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)

(18) Blue Bell (Garibaldi) Mine

(a) History

Historical records and early newspaper accounts provide only fragmentary data on this site. Around 1874-75, shortly after the discovery of Panamint City, a party of Italians--Joe and Zeff Nossano, Joe Lanji, and Charles Andrietta--discovered a group of eight silver mines in the new Wild Rose Spring District in the vicinity of present-day Harrisburg. [198] These new properties included the North Star, Star of the West, Maria, and Polar Star mines, all located in the northeast portion of the district, five miles east of Emigrant Spring, and overlooking Death Valley:

Among them is the 'Garibaldi' mine, a very large lode, showing on the surface hundreds of tons of rich ore. An average sample of the ores of this mine, assayed by J. L. Porter, of Cerro Gordo, yielded $238.18 per ton in silver.

This remarkable discovery has been visited by a number of mining men from Panamint, Cerro Gordo and elsewhere, all of whom pronounce it as showing on the surface a larger amount of rich ore than they have ever seen before. [199]

Two months later a correspondent of the Panamint News visited the Nossano brothers' property, which he said included about twenty mines, and wrote that

Their principal mine, the Garibaldi, has an outcrop of an average width of sixty feet; with metalic ore assaying from $400 to $1,800 per ton, the greater portion of which is free milling ore; a large percentage of the ore can be sorted and worked by smelting. [200]

Because it was still a relatively new location, excavations in the area only penetrated about eight feet. An interesting sidelight to the Garibaldi's history is that Dr. S. G. George, early pioneer into the Wild Rose area and discoverer of the Christmas lode in 1860, was working with another gentleman from Visalia, E. M. (F. M.?) Bently (or Bentley), on the eastern portion of the Garibaldi--referred to as the Lady Ethel--during this time. [201]

Reportedly during the seventies ore from the Garibaldi and probably from some neighboring properties was sent by muletrain over a Walker's Pass to the railroad several hundred miles away. By the spring of 1875 the Garibaldi was still upholding its reputation as "the most promising location in the district, if not in the entire county," [202] even though little development work had been done. Ore from here was generally averaging $628 to $1,600 per ton. [203] It was no surprise, therefore, when the Garibaldi, North Star, Polar Star, Star of the West, and Maria mines were sold by the Nossano brothers to a San Francisco syndicate for $70,000. Incorporated under the name of the Garibaldi Mining Company, the group's board of directors included A. J. Bowie, Jr.; Arch. Borlands, William M. Lent; N. B. Stone; and John F. Boyd. They evidently only acted as agents for the Inyo Mining Company, because the latter's superintendent, a William Irwin, immediately took over development of the Garibaldi, spending about $30,000 on the project. [204] The future not only of this mine but of the entire Rose Springs district seemed extremely promising now:

Since the Inyo mining company made the purchase of the Nassano [sic] company's mines, the camp has changed its appearance, and, instead of being the resort of a few prospectors, is shaping itself into a busy mining camp. A town site has already been laid out, a station erected for the accommodation of those visiting the district, the wagon road from Warren springs improved, and work on the Garabaldi and North Star mines commenced. [205]

Although from the meager information presented here it is difficult to determine the exact location of this main camp, presumably the focal point for prospecting activities in the Rose Spring District, it is known that the Inyo Mining Company headquarters were established at the North Star Mine, three to five miles south of the Garibaldi. [206]

stock certificate
Illustration 171. Stock certificate, Garabaldi Mining Company. Courtesy of Richard E. Lingenfelter, Univ. of Calif. at San Diego..

By April 1876 the Garibaldi Mine workings consisted of a 100-foot incline run down on the hanging wall and an 18-foot tunnel that had been started to tap the rich ledge. Superintendent Irwin was now contemplating erection of a mill on the site, to be powered possibly by water piped over from the vicinity of Furnace Creek, fifteen to twenty miles east. [207] In June the vein was struck at the bottom of the shaft and ore recovered assaying $600 a ton. Twelve men were employed in drifting, crosscutting, and other development work. [208] Despite the impression that work was progressing well here, before long Irwin decided the ledge had petered out. According to Milo Page, Irwin, who had previously mined in Oregon, simply did not know how to mine under California's geological conditions; others said he miscalculated and, veering away from the ledge by mistake, concluded that the ore had run out. Whatever the reason, the mine was abandoned, Irwin leaving for Bodie to work on the Standard Mine. Several sacks of high-grade ore were left behind on the dump. [209]

Later in 1877 it appears that W. L. Hunter picked up this mine, along with the Argonaut, Junietta, Blizzard, and Virgin, later selling interests in them to W. K. Miller and E. N. Medburg (N. J. Medbury) of Lone Pine, these three then proceeding on development work together. [210] No further mention was found of the Garibaldi Mine until a formal notice of location for the Blue Bell Mine was filed in 1883 by N. J. Medbury and W. L. Hunter, "8 miles East from Emigrant Spring on south side of canon emptying into Death Valley. Is about opposite to Mouth of Furnace Ck. and about 10 miles air line north of Telescope Peak and is relocation of Exchequer or Garabali [sic] Mine." [211] According to the U.S. Mint several high-grade silver mines were being operated in the Wild Rose District in that year, some of which had been discovered ten years or so before during the height of the Panamint City excitement. These included the Virgin, Peru, Kuler, Silver Star, Mohawk (aka North Star), Valley View, Umpire, Argonaut (aka Nellie Grant), Genette (Junietta?), and Empire State. Ore was also being recovered from the old workings on the Garibaldi; 150 tons of material on the dump had assayed $100 per ton on the average and were being shipped to San Francisco for treatment. Development work was being financed solely by proceeds from the ore shipments. [212]

By the time another year had passed several thousand dollars had been expended on development of the Argonaut, Junietta, Blue Bell, Blizzard, and Virgin mines by Hunter, Miller, and Medbury. The Blue Bell reportedly contained a well-defined twenty-foot ledge showing ore averaging $80 per ton, with over 100 tons of ore lying on the dump. Over $1,000 had been spent on development of this property alone. In the late summer of 1884 10-1/2 tons of ore from the Mohawk, Blue Bell, and Argonaut mines were sent to the Snow Canyon mill for treatment in order to determine the ore's milling quality; about 3,400 ozs. of silver bullion were produced. [213]

In November 1884 Medbury and Miller sold a J. M. Keeler one-half interest in the Blue Bell, Mohawk, Valley View, Blizzard, Argonaut, and Jeanette (sic) mines for $1,600. [214] Evidently the mine underwent yet another name change, because two years later a notice of location for the Silver Queen Mine was filed, located in Rose Springs Mining District and "formerly known as the Blue Bell Mine or Garibaldia." The property in question had been located 2 April 1886 by M. M. Beaty (probably Beatty) and Joseph Danielson. Again on 1 January 1888 a Silver Queen Mine on the east side of the Panamint Range and about twelve miles northwest of Coleman's borax works in Death Valley, "formerly known as the Blue Bell or Garabaldia mine" was located by Paul Pfefferle and Joseph Danielson. [215] In 1902 the Garibaldi Mine, now including an 80-foot shaft and 150-foot tunnel, was linked to Charles Anthony of Darwin. [216] It is more uncertain whether a 1906 discovery of a Blue Bell No. 1 and No. 2 claim took place at this site. Their location is given as "between the Casa Diablo Company's mines and the old Wild Rose property. . . ." and "are about four miles south of the old Wild Rose. . . ." [217] Because of the vague description of boundaries it would be difficult to determine the area involved without further research into the Casa Diablo Company and its holdings. It is the writer's opinion, however, that this refers to claims further south and west, possibly outside the present national monument.

In 1906 the old Garibaldi Mine near Skidoo, possessing numerous long tunnels and shafts, was owned by Kennedy (probably F. C.) and Gray, who had performed limited development work. It was during this year that the first reference was found to "stone mill buildings" on the property. [218] Kennedy received an offer for the mine at this time, a sale that might have been consummated, since in 1911, Mr. Ball was working the "Girabaldi" and had several tons of ore ready for shipment. [219] Before long the mine was again abandoned, and no record of any mill or smelter returns for the next several years has been found. One memo in the mining office file lists the Garibaldi as being worked in 1953 for gold. A later list shows W. M. Hoover as owner of the Garibaldi and E. H. McGlothlin and Earl Enger as owners of the Blue Bell. [220] According to McGlothlin, who by 1974 was one of four claimants of the Blue Bell Millsite and the Blue Bell #1 lode claim (encompassing the old Garibaldi Mine), a lessee of the property shipped about 150 tons of selected material from the site in 1967, and he himself had shipped nine to ten tons to Barstow a year later. No documented production for the mine has been found. [221]

Illustration 172. Cabin on Blue Bell mining claim. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 174. Tramway support, Hanging Cliff Millsite. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 173. Cable heading north across gulch toward Hanging Cliff Millsite. Light area on far cliff is mine dump. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

(b) Present Status

The Blue Bell Group, comprising one twenty-acre unpatented lode claim (Blue Bell #1) and one five-acre unpatented mill site (Blue Bell Millsite), is about three miles east of Skidoo and reached via the gravel Skidoo Road. The turnoff to the mine is about five miles east and north from the junction of the Skidoo and Emigrant Canyon roads; from there the Blue Bell Millsite lies about one-half mile down the slope. Here claimants have erected their tin shack headquarters, still furnished, and identified on its side as "Hidden Wash, McFarlin and Durham Mining." Probably built in the 1950s or 1960s, the cabin and surrounding ground resemble all mine camps of that period within the monument--assorted debris and trash, old appliances, and a dilapidated vehicle litter the ground.

From here a road trends southeasterly toward the Hanging Cliff Millsite, which, located at the crest of a hill, is distinguished by a large metal support for a cable tramway that crosses a small, though deep, canyon toward the Hanging Cliff Claim, appropriately named for its precarious location on the side of a very steep rock wall. Further east and at the bottom of a precipitous jeep road is the Blue Bell Claim (Garibaldi Mine). Its situation is best described, though slightly exaggerated, by a visitor in 1876 who remarked that

the descent from the mine to the valley is so abrupt that a stone can be thrown with ease into the valley below, although the mine lies several thousand feet above it. [222]

No mine structures are extant; indeed, the main shaft itself is barely discernible to the untrained eye because of the efforts made to fill it in. Of greater interest are the remains of several rock houses or dugouts visible in the canyon a short distance below. Two others are built against a hillside near the road between the Hanging Cliff Millsite and the Blue Bell Claim.

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

The Blue Bell (Garibaldi) Mine is determined to be of local significance and eligible for inclusion on the National Register. It is one of a group of very early silver mines in the Wild Rose area, all discovered during the rash of exploratory activity prompted by the excitement over Panamint City's unfolding riches, and all worked intermittently over the next several years. Making it somewhat unique is the fact that it evidently proved profitable enough to mine, or at least periodically explore, over the next almost forty years so that its location is still known today.

What makes the site especially significant, of course, are the associated stone ruins, which in the early 1900s were identified as mill buildings; no specific date for their construction was mentioned, however. They should be researched further and in closer detail by historical archeologists. Due to time limitations the writer was only able to examine the two more accessible dugouts near the Garibaldi Mine road: one is about eleven feet square in dimension and is surrounded on three sides by a five-foot-high wall with two entrances; the other was circular in shape with about twelve feet of five-foot-high curved wall remaining. The structures lower on the canyon floor appear to be ten to fifteen feet in diameter.

Illustration 175. Stone dugout to north of road between Blue Bell and Garibaldi mines. Photos by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 176. Stone dugout to north of road between Blue Bell and Garibaldi mines. Photos by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

It has been hypothesized that these ruins date from early Spanish exploratory or mining activities in the region; reportedly an old trail can still be seen leading from the vicinity of these structures to the floor of Death Valley. It is this writer's feeling, however, that they are probably of later construction and associated with early mining endeavors at the Garibaldi during the 1870s. The limited historical data available seem to agree that the Garibaldi was one of the more prominent mines in the early Rose Spring Mining District for several years. The 1875 Inyo Independent newspaper article quoted earlier in this section suggests that the Garibaldi ore warranted smelting works of some kind, and these might have been built by the Nossano brothers. When the Inyo Silver Mining Company took over the property and initiated extensive development procedures, such stone structures might have been erected to house employees as well as milling operations.

Further conjecture about the ruins is not only time-consuming but also meaningless until the site is investigated further by historians and historical archeologists; hopefully the discovery of artifacts in association with the structures will enable their more precise dating. Because of the presence of several ruins, of varying shapes and sizes, possibilities exist here for comparative study of, early Death Valley stone structures, some of which might have been connected with early milling operations. Such an opportunity should not be overlooked.

Illustration 177. Adit associated with Garibaldi Mine Claim. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 178. Ruins of stone mill buildings in valley below Garibaldi Mine. Death Valley salt pan seen in distance. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978

On the road near the Garibaldi Mine is an old rubber-wheeled, wooden-sided ore wagon, probably dating from the early 1900s, and possessing interpretive value. A tag on the vehicle provides full information on its maker, model number, etc.

The Blue Bell Millsite and Hanging Cliff Millsite and Claim possess no demonstrable historical significance.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003