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)

(7) Argenta Mine

(a) History

The earliest reference to an Argenta Mine, albeit an ambiguous one, was an 1875 notice that "Argenta" was the new name being given to the Jupiter Mine owned by the Parker company, evidently located somewhere in the Panamint region. [97] It is highly unlikely, however, that the Argenta Mine near Harrisburg was ever worked this early.

As far as can be determined, this latter mine was first located in 1924, was operated by the Rainbow Mining Company in 1925, and then by the Southwestern Lead Corporation from 1927 to 1928. In 1927 notice of the mine appeared in the Inyo Independent when the Argenta Nos. 1-12 mining claims in the Wild Rose District were deeded first from Ed L. and Hazel Wright of Los Angeles to Charles W. Stanley, and then by him and his wife, Lulu G., also of Los Angeles, to the Southwestern Lead Corporation of Delaware. At the same time an Alonzo and Martha E. Stewart of Los Angeles deeded the Argenta Group (Argenta, Leadfield, and Woodside mining claims) for $5,000 to Southwestern Lead Corporation. A bit confusing is a later notice of the transfer of deeds to the Argenta, Leadfield, and Woodside mining claims for $2,000 from a D.M. Driscoll of Los Angeles to the same Alonzo Stewart. Theoretically, this should have preceded Stewart's transfer of ownership to Southwestern Lead. [98]

Around 1930 George G. Greist, evidently an employee of the lead company, filed suit against C.W. Stanley and the Southwestern Lead Corporation in lieu of unpaid wages. A Decree of Foreclosure and Order of Sale were instituted against the company in May of that year for $3,699.85, and the Argenta, Leadfield, Woodside, Thanksgiving, and Argenta Nos. 1-12 mining claims were offered for sale. [99] The litigation resulted in Greist becoming the new owner, relocating the property as nine silver-lead claims. This gentleman, referred to as a one-time sheriff of the Panamints, was indicated as living at the mine in 1933 and being a neighbor of Pete Aguereberry. [100]

Illustration 140. Argenta Mine. View to southwest of main street of mine camp, February 1969. Photo by Chief Ranger Homer Leach, courtesy of DEVA NM.

Illustration 141. Argenta Mine camp, view to west-northwest showing bunkhouses and upper mining level, February 1969. Photo by Chief Ranger Homer Leach, courtesy of DEVA NM.

In 1943 the property was owned by Greist and an Ed L. Wright and was under lease to H.T. Kaplin and Sam Nastor of Los Angeles, with Greist superintending the operation. Development at this time consisted of a 30-foot shaft on top of the ridge and a 630-foot adit with lateral workings and a crosscut. Ore assaying 17% zinc had also been found in an open cut south, of the shaft. The average grade of ore shipped contained 12% zinc, 5% lead, 2.80 ozs. silver, and .08 oz. gold. Seventy tons of lead ore shipped assayed 27% lead and $8 per ton in gold and silver. Equipment on-site included a machine shop, an electric-light plant with a Fairbanks-Morse gas engine, an Ingersoll-Rand portable compressor, an assay office, and assorted boarding- and bunkhouses. By 1950 only George Griest was named as owner, employing two men in prospecting work at the north end of the adit.

Two other properties mentioned in Wood Canyon were the Combination Group, owned by Wilson and associates and worked in the early 1900s, and the Arnold Plunket claims to the south. [101]

(b) Present Status

The Argenta Mine is located in the Wildrose Mining District along a ridge on the north side of Wood Canyon at an elevation of about 5,500 feet. The site is about 1-1/4 miles east of the Emigrant Canyon Road via a dirt cutoff just before the canyon road crosses Emigrant Pass. The owner, George Griest, never made much of an attempt to mine here, living off public charity until the early 1960s when he became eligible for a California State old-age pension. [102]

The mine area consists of two levels of workings. Lower on the hill is the "main street," once lined on both sides with about twenty assorted small, one-room boarding and bunkhouses and with other camp necessities such as a chicken coop. All buildings are presently in a shocking state of decay due to weathering and vandalism. Most of the structures, which were built of wood, plasterboard, and corrugated metal, have completely fallen in or been pulled down. The only items of any interest are on the north side of the street, in the form of remains of a stone dugout with a wooden false front, and, just southwest of this, a round, concrete cistern built underground, appearing to have a capacity for several thousand gallons of water. In the photographs of the camp site taken in 1969 the stone dugout appears to have been located behind a large building in the center of the community that probably functioned as the cookhouse. The dugout was probably the root cellar and the cistern nearby stored the camp drinking water.

Higher and further north on the hillside is a timbered adit and the ruins of at least two other buildings, one having been a two-story frame structure on the edge of the dump, and the other a smaller one-story frame building, possibly the assay office. Only the flooring and basement level framing of the larger building remain somewhat intact; the other structure is completely destroyed.

An incredible amount of refuse is evident everywhere on the site, ranging from modern garbage to old machinery parts to vintage 1940s and 1950s car bodies, the entire site resembling a tremendous junkyard.

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

The Argenta. Mine never yielded a profitable output nor do any structures of historical significance remain on the property. The site was not an important Death Valley mining operation and is not eligible for inclusion on the National Register.

Illustration 142. Argenta Mine. View to west-northwest down main street of mine camp showing almost total destruction of buildings. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 143. Argenta Mine. View to northwest of mining area showing remains of two-story building. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003