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)

(20) Saddle Rock (Saddlerock) Mine

(a) History

The famous Gold Eagle strike in January 1906 that precipitated the rush to Skidoo resulted from the discovery of free gold on the Saddlerock Claim by John L. Ramsey and John A. Thompson. By 23 February the Palma lode claim had been discovered and at various dates throughout that year the claims included in the Saddle Rock Consolidated Mine--the Saddle Rock, Chespeake Fraction, Pima, and K. K.--were located. [292] Because Ramsey and Thompson kept the news of their new discoveries to themselves for the next two months or so until they, had finished staking all the claims they wanted, and were therefore the only prospectors in that particular area for awhile, it is probable that they were the original owners of the property.

At the end of 1906, or in early 1907, the Saddlerock Group, reportedly including only three claims and bordering the famous Skidoo Mine on the west, was purchased by Sherwood Aldrich of Colorado Springs and Hector Mckenzie and Russell F. Sutherland of Rhyolite for $25,000 cash. At this time the property's principal ledge, varying from three to five feet in width, was giving returns of $41 to the ton. [293] By June 1907 Aldrich's company, the Skidoo Saddle Rock Mining Company, a South Dakota incorporation, was developing the property by means of three tunnels (two being dug under contract) and two shafts. The company-worked tunnel was now in over fifty feet and the other two extended for about thirty-five feet. The thirty-foot main shaft was disclosing ore similar to that on the Skidoo Claim, "and it is. the opinion of all who know the property that the Saddle Rock will develop a mine second only to the Skidoo." [294] Unnamed Nevada mine promoters were backing the company, but keeping their future plans for the operation cloaked in secrecy. Encouraged by the ore showings so far, they were attempting to get the most work done in the fastest possible manner, and therefore were paying miners wages far above the ordinary scale. The only building on the property so far was a blacksmith shop. [295]

By the middle of the summer the Saddlerock shaft extended down sixty feet, and sixty tons of ore lay on the dump. The shaft was sinking in solid ore its entire width, but assay returns from the ledge, which could be traced along the surface of the claim for nearly a mile, were still being kept secret. Two more shafts were being sunk on other ledges, and three tunnels were attempting to open up the ore shoots at depth. A camp had been established, and arrangements were being made with E.A. Montgomery for water, hopefully enabling erection of a mill later in the fall. [296]

When the Palma and Saddle Rock Combination were surveyed in 1907, the former had a cut and tunnel and the latter was developed by several cuts, tunnels, and shafts. [297] By April 1909 the Saddlerock still had excellent ore showings but had not been worked since the first of the year. [298] In August the Skidoo Saddle Rock Mining Company applied for a patent on the K. K., Pima, Thespeake Fraction, Saddle Rock, and Palma gold- and silver-bearing lodes, veins, and deposits. [299]

From 1910 on up to the present day, information pertaining to the Saddlerock Group is very piecemeal. The next reference to the property is a notification in 1928 that the State of California had deeded to the Sterling Bros. the Palms (Palma) lode claim and the Saddle Rock, Chesapeake [sic] Fraction, Prima (Pima), and K.K. claims. [300] In an attempt to revitalize mining activity in the Skidoo region by successfully working the rich deposits of gold known to exist on this particular site, H.W. Eichbaum and associates (William Corcoran, Bourke Lee, and Jess Hession) in 1929 organized the Emigrant Springs Mining and Milling Company, incorporated for $100,000 and including the Pima, Emigrant Fraction (Palma?), Saddle Rock, Chesepeak [sic] Fraction, and K.M. [K.K.] mines near Emigrant Spring. The company had $25,000 available for immediate use toward construction of a new mill, purchase of machinery, etc. Reportedly over thirty old-time prospectors, including Shorty Harris, arduously constructed a road during the heat of the summer to the mouth of Eichbaum's Emigrant Springs Mine tunnel, blasting it out of solid rock from the bottom of Emigrant Canyon 1 miles up the steep slope to the property. The strike here reportedly yielded ore assaying up to $10,000 per ton. Ultimately machinery was transported on burros to the mine site, where one tunnel had already reached the main ore body. Stoping was soon to commence, with initiation of the milling process projected for 1 January 1930. [301]

In 1938 the Emigrant Springs (Saddle Rock) Mine consisted of four patented claims and twelve held by location, and was owned by the Emigrant Springs Mining Company, H.W. Eichbaum, president, and Mrs. Eichbaum, secretary. Gold values ranging from $4 to $6 a ton were being found on the property, which was being developed by three tunnels and five shallow shafts. The mine was thought to have good potential as a large, low-grade gold deposit, but was idle at this particular time. [302] William C. Thompson of San Fernando, California, purchased the Saddle Rock property from a Helene West in 1945. Five patented claims were involved, producing ore assaying $30 a ton in gold. Earlier in the year Thompson had bought Shorty Harris's gold and tungsten property in the Goldbelt area further north. [303] Records in the monument mining office files show that in 1959 the Saddle Rock Mine consisted of sixteen gold claims, four of which were patented. By 1962 the four patented claims were included in the Harry Hamlin estate and had seen no production within the last twenty-five years. The current owner, David L. Dotson, purchased the property from the Hamlin family in 1967 for a reported consideration of $1,000. [304]

(b) Present Status

Located on the eastern slope of Emigrant Canyon in the Panamint Range, about 1-1/4 miles east of Emigrant Spring and at an altitude of 4,800 to 5,400 feet, the Saddle Rock Group today consists of two adjacent, irregularly shaped parcels of land. They are reached by a 1-1/2-mile-long unimproved jeep trail leading easterly from the paved Emigrant Canyon Road. An attempt to locate the site was made by the co-author of this study. He is uncertain, however, whether or not he actually reached the subject claims. The area had recently undergone heavy washing and as. a consequence the claim boundaries were difficult to ascertain. Only one adit was spotted. During a survey of the site in 1972 the only extant building was an outhouse on the Pima Claim, although nearby were the scattered remains of several collapsed wooden frame buildings. Some shafts and an adit were also visible. [305]

Illustration 205. Remains of mining activity on Saddle Rock property. Photo by John A. Latschar, 1978.

Illustration 206. Adit, Saddle Rock mining claim. Photo by John A. Latschar, 1978.

A second site examination in 1972 disclosed two 75-foot-deep shafts in fair condition for the first 25 or 30 feet but appearing extremely dangerous below that point. Two 50- to 150-foot adits and some open cuts had been driven on the K.K. and Pima claims, and the latter site also contained a 60-foot adit. The leveled remains of the old mine camp were seen near the center of the property. [306]

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

The significance of the Saddle Rock Group today lies in its being the site of the initial gold strike responsible for the creation of Skidoo and the evolution of the surrounding mining district Although passing through the hands of several owners, some of whom spent a considerable sum on development work, from the early 1900s on up to the 1960s the mine itself has had no production record and seems to consist only of exploratory workings. The site is considered locally significant and eligible for inclusion within the revised boundaries of the Skidoo Historic District.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003