme of westward mining expansion;

3. to provide needed information relative to the significance of historical structures and sites located on patented or valid mining claims to ensure that their continued existence is not jeopardized by further mineral development;

4. to gain for monument interpreters information that has not heretofore been compiled on the area's cultural, historical, and industrial heritage, and thus influence future park interpretive programs and visitor-use plans;

5. to enable park management to determine methods of treatment or disposal of surviving relics of the valley's mining past. This involves questions pertinent to visitor safety, such as which dangerously-exposed shafts and adits may be capped, and which dilapidated, unsightly structures are not deemed sufficiently significant to warrant expenditure of time and money in their stabilization or restoration

6. to furnish a sound reference base for future park planning efforts; and, last but not least,

7. to dispel or at least qualify as many as possible of the myths and legends concerning the monument's history that have been promulgated by generations of writers and that have no basis in historical fact.

The writers sincerely hope that they have succeeded in fulfilling these objectives in a helpful and satisfactory manner.

In 1975 a team of National Park Service professionals assembled to prepare a List of Classified Structures for the Western Regional Office. Utilizing Ben Levy's 1969 history study of Death Valley to determine the scope of the project in that particular area, the team then proceeded with an on-site survey of the monument in December of that year. During the next six months they performed research in mining journals and other sources as time and projects permitted, under the guidance of the regional historian. On the basis of this entire effort a revised estimate of the scope of the research problem in Death Valley was made, resulting in the funding of this more thorough mining history.

The amassing of data for this report has been an exhaustive and time-consuming task made bearable primarily by the enthusiastic cooperation of many individuals and institutions. The writers would first like to extend their thanks to former Superintendent Donald M. Spalding and to Superintendent George Von der Lippe and the various members of their staff who made our visits to the park pleasant and profitable during the course of our research and fieldwork. Chief Ranger Richard S. Rayner arranged several times for rangers to serve as chauffeurs and guides into some of the more remote sections of the monument, and their familiarity with the area and willingness to traverse miles of rugged terrain probably saved both writers from becoming additional "Death Valley victims." Robert T. Mitcham, mining engineer, and Anne Madsen, then of the mining office, contributed information from their vast files and knowledge of the area, in addition to xeroxing services, that greatly facilitated the research effort. Mr. Mitcham's knowledge of all aspects of the park's mining operations is indeed impressive. Also to be thanked is Virgil I . Olson, Chief Interpreter, who freely lent negatives from the visitor center photograph file for use in our report and assisted in other ways with interpretive information

Several private individuals were also consulted, who were either frequent visitors to the area or else are engaged in personal research on some facet of the valley's history. They were all most generous with their time and knowledge of the region, and include William G. Fiero, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and Richard E. Lingenfelter, University of California at San Diego.

Many institutions also provided assistance, and the authors would like to thank the staffs of the California Historical Society; the Bancroft Library; the California State Bureau of Mines and Geology; the California State Library; the Nevada State Library; the University of Nevada-Reno Library; the Colorado School of Mines Library; the University of Colorado Library; the California Secretary of State's Office in Sacramento; the South Dakota Secretary of State's Office in Pierre; the Office of the Nye County Recorder and Auditor in Tonopah, Nevada; the Office of the Inyo County Clerk-Recorder, Independence, California; the United States Geological Survey Library in Denver; and the National Archives and Records Service of the General Services Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.

On several occasions, certain individuals stood out from the crowd in their enthusiasm, interest, and expertise. Chief among these was Guy Rocha, Curator of Manuscripts for the Nevada State Historical Society. A special debt of gratitude also goes to Ruth Larison, the overworked Librarian of the Denver Service Center, who spent much time and effort in securing research material and microfilm copies of early mining papers and journals for our perusal.

Finally, we wish to acknowledge the guidance and moral support offered by our colleagues Gordon Chappell, Western Regional Historian, San Francisco, and Erwin N. Thompson, Senior Historian, Pacific Northwest/Western Team, Denver Service Center, on this study, our first research project for the National Park Service.

Linda W. Greene
John A. Latschar
November 1979

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003