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)

(9) Harrisburg

(a) History

i) Shorty Harris and Pete Aguereberry Strike Ore on Providence Ridge

As is the case with most important events when two or more strong-minded participants are involved, the details surrounding the discovery of the first strike at Harrisburg Flats are open to controversy. The find was made by two of Death Valley's most noted mining personalities--Pete Aguereberry and Shorty Harris. The former's version of the tale is that around the first of July 1905 the two men met at Furnace Creek Ranch, by chance, and decided because of the heat of the valley to pull out for the Panamints together and do some prospecting, although Shorty was actually more interested in getting to the 4th of July celebration at Ballarat. After negotiating the old "dry trail" through Blackwater Wash, they arrived on the open plateau now known as Harrisburg Flats, about nine miles northeast of Wildrose Spring.

Shorty, being on horseback and driving his mules harder, was some distance ahead of Aguereberry, who at this point saw a promising-looking ledge on the north side of a low long hill. Chipping off a piece, he found it contained free gold. Hurriedly catching up with his companion, Pete showed him the ore sample, and the two excitedly made plans to continue on to Wildrose Spring to replenish their water and then return and stake out claims. During this time of further prospecting and exploratory work, the two divided up the outcroppings, Aguereberry staking claims on the north side of the hill, which later became known as "Providence Ridge" or "Providence Hill," including the Eureka Nos. 1-4, while Shorty took claims on the south side, which later incorporated the Providence Group. These finds were located at the extreme northeast end of an east-west ridge that rises about 200 feet from the mesa. The initial name agreed on for the camp was Harrisberry, in the hopes that a strong association with Shorty Harris would attract prospective investors.

The "partners" split up at this point, both eventually heading for Ballarat, Shorty to spread the word of his new find and Pete to pick up a grubstake that was being sent there by money order. By the time Aguereberry returned to his hill within the next few days, the rush was on, with gold-seekers from Ballarat swarming all over the strike area, necessitating that Aguereberry reestablish his original ground by both persuasion and force. Harris's version of all this is slightly different, suggesting that he found the first evidence of riches and was forced to share the discovery with Pete. According to one newspaper, "Pete and Shorty have not flipped coins to determine who is actually responsible for the strike, but the credit is generally given to Shorty, perhaps from previous achievements." [107] The real facts may never be known, but however it happened, another Death Valley boom camp had been born. [108]

ii) The Area Fills Up Rapidly

Word of the strike spread quickly, and by August 1905 at least twenty parties were locating monuments in the surrounding hills within a three-mile radius of the original discovery, about fifty locations being made immediately. The new area was included in the Wild Rose Mining District, and Frank C. Kennedy, a prominent mining man of the region, was appointed Deputy County Recorder. Samples from the immense quartz ledge, which, it would turn out, stretched north to the future Skidoo and Emigrant Spring mining areas, were assaying from $90 to $200 per ton in free-milling gold, with some rumored to have values as high as $500. It was reported that 300 men and some women were settled in the new camp, which was already organizing a townsite company, somewhat depopulating Ballarat and Darwin and also attracting many from Rhyolite, who tramped the approximately sixty-eight miles via the watering spots at Daylight Spring, Hole-in-the-Rock, Furnace Creek Ranch, and Blackwater Wash. [109]

As with every large strike in the Panamint Range, the call went up for Inyo County residents to rally and implement plans to assist the mining district by providing teaming services, agricultural supplies, and restaurant, hotel, and merchandising facilities to incoming miners. Ballarat was the main supply point. By September, 200 claims had been recorded in the area; with the advent of cooler weather, the camp's population was expected to triple with new arrivals from Nevada. [110] Timber and water, essentials to a new mining community, were near at hand, the latter available either at Emigrant Spring, seven miles northwest; at Blackwater Spring, about seven miles to the northeast; or at Wild Rose Spring, about nine miles southwest. At Emigrant Spring a new pipeline was being shipped in to funnel water from the spring to the roadside where it would be more accessible. [111]

iii) Cashier Gold Mining Company Is Formed

Four more claims mentioned in the Harrisburg area, adjoining Aguereberry's property, were the Wild Horse, Slow Elk, Modoc, and Monarch, owned by J.W. Sellers, l.T. Davis, Bill Pollard, Ray Robinson, and W.T. Voorhees. [112]

The intense involvement of "outsiders" in the Harrisbury discoveries and their desire to get in on the ground floor manifested itself in the immediate bonding of Shorty Harris's strikes to several millionaires from Tonopah and of Aguereberry's claims to Goldfield capitalists. A few days earlier Harris had gone to San Francisco where he succeeded in persuading some investors to visit his property in anticipation of financing development work. [113] The result of this visit was the formation of the Cashier Mining Company, headed by O.L. Ingalls and associates (including E.S. Shanklin, who was heavily invested in the Bullfrog National Bank Mine, and W.A. Jacobs) and owner of nine claims. A survey of the property was to be made and a company assayer moved in. More important to the residents of the area, probably, was the news that saloon supplies were on their way! A deal involving $100,000 was rumored to be pending for the Aguereberry mine. [114]

The survey of the Harrisburg townsite and of the Cashier Gold Mining Company's claims was undertaken by J.H. Wilson of Cripple Creek, Colorado, who had formerly been an engineer in Goldfield. He established residence in the area and proceeded to open an engineering office (touted to be the first such business opened in the Panamint Range). The company assay work was to be done by a D.E. Blake of Denver, Colorado, who established the first assay office in the new camp. A William O'Brien, of Bullfrog, was put in charge of the six men at work sinking three shafts on the property, and work was to be initiated by driving a tunnel at the foot of the hill to hit the vein as low as possible. [115]

By late October of Harrisburg's first year of existence, the land had been surveyed for a townsite and tents were constantly springing up in the business section. The Cashier Gold Mining Company now kept twenty-three men busy, at $3.50 a day, round-the-clock, sinking two shafts, one in $90 and the other in $700 ore, and running a tunnel. Twenty-seven tons of high-grade ore had already been mined to be shipped to Keeler. The vast number. of prospectors swarming the hills created a shortage of vegetables, fruit, ham, bacon, hay, and grain, as a consequence of which all sold for exorbitant prices. Rumors still persisted of a deal pending in Goldfield either for the Eureka Group or the Cashier Group (now said to include fourteen claims), or for both, the amount in question stated to be $160,000. In February it was reported that owners of the Eureka Group had sold a half interest in the property to San Francisco investors who paid $15,000 down and intended to build a mill. [116]

iv) A Multitude of Claims are Located in the Area

In December 1905 a big strike was made on the six claims of the Exjunction Group about two miles northeast of Harris's Providence Group and owned by U.V. Withee, W.B. Gray, and W.H. Sanders. Quartz averaging $259 in gold, silver, copper, and lead was being exposed. Stretching for five miles along this same ledge were forty other claims: beginning at the north were the Victoria Group of four claims, owned by Will Goodpasture, Dr. Kerns, and John Sellers; the Exjunction or Sanders Group of six claims owned by Withee, Gray, and Sanders; the Exjunction Extension Group of four claims owned by Goodpasture; the B & B Group of six claims owned by Brin and Blumlein; the Check Book Group of three claims owned by the Oakland Mining Company; three claims owned by the Kawich-Bullfrog Company; the Red Cross Group of seven claims owned by Tasker Oddie, Luetjens, and Webb; the Annis M. Group of six claims and the Branley, owned also by the Oakland Mining Company; the Carrie Nation and Little Hatchet owned by Charles Nations; and the Bunker Hill owned by Andrew Deck. [117] The Sanders strike had so far shown the best results among all these promising operations, and the Exjunction property of six claims was the core around which the Wild Rose Mining Company would soon be incorporated. Two timber claims and a millsite with water rights would be included in the company holdings. [118]

A synopsis of the mining situation at Harrisburg appeared in the Herald in late December 1905, the result of observations made by some individuals owning claims there:

We found quite a stir both in the new Wild Rose (gold) district and the old Panamint (silver) district. And this activity is being made principally by Rhyolite, Goldfield and Tonopah people, with whom outside parties are in some cases associated. We stopped at the Shorty Harris strike, now being worked by the Cashier Mining company, and found that a good proposition is being opened up. The ledge has been cross-cut in a tunnel, and there is about eight feet of ore carrying rich milling ore, with some shipping values of which we were not advised. Drifting is now being done on the ore. The day we were there the San Francisco people, who are intereste, [sic] came and looked over the property. The Sanders strike, which the Herald reported last week, is bona fide, as far as I was able to judge, the ore looking very good. We examined and sampled the five claims owned by Mann, Gorrill, Clemens and myself. Mr. Gorrill had not seen the ground before, and he was much pleased. These claims [on Silver Mountain] are old chloriding silver propositions, which were worked many years ago when the price of silver made profitable the mining of the ore, which had to be packed a half mile down the hill on animals, hauled in wagons 70 miles to Keeler and shipped over the C. and C. narrow gauge, a high tariff line, to Selby's smelter in Frisco. It was profitable work in those days, and with the better facilities for mining and cheaper transportation, these properties should be profitable now . . . . Johannesburg, 80 miles distant on the Santa Fe, is the shipping point for the Wild Rose district. . . [119]

About forty men were now working in and near the camp.

By spring and summer of the next year, discoveries hastening the advent of Skidoo were being made about two miles from Emigrant Spring, attracting miners from throughout the region. The Panamints were rapidly filling up, despite continuing transportation problems:

Ballarat is reached by stage from Darwin, and by the line from Randsburg. From Ballarat to Emigrant and Harrisburg transportation is effected by any sort of locomotion at command of the individual prospector or mining tourist, there being no established line of communication. Nor is there as yet any regular means of travel from the east--from Beatty or Bullfrog. . . . [120]

By April 1906 the Wild Rose Mining Company had been incorporated, with W.B. Gray as president, W.H. Sanders as vice-president, and Dr. U.V. Withee as secretary-treasurer. Principal place of business was at Beatty, and the seven main holdings of the company, situated about 1-1/2 miles from Harrisburg, included the Sanders strike on the Exjunction gold, silver, copper, and lead claim. [121]

Shorty Harris was continuing to extoll the virtues of "his" town in the Panamints whenever he journeyed to Rhyolite or other nearby camps. In May 1906 he boasted that there were twenty tents in residence and that he was planning to try to sink for water shortly, thus negating the need to haul this precious commodity from Emigrant Spring. Not putting all his marbles in one bag, however, he had proceeded also to locate two groups of claims near the Emigrant Spring Gold Eagle strike--the Gold Links and the Gold Eagle's Tail. [122] The Cashier Mining Company was still having success with the Providence Claim, which seemed to harbor steady reserves. The Ingalls interest in the company was purchased in the fall of 1906 by T. E. Crawford of Helena, Montana, making him co-partner with Shorty Harris. These two planned to immediately employ fifteen men on sinking a new shaft. Crawford was also planning to install, a five-stamp mill on the property that could draw water from the Skidoo pipeline to Telescope Peak. [123]

By November the Emigrant Spring area was fairly bursting with mining activity. Reputedly there were 150 miners in the area, a third of whom at least were working at the Skidoo Mine and on the projected Telescope Peak pipeline. The new townsite was rapidly filling up and was the terminus of a twice-weekly stage run from Ballarat. Owners of the Denver and Tramps properties in Rhyolite were still negotiating for the purchase of some Harrisburg property for a reputed $160,000. Meanwhile the Panamint Greenwater Gold & Copper Company, organized and financed by Denver capitalists, had purchased the Sweeney Group of four claims a mile east of Harrisburg. [124]

Silver Mountain, between Harrisburg and Skidoo, was still the scene of several good silver strikes at this time, which, because of the current high price for that commodity, seemed assured of a reasonably productive future. As mentioned earlier, rumor held that the outcrops here had been worked by Mexicans in years past, with the ore being carried on mule or horseback down from the mountains and then to Keeler for shipping on the Carson and Colorado Railroad to San Francisco smelters. It was presumed now that with better transportation facilities and a higher price for silver, these old workings could be operated even more profitably. Although the wagon road from Rhyolite to Stovepipe Wells was finished, work was still continuing on the last section to Skidoo. [125]

Some idea of the atmosphere at Harrisburg can be gleaned from the following account of its New Year's Eve party of 1907:

There were no invitations issued, there was no one asked to go. No one cared whether any one else went but themselves. No one cared to see any one else there. Whoever wished to go, went. Many were so inclined. Most of those who did go reaped a rich reward. No one attended for the enjoyment of the affair. It was a New Year's party under cover of midnight, held in the great big outdoors. Desirable mining property was the prize and there were many prizes. So great was the desire for claims that had been neglected and allowed to expire, that the re-locators met in numbers of ten and fifteen, in several instances, at some lone monument, just as the hour of midnight heralded the birth of the new year. Of course, in such instances, the names of all present were place on the location certificate and many who expected to secure two or three full claims, considered themselves fortunate in having been figured in for a tenth interest in one . . . . The re-located property is now in the hands of energetic men and development will be done. . . . [126]

Another large purchase in the Harrisburg area was consummated in the spring of 1907 when San Francisco and Michigan capitalists and John Stukey and his associates Kennedy, Gray, and Thurman closed two important mining deals, one involving the Ross E. (Rossie) Group of nine claims to the north of the original Harrisburg strike, purchased for $12,000, and the other the Providential Group of six claims on the south side, bought for $10,000. Another purchase mentioned was that of the Combination Group near Harrisburg by the California, Illinois & Wisconsin Gold Mining Company. [127]

The Cashier property was still undergoing active development at this time. A 165-foot tunnel had intersected a four-foot ledge of quartz showing values of from $70 to $100 in gold. Although just the high-grade ore was deemed sufficient to make the property a big mine, all the ore exposed was thought to be millable on the ground at a profit, which would make it an immense producer. A mill was being planned by the company, and in connection with that project they were contemplating use of the pipeline from Telescope Peak to provide the water supply. The Eureka Mine was still showing rich ledges, and ten tons of high-grade ore were ready for shipment, averaging $150 a ton. Notice appears at this time of some litigation between Shorty Harris and Crawford, owners of the Cashier, and J.P. Aguereberry and F. Flytin, representing the Panamint Midas property, over the Eureka Claim, with two of the properties finally being consolidated. Work was to be pushed with a force of fifteen or twenty men; later word suggested that the Cashier-Midas property had been bonded to a Chicago syndicate. [128]

Meanwhile W.B. Gray was still steadily developing the Wild Rose Mining Company's property two miles from Harrisburg and had driven a 150-foot adit, exposing a ledge carrying good values its entire distance. The three principal directors of the company, Edward E. Babb, W.W. Curtis, and. U.V. Withee, accompanied by a mining engineer, visited the property in the fall of 1907 to formulate plans for its future development. [129]

The names of a few more mines in the Harrisburg vicinity now come to light: the Blue Jay Group, near the Cashier; the Jockey Club Group; adjoining the Cashier claims; and the Rosalind S., Hearst Junior, Hearst Second, and Wilson lodes in the vicinity of the Green Monster Group. These names reflect the interests of William Randolph Hearst and his father-in-law G.W. Wilson. These latter lodes were about the last to be recorded in that district, which now contained forty-three unsurveyed claims in an area of 1-1/2 square miles. Eight men working on the Cashier Mine were sinking a shaft, and three rich gold veins had been found crossing the property. It was hoped that a 140-foot tunnel would intersect them in about seventy more feet. [130]

Illustration 147. Supposedly a view of Harrisburg Camp, taken on Death Valley Expedition by Yeager and Woodward, May 1908. Tent flap, however, identifies spot as "Emigrant Springs." Photo courtesy of DEVA NM.

Illustration 148. Pete Aguereberry, date unknown. Photo courtesy of DEVA NM.

v) A Mill Appears Imminent

Because conditions at the Cashier Mine seemed so promising at this point, with ultimately thirteen men working on a shaft and tunnel in which ore values were increasing, entrepreneur George Brown was moving his rooming house and restaurant from Emigrant Spring to Harrisburg to accommodate the increasing population. The only other storekeeper in the area whose name is known is Sam Adams, who ran a general store and saloon in a large tent with supplies brought in from Ballarat. He supposedly cleared a profit of $6,000 on the saloon in his first six months there. [131] Because of good showings in tunnel and shaft, the Cashier Company was still toying with the idea of erecting a ten-stamp cyanide lixiviation mill. To get the required water to run the operation, Crawford purchased from Ballarat people their water rights in Jail Canyon, amounting to eight miners' inches flow of water. This would pass through the Skidoo pipeline to Harrisburg. The addition of fifteen more stamps to the Skidoo mill was also being contemplated, as well as construction of a ten-stamp mill in Nemo Canyon to the south and another five-stamp custom mill for Skidoo below the large mill. These custom milling plants would enable small owners to obtain money for further development, for it was now considered unprofitable to ship out less than $100 ore. [132]

vi) Litigation Over Aguereberry's Eureka Mine

By March 1909 the Harrisburg mill was on its way from San Francisco, and over 100 tons of ore were waiting on the dump. Part of the delay in acquisition of the mill evidently concerned a dispute that had been evolving around Pete Aguereberry's claim to the adjoining Eureka Mine. Ownership of this property had originally been divided among Pete and his original grubstakers, Flynn and Kavanagh. When the three decided to sell as soon as possible, Flynn was put in charge of handling the sale. The result of his dealings with some dishonest mining promoters was that they--a Captain Fleece (appropriately named), his brother, and two other partners--acquired a one-third interest in the Eureka property but failed to come through with their promised down payment. When in November 1906 a bona-fide investor from Rhyolite named Sherwood Aldrich examined the claims, he became quite excited and offered to buy them for $180,000 cash if a clear title could be produced.

Illustration 149. Cashier Mill ruin and Pete Aguereberry, 1916. From Dane Coolidge Collection, courtesy of Arizona Historical Foundation.

This turned out to be impossible, for Fleece and his associates blocked the sale by so hopelessly tying up the property in litigation that the future seemed bleak indeed for its sale to anyone except Fleece, who had of course offered to buy the other two interests at a ridiculously low price. Flynn and Kavanagh became so fed up with the whole situation and discouraged at their inability to resolve it, that they drew up papers in which they relinquished all their interest in the claims to Aguereberry. The Eureka property, therefore, was lying idle while the Cashier Mining Company was producing rich dividends from Shorty Harris's original claims. Luckily for Aguereberry he still had thirty or more properties in the surrounding area that he could sell or lease, and so he managed to survive the period. Despite several trips to Los Angeles during which he tried to reach an agreement with Fleece about starting operations on the Eureka, no headway was made, Fleece being occupied now with a leased claim at Skidoo. It was not until the financial panic of 1907 hit that a way out for Pete seemed to offer itself.

After having kept up the assessment work on the mine for three years, Aguereberry let it lapse when Fleece and his brother discontinued their mining operations at Skidoo and left that part of the country. Aguereberry arranged with a friend to relocate the claims and then sell them back to him, thus establishing himself as sole owner by the spring of 1909. He immediately commenced driving a tunnel in pursuit of the gold vein and continued working the mine for the rest of his days. [133]

vii) Cashier Mill Opens for Business

To pass the time until final installation of the Cashier Company mill, its employees were kept busy blocking out ore and constructing a seven-mile pipeline in connection with the mill's operation. Although little more could be done on the Harris property until erection of the mill that would process the large reserves already on hand, Aguereberry was by now steadily developing the Eureka Claim and drawing out large quantities of ore for shipment to the Skidoo mill for processing. By the middle of July the Cashier amalgamation and concentration mill was almost finished, with production expected to begin almost immediately. It was hoped that proceeds from concentrating the generous amount of high-grade ore here, running $50 per ton, would enable construction of a larger plant later. By early August the Cashier Mine had made its first clean-up and sent out the first shipment of gold bullion. After about two weeks of operation the mill had yielded around $2,000. It was hoped' that a better percentage of recovery could be realized from the high-grade Cashier ore, and it was expected that the five-stamp mill would soon produce from $10,000 to $12,000 per month. [134]

A couple of weeks later the ore being treated at the mill was averaging better than $60 a ton, mainly in gold. The plant was working about 3-1/2 tons of ore per day, meaning a daily gross output of about $200, or $6,000 a month by using only one shift. Cyanide tanks had not yet been built. Ore for the mill was coming from the new tunnel above the old workings, rather than from the 100-foot shaft. [135] By September the plant was judged so successful an operation that the company intended to install an additional five 1,000-pound stamps within the next month, increasing the daily output from the current six tons to about twenty. [136]

A couple of months later a W.C. Price accompanied by a mining engineer traveled to Harrisburg to view Crawford's mine in anticipation of purchasing it. The exact condition of the mill at this time is unknown, but in January 1911 the Cashier was shipping its $50 a ton ore to the Randsburg mill and Aguereberry was shipping $60 rock there. [137] In February 1911 controlling interest in the Cashier Group was acquired by Sam Godby of Pioche, T.G. Crawford having retired. A force of men sent in to explore the property by the new owner discovered more areas of ore and definitely proved extensions of the vein and shoots. This decided Godby to immediately put a ten-stamp mill into operation, suggesting that one had not been in use up to this time. [138]

In the fall of 1911 two persons named Crowell and Lindley were slated to assume charge of the Cashier Mine, probably for the incoming owner W.C. Price, their intention being to move the hoisting plant from the Midas Mine onto the Cashier property. By late October W.C. Price had taken over direction of the Cashier Mine, and had levied an assessment of 5¢ per share on the company stock to speed up development. The twenty-five horsepower gasoline hoisting rig from the Midas was soon added to the Cashier property to facilitate ore retrieval, and machinery and supplies were being freighted to Harrisburg in preparation for the start of development work. It was rumored that the company intended to purchase the Eclipse Development Company mill and move it to the Cashier. In December it was reported that the Cashier Mine was producing so well that a mill was imperative. What happened to the earlier one, or whether it was just insufficient for the workload, is unclear. By early 1912, after development work at the mine had been carried on steadily for over two years, it was being said that the ore body was now sufficiently proven to justify erection of a (another?) mill. Possibly for this purpose, assessment no. 6 of 1-1/2 cents per share was levied on the corporation's stock. [139]

The pipeline froze up during the winter of 1912-13, necessitating extensive repair work. In the summer of 1913 six leasers were reported to be working at Harrisburg and Skidoo in addition to Aguereberry, who had mined ten carloads of high-grade ore for shipment. Requests were still circulating for a custom mill for the area, indicating that any existing plants were already overloaded. By June 1914 Price had ten or twelve men installing machinery for concentrating and working his ore; twenty-one tons of equipment were either ready for shipment to Harrisburg, on the way, or on the ground. [140] Then in September mention is again made of a five-stamp mill running at Harrisburg. By March 1915 the Cashier Mine reportedly had a ten-stamp mill with a cyanide plant projected for installation. Around 1916 the Cashier Mine was said to have produced 15,000 tons of ore averaging $20 per ton, all taken from the first mine level and above since the ore body pinched out below 140 feet in the shaft. The ore was being treated in a five-stamp Joshua Hendy mill and the pulp run over amalgamation plates and the tailings cyanided. Capacity of the mill was twenty tons per twenty-four hours, with water supplied from the Skidoo pipeline two miles away and power furnished by a distillate engine. The property was under lease to P.R. Turner and Robert Weir, who were stoping on the 100-foot level and intending to run fifty tons through the mill expired in before their lease expired in October 1916. [141]

viii) Waning Years

From 1917 to 1938 Aguereberry's Eureka Mine (both the Eureka and Cashier properties were referred to now as the Harrisburg Mine) was listed as active. In 1917 it was said to show development consisting of a forty-foot crosscut tunnel and several shallow pits. Ten tons of ore treated at the Cashier mill had yielded $50 per ton. In 1926 it was listed as idle, as was the Cashier Mine, still owned by the Cashier Mining Company of Los Angeles. On this latter property a 400-foot inclined shaft with four levels, at 100, 200, 300, and 400 feet, produced free-milling gold quartz ore assayed at $20 per ton. [142] The Cashier was possibly being operated by Roy Journigan, who also was working the Skidoo Mine, in 1938; at least he was treating the ore in his twenty-ton cyanide plant 5 miles northwest of Harrisburg in which he employed fifteen men. In this year the Cashier property comprised seven claims and was owned by J.P. Aguereberry. (A brief history of the mine written at this time said that it had been worked from 1906 to 1910 by the original owners, was bought by the Cashier Mining Company of Los Angeles, which operated it until 1914, and then was relocated by Aguereberry. Three thousand tons of ore were estimated to be on the dump, carrying $15 in gold per ton. Recent ore mined from the tunnel had been hauled to the Journigan Mining and Milling Company plant at Emigrant Spring for treatment, with production estimated at $150,000.) [143]

In 1951 the Independent (Cashier) Mine property of seven gold claims was owned by Ambroise Aguereberry. The workings consisted of a complex arrangement of shafts, adits, drifts, stopes, crosscuts, and winzes. Ore assaying $7 to $12 per ton in gold and silver had been found. Several prospect shafts and tunnels existed northwest of the main shaft near the ridge. Although an adit had been added 250 feet north of the main shaft, the property was idle. [144]

ix) Mines in the Harrisburg Vicinity

Many claims were located in the general vicinity of Harrisburg about which only a brief mention could be found: a company owned by one William Taylor operated the Delaware Claim; Pete Aguereberry located several claims in the area in addition to the Eureka, namely the Black Hill Mine, one-half mile east of Harrisburg, located on 1 January 1911; the Black Hill No. 1, one-half mile east from Harrisburg and joining the Black Hill Mine on the north, also located 1 January 1911; the Eagle Nos. 1 and 2 silver mines, two miles southeast of Harrisburg, located 19 May 1916; and the Jupiter Quartz Claim, situated 1-3/4 miles east of Harrisburg on the Blackwater Trail, located 10 January 1917. [145]

More detailed information is available on the Napoleon, Independence, and Independent mines located by Aguereberry. (The Napoleon Mine was discussed in the previous section.) The mining group consisting of the South Independence, South Independence No. 1, East Independence, Independence No. 1, Independent, and Independent Nos. 2 and 3 is unpatented and covers about 140 acres. The Independent location incorporates the old Cashier lode. The Independence Mine, later amended and renamed the Independence No. 1, was originally discovered by Martin Etcheverry in 1909. This was a relocation of the Eureka No. 1 and was joined on the south by the Providence No. 1; It was later quitclaimed to Pete Aguereberry in 1938. The East Independence, near the mouth of the Cashier Gold Mining Company tunnel and joining the east side line of the Independence Mine, was located by Martin Etcheverry in 1910 and quitclaimed to Aguereberry in 1938; the South independence (abandoned mining claim known as the Providence No. 1 owned by the Cashier Gold Mining Company; had two shafts on the south side of the hill and one tunnel on the east side near the north end line and was bounded on the north end line by the Independence Mine) and the South Independence No. 1 (abandoned claim known as Providence No. 2 owned by Cashier Gold Mining Company; joined on east by South Independence Mine and on north was bounded by Independence No. 1) were both located by Pete Aguereberry in 1921; the independent (bound on the south by the Providence No. 2 and joined on the east by the Independence Mine) and the Independent No. 2 (bound on the south by the Horn Toad No. 3 and joined on the east by the Independent No. 1) were both located by Martin Etcheverry in 1910 and quitclaimed to Aguereberry in 1938; the Independent No.. 3 had been located by Etcheverry in 1910 and was relocated by Aguereberry in 1935. The Independent No. 1 (bound on the south by the Providence No. 3 and joining the Independent Mine on the east) was located in 1910 by Martin Etcheverry; as were the Independent No. 3 (bound on the south by the Horn Toad No. 4 and joining the Independent No. 2 on the east) and the Independent No. 4 (bound on the east by the Independent No. 3.) The South Independent No. 3 was located by Aguereberry and filed on in 1935.

Upon Aguereberry's death in 1945, his property descended to his heirs--Ambroise, Joseph, Arnand (Arnaud), James Peter, Mariane, and Catherine Aguereberry. Not all the heirs contributed assessment work on the claims, however, so that by the fall of 1958 only Joseph and Ambroise retained Pete's old claims, including the Napoleon. [146] By 1960 the Independent Mine was being used mainly as a weekend retreat by Joe Aguereberry. Although it had produced a small amount of ore as recently as 1958, the last profitable shipment was around 1910. Assessment work in the past few years had consisted only of camp rehabilitation. [147]

(b) Present Status

Harrisburg is located about 1-3/4 miles east of the Emigrant Canyon Road on the way to Aguereberry Point. The first structures noticed at the site are the three houses composing Pete Aguereberry's old mining camp. The westernmost structure appears to be Pete's original two-room cabin, built about 1907, with a lean-to shed attached to the south side. The cabin still contains appliances, personal clothing, and assorted kitchen utensils. The middle cabin of the three, a guest house, was built by 1941 and contains three fully furnished bedrooms and a bathroom. The cabin on the east, a furnished two-room structure, was not standing when Aguereberry's estate was settled in 1946 and was evidently built by his nephew Joseph who became administrator of the property. All the buildings, are white with green trim. Scattered elsewhere over the site are tool remnants, stone foundations, a metal water tank, another small one-room shack, and a caved-in dugout, that once consisted of a corrugated-metal roof over a wood frame.

Illustration 150. Aguereberry Camp at Harrisburg, view to west. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 151. Collapsed dugout by road, Aguereberry Camp. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 152. Eureka Mine, site of blacksmith shop to right. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 153. Stone dugout between Eureka Mine and Cashier Mill ruin. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 154. Cashier Mill ruin on east end of Harrisburg hill. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 155. Dugout on opposite side of ridge from Aguereberry Camp. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Continuing eastward along the slope of the hill one comes to two metal-lined chutes serving an adit. On around the point of the ridge are another caved-in dugout ruin consisting of wood debris, corrugated-metal roof remains, and a door section; a tunnel possibly used as living quarters containing a stoped area, a wooden table, some stove remains, and a wooden frame doorway inside dividing the space into two rooms. A stove stands outside the entrance; a stone dugout with standing walls and a wooden door, reputedly lived in once by either Shorty or Pete in the early days; the ruins of Aguereberry's Eureka Mine and the remains of his blacksmith shop and compressor buildings; and the three-level ruins of the Cashier Mine and Mill, consisting of large cement foundations and an impressive one-chute ore bin.

All over the hillside and ridge are prospect holes, stone foundation' walls, and evidence of underground excavations associated with the Cashier lode, in addition to a timbered 400-foot inclined shaft. further around on the south side of the ridge is a partial wood- and tin-sided dugout, and further west another, one completely in ruins with only stone walls 'remaining. East along the road to Aguereberry Point and south of the road is a tunnel used as living quarters--a hollowed-out area measuring about five by twelve feet--with the remains of stone walls out front. Across the gully from it are some waste dumps.

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

The Harrisburg site is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. This nomination can be justified on several counts. First is its association with two well-known Death Valley figures--Jean Pierre Aguereberry and Shorty Harris. Aguereberry was a Basque, born in 1874, who emigrated to the United States at the age of sixteen. He worked at many different jobs in his new home, including sheepherding, stagecoach driving, haying, mining, delivering milk, etc., until short times spent in Tonopah in 1901 and Goldfield in 1902 convinced him that prospecting and mining were to be his future. When labor trouble started in the latter town, Pete pulled out, grubstaked by Frank Flynn, a rancher, and Tom Kavanagh, a restauranteur in Goldfield. Aware of the strikes that had been made in Death Valley at Bullfrog, Greenwater, the Keane Wonder, and near Ballarat, Pete decided to prospect toward Rhyolite and Ballarat, eventually winding up at Greenland (Furnace Creek) Ranch where he met Shorty Harris and began the historic journey that resulted in the discovery of Harrisburg.

Aguereberry lived on his Eureka Claim at Harrisburg for the remainder of his life, working the mine mostly by himself and reportedly recovering $175,000 in gold. At various times he took odd jobs in the area such as stage driving, working on cattle roundups, performing road work for the county, or mining for others, simply for the sake of diversion, but he always returned to his own place when he tired of that. He often took tourists through his mine and also delighted in showing them the view over Death Valley from Aguereberry Point to which he had driven a 4-1/2-mile-long road by pick, shovel, barrow, and blasting powder. [148]

At the time of Pete's death he left to his heirs in the way of personal property: one Ingersol-Rand compressor, one jackhammer, one stoper, a 1931 Ford pickup, two shacks, one toilet, one shower, four beds, one stove, and two dining tables with cooking utensils. 149 When this writer visited the site in 1978 the cabins were still completely furnished, complete with made-up beds, furniture, and provisions. The Eureka Mine supported Aguereberry from the time of its initial discovery up until his death in the 1940s. Connected with this one-man operation were a compressor building and blacksmith shop.

The Cashier lode claim, originally belonging to Shorty Harris, is distinctive because of the large mill ruin associated with it. It also at one time had a connected powder house and blacksmith shop built out of $100-a-ton ore. [150] Although it was worked from about 1906 off, and on until the late 1930s, the mine's exact production record is uncertain, ranging from a whopping $300,000 in 1916 to $250,000 in 1936, $150,000 in 1938, down to a reported total of only $70,000 in gold and silver in 1957. [151]

In addition to its association with Aguereberry and Harris, the townsite' is an outstanding historical resource because of the variety of early mining lifestyles and technological processes displayed here. Although the short-lived camp was composed mostly of tents, several other modes of shelter were used over the years, as evidenced by the presence of structures ranging from Aguereberry's neat homestead to several small caved-in dugouts, a larger dugout with stone walls and a brush and pebble roof (especially valuable for its information on construction techniques), exploratory tunnels or adits enlarged and used as shelters, to frame and metal dugout/shacks on the south side of the ridge. Mining technology from the early 1900s on is well illustrated by a large multi-level mill ruin, a well-timbered shaft, extensive underground excavations with stone retaining walls, and adits. Not only are these interesting in and of themselves but also because of the contrast between the two mining operations involved--the Cashier Group run by large-scale commercial interests, and the adjoining Eureka Mine that was basically a one-man operation for forty years.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003