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)

(23) Tucki Mine

(a) History

Record books of the Wild Rose Mining District contain a Notice of Location for a Tucki No. 1 Mine, "located about 3 miles NE of Skidoo," dated 12 April 1909, and filed by Henry W. Britt (or Birtt; writing illegible). By the location given it would appear that this is the same property later located by John Millett, Samuel E. Ball, and Charles G. Walker in September 1927 encompassing a group of claims about 2-1/2 miles southwest of Tucki Wash and 4 airline miles north-northeast of Skidoo. If so, the area's early activity must have been sporadic and inconsequential, for no information on it has been found. By October 1927 an Edward R. Attaway was deeded a one-fourth interest in the Tucki and Tucki Nos. 2, 3, and 4 mining claims. [321]

Specific details even on these more modern mining operations at the site are negligible until the 1930s, when a few newspaper articles appear recounting progress there. In 1937 Ed Attaway and Sam Ball, at least, were working the gold mine and trucking their ore to Death Valley Junction for shipment to the smelter. By 1938 ore from the Tucki Mine was being treated by Roy Troeger in the fifty-ton cyanide plant of Keeler Gold Mines, Inc. [322] Four months later, in August, Attaway and Ball gave a lease/bond agreement on the property, referred to as the Tuck-I Mine, to the Lane Development Company of Hollywood for a total consideration of $25,000. According to the newspaper article on the transaction, the two lessees had been working the property for the past fourteen years and shipping ore running $100 to $700 per ton. Roy Journigan became part owner of the mine, along with Ball and Attaway, by April 1939, and these three proceeded to lease the property to a Felix Castro, Fred Bunting, and Fred Mastagan. [323]

A year later the Tucki, still owned by Attaway, Journigan, and the Sam Ball estate, was handed over in another lease/bond agreement to Warnken, Potter, and associates. Working six men, Potter began securing a return of about $846 in gold every two weeks. By 1951 the Tucki Mine included four unpatented lode claims owned by Journigan and Attaway. Workings comprised an inclined shaft and several drifts. The earliest openings on the property were the two adits northwest of the shaft. Total gold, production to that date is unknown, but from August 1940 to April 1941 lessees had sold $5,200 worth of ore averaging $20 per ton, with a gold content ranging from $12 to $60 per ton. Immediately prior to 1940 ore recovered at the mine had been sent to Journigan's Mill in Emigrant Canyon for processing; after that year it was treated in a small cyanide plant on the property. The Tucki was idle in the early 1950s and continued that way for the next several years, Journigan evidently deciding to keep the property in abeyance while waiting for an increase in the price of gold. [324] Activity continued in suspension throughout the 1960s, with only occasional visits to the site by Journigan each year.

Early in 1974 Russ Journigan relinquished the Tucki No. 4 and 44 mining claims adjacent to the Tucki Mine, retaining only the Tucki, Tucki No. 2, and Tucki No. 3 property originally located in 1927. At this time he and his wife held complete title to each of the three claims on which most of the development and production work had been done through the years. In 1975 the Journigans and the Barnetts, affiliated as the Tucki Mining Company, decided to, reopen the mine and begin construction of a gold recovery plant to leach oversized material from the old tailing dumps and process it by the carbon filtration method. The process was a complicated one: material from the source dump below the plant was fed via a chute into a 10-1/2-inch jaw crusher and then into an 18-inch cone; from there the crushed ore was conveyed by dump truck to the vat storage bin. A solution of the old tailing material would be circulated through activated charcoal cartridges, there being one cartridge for each of the four concrete leach vats. A sand/gravel bed in the floor of each vat was to filter the pregnant solution. Counter-circulation of sodium hydroxide would strip the gold from the cartridges, and it would then be precipitated. The two-man operation required 1,000 gallons of water per day, and this had to be transported by truck from Panamint. Springs, thirty-four miles to the west. The water and solution were stored at the site in 12,000- and 18,000-gallon swimming pools. A front-end loader emptied the vats by removing their steel end gates, a single one being unloaded and reloaded in less than a day. Allowing a percolation rate of eight days, production was projected at twenty-five tons a day. [325]

Although this operation was expected to take four years, only a few dozen ounces of gold were actually recovered. The crusher and other miscellaneous equipment were finally removed in March 1976. By May Journigan was leasing the mine to Barnett and a partner for a percentage of the gross; these latter two contemplated continuing the leaching process using zinc instead of carbon in the refining of the ore. They were also hopeful that by driving a new adit to intersect the main inclined shaft they could open the lower workings and stope the upper ones and still make the operation pay. By the summer of 1978 Journigan had evidently acquired new financial backing and anticipated continuing mine operations, but work was suspended during the monument moratorium on mining.

Illustration 207. Tucki Mine, 1975, showing leaching operation and mine camp. Photo courtesy of DEVA NM.

Illustration 208. Tucki Mine, 1978. Cabins in ramshackle condition and much debris on site. Photo by Linda W. Greene, 1978.

(b) Present Status

The Tucki Mine is located on Tucki Mountain and is reached by an unimproved 10-mile-long dirt road from Emigrant Wash. It has been basically an underground operation that has produced some ore from shallow stopes. The last recorded production was in December 1971. Although no figures for total production have been found, mine receipts from gold bullion delivered in 1941 amounted to almost $18,000. [326]

Today the site contains cabins, concrete pads, and sheds ranged along the east side of a narrow gully, and assorted mine workings covering the west hillside. The residences still contain furniture and household goods and the sheds and workshops are full of small supplies used in the leaching process. The workings themselves include a fairly modern large ore bin, four fifty-ton leach tanks, measuring nine feet by twenty feet by six feet, and further south against the hill the ruins of a chute and a concrete platform that once held a building connected with the crushing operations. Sprawled over the hillside are the remains of older diggings--adits, an inclined timbered shaft, and an old ore chute.

(c) Evaluation and Recommendations

The Tucki Mine is not considered eligible for inclusion on the National Register, possessing no associative significance and no buildings, structures, or objects of historical importance.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003