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

9. Pink Elephant Fluorite Claim

a) History

Fluorite, a mineral used as a flux and in the manufacture of opalescent and opaque glasses, has been found in association with lead and silver deposits in several mining districts in the area west of Death Valley National Monument. The deposit in Warm Spring Canyon is the only outcropping of this mineral that has been worked in the Panamint Range, but the site is so isolated and the ore bodies so scanty and irregular that mining here has not been economically profitable. [272]

The Pink Elephant claims are contiguous to the Indian Allotment, Survey No. 330 (Indian Ranch at Warm Spring). The Pink Elephant Nos. 1 and 2 were located on 25 August 1937, and the Pink Elephant No. 3 on 28 June 1937; the Pink Elephant Nos. 4, 5, and 6 on 19 June 1939; and the Teena Lode on 24 April 1942. No notice of location was found for the Pink Elephant Millsite Claim, but it was located sometime before March 1946 when all these claims were patented, in the South Park Mining District, by General Chemical Company. [273] No records appear to exist of any fluorite production during the years since.

b) Present Status

This claim group today consists of five patented lode mining claims--the Pink Elephant Nos. 1 to 3, Pink Elephant No. 5, and the Teena Lode, although as of March 1978 the Inyo County assessor's office carried all the original eight claims on their tax rolls. These claims were assessed at $950, according to information from the tax office in October 1974, but they had not been re-appraised since 1967. [274] The claims cover 101.180 acres and are owned by the General Chemical Division of Allied Chemical Corporation of Morristown, New Jersey.

The principal adits are located on a steep hillside about one-half mile north of the northeast corner of the Indian Allotment (Warm Spring). Evidence exists of a mine road that once led north from the Warm Spring Canyon road to the lower level of the mine workings this can be followed on foot today, but is too washed out for anything but four-wheel-drive vehicular passage. The workings cover an area of about 300 feet down the hillside and are just east of a gully at an elevation of approximately 2,700 feet. On the lowest level (there are three) of the workings is a timbered adit with a roughly-made work table outside; several yards south of the entrance and around the ridge is the foundation of a compressor building. [275] The concrete half of the platform is framed with heavy wooden timbers; timbers are also inset in the cement, possibly as a base for machinery. Another section of the building, delineated by boards to the north of this concrete platform, is dirt floored, about ten feet square, and also framed with buried timbers. A triangular-shaped, wooden cable-tramway support, with cable extant, stands just east of the concrete foundation.

On the second level of workings are two more adits, one above the other, and evidently connected. These are slightly north of the adits on the first and third levels. On the ground in front of the openings are the remains of another wooden cable support, indicating that the system probably extended over to this area. A large, wood-framed, screened sieve (?), measuring six feet by two feet, lies half buried in the ground in front of the adits. Remains of a rail tramway are visible leading out of the uppermost adit on the third level. Ore was trammed from the tunnel several yards south around the ridge to the cableway (another wooden cable support, with cable, stands on this level) and then sent down to the bottom of the hill. Ties and rail fragments from the mine railway are scattered all over the upper hillside.

The adits comprising these workings were purely exploratory in nature; hence their erratic turns and twists. According to the mineral appraisal of the property performed in 1978, the lower adit makes ten changes in direction during its 700-foot length. No stoping of the tunnels, which total about 1,005 linear feet, was found, indicating little serious mining activity or production. [276]

mine site
Illustration 76. Pink Elephant Mine on north slope of Warm Spring Canyon. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 77. Compressor house foundations, cable tramway in background, Pink Elephant Mine. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

c) Evaluation and Recommendations

The Pink Elephant Group has been considered uneconomic to mine due to the high cost of labor, the low selling price of fluorite, and the sparse occurrence of the mineral at this particular site. [277] The only physical evidence of activity remaining on site are the compressor house foundation, the aerial tramway supports with attached cable, some tramway rails in the upper adit, and miscellaneous debris scattered over the site.

The Pink Elephant Claim is not historically significant, is of recent age and not of exceptional importance in the history of Death Valley mining, and contains no notable structures on site. Interest lies only in its being the single fluorite deposit mined within the monument lands. Attempts should be made to salvage a number of good examples of mining-related artifacts (cable support, wooden sieve, etc.) that might prove useful in interpretive programs. These should be documented on site, collected, catalogued, and stored in the monument collections.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003