Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
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C. Panamint Mining District

1. Panamint City

As if to keep up morale among the mining community in the Panamint Valley, immediately on the heels of the strike at Cerro Gordo erupted the loudest, wildest, most frenzied boom ever to be seen on the west slope of the Panamint Range. It began in January 1873 with the discovery of copper-silver ore in Surprise Canyon. Silver samples assayed as high as $3,000 per ton, with the probable average value of metal-bearing ore being at least $125 a ton. [12] By August 1874 a road had been completed through Panamint Valley and up Surprise Canyon, providing contact with Los Angeles for freighting and supply purposes. The boom lasted only until about 1876 when the two major mines were depleted, but while it lasted memories and legends were created that ensured its place in the history of this region. A more complete narrative concerning Panamint City and the Panamint Mining District follows later in this report.

2. Ballarat

Around 1897 another town in the vicinity of Panamint rose to prominence. This was Ballarat, named for an important Australian gold camp near Melbourne. It was located one-half mile north of Post Office Spring, which had served as a communications center and overnight stop for prospectors during the Panamint boom. The main mine, the Radcliffe, produced 15,000 tons or more of ore from 1898 to 1903. From 1927 to 1942 its tailings were cyanided with a reported recovery value of one quarter of a million dollars in gold. [13] In 1941 the Ballarat Mining and Milling Corporation, a Nevada company, bought property in the Slate and Panamint ranges in San Bernardino and Inyo counties. A Los Angeles company intended to make exhaustive metallurgical tests, paving the way for a projected modern fifty-ton reduction mill south of town to perform custom work. An assay office and metallurgical laboratory were to be part of the complex, [14] and once again Ballarat would see a resurgence of mining activity.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003