Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
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A. Southern Panamints and West Side Road (continued)

2. Gold Hill Mining District

a) History

Some confusion in researching Gold Hill results from the fact that two similarly-named regions existed in the vicinity of Death Valley. A very early Gold Hill Mining District was formed east of Death Valley in the 1860s by a certain Mr. Shaw, and accounts from this area, also referred to as Gold Mountain, appeared quite frequently for a time. The Gold Hill region within Death Valley National Monument is in its southwest corner, in the Panamint Mountain Range, at the northeast end of Butte Valley and north of Warm Spring. It did not see its first activity until around the 1870s. [89]

On 7 May 1875 a Certificate of Work on the Gold Hill No. 1 claim was filed, the work consisting only of an open cut.

It is doubtful that this claim was actually located on what is today known as Gold Hill, because an 1881 location notice for the Bullion Mine, "formerly known as Gold Hill No. 1, Richmond, and Victor Mine," filed by Robert Mitchell, describes it as being situated "at or near head of Quartz Canyon, about 2-1/2 miles from Town of Panamint." [90]

The first positive documented evidence of mining activity occurring on the Gold Hill just north of Butte Valley consists of several site locations filed by Messrs. R.B. Taylor (president of the Citizen's Bank at South Riverside), W.C. Morton, and R.W. Beckerton of South Riverside, San Bernardino County, California. [91] These early claims were filed within the Cleaveland Mining District, which at some early date encompassed, or was thought to, some of these mining properties. No information on the boundaries or establishment dates of this district were found in the Inyo County Courthouse.

Illustration 11. Map of Gold Hill and Butte Valley mining districts.

The ten mines these men located probably included some of the following:

(1) Taylor Quartz Mine and Mill Site

The Taylor Quartz Mine (20.54 acres), situated in the Cleaveland Mining District one hundred yards west of the Treasure Mine, was located first on 11 May 1889 and relocated on 28 August 1890, probably to change the mining district name and at the same time affirm ownership by the Death Valley Mining Company. It was recorded in the district 11 May 1889 and 1 September 1890, and was filed with the county recorder on 6 June 1889. Over $100 worth of assessment work was carried out on the Taylor Mine at Gold Hill, then said to be located in the Panamint Mining District, for the year 1890. The mine was subsequently patented on 21 December 1893. [92]

The directions given for the associated Taylor Mill site (4.42 acres) variously describe it as being located in Indian Toms (also referred to as Panamint Tom's) Canyon, four miles easterly from Gold Hill, and about two or two and one-half miles east from Butte Valley. Water from the mill site, to be used for mining, milling, and domestic purposes, was to be conveyed partly by six-inch-diameter iron pipes and partly by a ditch two feet wide and one foot deep. The mill site, located on 28 August 1890 by the Death Valley Mining Company, and recorded 1 September 1890, was patented on 21 December 1893. [93]

(2) Gold Hill Quartz Mine and Mill Site

The Gold Hill Quartz Mine (19.66 acres) was first located on 30 April 1889 by Morton, Beckerton, and Taylor. Said to be situated in the Cleaveland Mining District, five miles west of Death Valley and about 2-1/2 miles east of the "Chief Mine, it was recorded in Inyo County on 6 June 1889. The mine was relocated in the Panamint Mining District on 28 August 1890 by the Death Valley Mining Company, with the following note appended to its papers:

The above notice was recorded through error in what was thought to be Cleaveland Mining District but upon the 30th day April 1889 and [sic] rerecorded in Panamint Mining District Inyo County Cal. upon day and year as above stated.

The mine location was given as on the north slope of Gold Hill, about two miles east of the Chief Mine and about 500 yards east of the Treasure Mine. Over $100 worth of assessment work was performed on the Gold Hill Mine for the year 1890, and it was subsequently patented on 1 May 1893. [94]

The associated five-acre mill site plus water recorded in the Cleaveland Mining District on 30 April 1889 were to be used by Morton, Beckerton, and Taylor in connection with mining, milling, and domestic purposes. Both mill site and water claim were said to be situated in Marvel Canyon, about five mites west of Death Valley. They were recorded in the Inyo County recorder's office on 6 or 7 June 1889. [95]

(3) Death Valley Mine

The original Death Valley claim in the Panamint Mining District, "situated 1/2 mile south of where the Panamint and Death Valley Trail crosses the summit and on the Death Valley side of the ridge," was discovered by John Lemoigne and others on 6 June 1879. The next possible mention of the claim occurs in the form of a location notice for a Death Valley Mine, situated in the Cleaveland Mining District, "about 1-1/4 miles north of Chief Mine." It was located 13 May 1889 by Taylor and Beckerton and was recorded on 6 June 1889. The claim was evidently relocated and rerecorded on 14 November 1890 by the Death Valley Mining Company, who described the mine as being "Situated 1-1/4 mile NE of Chief Mine and about 2 mites North of Death Valley Mining Company's Boarding House at Gold Hill and adjoins the Beckerton Mine to which it runs parallel in Panamint Mining District." A third relocation notice by the Death Valley Mining Company on 9 August 1893 located the claim "about 1-1/4 miles NE of 'Ibex' Mine and about one mile north of Death Valley Company's Boarding House." Possibly the Ibex Mine is a later relocation of the Chief Mine, about which the writer could find no mention in the county courthouse records. [96]

(4) Treasure Quartz Mine

This claim (20.39 acres) was first located on 30 April 1889 by Beckerton, Morton, and Taylor. Said to be situated in the Cleaveland Mining District, two miles northwest of the "Chief Mine," it was recorded in the county records on 6 June 1889. According to the survey plat of the claim, the mine was relocated on 28 August 1890 and rerecorded 1 September 1890. At the request of R.B. Taylor, president of the Death Valley Mining Company, for an inspection of the claim, the Panamint Mining District recorder found that over $100 worth of assessment work had been accomplished at the mine for 1890. It was patented on 20 March 1893. [97]

(5) No 1 (No One) Mine

This claim, situated in the Cleaveland Mining District, 1,000 feet west of the Taylor Mine and joining the Gold Hill Mine on the east, was located 10 May 1889 by Morton, Beckerton, and Taylor and recorded with the county on 6 June 1889. Over $100 worth of assessment work was performed on the mine in 1890. Whether or not this mine is a relocation of the Gold Hill No. 1 located in 1875 is conjectural. [98]

(6) Silver Reef (Reefe) Mine

This claim was first recorded on 6 June 1889 in the Cleaveland Mining District, having been located on 17 May 1889 by Morton, Taylor, and Beckerton. It was relocated and refiled on 11 December 1890 by the Death Valley Mining Company. In the relocation notice its position is given as "1/2 mile west from Death Valley Mining Company's Boarding House at Gold Hill and is crossed by trail leading from Gold Hill to Panamint in Panamint Mining District." [99]

(7) Ibex Mine (formerly Chief Mine?)

This claim, situated "alongside trail leading from Panamint to Gold Hill about one mile west from Death Valley Mining Company's Boarding House at Gold Hill," in the Panamint Mining District, was not located and filed on until December 1890 by R.W. Beckerton, so it was probably not one of the original ten Gold Hill properties. [100]

(8) May Mine

This claim was located on 7 May 1889 by Morton, Beckerton, and Taylor, and recorded with the county on 6 June 1889 in the Cleaveland Mining District 14 mile southwest of the Chief Mine. Rerecorded and refiled on 11 December 1890 by the Death Valley Mining Company, its location was further stated as "3/4 mile west from Death Valley Mining Co's Boarding House being crossed by trait leading from Gold Hill to Panamint and is on west slope of Gold Hill" in the Panamint Mining District. [101]

(9) Breyfogle Mine

This claim "west of trail going to Panamint and about 600' south of Ibex Mine," was located in the Panamint Mining District on 9 August 1893, and so was not one of the original, ten claims in the area. It was a relocation of the "Bryfogle [sic] Mine' 600' south of Ibex Mine to north of Gold Hill trait which it crosses." A man by the name of S. Smith relocated the mine again as the "Bryfogle Quartz Mining Claim" on 1 January 1896. The mine was described as a lode of quartz-bearing copper adjoining the Nutmeg Mine "on SW side tine and is south of Panamint Trail about 1000 feet and North West of Gold Hill about 3/4 of mile. Is on low divide between Panamint Mts. and Gold Hill." A second notice of relocation in 1896 gave its spelling as "Breyfogle" again and stated it was a relocation of the Breyfogle Mine formerly claimed by Henry Gage. [102]

(10) Oro Grande Mine

The first mention found of this claim was a 9 August 1893 relocation notice filed by Henry T. Gage. The location given was "on south slope of Gold Hill about 2000' west from Taylor patented mine and about 2000' SW from Treasure patented mine in Panamint Mining District." Four years earlier, on 27 May 1889, a Notice of Appropriation for the waters of Oro Grande Springs, "situated 3 mites west of Chief Mine and about 8 miles north of Anvil Spring in NW corner of Butte Valley in Butte Valley Mng. District," was filed by Frank Winters and Stephen Arnold. The waters, to be used for mining, milling, and domestic purposes, were to be developed by ditches, pipes, and flumes. [103]

(11) Beckerton Mine

This mine was located 14 May 1889 by Morton, Beckerton, and Taylor, and recorded with the county on 6 June 1889. It was situated in the Cleaveland Mining District, 1-1/4 miles northeast of the Chief Mine and 1,000 feet north of the Death Valley Mine. [104]

(12) Georgia Mine

This claim was located 19 May 1889 and recorded on 6 June 1889. Also in the Cleaveland Mining District, it was situated 1-1/2 mites north of the Chief Mine and was supposedly a northern extension of the Breyfogle Mine. [105] If so, there must have been an earlier recordation of this latter mine than the one found by this writer.

According to the Inyo Independent the mines in the Gold Hill region were first discovered by an Indian who imparted the information to a man named Carter who immediately told R.B. Taylor, C.M. Tomlin of Riverside, and a Mr. Nolan about them. These four men went and examined the ledges, located several claims, shipped in provisions, and hired two young men, Stephen Arnold and Frank Withers, to work their claims. As incentive they gave the boys some nearby properties, and then returned home. Although word of the find slowly leaked out after the boys returned to the coast, causing others to take an interest in the area, no one knew much about the ore, which was rumored to range from $80 to $250 per ton. It was also said that Taylor was contemplating opening a road into the property. [106]

Papers incorporating the Death Valley Mining Company "to do a general mining business" for fifty years were filed in the office of the Secretary of State on 13 July 1889. The principal place of business was South Riverside, San Bernardino County, California, and the following were listed as directors: R.B. Taylor (S. Riverside), W.C. Morton (San Bernardino City), R.W. Beckerton (S. Riverside), H.R. Woodall (S. Riverside), and J.H. Taylor (S. Riverside). The corporation had one million dollars of capital stock divided into 10,000 shares worth $100 each, though the amount of capital stock actually subscribed was $60,000, raised by the five directors plus James Taylor, Sr., and W.A. Hayt. [107] Soon after its organization the company obtained U.S. patents for at least five of its mines: Treasure (20 March 1893), Gold Hill (1 May 1893), Taylor (21 December 1893), Grand View, and Anaconda.

Further news of the new camp was available a couple of months later, when it was reported that the "ores are rich in gold, the veins strong and well defined, and as far as opened have every indication of permanency." [108] Prospects appeared so encouraging and Taylor and his associates had accomplished enough labor that reduction works seemed warranted. Other miners had also moved into the area and owned promising properties. In these early days at Gold Hill it is probable that Indian labor was utilized at the mines and that they were taking the ore three miles west to Arrastre Spring to process it.

By 1896 the mines at Gold Hill were still being worked. A Richard Decker was evidently running the operations for R.B. Taylor, and the veins still looked promising. [109] The mines produced so well, in fact, that by the fall of 1897 R.B. Taylor and his business partners James P. Mathes of Corona and W.A. Hayt of Riverside were able to sell a group of five of their free-milling mines to an English syndicate for $105,000. The Independent reported that "This is the most important sate of Inyo mining property that has yet transpired in the 'southeastern' districts. . . ." [110] The mines involved were the Treasure, Taylor, Gold Hill, Grand View, and Anaconda, located "about seven miles southeast from Panamint and ten miles northeast from the head [mouth?] of Pleasant Valley; are at the north end of Butte Valley and near the head of Anvil Canyon. . . ." Dumps In the Gold Hill area had already accumulated 500 to 600 tons of ore, not free-milling as had been rumored, but impregnated with copper and iron. Water could be piped to the mines from Arrastre Spring and of course lumber was available on the higher mountains. The only major problem hindering development revolved, as usual, around lack of easy access to mine and market. It was suggested that a road be cut down Butte Valley past Anvil Spring to connect with the old "Coleman road," probably meaning Wingate Pass. [111]

Taylor evidently had negotiated a further sale of Gold Hill property by 1899, for reports were found that he then sold the Gold Hill mine "known as the Death Valley mining property" to New Yorkers for $207,000. They were supposedly going to spend another $100,000 erecting a forty-stamp mill, bringing in other machinery, and in making needed improvements. The sale was made because the owners (Taylor and Beckerton) did not have sufficient capital to fully develop the mine. [112] By the next year the Death Valley Mining Company had reportedly been doing extensive work in opening up its properties in order to fully determine their extent and richness. A sixteen-foot vein of solid auriferous ore had been exposed, and some sort of reduction works were needed. An Inyo newspaper reported that

This section in the near future will become an important factor in the gold production of the State. The veins are large, the nature of the ground admitting of extraction at a minimum expense with water and fuel handy. [113]

The year 1900 also saw the entrance of a new mining company into the Gold Hill region as the Gold Hill Mining Company, a wealthy New York-based firm, announced intentions to begin activities there around the first of March. [114]

Future transactions concerning the Gold Hill Mine are somewhat confusing. In April 1900 the Independent reported that this claim had been resold on the seventeenth "to Mr. Taylor, a banker of South Riverside, for $207,000." [115] In May an article stated that the Gold Hill "lead mines" had been sold to some southern California capitalists (possibly including Mr. Taylor) who were envisioning commencing operations there immediately. [116] By 1904 the Gold Hill Mining and Development Company was in some financial difficulty, appearing on the Delinquent Tax List of Inyo County for the year 1903 because of taxes due on the Taylor Mine and Mill Site (Lots 39A and B, comprising twenty-five acres), the Gold Hill Mine (Lot 37, twenty acres), and the Treasure Mine (Lot 38, twenty acres). The amount assessed the company was $39.46. An assessment of $8.10 for the very same property was made against an L.A. Norveil, who apparently held a mortgage on-these properties, possibly as executor of the W.H. Greenleaf Estate that is mentioned in the assessment. [117] Suffice to say, ownership of the claims had become fairly involved by this time.

No detailed mention of the mines in this area over the next few years came to light. In 1906 two other persons, Ralph Williams and Bob Murphy, were mentioned in connection with mining properties on Gold Hill, and both reports indicate that satisfactory progress was still being made in the area. [118] By 1911 the Delinquent Tax-List of Inyo County listed John W. Cavanaugh as being assessed $25.01 in state and county taxes for the Anaconda Mine (Lot No. 62 Mineral Survey, twenty acres) and the Grand View Mine (Lot No. 63 Mineral Survey, twenty acres). The Gold Hill Mining and Development Company, of which Cavanaugh was the secretary, was assessed $25.51 in overdue state and county taxes again for the Taylor Mine and Mill Site and the Gold Hill and Treasure mines. [119]

In February 1917 these three mining locations are reported as having been sold to the state on 28 June 1904 for 1903 taxes (Deed No. 72). Since no effort had been made in the past five years by the Gold Hill Mining and Development Company to redeem the properties, they were being offered for sale. The total assessment levied, including overdue state and county taxes for 1903, penalties on delinquency and costs, total interest at 7% per year from 1 July 1904, plus smaller miscellaneous costs, fixed the price asked at at leas? $82.60. [120]

The Anaconda and Grand View mines had already been sold to the state on 25 June 1901 for non-payment of taxes during 1900. Cavanaugh and the Death Valley Mining Company were being assessed a total of $149.50 in back taxes, $27.19 in penalties, and $84.99 in total interest charges. This plus miscellaneous costs brought the minimum purchase price of the two properties to $281.50. The minimum purchase price of the Taylor, Gold Hill, and Treasure mines, still up for sale, had fallen slightly, to $799. [121]

The 1932 Journal of Mines and Geology presents a capsulized summary of the current workings at the Gold Hill Mine. It comprised four patented claims on the east slope of the Panamints at an elevation of 5,400 feet. The owners at that time were Fred W. Gray of Los Angeles and William Hyder of Trona, California, but the property was under lease at the time to Miss Louise Grantham, also of Los Angeles. Gray and Hyder said the property, patented in 1894, had been deeded to the state, from whom they bought it in 1919. The owners claimed there were three tunnels on the property (the longest, 300 feet) from which were coming "lead carbonates and galena, with gold and silver as associate minerals." Rumor was that Miss Grantham intended to construct a mill to process the ore at Warm Springs, about four miles southeast of Gold Hill. [122] (More information on this mill will be found in the Warm Spring section of this report.) A 1948 USGS Bulletin stated that the Gold Hill Mine, producing gold, silver, and lead, was owned (or operated) by Messrs. James and Dodson of Lone Pine, California, in 1940. [123]

In 1951 the Journal mentions several Gold Hill area mines: 1) Golden Eagle Group of six claims on the southwest slope of Gold Hill (T22S, R46E, MDM). These were owned by Louise Grantham and development consisted of a 40-foot tunnel with 10-foot winze. High-grade gold, silver, and copper was present, but in this year no activity was recorded; [124] 2) Panamint Treasure Mine (Taylor, Treasure, Gold Hill) on the southeast slope of Gold Hill. This ninety-acre holding comprised the three patented claims above plus three unpatented fraction claims and a mill site at Arrastre Spring, all owned by Louise Grantham and associates of Ontario, California. A 50-foot adit and a 100-foot adit were present on the Taylor Claim with ore assaying on the average 1.02 ozs. gold, 9.4 ozs. silver, and 3.2% lead. From 1931 to 1941, 150 tons of ore were shipped and 300 tons milled, but the property was now idle; [125] 3) Red Eagle Group (Blue Bird Group) on the southwest slope of Gold Hill comprised six unpatented claims also owned by Louise Grantham. Workings on the now idle property consisted of a 50-foot shaft, an open cut, and a 100-foot adit. Assays on the ore returned lead, silver, and smaller amounts of gold. [126]

A partial list of mining claim locations within the monument in 1960 reveals that the Gold Hill area contained at least twelve unpatented and three patented gold, silver, and lead claims. [127] The files in the Death Valley National Monument mining office offer a more complete look at the more recent claims and the present mining situation in the Gold Hill area:

In 1975 Gold Hill proper contained fifteen claims owned by Ralph Harris of Victor Material Co. of Victorville, California, and his son Harold: the Treasure Quartz Mine (patented), Taylor Quartz Mine (patented), and Gold Hill Quartz Mine (patented); Panamint Treasure Fractions #1, #2, and #3 (located 20 February 1937); Golden Eagle #1, #2, and #3 (located 30 July 1935); Red Eagle #1, #2, and #3 (located 31 July 1935); and Bullet #2 and #3 (located 30 April 1942), and #4 (located 19 September 1956). All claims were located for gold, except the Red Eagle Group, which was located for lead and silver. The patented Taylor Mill site, although associated with mining at Gold Hill, is located at Arrastre Spring about four miles west. The Red Eagle Mill site (located either 19 or 24 April 1946) is located at Six Springs, two miles northeast of Arrastre Spring in Six Spring Canyon.

b) Present Status

The claims listed earlier are all included within the Panamint Treasure Claim Group and lie in the vicinity of Gold Hill, north of Warm Spring Canyon, in protracted Sections 14, 23, and 24, T22S, R46E, MDB and MDM.

(1) Gold Hill Area

The Gold Hill area is reached by a rough dirt road taking off in a northerly direction from the Butte Valley Road about 2-1/2 miles west of its intersection with the Warm Spring Canyon Road. About 1/4 mile north on this road some ruts veer to the west, leading about another 2-1/2 miles up a steep four-wheel-drive slope to Arrastre Spring. Proceeding north on the main road, however, for about another two miles leads to a fork in the road, the northernmost route leading up over a hill to a site marked "Prospect" on the USGS Bennetts Well quadrangle. This area is on the Bullet claim, and according to on-site observations made by Rich Ginkus in July 1974, the site contains a 30-foot shaft fifty feet south of the road approximately 1,500 feet from the road's end where remains of two old wooden buildings were found along with a rusting gas or diesel generator. A nearby adit about 100 feet long contained mine rails. Three other smaller cuts are also present. It did not appear that any recent work had been done in the area. [128]

The southern fork leads to an area marked "Mine" (Red Eagle Claim) on the USGS quadrangle. This road has been extended since the area was officially mapped, so that instead of ending in the wash below the prospect area, it switchbacks up the side of the hilt, finally trending on east toward the summit of the saddle south of Gold Hill. The mine workings viewed by this writer along this newer extension of the road appear to be exploratory in nature, consisting of small adits and open cuts along the sides of three gullies, with no structures or mining artifacts in association.

The writer followed along the road to about the 5,000-foot elevation point on the saddle below (south of) Gold Hill. Here were found the remains of a small stone structure, whose walls measured approximately twelve by fifteen feet. Some wood scraps, fragments of metal cans, and pieces of murky white glass lie in and around the ruins. About thirty-seven paces northeast is a small beehive-shaped mound of stones one to two feet high--probably a claim marker. This structure was the only item of historical interest found during this exploration of Gold Hill.

Illustration 12. Ruins of small stone structure on saddle south of Gold Hill, view from northwest. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 13. View of stone structure from southwest. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978

(2) Panamint Treasure Claim Group

Investigation of the Panamint Treasure Fraction #1-#3 lode claims, made a month later, proved much more productive. The best way to reach the area (other than by helicopter) is on foot via a burro trail leading west from the Sunset Mine, which is located at the end of a road veering west from the stockpile of the Montgomery (Panamint) Talc Mine. After an exhausting uphill climb of two hours duration the site was found on the southeast slope of a ridge southeast of Gold Hill.

The complex consists actually of two distinct sites. The most easterly one contains two adits--an upper 226-foot tunnel that was worked and a lower one used as living quarters. The second site, around west on the south slope of the same ridge, contains a third adit and a tent site. An extensive tramway system still exists at the first location, complete with cable and supports This was used to transport ore from these main workings down the mountainside 1-1/2 miles probably to the wash just north of the ridge that lies northwest of the Warm Spring Canyon-Butte Valley roads junction. Time did not permit driving up this wash to see if any structures remained at the bottom of the tramway.

view of hill
Illustration 14. View toward west-northwest of Panamint Treasure Claim. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 15. Model A frame possibly supporting air compressor for Panamint Treasure adit. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Reportedly, work on the lodes here stopped in 1941, a date that corresponds closely with the cultural remains left on site, of which there are many. Examining the property is difficult because of the steepness of the slope and the fact that it is covered with loose rock from mining activity. Descent to the lower workings is possible only by holding on to the tramway cable.

In front of the upper adit is a Model A frame containing a Phillips 66 battery, which might have functioned as an air compressor. A pipe with a gate valve leads from here to a nearby adit. Various debris (tin cans, rubber hosing, nails, hand drills, a windlass, an axe handle, and drill stems) is scattered over the slope. In the upper adit, whose main tunnel branches off in about seven different directions, creating a fairly large open central area, were many items of interpretive interest. Just inside the entrance on the floor is an almost-full box of bits and some drills (labelled "Timken Roller Bearing Co., Mt. Vernon, O."). A large Fairbanks scale on wheels stands nearby, all its weights still in place. Also on the floor near the entrance are an adze handle, coiled rubber hosing, and a small rusted oil can. In the exploratory tunnel furthest west are two picks leaning against the wall. The tunnel at this point was being excavated upwards for a height of about six feet, and the entire excavation was filled with crickets. Nearby are the remains of a dynamite box and a burlap specimen bag.

As stated earlier, several exploratory tunnels branch off from the main one, but some were backfilled or went in only a few feet. On the south side of the main tunnel is a stoped-out area below a short cut-off bank. An ore cart built from half of a steel drum placed on wheels was pulled by a cable up short wooden tracks to the main tunnel level. Pieces of rope, big sheets of burlap, and blanket remains are scattered around. On one of the latter is imprinted: "Plummer Bag Mfg. Co., Bags, Tarpaulins, & Tents, San Pedro & L.A., 108#. An old shoe, made in Taiwan, lies on the floor. Atlas powder box fragments and fuses are also found.

mine entrance
Illustration 16. Adit to Panamint Treasure Mine to right, storage pit to left. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

mine entrance
Illustration 17. Adit used as living quarters, Panamint Treasure Mine. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Near a shallow pit just outside the tunnel entrance is a dugout storage area. Scraps of the Los Angeles Examiner, dated in April (probably 1940 or 1941 judging from the news content), and some canvas bags (sample sacks?), one with a drawstring, were found here. Further searching revealed four dry-cell batteries fastened together, some waxed paper from dynamite boxes, and the head of a sledgehammer.

Below this first tunnel is a stone wall, undoubtedly shoring up the entrance and providing a working platform area. The next tunnel downhill was definitely used as living quarters. A stovepipe projects from the entrance, which has a wood frame opening to which a canvas door is attached. In front of the door were found soldered tin cans and Mason jars. Inside the tunnel are a wealth of household goods: Alber's Flapjack Flour cases, Fluffo vegetable shortening (4 lbs./49¢); a 1941 Saturday Evening Post a dime western magazine; a Los Angeles Times dated 15 December 1940; a five-gallon oil can; a shovel; another Mason jar with vertical ridges encircling it; a saw; a cooking pan; a wall shelf fashioned from an explosives box; a coffee can full of pinto beans; a can of Diamond A cut green beans; a 24-1/2 lb. A-1 flour sack made into a pillow covering; two sacks of flour; a spoon; a skillet; strips of jerky in a bottle; two pie tins; a small square pie pan; two small homemade stools; a four-legged table; and two metal bunks, one with a feather pillow. A cardboard box was found addressed to "K.H. Grantham, Wilmington, Ohio." Nearby was a postcard addressed to "Fritz" from "Mother and Dad Gibson." Outside the entrance are a small warming oven with shelves, a homemade pitcher, a milk can with a wire handle, the remains of a water bag, gear parts, and an electric line fastened to the rocks above the door.

Illustration 18. Metal tramway terminus, Panamint Treasure Mine. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 19. View south down slope along route of tramway cable. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

A metal terminus for the cable tramway is located outside and a little below the tunnel entrance. Lying just west of the terminus, against the rocks are some spare parts and wooden ties, possibly an equipment storage area. The cable tramway operated like a ski lift. Six supports for it are left, one of which is metal, the rest wood. Two buckets lie on the ground under the cable. Visible from this point across the valley to the east, below the trail by which the mine is reached, is another adit, but work here does not appear very extensive.

Farther down the hill and around the slope to the west, is another adit with what appears to be an early tent site in front of it. A rock wall has been built to shore up the cleared space, and timbers are strewn about. Some legs from cots remain. Also found were square-headed nails, a plastic button, china fragments, and purple glass. A large white glass fragment from an apothecary bottle was also found. Inside the adit were boards with pegs that were hung on the wall to store clothes, etc. Two metal bunks and a shovel were also present. On the dump down the hillside in front of the tent site were tin cans, screen fragments, and other debris. Tent stakes were driven into the ground on top of the stone retaining wall.

On top of the ridge above these sites is a claim marker in a cairn: "Panamint Treasure Fraction #1, Aug. 10, 1976, east end center." Also found were some old wooden stakes in cairns with markings that appeared to be "WBV, 8 Bill." Near these are three prospect holes, with a shovel and a horseshoe on a nearby rock. North and east of the mine workings is a marker on the ridge up which the trail came from the Panamint Mine. It consists of a metal cross-shaped plate imbedded in a rock and affixed with melted metal.

tent site
Illustration 20. Tent site, view to southwest, Panamint Treasure Mine. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

mine entrance
Illustration 21. Adit at northeast corner of tent site, used as living quarters. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

c) Evaluation and Recommendations

(1) Gold Hill Area

The Gold Hill Mining District is one of the oldest mining areas within the boundaries of Death Valley National Monument, with prospecting and mining work dating from at least the 1870s. Documentary data regarding specifics on the district is scarce, however, not providing much more than a broad overview of mining activity. Most of the workings that are visible now in the areas marked "Prospect" and "Mine" on the USGS quads date from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and have no historical significance in themselves. The stone ruins on top of the saddle south of Gold Hill could well be the structure labelled "Iron Cabin" and located in the extreme northwest corner of the claim on the 1891 survey plat of the Treasure Quartz Mine. Whether the name refers to construction materials used on the cabin (corrugated iron), or to its use possibly as a blacksmith shop, is unclear. It appears to have been situated alongside a trail, shown on the plat, cutting across the claim from east to west. The only other structure mentioned in the documentary data is the Death Valley Mining Company's boarding house, but its location appears to have been further west and north of this area. These stone foundations are interesting but do not warrant restoration or stabilization. Nor should they be willfully destroyed, since they are probably part of early Death Valley mining history. A policy of benign neglect is recommended.

(2) Panamint Treasure Mine

This property possesses educational potential and historical significance due to the presence of workings dating from a turn-of-the-century tent site with associated dump up through a mining operation of the 1930s and 1940s. Their further study by historians and historical archeologists relative to the lifestyles and technological processes common to small, remote desert mining operations of the late 1800s and early 1900s is recommended. Any personal items found in the adit near the cable tramway or in association with the earlier site around the corner of the ridge have the potential to yield information pertinent to behavioral patterns of miners from the 1890s through the 1940s, providing data on eating habits, amusements available (reading matter, etc.), type of furniture used, and so forth. The mining-related objects found in the upper adit are scientifically significant because they can contribute to an understanding of the technological processes used on a small desert claim. Many of the houseware and machinery items are makeshift, fashioned from everyday materials at hand, and thus are instrumental in showing the adaptations miners had to make because of their distance from supply sources.

Rarely in the monument does a situation such as this exist where the residents of an area have left the premises virtually intact and nothing has been vandalized or stolen. Even at Harrisburg, where the living quarters are intact, there is no such complete abandonment of mining equipment. Because the Gold Hill Mining District in which this site is located was one of the earliest commercially-operated areas within the national monument, and due to this particular site's long history, excellent research potential, and the obvious assets of being able to use this data for comparative purposes, the site is determined to be of local significance and eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

Some uncertainty exists as to whether the aerial tramway and its associated adits are located on the Taylor Quartz Mine site, which is patented, or on the Panamint Treasure Fraction #1 to #3 claim, which is not. If these structures are on unpatented land and the claims are found to be invalid, every effort should be made to preserve the materials on site. Any interpretive effort here would be impractical because of the site's inaccessibility, but selected artifacts could be recorded and then removed to the monument museum collections for study and interpretive use. If the site is on patented property and is not added to the National Register, it is suggested that attempts be made to acquire significant items from the owner after documenting their location and photographing them in situ. If the owner is unwilling to donate or sell them to the park, attempts should at least be made to thoroughly inventory and photograph all artifacts on the site as well as to map the area and designate the relationships of the various components of the site to each other.

d) Related Sites

(1) Arrastre Spring

(a) History

Documentation on early activity at Arrastre Spring is practically nonexistent. A swift perusal of the Index to Land, Water and Mining Claims of Inyo County turned up notice of a filing on an "Erastra Spgs." involving a mill site of five acres, by Messrs. William Bradley, James Bradley, A.F. Brown, and W. Morrison on 25 January 1883, but the subject property was said to be located "near head of Cane Canon." [129] Since no canyon by this name appears in the vicinity of Gold Hill, it would be premature to say that the two sites were the same.

By the 1890s, however, Arrastre Spring was the scene of some activity, for Indians working in the gold mines at Gold Hill were reportedly carrying the ore by burros the 2-1/2 to 3 miles to the arrastra at the spring for reduction. [130] When Louise Grantham and associates took over ownership of the Taylor, Treasure, and Gold Hill mining claims on Gold Hill, included was the patented Taylor Mill site at Arrastre Spring.

(b) Present Status

The spring is reached via a steep, rough road branching to the northwest one-quarter of a mile north of the junction of the Gold Hill and Butte Valley roads. This road ends on a slope below the spring, necessitating a walk of about one-half mile in order to reach the willow grove in which the spring is located. One of the notable aspects of this site is the vast number of prehistoric petroglyphs, numbering in the hundreds, on boulders around the spring. Many of these abstract designs are only about 2-1/2 to 3 inches high.

The remains of the arrastra are located northwest of the spring above a clump of dead willows and behind a large willow thicket that covers many of the remaining rocks. One dragstone and a portion of the arrastra walls are visible. Two holes have been drilled in the dragstone, eighteen inches apart., and fragments of wood are still visible in both of them. The diameter of the arrastra is about six feet. Nine feet southwest of the arrastra remains is a small depression possibly associated with the ore processing in some way. Somewhere in the general vicinity of the spring is the patented Taylor Mill site, although there is evidently some confusion as to its exact location. According to Mineral Survey 3097B, the mill site is located on the monument boundary as shown on the NPS Land Status Map 44 and not at Arrastre Spring. According to the owners, Ralph Harris and Louise Grantham, however, it is definitely at the spring site.

Other than the remains of the arrastra, no artifactual remnants were found in the vicinity except for one metal kerosene can. In the wash below the spring and arrastra are some pieces of timber and metal debris.

Illustration 22. Petroglyphs along trail on way to Arrastre Spring. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 23. Petroglyphs on rock wall near Arrastre Spring. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

arrastra wall
Illustration 24. Remaining wall of arrastra and dragstone, rapidly being overgrown by thicket surrounding Arrastre Spring. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

arrastra wall
Illustration 25. Close-up view of arrastra wall. Note floor has completely gone to seed. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

The historical interest generated by Arrastre Spring hinges mainly on its relationship to the mining activity performed at Gold Hill. It is probable that during the early years of exploration work there, local Indians were employed to help at the mines, and in the process transported the free-milling ore to Arrastre Spring for reduction. The Treasure, Taylor, Gold Hilt, Grand View, and Anaconda mines were all reputed to be free milling in 1897. [131] Exactly how long a period of activity might have been involved here is unknown, although newspaper reports tend to indicate that by the early 1900s enough mining was being pursued that one arrastra simply would not suffice to process all the ore being found. On the other hand, no other mill or reduction plant is mentioned in the area until Mrs. Grantham built the ore-processing plant at Warm Spring around 1937 to treat ore from her Gold Hill mine. Whether any Gold Hill ore was treated at the Butte Valley Stamp Mill around 1917 or in the mill near Willow Spring is conjectural.

The arrastra at Arrastre Spring should be left to benign neglect; it will undoubtedly soon be covered by the surrounding undergrowth. For interpretive purposes, other arrastras can be found within the monument (notably at Warm Spring) that are in better shape and more readily available for viewing by the public. No effort need be made to stabilize or restore this particular example.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003