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)

(19) Skidoo

(a) History

i) Ramsey and Thompson's Great Discovery

Right here on the border line between California and Nevada, just a few miles from arid within speaking distance of Nevada's big, bonanza gold camps of Goldfield, Rhyolite, Tonopah, California promises to give birth to the most wonderful gold mines America has yet produced . . . . Here the golden goddess is again singing her siren song of enchantment and California is again beckoning to the world with a finger of gold: and the world is listening, and looking, and coming--TO SKIDOO! [223]

By 1907 when this enticingly optimistic editorial appeared, Skidoo was a thriving year-old mining camp. Her cramped townsite, dizzyingly nestled on top of the Panamint Range, already proudly possessed over thirty tents, several frame buildings, and many of the amenities of civilization, including restaurants, hotels, and a newspaper. It was a far cry from the desolate and lonely conditions existing here in January 1906 as two wandering desert prospectors, John Ramsey and John ("One Eye") Thompson, wended their slow way up Emigrant Canyon toward the newly-discovered gold strike at Harrisburg.

Although the Panamint Range for almost its entire length had been known since the early 1850s to contain gold-. and silver-bearing veins, early mining efforts had centered mostly around silver and lead, the gold veins being largely overlooked and unprospected. Only now, in the early 1900s, was this precious metal becoming a highly-prized and sought-after commodity. Both Skidoo and Harrisburg, discovered about six months earlier and located about 5-1/2 miles further south, were the direct offshoots of the big Nevada bonanzas of Tonopah, Goldfield, and Rhyolite. Excited and encouraged by the seemingly quick riches exposed in these areas, the desert mining community became hungry for more, and prospectors began gravitating westward across Death Valley in search of rumored treasures in the Panamints.

The long trek of Ramsey and Thompson toward Harrisburg was suddenly interrupted by a rare freak of nature in the Death Valley region--a blinding fog. Quickly becoming disoriented in the murky light, and afraid of getting lost in one of the many surrounding canyons, the two decided to encamp near Emigrant Spring and proceed on their way in the morning. By the next day the fog had lifted, enabling a view of some nearby ledges whose color appeared promising. A true desert prospector always had time for even a brief survey of such formations. What Ramsey and Thompson found completely dismissed all thought of a further journey, and precipitated their prompt location of several claims in the vicinity. Comprising the Gold Eagle Group, this series of rich ledges appeared to stretch north-south for a distance of about 1-1/2 miles, varying from two to twelve feet wide, and showing $82 in gold per ton.

Somehow managing to keep their new discoveries secret until their claims had been properly monumented and recorded (luckily they did not run into Shorty Harris here!), it was not until a couple of months later that news of the strike began to spread. Immediately realizing that these veins were probably located in the same mineral belt that had been the source of riches for Panamint City over thirty years earlier and that was now proving so productive in the Harrisburg vicinity, hordes of miners turned their burros toward Emigrant Spring, hoping to be early enough to cash in on the bonanza. Though located in California, the camp soon fell almost completely into the hands of Nevada capital and enterprise. As soon as word of the strike reached the ears of the pioneers of the Bullfrog District, the area's future was assured, for it was their intervention and investment that made Skidoo one of the longest-lived and most successful Death Valley mining camps.

ii) E. A. Montgomery Acquires the Property

The Nevada mogul most responsible for Skidoo's success was E. A. (Bob) Montgomery, who immediately purchased the original Gold Eagle Group of claims from Ramsey and Thompson. As was not at all unusual on the desert mining frontier, where the thrilling prospect of untold wealth often precipitated fast and loose business deals, some hint of scandal did revolve around the negotiations for the property. One version of the transactions states that a representative of Captain DeLamar, a well-known mining magnate of the region, being one of the first on the scene with money enough to act, promptly secured an option for a one-half interest in the property for $100,000. Following on his heels came E. Oscar (Bob) Hart, a Goldfield pioneer, mine owner, and New York promoter, who subsequently secured the former's option and bonded the property for $20,000.

From this point on the facts are hazy, probably deliberately so. According to some, Montgomery eventually intercepted Hart and for his option offered him a sum he couldn't refuse--$100,000 extra--and then proposed to the discoverers another large sum for their remaining interest. Upon the latter's acceptance of same he was put in sole ownership of this phenomenal discovery. Some doubt is cast on this tale of completely orthodox business proceedings by a second account to the effect that Hart made the original deal with Ramsey and Thompson to bond the claims for $23,000, after which, forking over the option money and rightly assuming he had an ironclad contract, he returned to the East to attempt to interest Schwab's bankers in the property, leaving matters for the most part in the hands of his business associate George M. Ottis. This was his first mistake, for Ottis, not above playing both sides of the fence, apparently turned around and struck up a partnership with Montgomery (or so he claimed in a lawsuit two years later), betraying Hart's option for the claims in return for a one-eighth interest in the mine and any ensuing profits. Montgomery was thus enabled to pick up Hart's option before his time expired, gladly paying a bonus therefor. [224]

However it happened, by May 1906 the Schwab crowd and Bob Montgomery and his associates had gained undisputed control over the original twenty-odd claims of Ramsey and Thompson, and Matt Hoveck, Montgomery's competent former manager of the Montgomery-Shoshone Mine, was put in charge of development. Nevada capital was now pouring into the district from such investors as Senator Nixon and George Wingfield of Tonopah, who bought the Green Monster Group of fifteen claims adjoining the Gold Eagle, and Hudson Goodpasture, John W. Seller (one of the original locators of Bonanza Mountain and an investor in several big enterprises in the Bullfrog District), and A. V. Carpenter, who secured the Contact Group of seven claims in these early days, believed by some to be next in importance to the original strike. [225]

It was the news of Montgomery's entrance into the new field, however, and of his initiation of development, that practically emptied Harrisburg and provided the impetus for a mass location of new claims, everyone vying to acquire a site as close to his works as possible and within the prosperous mineral zone that was now estimated to measure about six miles wide by fifteen miles long. Considered part of the Wild Rose Mining District, the new Emigrant section was immediately provided with a deputy district recorder to handle the expected increased work load; a voting precinct was also established here.

An astute and competent businessman, E. A. Montgomery intended to waste no time in the development of his Skidoo interests, future plans for the site involving installation by 1 January 1907 of a quartz mill (variously projected as holding thirty, forty, or sixty stamps) to be run by water and hopefully later by electric power. Although sufficient water for domestic purposes could be acquired from Emigrant Spring, approximately five miles away by trail and seven by wagon, a more abundant water supply would be needed to provide the hydraulic force necessary to run the milling plant. Accordingly, water rights to the springs near Telescope Peak, at an elevation of about 7,400 feet, were acquired from a Fred Gray of Ballarat, enabling the release of about forty miner's inches from Birch Spring at the head of Jail Canyon, and north of Telescope Peak, to be conveyed by gravity pressure to the mill and townsite in a long pipeline ranging in diameter from six to eight and ten inches, estimated to cost about $150,000 and intended with a fall of 1,800 feet to provide enough force to generate about sixty horsepower for mining and milling purposes. The water was harnessed at the springs in a four-by-eight sandbox. Pressure would be reduced somewhat along the line, there being places where the water would drop lower than Skidoo's elevation. The high-pressure quality pipeline would be strung along the route in twenty-foot lengths. It weighed 650 pounds to the length, with eighteen miles worth weighing 1,544-2/5 tons. It was expected that because of this water supply all ore running above $4 a ton could be treated at a profit in the mill. Water from the line would be free for domestic purposes. [226]

A negotiable road from Emigrant Spring was also needed to facilitate the importation of construction supplies, and for this task Montgomery employed 20 men, expecting to increase this force soon to 75 and later to 250 when the mill was in operation. The promoter and backer of all this initial development work was the Skidoo Mines Company, an unincorporated and closed association operating on a partnership basis. No stock offerings were ever made, the individual members contributing all necessary monies. A capitalization of $250,000 would hopefully cover all initial costs.

By the Fourth of July 1906 a real spirit of optimism pervaded the camp, its over-abundance of energy and enthusiasm finding an outlet in the discharge of guns and the explosion of gunpowder in front of buildings gaily decorated with bunting and flags. Such optimism seemed duly warranted, for arrangements were already being made for an auto line into the district from Beatty, a stage line seemed assured, a post office had been applied for, mine options were being taken up right and left, and several companies expected to start production soon. The high altitude of Skidoo (5,600 feet) and its relatively protected position in a saddle on the southwest slope of Tucki Mountain meant that prospecting and development work could continue all summer.

On Montgomery's property, now rechristened the Eagle Mine, a spate of construction activity was currently underway, resulting in erection of several matched lumber buildings, including a bunkhouse (eighteen by eighty feet), a cookhouse, a boarding house (twenty by forty feet) with a twenty by thirty-foot kitchen, an office, and a blacksmith shop, in the company camp located on the hilltop above (south of) the mine workings where thirty men were busily employed in development work and in laying the foundations of the stamp mill. Communications with Ballarat had been substantially improved by the initiation of a tri-weekly stage line, but in order for the new camp to reach its full potential it was concluded that a communication and transportation line with Rhyolite was needed, necessitating much work on the road crossing Death Valley that at this point was so sandy it could not support loaded wagons. [227] A telephone line to the Bullfrog District was also considered essential to keep mining men in Skidoo apprised of the rise and fall of shares.

iii) Granite Contact Mines Company

Touted as the Emigrant Spring section's first stock offering, the Granite Contact Mines Company, one-half mile north of town and still considered second in anticipated wealth to the Skidoo Mine, with an almost comparable surface showing, was incorporated under the laws of South Dakota in the summer of 1906 and was offering stock at 15¢ a share by August. Capitalized at $1,250,000 with 500,000 shares in the treasury for development purposes, the company was backed by a string of solid Bullfrog businessmen: John W. Seller, president; Clay Taliman, a prominent Rhyolite attorney, vice-president;. J. J. Fagan, pioneer broker and real estate man of the Bullfrog District, secretary; and treasurer G. B. Keenan, cashier of the Bullfrog Bank and Trust Company of Rhyolite. [228]

Prospective purchasers were completely assured by the company of the systematic development campaign that would be undertaken on its seven claims (adjoining the Skidoo Mine on the north, the Blue Jay Mining Company on the east, and the Skidoo Contact Mining Company grounds on the south and west) in what was

Without question . . . destined to be one of the best high grade and leasing camps on the desert gold fields; situated as it is at an altitude of 6500 [56001 feet, with a delightful climate, with an abundance of water for mining and milling purposes, with a plentiful supply of timber for fuel and lumber, with ideal free milling ores and with precipitous mountains particularly adapted to mining by tunnel, mining operations can be conducted by the most economical methods known to mining. [229]

Many people evidently were won over by the eye-catching and flamboyant ads appearing in the Bullfrog Miner and Rhyolite Herald for the demand for stock was far greater than anticipated, no doubt prompted in great part by the already heavy and continuing investments in the area by prominent Nevada operators.

iv) A Townsite is Established

From its very beginning Skidoo displayed a definite tendency toward an organized and systematic development pattern that no doubt played a great part in helping sustain it through the rough years ahead. The rapid influx of mining men to the vicinity, some with families, made the establishment of a townsite and the dispersement of residential and business lots the next natural step in the area's growth. By the end of August 1906 a townsite, variously designated as Montgomery and later Hoveck, was platted just east of the Skidoo Mine, which was functioning as the center of milling operations. Neither "Montgomery" nor "Hoveck" captured the imagination of the townspeople, however, nor did either of those two solid citizens particularly desire to be so memorialized. The details of the debate resulting in the colorful designation of "Skidoo" have been lost to history and open to conjecture for years, the linking of the then popular slang term "23 Skidoo" with the townsite having been variously attributed to: 1) the length of the Skidoo pipeline; 2) a total of twenty-three claims in the original discovery group, coincident with twenty-three surveyed blocks in the new townsite (this seems the most likely suggestion, though newspaper reports mention twenty-four claims), prompting Mrs. Montgomery to suggest the appellation; 3) the location of the original mineral discoveries on the twenty-third of the month; 4) the twenty-three men who supposedly founded the town; etc. Whichever fact prompted the suggestion, the new name was wholeheartedly approved by all.

Lots on Skidoo Street went almost in a day. The coming of winter would delay new construction, but by spring large and substantial frame buildings would be rising. An important drawing card for the area was its relative accessibility compared to the inconveniences experienced by earlier and smaller mining ventures in this region. Emigrant Spring(s) rapidly became the distributing point for Skidoo and Harrisburg, boasting now a general store and three saloons for those who needed to slake their thirst before attempting the last few miles to either of those places. The rate of fare to Johannesburg from Los Angeles was only $6 and the stage rate to Ballarat, on the threshhold of the Wildrose and Emigrant districts, only $8. The ride from Ballarat to Skidoo was another $6, the stage leaving every Tuesday and Saturday. Freight to Skidoo cost about 3-1/2 cents per pound and entered the region from the railroad terminus via Barstow and Johannesburg, hauled by ten-, twelve-, and fourteen-horse teams. Other assets of the region were free-milling ores, extremely rich formations, and the ability afforded by the high mountains to utilize tunneling methods rather than expensive shaft work. [230]

v) A Communications Link to Rhyolite Needed

The arguments put forth earlier in favor of establishing a communications link with Rhyolite--a move now considered even more logical because it would put Skidoo about forty-five miles closer to a railhead--were revived, and in the course of the discussion it was pointed out that a decent automobile road already existed to Stovepipe Springs (Wells), twenty-eight miles northeast. If a good dependable water supply and a waystation could be developed there, travelers and freight supplies should be able to negotiate the burning desert sands in relative comfort. While plans for this project were being hashed and rehashed, a new gold strike in the fall of 1906 on the north end of Sheep Mountain added to the mining excitement. (This area later proved to also contain sizeable quantities of copper ore.) [231]

Meanwhile work on the Skidoo pipeline was progressing. Grading was finished and the laying would commence as soon as the eighteen freight outfits engaged in transporting the material could deliver it. The first consignment of pipe arrived from Johannesburg in the middle of September. Seventy-five men were at work on the water system and at the mine where the main shaft, already down sixty feet, was exposing magnificent ore filled with free gold. [232]

Further discussion on the Skidoo-Rhyolite road had resulted in the decision to commence work almost immediately on the proposed route. Matt Hoveck, manager of the Skidoo Mine, committed the company to construction of the road up to the sand dunes, a project estimated to entail an expenditure of several thousand dollars, if Rhyolite businessmen would build from the east to that point. J. R. Clark, brother of the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad head, was appointed to supervise this second construction phase, selling subscriptions in Rhyolite to finance the work. (This scheme was not completely foolproof, for expenditures always outweighed contributions. The total amount donated was $1,045, while expenditures for picks, shovels, rakes, wages, teams, and lumber for culverts were $1,525.90. In addition, some further work became necessary and was expected to result in a final deficit of $750.90.) Hopes were also high at this time that Borax Smith's railroad would be extended westward from his Lila C borax mine, past his Furnace Creek properties, on north to Cow Creek, and if the Emigrant Spring ore continued to show promise, on to Skidoo. [233]

Meanwhile slow but steady work continued at the Skidoo Mines Company site where two shafts and as many tunnels were producing high-grade ore with values ranging from $100 to $1200 per ton, precipitating the receipt by Hoveck of at least twenty-five lease applications from Goldfield and Tonopah people. Because it seemed inevitable that the number of ore deposits would far outstrip the capacity of the company mill to handle them, it was already assumed that a second mill of fifty stamps would have to be established at the lower end of the property, utilizing the same water after it had performed its duty above, the fall between the two mills being about 1,000 feet. [234]

vi) The Skidoo News Arrives

One of the more important events in Skidoo's early days, and one ensuring the dissemination of her virtues far and wide, was the arrival in November of a four-horse load of printing material, transported to the isolated town by James G. Sterrett and Edwin S. Drury of Encampment, Wyoming--the Skidoo News was born! During the ensuing months other businesses mushroomed in the vicinity, all owing their existence to the Skidoo Mine: an engineering and assay office was opened in that town by two mining engineers, John H. Wilson of Rhyolite (formerly of Greenwater?) and R. H. Earle of New York; Lawrence Kimball of the Kimball Bros. stage line began canvassing the wagon road between Rhyolite and Skidoo preparatory to the establishment of regular stage and express service; a water station was established at Stovepipe Wells and an eating house and feed stable were projected; John Calloway began running a six-horse bi-weekly stage from Ballarat; and Jack Hartigan further developed his Emigrant Spring facilities and was liberally dispensing spirits, general merchandise, and stock feed.

vii) Conditions Continue Promising

Actually, mining conditions throughout Inyo County as a whole were healthy during the closing months of 1906, with 150 miners reportedly working the Emigrant District, where investment capital seemed always available. Harrisburg was taking on a new lease of life due to all the activity in the surrounding region, and Ballarat was thriving as the distribution point for supplies for a vast mining section including not only the Wild Rose District but also the revitalized camps in the Darwin, Modoc, and Coso districts. To the north numerous valuable copper properties in the Ubehebe and Saline Valley regions were drawing much attention at this time, and to the east Greenwater, the site of a bonanza copper strike, was attracting investors from all over the country. [235]

Illustration 179. Office of Skidoo News 1907. Note Matt Hoveck and Bob Montgomery in picture. From Rhyolite Herald, 19 April 1907.

Over the next few months slow but steady progress took place in the efforts to improve conditions at the new camp. Although five miles of pipeline had been laid by the end of November 1906, the early days of December brought heavy snows, sometimes as deep as three feet around Skidoo and Harrisburg. The unbearable cold, lack of fuel, and poor housing accelerated an exodus from the Emigrant Spring area. The Skidoo News even froze up, and work on the mines and pipeline had to be temporarily interrupted. Toward the end of December weather conditions had improved to the extent that twenty-seven laborers could resume work on the pipeline, while a forty-horsepower hoist was installed on the main shaft of the Skidoo Mine, now down 120 feet and exposing ore running from $60 to $200 per ton. By early January the first power hoisting plant to be installed in camp, a new eighteen-horsepower one hauled by fourteen-mule team from the railroad, was installed at the mine. An iron-clad engine house was erected at the No. 1 shaft and the hoist was working steadily. Although large surface showings were present on the Granite Contact, permanent work had not yet been started. The need for a mill and treating machinery on the property was already being hinted at, however.

Illustration 180. Plat of the town of Skidoo, Inyo Co., Ca., filed 10 January 1907. Courtesy of Inyo Co. Clerk and Recorder, Independence, Ca.

Illustration 181. Plat of the town of Skidoo, Inyo Co., Ca., filed 6 May 1907. Courtesy of Inyo Co. Clerk and Recorder, Independence, Ca.

J. R. Clark had by now also taken charge of the road work on the Skidoo end of the line being constructed between Rhyolite and the new town, which, now boasting thirty-three tents, several frame buildings, a big general mercantile store, a lodging house, a restaurant, a newspaper, and several saloons, was eagerly anticipating increased trade from the new association. By the middle of January men were working at four places along the road, which had been finished so far only over the Funeral Range to Stovepipe Wells. Here, nearly two miles out of a necessary five of the road had been corduroyed with mesquite. [236] Although the road still needed some finishing touches, it was negotiable by motorcycle, stage, or auto. Crossing of the sand dunes took a good two hours, however, and from Stovepipe to Emigrant, a distance of twenty-one miles, about seven hours. The route from Skidoo to the railroad via Ballarat was badly deteriorating and rapidly becoming impassable for teams with heavy loads, causing Superintendent Hoveck to contemplate bringing the rest of the pipeline in over the new road from the north. Work on the project had been delayed already for six weeks during the end of December and first of January because of the inability to transport supplies over the road now being used.

The Kimball Bros. stage line lost no time in initiating a five-day round-trip service from Rhyolite to Skidoo via Stovepipe and Emigrant Spring, with a one-night stopover at the former. A one-way fare cost $20, and the express rate was 5¢ per pound. During this same time a telephone line from Rhyolite was nearing completion to Stovepipe Wells. The connection had reached there by March 1907 and was already extending nearly five miles up the Panamint slope toward Skidoo. Completion of this communication link would do much toward ending some lingering feelings of isolation at the townsite.

viii) Leases Opened on the Skidoo Mines Company Property

To return briefly to mining operations at Skidoo, a new and extremely profitable phase of activity began with the opening of leasing opportunities on the Skidoo Mines Company property to interested parties. According to Hoveck the company would eventually lease everything except for the three big ledges on the Skidoo and the three on the Cocopah that the company was working. (The Cocopah Group of fifteen claims was not included in the Skidoo Mines Company organization, but did have the same directorate. It was later consolidated with the Skidoo Mine.) The awarding of these leases offered the possibility of quick fortunes for many, because rich values could easily be drawn from the surface without tedious preliminary development work. Royalites agreed on were 10% on $25 ore or. less with a graduate scale up to 25% on $100 or better.

On the Skidoo itself, the No. 2 shaft was now a double compartment sixty feet deep another forty-horsepower gas hoist was soon to be erected over it to increase production capacity. In February 1907 a new venture, the Skidoo Contact Mining Company., was organized under the laws of South Dakota with a capitalization of $1,000,000. Comprising five claims-(Gold Ledge #1-4 and Doctor) 1-1/2 miles north of Skidoo, the Skidoo Contact Group lay adjacent to the Golden Eagle Group (Skidoo Mine) and the Granite Contact, and was considered third in importance to these two. President of the company was O. O. Kincaid, cashier of the John S. Cook & Co. Bank of Rhyolite; vice-president was John W. Seller. [237]

Illustration 182. Rhyolite-Skidoo stage, on exhibit at Borax Museum, Furnace Creek Ranch. Photo courtesy of G. William Fiero, UNLV.

It was anticipated that the first shipment of gold bullion from the Skidoo Mine would be made before the end of July, test samples of ore having been shipped to Taylor & Company milling machinery house in St. Louis and to Denver in an attempt to determine the best method of treatment. According to Hoveck, an eighty-stamp mill operating by the summer would reserve ten of its stamps for custom work, entailing at least three years of steady use for the other seventy stamps. Hoping to facilitate operations elsewhere, the company offered to furnish water and electric power to any surrounding properties desiring it. Ore was to be purchased from leasers or operators, all ore running above $5 per ton to be bought and paid for at the mill. By March leasing offers for Skidoo ground were withdrawn, the Skidoo Mines Company undergoing a formal incorporation encompassing all twenty-three Cocopah and Gold Eagle locations in one organization. [238]

ix) The Townsite Expands

Skidoo townsite was thriving now, and a great morale boost was provided when the U.S. Government withdrew its aesthetic objections and officially recognized the appellation Skidoo. In March the Skidoo Bank and Trust Company, with a paid-up capitalization of $25,000, took up temporary quarters in the general store. Due to numerous delays, however, it was not until May that the renamed Bank of Southern California opened its doors for business. The first day's transactions carried deposits up to almost $10,000. The future looked so rosy that stone masons imported from Los Angeles were already quarrying the native white stone for use in a new two-story-high building costing $12,000, with lodge rooms on the second floor for Masons and with a 60 by 100-foot ground floor to house a large store and several business offices in addition to the bank. In February the Panamint Artificial Ice Company had been formed by Salt Lake parties who intended to divert water from the Telescope Peak pipeline to their $5,000 ice plant situated on four town lots. Two men already managing large businesses at Tonopah and Greenwater were planning the establishment of the Skidoo Lumber Company, intending to supply this commodity from Rhyolite via big freighting outfits at from $15 to $25 cheaper than the prices now being paid of $130 per thousand board feet.

Investments in mining properties and real estate were the order of the day, the latter transactions being ably conducted by Capt. W. R. Wharton, a Pennsylvania capitalist and stockholder in the Skidoo Mines Company, who bought the Skidoo townsite in March 1907 from Matt Floveck who had acquired the original one from James Arnold, the locator. Wharton proceeded to plat a new residential addition east of the original townsite, where he himself erected two portable houses, and sell business lots as well as oversee development work on those promising claims embraced within the townsite. It was expected that such development work would soon open up an extension of the Gold Eagle ledges within the city limits. The Skidoo Townsite & Mining Company, with a capital stock of 1,000,000 shares, was organized, with Montgomery as president; Matt Hoveck, vice-president; and Wharton as secretary-treasurer. It owned eight full claims and one fraction adjoining the Skidoo Mines Company property and, in addition, sold townsites ranging in price-from $100 to $1,000 each, depending on location.

Skidoo's population had reached 400 to 500 citizens, who were being served by L. E. Thompson's large general merchandise store, supplying everything from mining necessities to hardware, clothing, drygoods, and groceries, four saloons, a meat market, laundry, bakery, newspaper, and lumber yard, lodging houses, three restaurants, assayers, surveyors, a physician, lawyers, brokers, and more. Social activities were held in the Skidoo Club, measuring twenty by fifty feet and costing about $3,000, and in the more elite Panamint Club, which demanded an initiation fee of $100. By April the town contained altogether about 130 residences and business houses of frame, wood, and iron.

Because the Telescope Peak pipeline was not yet finished, water continued to be hauled in wagons from Emigrant Spring by ten-horse team and was sold for $4 a barrel or three to ten cents a gallon or higher to the townspeople. It was hauled to the Skidoo Mine in an iron tank on wheels. Groceries, supplies, and the cost of living were about equal to Rhyolite. Mail was being hauled on the Kimball Bros. stage from that town, while fresh meat and vegetables arrived by the same means and were then peddled. A Death Valley Forwarding Company had been established in. Rhyolite to forward freight to Skidoo. Emigrant Spring now was a small camp of framed tents with traveler accommodations in the form of a store, a saloon, a lodging house, and restaurant. Water was piped from the spring to a point in front of the main building. Several prospectors called this place home, as did Frank C. Kennedy, the district mining recorder. [239]

Illustration 183. Proud cardholders of the Skidoo Club, 1907. From Rhyolite Herald 19 April 1907.

x) Transportation Problems Arise

Skidoo and the surrounding Emigrant District were now accessible by stage both from Ballarat (four-horse, tri-weekly service arriving on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) and Rhyolite (now on a four-horse, three-day round-trip schedule), and it was being rumored that a stage company in Johannesburg was planning a line to Skidoo, making the 110-mile trip in two days, a stage going each way daily. This would mean three regular stages into the town as well s several private cars, such as J. W. Calloway's sixty-horsepower auto with a capacity for ten passengers. [240]

The recently-completed Rhyolite-Skidoo road was proving a boon in many ways, but unforeseen problems soon arose that for a while were seriously detrimental to the freighting business. The trouble was first perceived when J. R. Clark, who had been hauling pipe, telephone poles, and other miscellaneous freight for Montgomery and Hoveck was warned by freighters doing business between Rhyolite and Skidoo not to haul any more freight for less than 3-1/2 cents per pound, even though the distance was less than fifty miles. This action justifiably angered the Skidoo Mines Company, which had just initiated a shipment of 500 tons, or ten carloads, of pipe, lumber, hay, and grain from Los Angeles to Skidoo via Rhyolite. Upon learning that hauling the supplies from the latter place to Skidoo would cost $3.50 per hundred, the shipment was stopped and ordered to go via Johannesburg instead, where the freight charge was only 2-1/2 cents per pound although the distance was 120 miles. It was not until the following October that arrangements were made among the local Rhyolite freighters to allow open competition for the Skidoo business and to do away with the prohibitory tariffs. This would ensure the rerouting of freight for the Skidoo Mine (especially the lucrative mill shipments) back through Rhyolite and necessitated the laying off of many of the freight handlers and railroad men who had been involved in the Death Valley business at Johannesburg. [241]

An important milestone in the town's history was reached in early spring 1907 when Skidoo became connected to Rhyolite by phone, one of the first messages relayed concerning a new strike on the Granite Contact. According to the Skidoo News

The telephone from Rhyolite has reached Skidoo and a flood of business between the Bullfrog metropolis and this place is keeping the wires busy. The first message flashed across the wires from here last Monday announcing that communication was, opened and that conversation could now be carried on with the Panamint camp. [242]

The line, built by the Skidoo Mines Company, again under Clark's supervision, had a halfway phone station at Stovepipe. The cost of talking with Skidoo was a mere dollar. By the end of April a similar 7-1/2-mile-long line was about to be completed to the Keane Wonder northeast across the valley that would connect with the Rhyolite-Skidoo line, thus making a second phone office in the valley. [243]

"Away up at the top of the Panamints where the western wall of Death Valley fades off into thin air; that's where Skidoo is . . . the little strip of country in Inyo county, California, where the geography shows blank." From Inyo Register, 17 January 1907.

Illustration 184. Townsite of Skidoo, 1907. From Rhyolite Herald, 19 April 1907.

Illustration 185. Community of Emigrant Spring(s), 1907. From Rhyolite Herald, 19 April 1907.

Illustration 186. Skidoo Mines Company camp, 1907. From Rhyolite Herald 19 April 1907.

Illustration 187. Skidoo Mines Company headquarters building, 1943. Photo courtesy of DEVA NM.

xi) Continuing Activity by the Skidoo Mines Company

All this thriving progress by the town of Skidoo was, of course, directly attributable to a surge of profitable and systematically-planned development at the great Skidoo Mine. The parent mining company was still carrying out its plans with its own money, offering no stock on the market except for 20,000 shares that were sold to friends as a favor for $30,000. Like Goldfield, Skidoo was fast becoming famous for her leases (of which she now had five), the most famous of which were the Shackett and Hoyt ones. Next to the Skidoo and Granite Contact mines, these were most important in proving the richness of the district. Figures vary considerably as to the number of men actually employed by the Skidoo Mines Company at any one time, ranging from forty to seventy for the month of April alone. By spring, several thousand dollars had been expended on the mine camp, where the company headquarters were now housed in a fine building containing a large main office, a private office for the superintendent, a parlor, bathroom, and several private bedrooms for employees. The structure was surrounded by a large porch and finished throughout in excellent style. Workers were boarded and lodged for $1 each per day. Other recent improvements at the camp site consisted of a twenty by ninety-foot boarding house, a bunkhouse and another building, an eighteen by twenty-four-foot reading room, an officers' dining room, and a lady cooks' room. [244]

The Skidoo mill was to be built near the mouth of Tunnel No. 3. Here the ore's free-milling character made it easy to treat, and by stoping and tramming directly to the mill and not using wagons, the ore could be cheaply mined also. The No. 1 shaft was driven to a 200-foot depth and was equipped with a twenty-five-horsepower gasoline hoist, while the double-compartment shaft, in April, was still awaiting its forty-horsepower hoist. At this time the Skidoo Mines Company completed its formal organization. Still a closed corporation, it had a capitalization of $5,000,000, with the capital stock divided among the incorporators. Montgomery was president; Capt. W. R. Wharton, vice-president; and Matt Hoveck, treasurer and general manager. Ten claims were included in the mine holdings, and it was fully understood by the men involved that close to half a million dollars would probably be expended on the installation of water, an electric plant, the mill, etc., before any return on the investment would be realized. The Cocopah Mines Company was organized by the same people and financed in the same manner. This company controlled fourteen of the Gold Eagle locations, including the extremely rich 22 and 23 claims. It intended installation of a twenty-stamp mill to handle customers, but this project as well as further development would be delayed until the Skidoo Mine enterprise was in full swing.

By the middle of April eight leases, each a 400 by 600-foot plot, had been given out on the Skidoo Mines Company property, each one expiring 1 April 1908 with the probability of being renewed. The terms of lease stated that two persons must be employed twenty shifts each per month. On ore running $20 or under per ton, the company would receive a royalty of 10%; from $20 to $30, 15%; above $30, 20%. In addition, it was promised that when the Skidoo mill was finally installed, ore taken out by the lessees would be given preference over company ore. Not intending to make any profit on the work, the company would charge only enough more than the milling cost to allow for wear and tear on the machinery, interest on their investment, and other contingencies. [245]

xii) Skidoo Continues Systematic Development

Mining speculators, investors, and owners from all over the country were clearly visualizing the immense profits to be made at Skidoo. Among the camp's visitors during the spring of 1907 was a representative of Lindblom, Linderberg & Co., multimillionaire mine owners of Alaska, who steadfastly announced their intention of becoming involved in the section's mining activity. An important aspect of Skidoo's dynamic mining community and the one that was probably responsible for attracting so many people to her properties was that her business elite were well and widely known for their conservative judgement and legitimate, businesslike mining methods,

men who investigate thoroughly and then support their opinion with capital as strong as the Bank of England; this is the class of men who are making of Skidoo the most wonderful gold camp ever known . . . . Skidoo is not alone great through its gold; it is great in the possession of financial backing which mine and produce that gold. [246]

This is the feature that gave Skidoo her truly unique standing in Death Valley mining history. A short tally of some of the "greats" associated with Skidoo produces the following impressive list:

1. E. A. (Bob) Montgomery, Nevada mining king

2. Matt Hoveck

3. Capt. W. R. Wharton, closely associated with Charles M. Schwab and his enterprises

4. Capt. John L. Armit of Colorado Springs, actively engaged in mining throughout the West

5. John W. Seller(s), Goldfield operator

6. various officials of the John S. Cook & Co. Bank of Rhyolite

7. Sherwood Aldrich of Colorado Springs, involved in the Bullfrog Tramp Consolidated

8. Patsy Clark, the copper king involved in Greenwater mining

9. Poulson & Weaver, Salt Lake City capitalists

10. Busch brothers, founders and promoters of Rhyolite

Countless others were also involved in various Skidoo operations. [247]

stock certificate
Illustration 188. Skidoo Mines Company stock certificate. From Historical Mining Certificates folder issued by The Book Club of California, 1971, edited by Albert Shumate and printed by Ward Ritchie Press.

By early May 1907 the citizens of Skidoo, in accordance with their already proven desire to create a law-abiding and orderly camp, petitioned the county for the appointment of peace officers. A brief visit by the county district attorney and sheriff confirmed the need, and a deputy sheriff and justice of the peace were duly appointed.. Another tie with the county seat was suggested in the form of a Skidoo-Keeler road, providing another railroad outlet for the growing community. A second attraction of the proposed project would be a consequent drop in the local cost of hay, grain, and vegetables due to the new access to Owens Valley, products. [248]

The establishment of a Skidoo board of trade was another innovation. With Matt Hoveck as president, the organization not only monitored sanitary conditions in the camp, but also created a set of rules by which Skidoovians were expected to abide:

That all citizens pledge themselves to assist the officers of the law in maintaining law, order and decency in this camp, especially in the following particulars:

The prevention of shooting firearms within the boundaries of the townsite.

To discourage the carrying of concealed weapons therein.

The orderly conduct of all persons upon the streets of the town.

Preventing the use of vulgar and indecent language in places likely to be within the hearing of ladies and children.

The prevention of women and minors from entering barrooms. [249]

The first of summer saw frustrating problems on the Skidoo pipeline. The heat and scarcity of water across Death Valley were preventing the hauling of heavy freight from Rhyolite, necessitating utilization of the longer route through Johannesburg and Ballarat. One hundred sixty horses were on the road hauling pipe' in the first week of June, and the wagon trains hauling supplies for the construction gang were increased to speed up work. Numerous delays had plagued the project, the result of railroad tie-ups, of the inabilities of factories to make prompt shipments of material, and of numerous other factors over which the Skidoo Mines Company had no control. Material for the line filled forty railroad cars; after its arrival at the depot it had to be freighted by wagon over 100 miles and packed on burro trains up mountain trails where it was laid in solid rock in almost inaccessible places. Despite the holdups and obstacles, five miles of the line had been completed, over the hardest piece of country through which the line would pass, and water was now running into Tuber Canyon. A Mr. Maren, who had previously laid pipe for Standard Oil Company, was in charge of the work and intended to have his crew of thirty men lay not less than one-quarter of a mile per day from now on. It was not until the first week of September, however, that the line was completed to Harrisburg, and by the end of November the pipeline was still two miles and one hill away from Skidoo. [250]

Illustration 189. Team hauling water line pipe from Rhyolite to Skidoo, 1907. From Rhyolite Herald 19 April 1907.

One proof of Skidoo's durability was the fact that it was not experiencing the usual "hot weather slump that so often invaded mining camps in Death Valley during the summer quiet season and that many times presaged the end of less stable communities. Here, however, the mines were increasing their forces, new buildings were going up, and autos filled with speculators and sightseers arrived every day. To handle the increased activity, the Kimball Bros. stage now left Rhyolite six times a week, leaving there every day but Sunday at 5:30 P.M. and leaving Skidoo every day but Monday at the same hour. During the hot summer months, nighttime was the only period in which to travel.

Most interesting, though, is the realization that a great depression had been sweeping the country for the past several weeks. With the exception of Skidoo, where there was no cessation or lessening of activity through the summer, there had already been a general closing of mines in practically every camp on the desert. Not more than half the mines were working now in Goldfield, Tonopah, Manhattan, and other northern Nevada camps, and those that were able to keep going had greatly reduced work forces. These dull times would continue for most of the large mining camps in Arizona, California, and Nevada into the fall. The lively town in the Panamints had experienced only a slight reduction in population, now holding probably less than 300 people, of whom 100 were employed at various properties. An estimate at this time arrived at nearly 2,000 claims in the district. The fact that the Skidoo Mines Company expended three months time and $4,000 on grading a new road around the big Skidoo hill, long a terror to freighters and visitors, was testimony to its continued commitment to the area. [251]

A change of policy occurred in Skidoo during the fall when the camp, heretofore a non-union one, elected to organize a local branch of the Western Federation of Miners:

The name of Skidoo camp has been as a challenge to I.W.W. men for a good while, it having been the policy of owners there to limit the stay of agitators to the length of time from the stage on which they arrived to the next one going out. [252]

The thirty-five charter members next proceeded to formulate a policy of liberal, non-coercive elements that were truly unique in labor history and that greatly enhanced the WFM image, at least in this section of the Panamints. These instructions to the membership included:

1. no attempt to dictate policy to mine owners

2. acceptance of no one as a member unless he was a practical miner (that is, actively engaged in mining work)

3. encourage and bring in to the district good miners who were already union members

4. cease reports that had been circulated through union channels detrimental to Skidoo. [253]

This action by Skidoo miners greatly augmented the high esteem in which the area was held by important individuals whose support meant so much to the town. J. J. Taylor, a well-known mining engineer in the firm of Voorhees & Taylor of Rhyolite, voiced the widely-held opinion that

Skidoo has a better reputation, from a mining standpoint, than any other new camp in the country, and from what I. have seen in the few days here, I consider that the reputation is fully justified, and merited. The camp has the mineral, beyond question. But aside from that all important fact, it has been thus far entirely free from any wildcat or stock jobbing promotions which have given black eyes to every other mining district on the desert. Up to the present time Skidoo mining has all been on a clean, legitimate basis. The biggest mine in the camp, the Skidoo, is under the management of one of the most thorough mining men of the country, Matt Hoveck, and honest work is every where in evidence. [254]

The desire of Skidoovians to keep this statement accurate extended to the calling of a miner's meeting in November to frame new district laws and select an arbitration committee of ten to settle any disputes arising over mining claims. [255]

xiii) The Skidoo Pipeline is Finally a Reality

"Yes, the streets of Skidoo are running full of water, enough for swimming pools or skating rinks." [256] Thus did Bob Montgomery announce the long-awaited event as water piped from Telescope Peak was turned into a big reservoir above town, from which it ran freely through the unpiped city streets. The line awaited continuance to the town, mine, and mill until the latter was further advanced. The twenty-two-mile-long line of six-inch pipe, with eight- and ten-inch mains in the draws, was said to have cost around $250,000.

Other sources said the total bill for wagon haulage from the railroad at Johannesburg to the road nearest the pipeline was $75,000, and the line itself cost nearly $300,000. Montgomery's elaborate plans of development had of necessity to undergo some modifications and retrenching of policy because of the 1907 financial panic, and as a result a substitution was made in the pipeline of a number of miles of steel spiral pipe for the heavy eight-inch steel screw pipe used throughout most of the length. A big electric station had to be cut out as well as private lines to other springs. So far five teams of the Tonopah Lumber Company had transported 100,000 feet of lumber to Skidoo for the mill, material for which was coming from Los Angeles, and grading for a sixty-stamp mill, that being the determined capacity upon completion (reduced from the last-mentioned eighty because of financial conditions), had been finished. [257] Construction work was being rushed, but the heavy mill timbers could not be set until the concrete beds had hardened sufficiently to support them. A steel cable strung across the gulch would be used to hoist the heavy machinery. A dam in the gulch below the millsite formed a pool where tailings would be saved until the cyanide process was installed.

Financial problems had started to affect the camp now, and the depression that led to a reduction in the projected sire of the Skidoo mill also was the excuse for the holding of a "Hard Times Frolic," a newspaper account of which gives some indication of the town's erstwhile optimism and general spirit of good humor that accompanied the patient wait for a return of solid business conditions. Invitations to the party read:

WHEREAS, In a burst of defiance against the solemn depression thrust upon our beloved Death valley region by the heartlessness of Wall street and high finance generally, we, the free and independent citizens of Skidoo have resolved to hold a "hard times frolic" in the Eschwig grand opera house . . . . To this you are heartily invited that you may join in the good cheer, good drinkables and eatables provided. And enjoy the greatest terpsichorean, literary, musical and freakish exhibition ever devised by man on the ragged edge of Death valley. [258]

The arrival of the new year in Skidoo saw the continuance of positive and improving conditions. Immediate need was seen for a school district, census returns of which in June showed a healthy attendance of thirty-nine white children, twenty boys and nineteen girls. Work progressed on the Keeler-Skidoo or "Zinc Hill Road," as eight men and two teams struggled to blast a 3-1/2-mile section out of solid rock and cement through Darwin Wash by means of mules, scrapers, jack-hammers, and blasting powder. Efforts at the Skidoo Mine were directed toward getting the ore in shape for stoping and toward exploring new bodies that could be conveniently transmitted to the mill; much good miffing ore was present on the dumps and a ready water supply was at hand. The main problem was that all available cash had been used, and more capital was necessary. [259]

xiv) The Hanging of Joe Simpson

Because of this charged atmosphere, when tempers possibly were temporarily strained by more doubts about the future than were usually entertained, and in light of the town's reputation for decency and law-abiding behavior, it was less than prudent for Joe "Hooch" Simpson, a gambler hailing from Reno, though a resident of Skidoo for some time, with a reputation for a surly character and drinking to excess, to enter the store of James Arnold, one of the town's founding fathers and one of the best-liked men around, and proceed to deliberately shoot him to death. The motivation for this action is not completely clear, but it was evidently on account of some fancied wrong that Simpson felt had been done him by the victim. He was immediately arrested, and upon Arnold's death a few hours later, it was only by some of the greatest diplomacy that law officers were able to avert an immediate lynching.

As it was, only a temporary stay of execution had been granted, for on 22 April Simpson was dragged from confinement and efficiently and unceremoniously attached by the neck to a telephone pole. Word of the deed spread quickly. When newsmen arrived from other parts wanting pictures of the event, Simpson was rehanged with pleasure, and the photo taken that appears in practically every volume on Death Valley. As would be expected in this town, the entire project was undertaken in an organized fashion, and when the misdeed had been avenged, normal conditions rapidly resumed. [260] An official investigation of the affair determined that Joe Simpson, one-time consort of "Skidoo Babe" and regarded as really nothing more than an ordinary pimp, had met death "by strangulation at the hands of unknown parties, [261] while "the opinion of the Skidoo people appears to be that the lynchers did a justifiable piece of business." [262]

xv) The Skidoo Miff Supports the Town

Late spring of 1908 brought the commencement of teaming between Owens Valley and Skidoo along a route vastly improved but still marred by a few steep grades and curves where top-heavy loads found the going particularly harrowing. This section of road from Darwin Wash connected with the old Nadeau freight road into Panamint Valley and with the Wild Rose road constructed by the Modoc Company when it was hauling ore from the charcoal kilns in Wildrose Canyon to its mining property. May also saw the first stamps fall on high-grade rock at the Skidoo mill. The attachment of a Pelton water wheel would soon enable the addition of five more stamps. In early June the first gold brick from the Skidoo Mine, representing the cleanup for the first few days of operation and estimated to be worth $4,000, was transported to Rhyolite and then shipped to the mint by Wells Fargo express. Ten stamps were now in operation and the full process at the mill encompassed crushing, amalgamation, and concentration, with cyanide still to be added. The second brick from May production was valued at $7,000. By the end of June the mill was treating around thirty-five tons daily with an increase to twenty stamps planned when the demands of the mine justified the additional expenditure. [263]

It was considered unprofitable to ship less than $100 ore from the area, prompting the frequent voicing of the need in Skidoo for a small custom mill, which could secure water by contract from the Skidoo Company and thereby enable more lessees to start work. This was deemed especially essential when in July the Skidoo Mines Company decided to throw open more than half its estate for leasing purposes, wisely realizing that it would be years before it could work all its territory. The lessees' ore would be treated by the company at a maximum rate of $3.50 per ton, including cyaniding, or at only $3 per ton if the run was made with water power. Leasing royalties were raised only slightly: ore under $20 a ton, 10%; ore over $20, 15%; ore over $30, 20%; ore over $50, 25%. The company's action here was expected to have a tremendous influence on the prosperity of the camp. Numerous advantages would revert to the company, the expired leases already handed over to them having greatly enhanced the value of the property; when the new leases expired, the Skidoo Mine would be in control of a tremendous output that would keep the mill running steadily. The great factor sustaining the mine's value was that ore bodies were increasing and their average value was remaining, steady. The mine's future was dependent on the fact that the ore bodies would persist with depth and that enough large-capacity reduction plants could be installed to handle large reserves of milling ore at a profit to offset high operating costs. The June cleanup resulted in a $13,000 brick. [264]

A Presidential year is usually fairly lean for business, and coupled with this particular one was the unfortunate fact that effects of the past financial panic could still be felt during the traditionally quiet midsummer time. Having been without adequate water for eighteen months and for so long without a reduction plant, and crippled now by the failure of its bank, the withdrawal of the Nevada stage line, and the closing down of the Skidoo News (all due primarily to the stringency of the money market), it was truly amazing that the camp of 150 people was still able to function. It was supported singlehandedly by the Skidoo Mines Company, which was amazingly still able to increase its output, put a cyanide plant in operation, and keep fifty men employed on its own business while twenty-five or so others worked on leases. [265] It was agreed by all that "lack of a sufficient water supply and power to work her ores is the only the sole reason why Skidoo is not one of the foremost producers on the Pacific coast. [266]

Although Montgomery had once hoped that the Nevada-California Power Company would extend electrical service into Skidoo and into other sections in the district south of Rhyolite, thereby furnishing power for his mill and enabling the present water line to be freed for use by other mills in the area, this never came to pass. The cost estimated by the power company for the project was approximately $1,000 or more per mile, and most of that would have had to be paid by the Skidoo Mines Company itself. [267]

Due to the lack of mills in the vicinity, little mining activity was being conducted in Skidoo in the fall of 1908. Their mine's great production rate ($20,000 a month) prevented the Skidoo Company from donating more than three months time to reduction of the ore worked by its lessees, a11 of whom had been mining for more than a year with no opportunity to extract the gold. Renewed isolation of the town meant that mining timbers were costing $400 per thousand running feet, potatoes sold for eight cents a pound, and hay for $100 per ton. [268]

By October 1908, in an attempt to alleviate somewhat the problems caused by a lack of reduction plants, E. M. Tracey, assayer for the Skidoo Mines Company, was promoting the erection of a five-stamp custom mill in the gulch below the main Skidoo mill in a location enabling it to utilize the latter's waste water, which, with a fall of 800 feet or more, could generate enough power for further ore reduction. This mill, powered by a twenty-five-horsepower oil engine, would be for use on the ore of Skidoo Mine lessees only. After four months the company would take over the plant, paying the cost price less 6%. [269]

Thus gradually the Skidoo Mines will augment their reduction works on a very economical basis, and eventually achieve the ambition of Bob Montgomery of having a big mine operated at a very low cost, although isolated in an expensive section of difficult access. [270]

At the same time work was proceeding on this project, grading was being done to enable an increase in the Skidoo mill from ten to twenty-five stamps. The cyanide plant was functioning extremely well, with a total savings now being secured of almost 95%. The water necessary to run the larger mill was being obtained by increasing the head of the present supply at the spring near Telescope Peak. [271]

By January 1909 the route from Stovepipe station to Skidoo had been shortened by fifteen miles by completion of a light road up Telephone Wash, making the. Rhyolite-Skidoo trip only about forty miles long; despite this, the freight, mail, and stage route had reverted to the long and expensive Johannesburg road, over 100 miles long. Carloads of pipe were still being delivered to the Skidoo Mine as efforts were being made to furnish power for additional machinery, electric lights, etc. The total cost of all these improvements--the additional pipe, additional water and machinery, financing of leases, construction of transportation tunnels, etc.--had to this date exceeded production. By March a second, lower mill of five stamps was in operation, as were six concentrators and fifteen cyanide tanks. Around seventy men were employed at the mine, where a healthy state of affairs seemed to exist. Despite the town's drop in population and generally quiet atmosphere, holidays were still important, and Washington's birthday was celebrated with a literary program and grand ball lasting far into the night.

According to current estimates, in the months since the Skidoo plant started operation, about 5,000 tons of ore had been milled. There were estimated to be 49,320 tons in sight averaging nearly $20 a ton with a large tonnage running below $10. The bullion output for the six months of the previous year reached $110,000. The total cost per ton produced was $8.69, but it was anticipated that this would soon be reduced to $5.10. (By January 1910 the total cost of mining and milling ores was under $8 a ton.) Ore reserves were placed at between $812,500 and $1,000,000. [272]

The Skidoo Mine operation, encompassing twenty-three claims and fractions, consisted now of the mill, a laboratory, office, lodging and boarding houses, an approximately fifty-mile-long telegraph line, machine shop, large ore bins, tramway, etc. Underground workings ran 5,000 feet, largely confined to about sixty of the company's 240 acres. Enough ore was in sight to keep the mill running full capacity for the next three years. Shipments from Harrisburg were also being processed here. No renewal of leases was being extended. In July the Los Angeles Mining Review reported that in the last three months the net profits from mines operating in the Skidoo region had been from $15,417.46 to $17,981.57, with gross extraction averaging $24,859.41 a month. This made the Skidoo Mine second only to the Keane Wonder in production in California in 1909. The net profit for the last three months was $49,019.96, or an average of $26,339.98 a month, or $196,079.84 per year. All indebtedness of the Skidoo Mines Company was cleared away by this time, and the first dividend, aggregating $50,000, was being paid in July at the rate of five cents a share.

Illustration 190. Skidoo Mines Company camp, 1909. From Rhyolite Herald Pictorial Supplement, March 1909.

Illustration 191. Skidoo Mines Company mill, 1909. From Rhyolite Herald Pictorial Supplement, March 1909.

This success was corresponding with the return to the limelight of several southwest Nevada districts, which were only now recovering from the setback dealt their development by irresponsible promoters and poorly-managed mining operations in earlier days. The Montgomery-Shoshone, for instance, was in the process of paying off its indebtedness and the Keane Wonder had just opened up a promising lode. [273]

xvi) A Fire and Litigation Bring an End to Mining Activity

Despite the ongoing and successful development at the Skidoo Mine, however, it was obvious that the town itself was becoming more and more depleted, the supervisors' proceedings of 20 September 1909 ruling that "it appearing to the Board that the attendance of pupils in the Skidoo School District for the past year has been below the required number for maintaining a school, motion was made and carried that the District be declared lapsed. [274]

When Frank Montgomery, nephew of E. A., took over management of the Skidoo Mine in the winter of 1909-10, a new era of productivity arrived. More aggressive than his uncle, he put half the workforce on development and the other half he charged with supplying ore to the mill. It was not. long before the most extensive and richest ore body yet was located. Better returns were the result, acquired in spite of some pipeline troubles due to expansion and contraction and sometimes even freezing that temporarily lessened the hydraulic power supply for the mill during extreme seasons of the year. Although the mine was, able to keep up production for several years yet, monthly net profits seemed to suddenly start a downhill slide, broken only temporarily by an occasional banner year:

September 1909 --$10,000
October 1909 --$11,507.22
November 1909 --$ 6,508.82
March 1910 --$ 8,116.66
April 1910 --$ 6,878.78
July 1910 --$ 7,798.41
October 1910 --$ 5,212.73
November 1910 --$13,280.03 [275]

A second dividend of five cents a share ($50,000 total) was paid by the company on 1 July 1910.

A report on the Skidoo Mine appeared in the Mining and Scientific Press in August 1910 and presented the following brief summary of its operations: work was being pursued on four veins, with two tunnels and two shafts having attained a maximum depth of 300 feet. Ore averaging $15 a ton was recovered and treated by amalgamation, concentration, and cyanidation in a fifty-ton mill, with about 65% of the gold recovered on the plates. The concentrate was shipped to the Midvale, Utah, plant of the United States Smelting, Refining & Milling Company. Cyanidation of the tailings recovered 90% of the gold. Forty men were employed at the mine and mill, and a power plant consisting of several gasoline engines was on hand in case of severe trouble with the pipeline. The company's statement of operations from June 1909 to June 1910 inclusive showed profits of $92,617, with the total cost of mining and milling at $6.88 per ton. [276]

At the start of 1911 there were three producing companies and five producing lessees operating on the Skidoo Mines Company property, shipping to outside smelters at Salt Lake City, Needles, and Keeler, and to Johannesburg, Rhyolite, Beatty, and Skidoo mills. January and February of 1911 each netted only about $8,000 from the Skidoo, but the last year's production had totalled $108,000. [277] July recorded the largest run in the life of the mine--$18,000.

Another five-cent dividend was paid by the company in October 1911, and again in May 1912, by which time it was reported that the company was maintaining an approximate production of $14,400 a month and earning net profits of about $4,800. [278] A blow to production fell in January 1913 when the pipeline froze and burst in several places, necessitating the shutdown of the mill and consequent discharge of forty miners. (The cyanide plant had already been closed for the winter.) Because future operations appeared in doubt, most men left camp, leaving only a few lessees on the property. Undaunted, the company began the slow process of hauling in wagonloads of material to repair the pipeline, but when half the repairs had been accomplished, a more serious calamity befell the operation when most of the mill structure was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin on 2 June 1913. The loss, was reported at a staggering $50,000, with only one battery of five stamps being saved. Although parts of the old structure could be reused, a large amount of new material was necessary to modernize the mill. By October 1913 a new ten-stamp mill was in commission and a heavy winter yield was expected. Company ore would be processed the first month and then the mill would turn to steady processing of lessees' ore until all stockpiled material was cleaned up. [279]

Production progressed well enough that by July. 1914 another dividend could be declared, proving the fantastic resiliency of the company and the resources of its mine. Another one-cent dividend in October 1914 brought the total dividends to a reported $365,000. [280] Thirty-five men were again on the company payroll involved in exploration and development work. Plans were being perfected for adding another five stamps and increasing production by fifty per cent, for the Skidoo property seemed destined to continue operations for many years to come. J. H. Cooper, who took over management of the mine in 1914, said that during more than half of this year the best sections of the mine were in the hands of lessees who were profiting highly at the expense of the company. Also during this year pending litigation prevented work on two known ore bodies of excellent grade. Still the company remained free of debt with substantial reserves in the treasury. [281] In April 1915 five 1,250-pound stamps were added to the ten-stamp mill, along with two Deister concentrators. In December the cyanide plant was housed and insulated with paper, and an oil-fired boiler was installed to heat the cyanide solution. Leases were not being renewed, the owners determined to run the mine themselves.

The town of Skidoo still supported a small population, although several lots were being offered for sale. It was still reached by a horse stage from Ballarat costing $34 per person. Upon completion of the Trona Railroad it was possible to go directly from there to Skidoo, bypassing Ballarat completely. Freight from Johannesburg was costing $50 to $70 a ton, although parcel post would bring it for $21 a ton. Accordingly coal, barley, canned goods, and every other type of freight imaginable that could be compressed into fifty-pound lots was being sent by mail! [282]

Skidoo's days were numbered, however, and in September 1917 it was reported that the Skidoo's rich vein had pinched out and the mine had closed down permanently, coincident with the demise of Rhyolite and Greenwater about this time. Current prices for iron and steel remnants made the prospect of salvaging them attractive, so that by October Trona was gearing up for bustling railroad activity after receiving word that the contract for dismantling and shipping the mill, machinery, and pipe from Skidoo would soon be awarded. It was estimated that 160 cars would be needed for the pipe alone, sold to Standard Oil Company, which along with other scrap metal would be hauled to Trona by teams and motor trucks. [283] (Short sections of the pipe left on the ground were later taken out by CCC labor and used for various purposes.)

xvii) Revival of Mining in the Area in the Later 1900s

When Edna Perkins visited the site of Skidoo in 1922 on her trip through the Mojave Desert, several buildings were still standing along one wide street and a mass of stoves, broken chairs, and cooking utensils were strewn around. A neatly-piled wait of bottles, five feet high and several feet wide, still stood behind the saloon. "Old Tom Adams," an old desert prospector, was the sole inhabitant of the area, guarding his mine and Skidoo. [284] The peacefully slow decaying process of the site was only slightly interrupted in 1923 by the Eric Von Stroheim Company from Goldwyn Studio in Hollywood, headquartered at Lone Pine, which began location work in Darwin, Skidoo, and Death Valley generally for final scenes of "Greed," an adaptation of Frank Norris's book "McTeague."

In January 1926 the Skidoo mines were to be reopened under the management of Ogden, Utah, men who bought control from Judge William B. Gray of Beatty, a justice of the peace who had earlier acquired the property when he sued Montgomery in U.S. District Court, claiming, ownership of ten fractional claims that had been operated as a part of the Skidoo Mine. Rather than pay a $00,000 judgement, Montgomery had given the mines to the judge, who later operated them throughout the 1930s. The new company would function under the name of Golden Glow Mines Corporation. In October the workings consisted of an inclined shaft 300 feet deep and a 300-foot-deep vertical shaft. The ten-stamp mill and cyanide plant were still on site. Three years later H.W. Eichbaum, controlling the Emigrant Springs Mining and Milling Company, tried to revive the Skidoo mines, but with little success. [285]

The Skidoo Mine enjoyed a revival of production, and the nearby Del Norte Mine at the northern end of the Skidoo gold mining district most of its activity and production, following passage of the 1934 Gold Act. Whereas prior to that, from about 1837 to 1934, the price of gold had been restricted to a little over $20 an ounce, it now jumped to $35. Judge Gray, in the spring of 1936, began employing sixteen men in the mine and mill of Skidoo in removing ore averaging $30 a ton in gold at the rate of ten tons per day; by summer some thirty other men were employed on various surrounding' properties. In July a strike was made on the Del Norte Group of claims two miles north of the old Skidoo Mine, and Gray entered into an agreement with the U.S. Smelting and Refining Company of Salt Lake City to sample the two mines. The Del Norte was subsequently taken under option by Roy Troeger, whose cyanide mill at the Keeler gold mine could process the ore. Two years later the group of six claims was still under bond to the Panamint Milling Company, of which Troeger was secretary and manager. They had been developed to the extent of ten shafts from ten to fifty feet deep and many long trenches. Six men were employed. In 1939 a Morris Albertoli and John Rogers of Mojave leased the mine, employing ten to twelve men and producing twenty to twenty-five tons of gold ore daily. Later that year Rogers and Joe Stivers, also of Mojave, purchased Albertoli's one-third interest and formed the Del Norte Mining Company, operating the property until 1942. The $30-a-ton ore they mined was treated at the Skidoo mill. It was hauled by truck to the fifty-ton ore bin, crushed to 1/4-inch size by two jaw crushers,, reduced to 16-mesh by stamps, and the coarse gold concentrated and removed. The pulp was then thickened, the slimes going to waste and the sands leached. [286]

Back in June 1937, according to one newspaper account, a lease with an option to purchase the Skidoo Mine had been given to some eastern interests by the Gray and Worcester Mining Company, which for the previous eighteen months had been making regular shipments of a good-grade milling ore to Journigan's Mill in Emigrant Canyon. A memo found in the monument files stated the sale was to Colorado parties. Whoever it was, their projected plan of operations included relaying the Telescope Peak pipeline with a four- or five-inch-diameter pipe, in the old ditch, at an estimated cost of $100,000, in order to economically treat the large bodies of milling ore still available in the Skidoo Mine and some recently developed on the Inyo and Del Norte groups of claims. According to the Journal of Mines and Geology Roy Journigan leased the Skidoo Mine in January 1937 and with a crew of five removed a small amount of ore from the old stopes, which he treated at his plant in Emigrant Canyon. Meanwhile Roy Troeger, who held interests in the Del Norte claims, continued efforts to push through reconstruction of the pipeline, hoping to attract Mojave capital to his Golden Queen and Inyo claims. The pipe would have two terminuses--one at the old Skidoo mill and the other at a new 300-ton mill to be located near the Del Norte Mine, which would be worked by an open-pit method. [287]

In March 1938 it was announced that the Golden Queen Mining Company of Mojave, a subsidiary of Goldfields Consolidated, a British mining firm, and owners also of American Potash and Chemical Company, had taken over 60% ownership of the Inyo Group of claims at Skidoo owned by Roy Troeger.288 With permission supposedly granted by the Department of Interior for construction of the pipeline, the Golden Queen imported twenty-five miners and placed them on the job of development, intending to prove the ore bodies before beginning a major construction program. Materials for camp buildings were ordered from the Lone Pine Lumber and Supply Company, and the first truck shipments were made immediately. New York interests also joined in the venture.

By 1940 there was a renewal of mining activity in the Argus Range and in the Skidoo District in Inyo County. The Del Norte was being actively developed and the Del Norte Mining Company was preparing to operate its mill on ore from the mine, including its own plus lessees' ore, and a minimum of 300 tons monthly from the nearby Gold King Mine. The Skidoo Mine was still being worked by lessees and ore treated at the Journigan Mining and Milling Company plant in Emigrant Canyon. All operations shut down in December for the winter months, with about $90,000 having been taken off the Skidoo property since the last May. The Del Norte Mining Company mill at Mojave had processed in the last eight months approximately 7,000 tons of ore from the Del Norte, Gold King, and other mines in the district. [289]

From 1942 to 1969 the Del Norte property as a whole was essentially inactive. In the early 1950s the Del Norte Group of six claims was only sporadically worked, Troeger still owning and maintaining the Del Norte and Inyo groups of mining claims with their large deposits of low-grade gold ore. Prior to World War II these could be profitably mined, but the War Production Board had caused a cessation of gold mining during the war and since that time the government had held down the price of gold to such a degree, while other prices had gone up, that it was unprofitable to mine. Troeger, who also owned the Skidoo mill and appurtenances that he had purchased from Gray, was holding on to the property hoping the price of gold would rise or the price of commodities fall. The twelve claims of the Skidoo Mine were still owned by W. Howard Gray. [290]

Also in the early 1950s (1949-56) a tungsten boom hit the Skidoo area. There were large deposits of low-grade ore but no material of commercial quality. Although several hundred claims were located, and in the process many scars left on the hillsides, the flurry was mainly promotion-oriented with little or no output. The last measurable production from the Skidoo Mine took place about 1941, while the Del Norte lasted until about 1954. In the early 1970s when gold was at $38 an ounce and low-cost open-pit operations afforded the best opportunity of producing gold profitably, Mineral Associates of Battle Mountain, Nevada, obtained a lease/purchase option on the old Skidoo gold mining property, and Amberson Construction Company of Nevada conducted drilling operations. In 1970 the Del Norte Group was leased by Carl Dresselhaus and Mrs. Virgina Troeger to Bell Mountain Silver Mines, Inc., of New York, who undertook an extensive sampling program of the low-grade gold deposits on the property and then proposed to mine and crush the ore, recovering gold by cyanide heap leaching in an open pit, but this was not successful. The work resulted in thirty shafts and seven open cuts sampled over a four-acre area. [291]

(b) Present Status

The old Skidoo townsite and mill are reached via an unimproved dirt road leading east off the Emigrant Canyon Road at the north edge of Harrisburg Flats, approximately 9-1/2 miles south of the intersection of that road and California State Highway 190. In the course of the next seven miles this eastward-trending road turns north and then westerly before ascending to the high plateau housing the deserted townsite. Time, weather, vandals, and modern mining activity have all taken their toll of the area, which is marked by an interpretive sign. Open shafts, adits, and stopes dot the hillsides and ridges, posing a grave threat to careless sightseers. Only a very few structural remnants remain, in the form of collapsed ore bins and stone building or tent foundations. Liberal quantities of the usual junk cars and assorted metal debris can also be spotted.

Only one structure of determined significance remains--the Skidoo Mines Company quartz stamp mill. The attractively-verandahed company office building that stood on the hilltop above the mill burned a few years ago. Still sitting on the Del Norte Mine site, on the next ridge north, are the vats and the large pit utilized in its short-lived leaching operation.

The present Skidoo-Del Norte Group of mining claims consists of thirty-one unpatented, contiguous, and often overlapping lode claims. Located during the mid-1920s and 1930s they overlie the historical, early 1900 workings and are included within the boundaries of the Skidoo Historic District. The group covers approximately 600 acres of land, and, stretching diagonally across the ridges from the northwest to the southeast, encompasses the old Skidoo mill and part of the townsite. The Skidoo-Del Norte Group was closed to further mineral entry in 1976, and the claims are being contested by the Department of the Interior. One mile north of the townsite near the head of a wash are the nine patented Contact and Gold Bird claims.

Illustration 192. Skidoo townsite. Date unknown, but post-March 1907. Photo courtesy of G. William Fiero, UNLV.

Illustration 193. Skidoo townsite, 1916. From Dane Coolidge Collection, courtesy of Arizona Historical Foundation.

Illustration 194. Skidoo Mines Company camp, 1916? From Dane Coolidge Collection, courtesy of Arizona Historical Foundation.

Illustration 195. Skidoo main street, 1916? From Dane Coolidge Collection, courtesy of Arizona Historical Foundation.

Illustration 196. Skidoo townsite, 1916? From Dane Coolidge Collection, courtesy of Arizona Historical Foundation.

Illustration 197. View east of Skidoo townsite, 1978. Photo by Linda W. Greene.

Illustration 198. Ruins of Skidoo mill. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 199. Stamps in Skidoo mill. Photo courtesy of G. William Fiero, UNLV, 1972.

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

i) Skidoo Mine and Mill

The abandoned townsite of Skidoo, the nearby Skidoo Mines Company stamp mill, and the surrounding ruins are some of the monument's most important historical resources. Located in 1906 and flourishing for the next ten years, Skidoo owed its existence primarily to one mining concern--that run by E. A. Montgomery and the Skidoo Mines Company. This one man financed the entire operation, initially expending over $500,000 on the property. The money came from his purchase of 400,000 shares of treasury stock at $1 per share and an additional loan of $150,000. The ore produced from the Skidoo Mine came from two fairly narrow vein systems ranging from eighteen to twenty-four inches in width and sometimes up to four feet, and averaging anywhere from one-third to one-half an ounce of gold per ton.

The ore was mined by overhand stoping, with timber used only sparingly. By May 1908 the Skidoo stamp mill was in operation, powered by water delivered to the site from springs near Telescope Peak about twenty miles south via a gravity-pressure pipeline built at enormous cost, hardship, and frustration. The ore was collected on the tunnel levels and trammed in trains of mine cars by mules directly to ore bins in the upper part of the mill. A description of the mill operation in 1911 states that the water pressure upon reaching the Pelton wheel in the plant was about 300 pounds per square inch due to its being reduced at two or three points enroute. This wheel, assisted by one or two gas engines (40 h.p. and 18 h.p.), ran the mine and mill machinery, the latter consisting of two Blake jaw crushers, two five-stamp batteries of 1,050-pound stamps, built by Hendy, and one five-stamp battery of 1,300-pound stamps built by the Union Iron Works. This latter set was the one bought and erected by company lessees about a year after the other two batteries started, and which was then sold to the Skidoo Mines Company. Below the apron plates of the mill, were three Deister tables that during the month collected a limited tonnage of sulphide concentrate worth about $450 per ton. The tailings went directly to dewatering and percolation tanks. The earlier tailing, held in ponds, was sporadically elevated and run through extra cyanide tanks. The mill, including its cyanide annex and concentrators, cost about $60,000, while the twenty-mile-or-so long pipeline cost from $250,000 to $300,000.

Illustration 200. Kennedy Mine near Skidoo, 1916? From Dane Coolidge Collection, courtesy of Arizona Historical Foundation.

Illustration 201. Remains of heap cyanide leaching process, Del Norte Mine site. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

Illustration 202. Digging up Skidoo pipeline south of Wood Canyon, probably by CCC crew. Photo by T. J. Williams, courtesy of DEVA NM.

By 1911 a total production of over $500,000 had enabled the repayment of the original $150,000 loan and the. payment of two $50,000 dividends. By January 1913 the mine had produced almost $1,000,000 and paid six dividends aggregating $325,000. The fire that year reduced the mill capacity to only ten stamps, although the cyanide plant still operated. Despite the problems of this year another dividend was paid, bringing the total to date to $365,000, amounting to $385,000 by January 1915. The total ore milled by that time had been 74,380 tons with a gross return of about $1,250,000. In December 1917, about the time the mine was shut down and the mill dismantled, the state mineralogist listed the mill equipment as ten 850-pound stamps and five 1,150-pound stamps plus amalgamation tables. These last five stamps (possibly 1,250 pounds instead) were said to have been added around the spring of 1915.

From 1908 until its shutdown in 1917 the Skidoo Mine produced a total of 92,479.5 tons of ore ($1,344,500), with returns averaging $14.54 a ton and 90% recovery in the mill. According to the mine manager the mine had not been worked out by 1917 but had to close due to litigation, disputes with lessees, and bad management. The mine was then inactive until about 1935 or 1936 when it was reopened and worked for five years as the Silver Bell Mine. The period from 1940 to 1947 was relatively quiet, and production from 1948 to the mid-1950s was sporadic. During 1940 to 1942 when the Del Norte Mining Company mined about 3,000 tons of ore from the Skidoo Mine, it was treated at the Skidoo mill, which had been acquired by surface easement.

The State Division of Mines's estimate of $1,500,000 as the value of Skidoo ore produced through 1916 approximates that given by the USDI Regional Bureau of Mines. The latter states that the actual value of all gold and silver reported to them as coming from this mine during 1908 to 1917 was about $1,600,000. Applying present-day values for gold and silver this would mean a total output of $2.5 million.

ii) Del Norte Group

The Del Norte Group, not worked, as far as can be ascertained, during the early 1900s, was mined by means of an open pit during 1937-38 with no economic success. Between 1971 and 1975 Bell Mountain Silver Mines, Inc., proposed installation of a heap cyanide leaching process. The site was graded and a neoprene apron laid in anticipation of mining a proposed 10,000 tons of rock, crushing it, and piling it on a prepared pad lined with plastic sheeting. A cyanide solution would then be sprayed on the heap to dissolve the gold, which would then be collected as it drained off the pad. The solution would then be passed through specially-treated charcoal filter cylinders to extract the dissolved gold, which would then be sent for refinement. Only 5,000 tons of quartzite were ever placed on the pad, and the project came to naught because of troubles in crushing the rock to the desired size.

iii) Skidoo Historic District

Although Skidoo's meteoric rise to prominence was contemporary with that of Greenwater, far more has been written about the latter, because it was a bona fide boom town. Characterized as having few parallels in its "sudden rise, great outlays, small returns and quick decline," it played out its life in sharp contrast to its sister city on the western edge of the Panamints. More law-abiding and attracting a more conservative element than Greenwater, Skidoo's only black mark in the annals of history was her refusal to forgive Joe Simpson for his rash act one pleasant spring day. Unfortunately, because this sort of "shoot-'em-up" action with its final inevitable result has always held more romantic appeal than quiet and honest hard work, this one deed has been publicized more than Skidoo's lucrative gold production.

Illustration 203. Scar of Skidoo pipeline route, across Harrisburg Flats can be seen best in distance heading north toward Skidoo. Photo courtesy of William Tweed, 1975.

Illustration 204. Masonry support for Skidoo pipeline, 112 miles southeast of town. Photo courtesy of William Tweed, 1975.

Two unique items are associated with Skidoo's mining heyday. First, the town possessed the only milling plant in the desert operated almost completely by water power, making it one of the most economical operations around. Its cost of mining and milling reached a miraculous $7 a ton, below that of any of its neighbors. Today the mill's basic structure remains in place cascading down the hillside just west of the townsite. Most of the machinery has either been removed by salvage operations or has succumbed to weathering and decay. The ten-stamp battery still remains and is of much interpretive value. The structure is, however, dangerous for inquisitive visitors, the timbers appearing shaky and infirm. Secondly, the construction of the pipeline was a phenomenal engineering feat; its scar can still be seen crossing from Skidoo over Harrisburg Flats and Wood, Nemo, and Wildrose canyons to the Telescope Peak area. Some interesting remnants of the line remain, such as masonry troughs, at least one round pillar that supported the pipe as it passed over washes, and broken iron clamps. Although the line was frequently susceptible to breakage during periods of expansion and contraction, and totally useless when the water supply from the mountains was low, these problems were overcome by the dauntless tenacity of its builders and a little auxiliary help from gas engines.

The townsite of Skidoo was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1974 as being of local significance, its inclusion based on its importance as a representative example of the last gold mining towns in Death Valley flourishing during the early twentieth century, and as one of the few mining towns in the region that produced significant amounts of gold ore, primarily by undertaking the uncommon large-scale mining of narrow ore veins. The stamp mill on the edge of the townsite, built by the Skidoo Mines Company, is a comparatively-rare surviving example of an early twentieth-century stamp mill and is the only gold-mining mill of this size located in a National Park Service area. Its stamp batteries and much of its other equipment are still in place. Skidoo is now considered to be of regional significance because of its production record, the presence of the mill structure, and the innovative manner in which a water supply was brought to the area to serve the town and run the mill. The Skidoo National Register form will be revised to include the pipeline route, the Saddle Rock and Tiny mines, and the Telephone Spring arrastra site.

The frame stamp mill structure, with its concrete base, was constructed against a steep hillside so that, although it is equal in height to a five-story building, no part is actually more than three stories high. Of the four levels of construction, the upper two appear to be structurally sound while the lower ones are in poor condition. Exterior sheathing and roofing are of corrugated metal. The plank floor of the structure is decaying, the wooden floor girders are loose and cracked, and the heavy wood columns supporting the structure are deteriorated, with several pulled out of alignment. The mill framework has been weakened through the years by the action of the stamps, age, deterioration, and the removal of machinery for scrap by literally dragging it out through the walls.

Due to the growing realization of the importance of mining history within areas administered by the National Park Service, and in an attempt to provide a better theme balance in the interpretation and preservation of historical sites, it is recommended that the first task at Skidoo be to resolve the ownership question on the mill property and, if it can be acquired, the second task should be to accomplish emergency stabilization with eventual limited restoration. A Historic Structure Report, especially an Architectural Data Section, should be funded for the mill, although it is doubtful if much more historical data can be found than has been included in this study. Blueprints of the mill plant would be an invaluable research and interpretive aid if they could be located. Opportunities in this area for on-site interpretation of more modern mining methods and of ore-processing techniques using a gravity feed system should be exploited. Skidoo's distance from the visitor center makes management of the site a problem, especially from the aspects of protection of resources and visitor safety. The area's importance, however, demands that an attempt be made to not only successfully fulfill these obligations but also accurately and completely interpret the town, mill site, and pipeline ruins.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003