Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
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B. The Funeral Range (continued)

2. Chloride Cliff

a. History

Chloride Cliff is a term which has been applied to a geographic area, a series of mines, a town, and a mining district. For the purposes of this discussion, Chloride Cliff will be used in its geographic sense, to define an area four miles square. This area starts at the Cliff itself on the south, where one may stand on an old mine dump and gaze down upon a spectacular view of Death Valley some 5,000 feet below, if the wind does not blow you off the side of the cliff. From here, the mining area stretches northwest beyond the site of Chloride City, with old mines and dumps covering the ridges and shallow valleys along the way.

The oldest mine on the east side of Death Valley National Monument, and one of the oldest within the entire Monument, is the original Chloride Cliff Mine. It was discovered on August 14th, 1871, by A. J. Franklin, a civil engineer employed by the U.S. Government to assist in surveying the Nevada-California state line. Although the story varies--some say he picked up a rock to kill a rattlesnake and found ore--Franklin somehow found what he thought was a vein of chloride of silver. He immediately staked out seven claims, called the Franklin Group, and the following October formed the Chloride Cliff Mining Company.

Illustration 78. Map of North Central Portion of Chloride Cliff Area.

In April of 1872, Franklin returned to his locations and began to work. Crude on-site tests indicated that his silver ore was worth between $200 and $1,000 per ton, and he began to dig a shaft. By July of 1873, when Franklin was employing seven miners, the shaft had been sunk to seventy feet, and he had nearly 100 tons of ore on the dump, ready for shipment. Transportation, however, was a definite problem, for there were as yet no distinct roads connecting Death Valley with any point of civilization. The mine was dependent upon San Bernardino, 180 miles away, for food and supplies, and although one man set a record for riding the distance in fifty-six hours, the normal string of pack mules took considerably longer to cover the route.

During 1872 and 1873, when the Chloride Cliff Mine was operating, pack trains arrived with supplies about every three months. As these mule teams traveled back and forth, they slowly identified the best route between Death Valley and San Bernardino, and by 1873, Franklin was proudly able to boast that a fully laden wagon could travel to within three hundred feet of his mine. This early route into the heart of Death Valley was subsequently used during the first years of borax mining at the Harmony and Eagle borax works.

But even with a new road to follow, the great expenses of packing in supplies and hauling out ore made the Chloride Cliff Mine unprofitable, unless a cheaper method of reducing the ore could be found. A newspaper reporter who visited the mine in 1873 summed up the situation facing Franklin. "in many things the prospects seem favorable, they have unquestionably struck a vast amount of ore but as yet the ledge is not sufficiently prospected to justify a great expenditure of capital in erecting works . . ." And while Franklin was trying to make up his mind, the great Panamint boom started on the west side of Death Valley, which made his small mine relatively unattractive to those who had capital to invest. After nearly two years of operation, the Chloride Cliff Mine shut down.

Given the poor records which have survived from these early days of mining, we have no estimate of production from the mine. The papers mentioned several times that pack mules were bringing out ore, but nothing more definite can be stated. But Franklin and his mine had a decided effect upon the future history of Death Valley. The wagon road blazed by his suppliers was used and improved by the large borax teams in later years, and Franklin had proved that there was ore in the Funeral Mountains. Thirty years later, when the Nevada mining boom began at Tonopah and Goldfield, prospectors remembered the old Chloride Cliff Mine, and came back to have another look at the area.

Franklin, in the meantime, did, not abandon his mine. Every year, he traveled back across the desert to perform the annual assessment work on the Chloride Cliff Mine, until his death in 1904. Then his son, George E. Franklin, followed in his footsteps, and kept the claim active via the required assessment work. Thus when the Bullfrog boom hit southwest Nevada, the younger Franklin held an active and valid claim, which could once more be profitable as transportation and supplies became cheaper through connections at the new boom town of Rhyolite. [2]

With the exception of the Franklins, the Chloride Cliff area was virtually deserted between 1873 and 1903, when the Keane Wonder Mine was located about two miles to the southwest of Chloride Cliff. Then, in 1904 the Original Bullfrog Mine was discovered, and the great Bullfrog boom was on. As the ground around the Bullfrog Hills was soon covered with locations, prospectors gradually spread farther afield and their attentions were naturally drawn rather quickly to the Chloride Cliff area. This region, after all, had already produced two mines, the Franklin Mine in 1873 and the Keane Wonder in 1903.

George Franklin was on the scene, and the new excitements caused by the Keane Wonder and the Bullfrog boom made him redouble his efforts on the old Chloride Cliff Mine. In the meantime, numerous other mining companies were appearing, as locations were made, bought and sold, and consolidated. The area around Chloride Cliff, from Daylight Springs in the north to Furnace Creek in the south, and from Death Valley on the west to the Amargosa Valley on the east, was swarming with prospectors, and in September of 1905 the South Bullfrog Mining District was formed. The old Chloride Cliff Mine, which was now commonly called the Franklin Mine, was included in the new district.

George Franklin soon had plenty of company. In the immediate vicinity of his mine, the Mucho Oro Mining Company began operations in April of 1905, the Bullfrog Cliff Mining Company was formed in October, and the Death Valley Mining and Milling Company appeared in November. These three companies, along with Franklin's mine, soon dominated the best ground in the Chloride Cliff area, and squeezed out the smaller companies and prospectors. By the end of 1905, the Mucho Oro had a tunnel in sixty feet and reported assays of $25 per ton. The Bullfrog Cliff Company, described as being "near" the Franklin Mine, was working ten miners, had a fifty-foot deep shaft, and reported ore values from $30 to $100. The Death Valley Mining and Milling Company, operating on ground next to the Bullfrog Cliff, reported five miners at work on two tunnels, with ore worth $40 to $60 a ton. George Franklin, still carrying on alone, reported average ore values in his old mine of $28.

stock certificate
Illustration 79. Copy of an early stock certificate, date September of 1905. Courtesy Dr. Richard Lingenfelter.

All this mining activity, naturally, called for a supporting townsite, or at the very least a small mining camp, and Chloride City was born in 1905. Located in a shallow and wide saddle 4,800 feet above Death Valley, the little town was placed in a very picturesque spot, for those who could stand the winds which constantly whipped across the Funeral Mountains and brought snow and blizzards during the winter months. Chloride Cliff is depicted on a 1905 map as being a few blocks square, and surrounded by mines and prospects. Water for the mines and miners was packed in from Keane Springs, three miles north, and wood for the barren Chloride Cliff region was brought in from ten miles away. Prospects were promising, however, and the Chloride Cliff area had all the indications of becoming another boom camp. [3]

During the first months of 1906, developments proceeded at the Chloride Cliff mines. The Bullfrog Cliff reported that it had enough ore in sight to support a small mill, and purchased water rights near Keane Springs. J. Irving Crowell, the mine's principal owner, went to San Francisco to conduct mill tests and arrange for financing. The Death Valley Mining and Milling Company continued to drive its two tunnels and reported in February that it had fifty tons of $50 ore on the dumps, and one hundred tons of lower grade. The company announced that it would send its ore to the new custom mill at Gold Center for processing, when that mill was completed. While awaiting that time, the mine shut down temporarily. The Franklin Mine also continued to work, reporting in March that its shaft was 150 feet deep, with average ore values of $17 per ton.

In April The Death Valley Company began mill tests upon its ore, to determine the best method of treatment, and let a contract to have its tunnel extended another 350 feet. Then, the San Francisco earthquake and fire occurred, and the Chloride Cliff mines cut back on operations, as everyone waited to see what effect the destruction of the West Coast's financial center would have upon the mines. Very little work was done through April and May, and in June the Death Valley Mining & Milling Company owned the only Chloride Cliff mine which was able to resume operations.

The San Francisco disaster seemed to be the last straw for George Franklin. In July he finally gave up and sold the mine which had been in his family since 1871 to a Pittsburgh syndicate for a reported $150,000. The new owners, however, made no immediate moves to reactivate the mine. The Death Valley Mining & Milling Company, however, forged ahead with its development plans and work, and began considering a mill of its own, since it was becoming evident that the Gold Center mill would never be completed. The company inserted large advertisements in the Rhyolite newspapers, pointing out to potential investors to opportunities presented by the promising mine. But the post-San Francisco climate was not conducive to investment in a small and unproven mine, the advertisements proved futile, and the Death Valley Company abruptly shut down operations in late July. All the Chloride Cliff mines were now idle. [4]

The mines of Chloride Cliff then went through a period of hiatus. During the last half of 1906, and all through 1907, 1908, and 1909, while the rest of the Bullfrog District and the South Bullfrog District were experiencing their biggest boom years, the Chloride Cliff mines lay idle. Despite the fact that the Keane Wonder Mine to the west was now producing gold month after month, and that the Chloride Cliff mines were surrounded by the boom and bust cycle taking place elsewhere in the South Bullfrog District, these mines saw no activity. The Death Valley Mining and Milling Company did announce plans to resume work in April of 1907, but it never did.

During this period, however, one thing did happen, for most of the Chloride Cliff mines were slowly consolidated into one large company. Exactly when this took place is unknown. The Franklin group was sold again in February of 1907, but the transactions involving the Bullfrog Cliff and the Mucho Oro mines are unrecorded. By December of 1907, though, the Chloride Cliff Mining Company had been formed, which included the properties of the Franklin Group, the Bullfrog Cliff and the Mucho Oro companies. J. Irving Crowell, the former president of the Bullfrog Cliff Mine, was the president of the new company. Crowell announced that work would be resumed on the combined property in December of 1907, but his promise went unfulfilled.

All during 1908 the only activity at the combined mines was the required assessment work, and the same was true in 1909. !n December of that year, however, Crowell was finally able to announce that work would be resumed shortly and this time his promise was met. The mines had been leased to the Pennsylvania Mining and Leasing Company, which intended to develop the properties of the Chloride Cliff Mining Company. The stockholders of the Pennsylvania company, said Crowell, were "disposed to put the property into producing condition," and had ample funds available for the task. [5]

Finally, in December of 1909, after an interval of over three years, serious work began on the property of the Chloride Cliff Mining Company. Development work began that month, and by the first week of 1910, the company was beginning to sack ore for shipment. The mine made a small twelve-ton shipment to a Rhyolite mill for testing purposes, and began to consider the construction of a mill at Chloride Cliff. The Rhyolite Herald proudly announced the resumption of work and described the holdings and prospects of the company in glowing terms. The Chloride Cliff Mining Company, it reported, had leased its entire holdings to the Pennsylvania Mining and Leasing Company. Prior developments on these properties, which included the claims of the former Franklin Group, the Mucho Oro Mine and the Bullfrog Cliff Mine, consisted of four tunnels ranging from forty feet to two hundred feet in length, and eight shafts from eighty to one hundred feet in depth. Prospects were extremely promising, said the Herald and the world would soon see a flow of gold from the long neglected mines of Chloride Cliff.

The ore tests carried out in Rhyolite were successful, with average values of $37 per ton obtained, and in late January of 1910 the Pennsylvania Company announced definite intentions to build a mill. During February the company began improving the road between its estate and Rhyolite, in order to facilitate the delivery of mill machinery. The Nevada-California Power Company, which was considering the extension of power lines to the Keane Wonder Mine, promised to extend another branch line to the Chloride Cliff mines when the Keane Wonder line was built. In late March the company's small mill arrived and was installed. It was only a one-stamp prospecting mill, with a ten to twelve ton daily capacity, but its purpose was to enable the company to conduct ore tests on the spot. The mine had a small supply of high grade ore, and hoped that by running it through the little mill, funds would be generated to build a larger one. The mill was installed on the side of the cliff below the old Franklin Mine, which was the main group of claims being worked.

By the end of April, the Rhyolite Herald was able to announce that the Chloride Cliff Mine was finally making good. The Pennsylvania Mining and Leasing Company had now expended $10,000 on improvements and developments on the property, and the new mill was installed. Hardly was it placed in operation, however, than the company found that the available water supply was too small to run the mill, and it was shortly abandoned. With its new mill useless, the company shifted gears and proposed to lease one of Rhyolite's idle mills, and to haul its ore into town for reduction there.

But developments came slowly. The company succeeded in leasing the Crystal Bullfrog Mill at Rhyolite, and obtained a 12-horse team to haul ore to the mill site, but as June stretched into July, no ore shipments were made. The company was employing eight miners at the mine, but developments proceeded at a rather slow pace. In the meantime, the Pennsylvania Mining and Leasing Company was undergoing internal reorganization, and in August J. Irving Crowell, president of the Chloride Cliff Mining Company, emerged as president of the Pennsylvania Company. Crowell was thus in charge of the company which was leasing ground from the mining company of which he was also president.

After the reorganization, activities quickened. One hundred tons of ore were treated at the Crystal Bullfrog Mill in August, and Crowell announced that the mine could keep the mill well supplied for quite some time. Average values of the ore taken to the mill were $35 per ton, and the mill reported savings of 90 percent of the value of the ore. Taking these figures, the mine should have received returns of $3,250 for the ore which was treated in August. With the initial successes, the company announced plans to increase its ore shipments in the near future, and searched for more horse teams to haul ore. The company still owned a good water right about three miles from the mine, but the cost of installing pipe and pumping water uphill to the mine would be high. Nevertheless, the company planned to do just that, provided that the ore values in the mine held up with development. Although sporadic work was being done on all the company's claims, the main mining effort was still being concentrated on the old Franklin Mine.

From August to October of 1910, the company continued to work. Ore output was increased, and the company soon had four sets of horse teams hauling ore from the mine to the mill. The dumps at the mine contained over 200 tons of milling ore, and seven tons were delivered to the mill each day. During September, the Pennsylvania Mining and Leasing Company also began to ship some high-grade ore directly to the smelters at Needles, California and Goldfield, Nevada. Then, in the middle of October, work stopped while more plans were made.

The company announced that it had decided to enlarge its own one-stamp mill at Chloride Cliff. Three hundred tons of ore had by now been processed at the Crystal Bullfrog Mill, but the average mill savings had only been 60 percent on the average $30 ore. The company was obviously losing much of its ore content, which it could not afford to do. The company planned to continue sending selected high-grade ores directly to the smelters, but would add two. more stamps to its own mill, as well as concentrating tables and cyanidation treatment. Water development was in progress at the company's source near Keane Springs, and the enlargement of the mill was of necessity dependent upon the delivery of water to the mill site. To do this, the Pennsylvania Company intended to install a four-mile pipe line and a pump at the springs. The costs would be high, but J. Irving Crowell stated that the ore uncoverings in the mine justified this kind of expenditure. The Rhyolite Herald supported Crowell's plans, for more development meant more work for local miners. Although only nine men were employed at the Franklin Mine, the company had hired as many as nineteen while ore shipments were being made, and the enlargement of the mill at Chloride Cliff would mean work for double that number of miners. [6]

As often happens, when a mine ceased work in order to develop future operations plans, it really meant that the company had no clear idea of what to d next. This was the case of the Chloride Cliff Mining Company and the Pennsylvania Mining and Leasing Company. Neither company had the resources to develop a small and isolated mine into a paying proposition, even if there was enough ore in the ground to warrant such expenditures. As a result, the Pennsylvania Company let its lease expire, and the mine lay idle as the Chloride Cliff Company searched for another source of capital. The solution was not found until April of 1911, when it was announced that the Chloride Cliff property was to be sold to an English corporation "of considerable financial strength."

J. Irving Crowell, who had been in London to negotiate the deal, told the Rhyolite Herald upon his return that a company was being formed in London to take over the property, and that a fund of several hundreds of thousands of dollars would be provided for a thorough prospecting and development of the twenty claims of the Chloride Cliff property. As soon as sufficient ore was uncovered, suitable machinery for reduction would be installed. This would likely involve the erection of an extensive wire tramway which would stretch from the mine to a new mill site, which would be located near the water source. In the meantime, the old Bonanza Hotel would be removed from Rhyolite and rebuilt on the Cliff property to house the miners.

The new company evidently meant business, for a representative of the Lechion Cable and Tramway Company of Denver, which had built the aerial tramway for the Keane Wonder Mine, arrived in mid-April to inspect that tramway and to propose plans for building another one for the Chloride Cliff Mine. But snags developed in the negotiations for the sale of the Chloride Cliff mines, and towards the end of May, the Rhyolite Herald was forced to announce that "negotiation for the ultimate purchase of the Chloride Cliff property is still in progress . . . ." The purchase was still expected to be completed, however, which would "result in activity on an extensive scale very soon."

For the next two months, negotiations lagged. Although the Herald reported that the second of three payments for the property had been made, final transactions were still stalled, and the paper speculated that the deal would be made in time for mining to start with the cooler weather of October. But during the following month of September, the sale was still not completed, although Crowell announced that the final payment of the $250,000 purchase price was expected soon, and that the new company intended to spend at least another $250,000 in developments and improvements on the property. But still the sale was not completed. Crowell made another trip to London in October, and reported on his return that everything was progressing well. The English syndicate in turn sent a mining engineer to inspect the property in November, and Crowell again announced that the deal was progressing satisfactorily.

By late December, the patient Herald was able to announce that the deal had finally been closed, and that the English managers were expected in town early in 1912, when work would be started. But in February the paper was still saying the same thing. By March of 1912 it became apparent that the sale had not been made, and that it never would be. Crowell worked the property himself for a short time, before announcing in June that "Permanent operations on this property are again placed in the future. . ." [7]

At this point our knowledge of the detailed activities at the Chloride Cliff become less perfect, as the Rhyolite Herald ceased publication. Still, even with the death of the Bullfrog District, Crowell hung on and worked the property by himself from time to time. In April of 1916 a small Lane mill was constructed on a group of claims just west of the abandoned site of Chloride City, but the mill operated only a few days, due to the shortage of water. A sixty-foot deep well which Crowell had dug about a mile from the new mill site went dry almost as soon as the mill was started. The mine and mill were listed as idle in 1917.

But Crowell still held on. Annual assessment work was done on the property through at least 1922, although Crowell was forced to sell a portion of his claims that year to satisfy some debts. In 1926 the mine was reported to be idle, and in 1928 it was sold to Louis McCrea of Beatty, who made several shipments of ore to a Salt Lake City smelter. The only recorded shipment during this time resulted in a profit of $47 per ton for thirty tons of ore. Between 1928 and 1931 several more shipments were made, but all were of small quantities, and in 1931 the property was being operated by the Chloride Cliff Mining & Milling Company, a new organization, which leased the mines from Louis McCrea. The new company, as usual, had grand plans to develop the mines and to pipe in water from twenty miles away, but as usual, nothing happened.

The mine, however, was still active in 1935, when six men were employed, who shipped 100 tons of ore in that year. At this time, all the mining work was being done on the surface, and it was reported, in an understatement, that the company needed "further equipment." In 1938, the California Journal of Mines and Geology reported that the mine, still owned by McCrea and his associates, had shipped about thirty tons per month between 1932 and 1936, before leasing the mine to the Coen Company who operated it from 1936 to 1937. After a few years of inactivity, McCrea was again reported to be shipping gold ore to a mill at Benton, California, in 1941.

During that same year, the Chloride Cliff area saw yet another mine make its appearance, when cinnabar was discovered a short distance northwest of the Chloride City site. The Crowell Mining and Milling Company undertook to develop this discovery, and erected a five-ton Cottrell mercury plant. But before more than an estimated 150 tons of ore could be processed, the small mercury plant caught fire and burned to the ground. The loss was too much for the company to absorb, and the cinnabar mine in turn was abandoned. This marked the last gasp of the Chloride Cliff area mines. Although intermittent prospecting and a few very small operations continued for several more years-forty-four claims were filed with the National Park Service between 1956 and 1960--no further significant activity took place. [8]

b. Present Status, Evaluation and Recommendations

The entire Chloride Cliff area is cluttered with old shafts, adits and dumps, as well as collapsed buildings, dugouts, and several rather modern shacks. Some of these old mine sites indicate that activities were carried out over a period of several years, but most point to efforts lasting little more than several months. The mines were scattered over a four-mile square area, and significant remains may be found in five distinct groups.

At the southern end of the mining area, the site of the original Chloride Cliff Mine, or the Franklin Mine, can be positively identified. This mine group, which consists of four or five adits, with large stoped out areas in between, is situated on the very edge of a steep cliff (hence the original name), from which a spectacular view ranging from Badwater to Mt. Whitney may be seen. This is the, site of the original discovery of the Chloride Cliff Mine by A. J. Franklin in 1871. The mine was worked for two years by Franklin, and was then revived by his son and succeeding owners in 1905-6 and 1910. There are no structural remains at this site, and there is no way to identify which part of the mine was worked in the 1870s and which in the 1900s.

Illustration 80. Map of Chloride Cliff Area.

Part way down the cliff below this mine group stands the 1-stamp mill erected in 1910. There is very little evidence of a trail leading from the mine to the little mill, although a trail does descend from the mill site down into the ravine below. Remains of a primitive ore chute can be seen stretching from the mine about half way down to the mill site. The ore chute was obviously constructed of very cheap materials, and was used for a short time to slide ore from the mine down to the mill site. Several short exploration adits may also be seen along the trace of the ore chute. In addition, remnants of one inch pipe are scattered down the cliff side, tokens of the ill-fated effort to pipe water to the mill.

The 1-stamp mill itself is in excellent shape. Undoubtedly this is due to its inaccessibility, for anyone climbing the hill from the mill to the mine above would rue the addition of any extra weight. The mill machinery bears the markings of the Union Tool Company of Los Angeles, and the main support timbers stand twenty feet tall. The total lack of debris, waste rock or tailings around the mill indicate that it was briefly, if ever, used. When operations were abandoned at the mine above, only the engine and flybelt were salvaged. With a little oil, it looks as if the mill could run today, for virtually all its parts are intact.

dumps of Franklin Mine

stamp mill below Franklin Mine
Illustration 81-82. Top: Dumps of the Franklin Mine, site of the original 1871 discovery of silver ore. The floor of Death Valley, 5,000 feet below, can be seen in the background. Bottom: The one-stamp mill below the Franklin Mine, erected in 1910, but apparently never used. The Franklin Mine is over the top of the ridge in the upper background. The individual standing beside the stamp is six feet, two inches in height. 1978 photos by John Latschar.


Chloride City
Illustration 83-84. Top: One of the three dugouts located about one-half mile north of the Franklin Mine. This structure, which measures twelve feet by twenty feet, was divided into two rooms. The roof over the far room has been blown away, as the rocks which weighted down the tin roof had gradually disappeared. Bottom: Chloride City, viewed from the north. The town site itself was centered around the bare area in the center of the photo. The Franklin Mine is located on the south side of the ridge in the background, the 1916 Lane millsite is near the road visible in the right background, and the 1941 site mercury mill is to the right of the photographer.

About one-half north of the Franklin. Mine is a group of three dugouts, obviously the homes of several miners during some stage of Chloride Cliff mining activity. The dugouts are lined up against the bank of a small wash, which shelters the structures from the ravages of the constant winds which sweep over the Funeral Mountains. The dugouts are constructed of native rock, stone, wood, and tin, and are in reasonably good shape. Although the historical data is unable to identify these dugouts with any particular phase of mining, bottles from a small dump down the wash date mostly from the 1930s, although some purple glass is evident. The relative intactness of these structures, one of which measures twelve feet square, and the others which are approximately twelve by twenty feet, would indicate that they were probably built in the 1930s.

The third major grouping of structures is the site of old Chloride City. The town at its height in 1906 contained no more than four wooden structures, but two dugouts and numerous tent sites may be found in the area. Chloride City died in late 1906, when the local mines shut down for several years, and when mining returned to the area in the 1910s and the 1930s, the remnants of the building were used for whatever purpose seemed necessary. The wooden structures are now all collapsed, and have been stripped of most of their lumber. The largest of these collapsed structures, which undoubtedly was the boarding house, measures twenty-four by thirty feet, and the rest are about eight by twelve feet in size. The area around the old town site is heavily covered by prospect holes, adits and dumps, and it appears that the major mining efforts during the 1905-06 period took place in the general vicinity of Chloride City. Near one of the old adits, just south of the town site, is the grave of James Mckay, who died at an unknown age, at an unknown time, and of an unknown cause. His gravesite, situated in the midst of a long-forgotten mining camp, seems like a symbolic "tomb of the unknown miner."

Chloride City

grave of James McKay
Illustration 85-86. Top: Chloride City, showing the remains of the boarding house. Bottom: Grave of James McKay, located about a quarter mile south of Chloride City. 1978 photos by John Latschar.

Lane mill ruins

mercury mill ruins
Illustration 87-88. Top: Ruins of the 1916 Lane mill, located just southwest of Chloride City. Photo was taken from the dump above the mill, showing the remnants of several concrete pedestals. The mill tailings are visible to the right front of the person in the photo, and the stone wall built to contain those tailings are just above his head. Bottom: Ruins of the 1941 mercury mill, showing the water tanks, and several levels of workings. 1978 photos of John Latschar.

To the southwest of Chloride City, across the top of a small ridge, is the site of the 1916 Lane mill, built by McCrea and his associates. The mill is built on a medium-sized mine dump. A water tank was positioned on the side of a hill across from the mill, site, and a four to six foot high stone wall was built below the mill, to prevent the tailings from being washed down the mountain. The mill site itself occupies an area about thirty feet square, but only concrete foundations and posts remain to mark the site. Several adits, a leveled tent site, a dugout and an old frame and tin shack may be found in the vicinity of the mill.

Finally, about a quarter mile northwest of Chloride City, is the site of the 1941 mercury plant. There are more physical remains to mark the site of this mill, for a galvanized water tank, extensive concrete foundations, and the ruins of a brick furnace are easily identified. Although erosion makes it difficult to judge, the amount of tailings around this mill would seem to indicate a life of several months before the complex was destroyed by fire.

In summary, the structural remains in the Chloride Cliff area include three mill ruins, several dugouts, several wood and tin shacks, and the collapsed buildings at Chloride City. Together with the proliferation of mine dumps, adits and shafts too numerous to describe, these remains present an interesting panorama of mining efforts carried out in this region between the 1870s and the 1940s. Although the total output of all the Chloride Cliff mines is estimated to be only $35,000 during all these years, the variety of efforts represented in the area, together with the identification of the original 1871 Chloride Cliff Mine, make this property eligible for nomination to the National Register as a historic district. In addition to the remains described above, the ruins of the Big Bell Mine, situated one mile southwest of Chloride City, will also be included in the Chloride Cliff Historic District. The Big Bell Mine itself is discussed in a subsequent chapter.

The entire Chloride Cliff area cries out for protection. At present, there, are no attempts being made to protect the valuable and fragile historic resources remaining at the area, and the combined efforts of motorcyclists, four-wheel drive enthusiasts, bottle-hunters, and general scavengers are fast destroying the area. At least one of each type was seen in the vicinity when the author was examining the sites. The area should be thoroughly posted and regularly patrolled to discourage and prosecute destructive users.

In addition to protection, the Chloride Cliff district also presents Death Valley National Monument with a unique opportunity to interpret mining from the 1870s to the 1940s. The area is perfect for a self-guided tour, with visitors wandering the wind-swept region, stopping at various unmanned interpretive sites to reflect upon its long and varied history.

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Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003