Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
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B. Emigrant Wash and Wildrose Canyon (continued)

2. Wild Rose Mining District (continued)

i) Sites (continued)

(4) Nemo Canyon Mines

(a) History

Mining activity in the Nemo Canyon area was contemporary with mineral development at Skidoo and Harrisburg. The only claims in this area of which specific mention was found are the Eureka Nos. 1, 2, and 3, located 10 April 1908 by Judge Frank G. Thisse of Skidoo and situated in Nemo Canyon about 1,500 feet east of the Skidoo pipeline. [78] Judge Thisse returned to Skidoo in April 1908 to have samples of his ore assayed; the results were so encouraging that a small rush ensued to the discovery site. James Arnold, general manager of the Skidoo Trading Company, was in partnership with Thisse, and proceeded with a wagonload of supplies to the area with intentions of setting up a camp. Because of its proximity to the pipeline and its location within one-half mile of the wagon road, it was assumed that the mine would be easy and cheap to work and profitable to develop. With visions of the birth of a new bonanza camp, many people descended on the area within a short time from Harrisburg and other surrounding communities. The extent of development activity at other mines in the canyon is unknown, although there were notices of more strikes in the ensuing months. [79]

Frank Thisse's original find evidently later became known as the Nemo Mine and was referred to in August 1908 as a profitable gold- and silver-producing venture whose silver samples were assaying over 2,000 ozs. of silver and 1 oz. of gold per ton. Although still owned by Thisse and associates of Skidoo, the property was under lease to S.E. Ball and partners (later connected with the Tucki Mine) who were extracting and shipping ore averaging around $300 per ton. [80] Another large strike was reported in Nemo Canyon during the winter of 1908, with assays yielding over $200 in gold and 86 ozs. of silver per ton. The area was at this time evidently judged to have some promising production potential, because word was soon being spread by none other than Shorty Harris that a ten-stamp mill was to be erected. [81]

The eleven claims comprising the Nemo Mine were leased by George Cook and Joe Wosnieck about three weeks later, and ore was soon uncovered assaying up to $3,300 a ton in silver. The site was being touted as "one of the very best silver properties in the county. [82] Prospective purchasers Wingfield and Scott, of Goldfield fame, and Bob Montgomery of Skidoo, had examined the claims, whose purchase price was set at $50,000 by Thisse and J.R. Mason, the co-owners. In addition Cook and Wosnieck were demanding $20,000 for their interests, making a total of $70,000, a sum not considered exorbitant for a property on which there was indication of a deeper, richer, and more permanent ore body yet to be developed. [83] At this time the site consisted of both surface and underground workings.

The Goldfield capitalists evidently decided not to invest in the promising mine, possibly deciding the asking price was a bit steep. Whatever the reason, Cook and Wosnieck continued to operate their lease, happily discovering that the ore body grew larger with depth, and by January 1909 they had assembled 300 tons of silver for shipment to the Four Metals Company smelter in Keeler. An experimental consignment of three tons was sent there by wagon in February, with values ranging from $600 to $700 a ton. Because the smelter could not assure treatment before two or three weeks, the ore was then shipped to Hazen, Nevada, for processing. [84]

Another strike in Nemo Canyon was announced in March 1909 by a brother of Bob Montgomery (owner of the Skidoo Mine) who reportedly found silver ore assaying 2,800 ozs. in silver and 4 ozs. in gold per ton. Meanwhile the Cook lease on the Nemo Mine was still yielding a great quantity of high-grade ore, worth over $300 per ton. Five outfits were now operating in Nemo Canyon and in Wood Canyon immediately to the north, most being company ventures, with some leasing activity. [85]

From 1909 to 1920 there is a noticeable dearth of information about mines in Nemo Canyon, indicating that despite its spectacular early production record during the short period from the spring of 1908 to the spring of 1909, the area never attracted much investment capital. In January 1920 notice appeared that a certain J.J. King was leaving Independence for Nemo Canyon to check up on some mining claims he owned there. S.E. Ball, who had held a lease on the Nemo Mine property in 1908, was still working a silver claim in Nemo Canyon in 1922, and had reportedly removed ore worth $10,000 from the mine through the years. [86] This might refer to the Grey Eagle lode mining claim in Nemo Canyon, one-third interest in which was transferred by Ball and Ed Attaway to Maude E. Attaway in 1924. [87]

During the mid-1930s Walter M. Hoover and a man named Starr were mining in the area and processing the ore in a small cyanide plant north of Journigan's Mill. In 1938 the Journal of Mines and Geology listed a Nemo Canyon Antimony Mine, comprising six claims at an elevation of 5,000 to 6,000 feet. Owned by a Death Valley Junction resident, the mine's limited development involved only open cuts and some shallow shafts. [88] The names of two claims in the Nemo Canyon area were found in the monument files. The Nemo Gold Claims, thirteen in number, were the result of fraudulent promotions by the Blue Chip Mining Company. The Nemo Chief, two gold claims with no production record, served only as the home of an itinerant miner. By 1971 Omar L. Heironimus, owner of the Nemo Silver Corporation of Beatty, Nevada, acquired the water rights to a spring near the Journigan Mill site, and was leasing the property with the intention of cyaniding the tailings dump there. By this means it was hoped to acquire enough capital to mine Heironimus's gold and silver properties in Nemo Canyon. [89]

building site
Illustration 131. Building site in foreground and prospecting activity along hillside in back, Moonlight claims. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 132. Nemo #1 Mine, later relocated as Christmas Mine. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

(b) Present Status

Adjacent to the road to the Christmas Mine, on the south side and about one mile east of the Wildrose Canyon road, is a site marked by a Mine Hazard Area" sign. No structures remain, but it is assumed from the burned boards and assorted metal refuse on the ground that at least one wooden building once stood here. Purple glass has been found in the area. In the hills immediately to the south are some adits and prospect holes that were not visited by the writer--mining activity appeared to be minimal.

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

Mineral development in Nemo Canyon, beginning' about 1908, appears to have been of relatively short and discontinuous duration, never sustaining such large-scale activity as found at Harrisburg or Skidoo. The largest operation in the vicinity was apparently the Nemo Mine. Its notice of location placed it slightly over one-quarter mile east of the Skidoo pipeline, which passed through the camp at the site labelled "Christmas Mine" on the USGS Emigrant 'Canyon quadrangle map and continued south. It therefore seems plausible that the Nemo Mine, referred to in the 1930s as the Nemo Canyon Antimony Mine, was the earliest location of what later became the Nemo #1 Mine operated by Omar Heironimus and a man named Mondell. This property, on a hillside south of the "Christmas Mine" at about 6,000 feet elevation, was relocated by Ralph Pray in 1974 as the Christmas Mine. It will be discussed in the following section. The site located a mile east of the Wildrose Canyon Road and designated by three adits on the USGS Emigrant Canyon quad contains the Moonlight claims, owned. originally by Heironimus and later also relocated by Pray. (A 15 April 1927 article in the Mining Journal, p. 29, mentions the Moonlight Group of seven claims in the Wild Rose Mining District, recently acquired by Long Beach, California, investors for $755,000.) None of the mining sites in Nemo Canyon meets the criteria of evaluation for associative significance necessary for nomination to the National Register.

End of Volume I, Part 1

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003