Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
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E. Lookout and Modoc Mining Districts

1. Short Existence of Lookout

While Darwin was flourishing, silver strikes were erupting all over in various areas, notably in the Waucoba District opposite Big Pine in the Inyo Range, in Wildrose Canyon in the Panamint Range, and in the Lee District between Owens Lake and Death Valley. In May 1875 the Lookout District was formed, whose main camp of Lookout consisted only of rock and wood buildings, some general stores, and the ever-present saloons. The Lookout District peaked in 1877 and production soon began to fade.

2. Modoc District Supported by George C. Hearst

From this initial effort, however, the Modoc District was born between 1880 and 1890 on the east slope of the Argus Range, fifteen miles southeast of Darwin. Producing mines were the Minietta and Modoc, the latter, along with the Lookout smelters, having been bought in 1876 by George C. Hearst and other capitalists who proceeded to form the Modoc Consolidated Mines Co. of San Francisco. At first the Modoc, Lookout, and Minietta ores were reduced in the Surprise Valley mill at Panamint City, but in the fall of 1876 Hearst had two thirty-ton furnaces built at the Modoc Mine. Remi Nadeau, freighter for Cerro Gordo and Panamint City, built a road up the Panamint Valley from the foot of the Slate Range to the Modoc and Minietta mines and soon was hauling charcoal by wagons and muleback to the Modoc furnaces from the ten charcoal kilns in Wildrose Canyon.

The Minietta operated on and off until 1915. In 1924 this silver-lead-gold mine was reopened and the Modoc Mine was leased. [21] Their slag piles and dumps were reworked, yielding gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. In the mid-1930s the Minietta was leased and refinanced and a mill and modern equipment were to be installed. If gold and silver prices held, the future of the mine seemed bright. [22] By 1938 the Modoc Mine had produced $1,900,000 worth of ore and the Minietta $1,000,000. [23]

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003