Searles Valley Mines



This mine is located about 12 miles northwest of Trona in Homewood Canyon at an elevation of 4000 feet. The mine operated from about 1899 to 1942. the ore was free gold associated with pyrite in iron stained quartz monazite. The mine produced over $500, 000 worth of ore.


About 9 miles northeast of Trona on the west slope of the Slate Range at an elevation of 2500 feet. The mine was discovered in the 1880 and operated until 1937.  The mine is said to have produced $1,000,000 worth of ore. Other names for this mine were Copper Queen and Slate Range.


About 8 miles north of Trona and 2 miles southeast of Ruth Mine. It was discovered in the 1900’s and was shut down in 1942.


Photo by Larry June April 2002
stockwell1 stockwell2
Photo by Larry June April 2002

Ten miles northeast of Trona on the west slope of Slate Range. The elevation is about 3,000 feet and is three miles northeast of the mill. The type of ore is gold associated with pyrite, 2% copper. The discovery was about 1897. This property was acquired by B. P. Greenleaf and Billey Norvell early in the 1920’S. In 1918 they organized a company with Vernon E. Stockwell. In 1924 Mr. Ed Teagle bought the property from Stockwell Mining Company for $100,000. From 1924 to 1933 little besides assessment work was done. In 1933 mining began and between 1933 and 1936, 22 men were employed.

In 1941 a new mill was erected but the mine was closed by the war production board in 1942. In 1950 the mine was rehabilitated and there has been activity at the mine from then until at least 1975.



If you take the lake road that starts at Yucca Street across Searles Lake to the foothills of Slate Range you will find a canyon just east of intersection with the dirt road that runs north and south. It may not be apparent from the road because the base of the range at that location is almost dune like.

In 1960 a friend of mine were attracted to the spot by the site of several bright orange plywood targets that the Navy used to tow behind aircraft to use for target practice. This was going to be the source of plywood we needed for our science project. That is until we found out how heavy they were and how deeply the noses were buried in the sand from the hard landing they had.  By the way, this area is off limits so contact the Navy before you decide to venture into this part of Slate Range. There may be more than targets buried in the sand!

As we went further up the hill, in hopes to finding something that was a size we could manage, we spotted a small shack, about the size of an outhouse. Upon closer look we found a paper note nailed to the door that said, “Come on in out of the sun and help yourself to the water. You’ll find us up at the mine.” We didn’t find any water and the only thing in the shack that would have held water was a small shoot glass.

Anyway, this was enough to get curious and so we ventured further up the canyon. What we found was a wooden mining cabin that looked liked whoever left had planned to be back soon, either that or they took everything they thought had value and left the rest. The cabin had a pantry with a shelf that was still stocked with food. I’m pretty sure that no one had used this camp since at least 1935.

I don’t remember all the details but what I do remember were items that you might find in your own kitchen cupboard even now. There was a can of tuna, part of the can was rusted away but you could see the tuna through the holes. Still in the same shape it was in the day it was canned, only by now it was turned to black carbon. There was a can of beans that had rusted through, the beans were still there but as hard as stone.

Also on the shelf was a jar of peanut butter. The lid was still on it and was still in good shape. For some reason it held out better than the metal of the cans. We could see the peanut butter through the glass. It was a bit faded but still brown. I wish now we hand opened it but at the time I was expecting a horrible smell so I think we left it be.

We also found a Sears catalog with some terrific bargains in it, that is, if the items could be purchased with today’s dollars. It was dated 1933.

Up the hill from the cabin we found the mine. It only went back into the hill a few feet. At one time it may have been deeper and caved in or maybe the price of quartz changed or the mine gave out. There were rails and a mining cart so who knows.

Above the mine, at the top of the ridge, we found the claim marker. Buried in a pile of rock inside a tobacco can was a note that described the claim, what they were mining for and the names of the claim owners and the date of about 1932-34. If the site had not been on Navy property I’m sure it would not have been so well preserved.

Funny how after 41 years I still remember all these details. If anyone has ever gone back I’d like to hear if anything is left. Unfortunately people like to tear things up and haul things off.


In Argus Range of mountains, there was increased activity in gold mining. The Ruth Mine, situated 14 miles north of Trona, was taken over by Burton Bros. Inc., George Wyman, and Nels Sweetzer of Mojave. Installed a 40-ton cyanide plant, which is to be increased to capacity of 70 tons per day. Also acquired the Davenport Mine which is being developed.

Twenty-five men employed.

This property is 14 miles north of Trona in Argus Range of mountains.

Sterling Mine (silver). Situated in Revenue Canyon in Argus Mountains, 30 miles north of Trona. Owner, Sterling Mining Co.; James Stevenson, president, Trona, Calif. Development consists of two incline shafts, one 100 ft. deep, the other 285 ft. and 500 ft. of drifts. Thirty-ton notation plant.

Twelve men employed.

Slate Range Mine (Copper Queen) (copper, gold, lead, silver). Situated in the Slate Range of mountains, 9 miles northeast of Trona, Calif. Owner, Slate Range Consolidated Mining Co.; T. A. Wells, president, Bakersfield. Under lease and bond to Gold Bottom Mines, Inc.; Emil Bender, President; F. W. Handle, secretary; T. J. Nicely, manager, Bakersfield, Calif. Mine office, Trona, Calif.

Developed by tunnels and shafts; lower tunnel is 1000 ft. in length, with 6000 ft. of underground workings. Shipping selected ore to U. S. Smelting Company’s smelter at Midvale, Utah. Ore shipped is galena and lead carbonate carrying gold and silver values. Reported to carry 0.63 oz. gold; 15 oz. silver; and 15% lead. Company has a 25-ton notation plant located on east side of Searles Lake, 2 miles west of mine, in which second grade ore is concentrated to produce a shipping product.

The production during 1937 was $15,000. Property equipped with hoist, compressors and air drills.

Fifteen men employed. 

Hoot Owl Iron Deposit. Situated in Argus Range of mountains, 14 miles north of Trona. Owner, Lloyd Helm, of Inyokern, Calif. Operated by Ekstrom & Bradley, 320 Market St., San Francisco. Iron ore hauled by truck to Trona, California, and shipped to San Francisco.

Wildrose Mine. This deposit is located in the Wildrose Mining District, on the western flank of the Panamint Mountains, south of Wildrose Canyon and 45 miles by road north of Trona; elevation, 5000 ft. Holdings comprise 4 patented claims ; formerly owned and worked by the Western Metals Corp., of Los Angeles. This company mined approximately 4000 tons of ore reported to carry 42% metallic antimony. Eleven claims were recently located by T. P. Pierson and Associates, of Los Angeles.

Williams and Johnson Antimony Mine. It is located on the eastern slope of the Argus Mountains, between Revenue and Shepherd canyons, 14 miles by road north of Trona; owners, Ralph Williams and George Johnson, Bishop, Calif. Idle.

Anthony Mine (Gold Hug). It comprises 5 unpatented mining claims, situated in the Panamint Range of mountains, on the south side of Pleasant Canyon, 2 miles east of Ballarat; elevation 4200 ft. ; owner, Mrs. Ada Norris, Trona, California. The property is described under the name of the Gold Bug Mine in ”Mineral Resources of part of thePanamint Range,” Report XXVTTT of the State Mineralogist, pp. 368, 369.

Arando Mine. This property comprises 26 unpatented claims situated in T. 23 S., R. 43 E., in the Sherman Mining District, on the eastern slope of the Argus Range of mountains, 12 miles north of Trona; elevation, 4000 ft.; owners, Alice II. Mcintosh, of Trona, California, and Judge Russ Avery, 214 N. Rossmore, Los Angeles. The property is under lease and bond to the Arando Mines, Inc.. 1023 Wall St., Los Angeles; Maurice Shinbane, president; William Rosevelt, secretary.

The company operated the mine from March 4, 1934, to November 1,1936, when operations were suspended. In March, 1938, the property was leased to Henrv P. Smith, South Pasadena, California.

The vein is a porphyry intrusion which occurs along a fault fissure in granite. The outcrop is traceable for a distance of some 6000 ft.

The strike is east and west with a dip of 54° S. It has a width of 6 to 40 ft. The vein-filling is porphyry, containing considerable quartz with heavy talcose gouge on both foot and hanging wall. The ore is oxidized gold quartz heavily iron-stained, the vein matrix showing considerable hematite. The gold occurs in a very fine state.

Blue Belle Mine. It comprises 2 claims situated on the east slope of the Argus Range of mountains, in the Modoc Mining District, 34 miles north of Trona; elevation, 5000 ft. ; owner, Jack Cress Estate and Marie E. Streger, of Los Angeles; under option to Chas. F. Hamilton, of Los Angeles. The vein of quartz occurs along contact of granite and limestone; strike N. 50° W., dip 47° SW., width 4 to 6 ft. Development consists of a crosscut tunnel driven 90 ft. north to contact, with drift 150 ft. northwest on the vein. A small amount of stoping has been done above this level. At about 200 ft. northwest of these workings is another tunnel 100 ft. in length. The lower tunnel on the Blue Belle vein is about 300 ft. in elevation below these workings. This tunnel is driven northwest 200 ft. on a narrow quartz vein. Near the face of this tunnel is a raise 50 ft. in height which connects with another tunnel. There are five tunnels varying in length from 50 to 300 ft. A tram line runs from the lower tunnel to the mill, a distance of 500 ft.

Burro, New Discovery and Gem Mines. This property comprises 5 claims, situated in Jail Canyon, 14 miles north of Ballarat in the Panamint Range of mountains; elevation, 3700 ft.; owner, R. D. Warneck, Trona, California.

Cashier (Harrisburg Mine). The property comprises 7 claims situated in Wildrose Mining District, in the Panamint Range of mountains, 55 miles north of Trona and 9 miles south of Skidoo ; elevation, 5000 ft. ; owner, J. P. Augerebery, Trona, California ; worked from 1906 to 1910 by the former owners ; acquired by Cashier Mining Company of Los Angeles and operated until 1914; relocated by Augerebery.

Ore-bearing fissures strike N. 20° E., dip 70° E., cutting beds of limestone. An intrusion of diorite, having a thickness of 100 ft., occurs on contact of limestone, with a general north and south strike. The ore, free-milling gold, occurs in an irregular lens-shaped body from6 in. to 12 ft. in width in limestone.

Development : A 400-ft. incline shaft has been sunk on the orebody, and levels driven at 100, 200, 300 and 400 ft. The 100-ft. level is the main working level and connects with the surface at 350 ft. northeast of shaft. At 100 ft, from portal of tunnel cut fissure in limestone, which strikes N. 20° E., with drift north 120 ft. on fissure, and south 60 ft, Ore shoot developed was 100 ft. in length. At 350 ft. southwest of portal of tunnel, there is a drift driven S. 20° W., 450 ft. to incline shaft. At 400 ft, southwest of portal of tunnel there is a drift southwest 250 ft. on N. 20° E. fissure.

Estimated 3000 tons of ore on dump that is reported to carry $15 per ton in gold.

Recently some ore has been mined from tunnel level and hauled to mill of Journigan Mining & Milling Company for treatment. The mill is located at Emigrant Springs. Production $150,000

Harrisburg Mine. It is situated in the Wildrose Mining District, in the Panamint Range of mountains, adjoins the Cashier Mine and is 55 miles north of Trona, California; elevation, 5000 ft.; owner, J. P. Augerebery, Trona, California.

Cecil R. Mine. It comprises one claim situated on the west slope of the Panamint Range of mountains, 4 miles south of Ballarat; elevation 1250 ft. ; owners, Edward Hague, M. J. Sherlock, Trona, California.

Del Norte Group of Mines. This property comprises 6 claims situated in the Wildrose Mining District, in the Panamint Range of mountains, 18 miles north of Wildrose Springs and 45 miles north of Trona; elevation, 5300 ft.; owners, J. P. McCafferty, of Los Angeles, California ; L. V. Howell, of Lone Pine, and James Stewart, of Darwin; undernlease and bond to the Panamint Milling Company; Adolph Ramish, president; Roy C. Troeger, secretary and manager, 972 Fourth Ave., Los Angeles.

A massive bed of quartzite 25 to 30 ft. in thickness overlies quartz monzonite; general strike east and west, with a dip of 15 degrees north. The gold occurs in quartz along fractures in the quartzite. This quartzite bed is 500 ft. in width and 3000 ft. in length with an average thickness of 23 ft. Development consists of 10 shafts from 10 to 50 ft. in depth, and a number of trenches about 100 ft. in length, with a depth of 2 feet. There are 2 shafts 50 ft. deep, about 600 ft. apart. Samples cut at 5 ft. intervals in two 50 ft. shafts and along two trenches 100 ft. in length, were reported to have an average value of $6 per ton in gold.

Several shipments of selected ore made to Burton Bros., Inc., Rosamond, California, were reported to have averaged from $16 to $25 per ton. In the quartz monzonite that underlies the quartzite bed, a series of quartz veins roughly parallel occur that have a general north and south strike with dips varying from 30° to 70° W. ; widths, 12 in. to 2 ft. On one of these a tunnel has been driven SW. 160 ft. entirely in monzonite, the face of the tunnel being vertically below the east edge of the quartzite bed. Six men are employed on development.

Davenport Mine. This property comprises 6 claims, situated in the Argus Range of mountains, on the ridge between Homeward Canyon and Bruce Canvon, adjoining the Arando group of mines on the south, 12 mi. north of Trona ; elevation, 4000 ft. ; owner, Mrs. Nellie Bliss, Trona, California ; under lease and bond to Clifford Burton. Rosamond, California; George Wyman, Trona, and N. W. Sweetzer, Trona, California. The vein strikes east and west, with a dip of 54° S. ; width 6 to 20 ft. The vein filling is iron-stained porphyry with granite walls.

Development consists of a vertical shaft 100 ft. deep, with crosscuts on the 50 and 100 ft. levels to the vein with about 500 ft. of drifts.

Six men are employed on development work.

Gold Bug Mine. Formerly Anthony Mine and originally known as Post Office Springs Mine, comprising 5 unpatented claims, is on the south side of Pleasant Canyon, 2 miles west of the Radcliff Mill and about 4 miles east of Ballarat; elevation at the mine, 4200 ft.;owner, Mrs. Ada Norris, Box 443, Trona, California.

This property was fully described in our Report XXVIII, p. 368. 

Gold Hill Mine. It comprises 4 patented claims, on the east slope of the Panamint Mountains, some 12 miles south of Bennett’s Well and just east of Butte Valley; elevation 5400 ft,; owners, Fred W. Gray, 3503 McClintock Avenue, Los Angeles, California, and Win. Hyder, Trona, California.

Gold Tooth Mine. It comprises 2 claims, situated on the west slope of the Panamint Range, 10 miles south of Ballarat; elevation, 1400 ft.; owners, A. R. Greenslitt and R. E. Baughman, Trona, California; under lease to Joseph Horn, Glendale, California.

Holy Boiler Mine. It is situated in the South Park Mining District on the west slope of the Panamint Range of mountains, 25 miles northeast of Trona; owner, A. C. Porter, of Trona, California. Idle.

Journigan’s Custom Mill. It is situated at Emigrant Springs in Emigrant Canyon, in the Panamint Range of mountains, 4 miles west of Skidoo Mine, and 25 miles northeast of Darwin ; elevation, 4045 ft. ; owner, Roy Journigan, Trona, California.

Capacity of plant is 40 tons per 24 hours. Ore being milled is hauled by truck from Skidoo and Cashier mines.

Journigan’ s Group of Mines. It comprises 5 claims, adjoining the Big Horn Mine on the west, situated in the Beveridge Mining District, 13 miles northeast of Lone Pine; elevation, 7000 ft.; owner, Roy Journigan, Trona, California.

Quartz vein, in granite, strikes E. and W., dip 80° N. ; width 3 ft. Ore shows free gold associated with pyrite and chalcopyrite. Development consists of a tunnel driven west 150 ft. on the vein ; ore shoot developed in a tunnel 30 ft. in length, with an average width of 3 ft.; ore stopped 30 ft. above the tunnel level. Idle.

Little Mack Mine. Tt comprises one claim and millsite, situated in the Modoc Mining District, adjoining the Minnietta Mine on the southeast and is on the east slope of the Argus Range of mountains, 30 miles north of Trona ; elevation, 3000 ft.; owner. Otto Siedentopf, Trona, California.

Three parallel diabase dikes cut the limestone beds. These dikes strike N. 60° W. ; dip 60° S. The above-mentioned dikes are about 60 ft. apart.

A series of parallel quartz veins follow the bedding planes of the limestone. These veins strike N. 20° E., and dip 50° S., vary in width from 2 ft. to 4 ft. and carry values in gold associated with lead-carbonate. Short ore-bodies are found on intersections of quartz veins with diabase dikes. Development consists of a tunnel driven N. 70° W. 250 ft., following one of the diabase dikes. At 75 ft. from the portal, cut quartz vein carrying values in gold. Also, at 200 ft. west of the portal, cut another quartz vein carrying gold values. A raise was put up on the vein some 30 ft. and a small slope started. At 250 ft. west of the portal, a crosscut has been run north 55 ft. intersecting a parallel diabase dike. On the hill above the tunnel level, a tunnel has been driven S. 20° “W. on a quartz vein in limestone, a distance of 20 ft., then an incline shaft sunk on the vein to a depth of 80 ft. The vein developed had an average width of 4 ft. with gold values stated to be $15 to $20 per ton. Ore mined from the tunnel level is transported by an aerial tram line 325 ft. in length to a 20-ton ore bin. From the bin the ore goes in one 800-lb. stamp with amalgamation plate. Stamp is driven by a gas engine. Mine equipment consists of Rix compressor; blacksmith shop ; and mine cars. Production is $15,000.

One man is employed.

Mohawk Mine comprising 12 claims is in the Argus Mining District, on the east slope of the Argus Mountains, 7 miles northwest of Trona. Elevation about 2500 ft. Owner, J. C. Boyles, Trona, California, Under lease to L. E. Notherton, of Red Mountain, California.

Here in the granitic country rock there occurs an E.-W. vein which dips approximately 80° to the north. The width, between walls varies from about 3 to 14 ft. The vein-filling consists of quartz and altered country rock with many encrustations of calcite. The valuable mineral is a fine, free gold, no sulphides.

Development work consists of a shaft sunk on a 70° inclination 168 ft. At 60 ft. the shaft connects with a tunnel which was driven west about 300 ft. The shaft is 200 ft, from the portal of this tunnel. On 110-ft. level a drift about 65 ft. east connects with an old stope, drift west about 300 ft., the last 250 ft. of which is reported to be an ore-shoot. The average width is about 5 ft. At the 160-ft. level, crosscut 30 ft, south to vein, drift west 400 ft. At 60 ft. from shaft struck ore shoot 160 ft. long, 3 to 14 ft, wide. The last 20 ft. of this drift is reported to be in good ore. At 100 ft. from the cross-cut there is a raise to the 110 ft. level. There is also a drift east 335 ft. of which the east 200 ft. is reported to be ore for a width of 7 ft. Average values are reported to be $8 per ton.

Mill consists of jaw crusher, elevator to screen, rolls to 4 leaching tanks. A %o in. product goes to the tanks. Capacity 30 tons per day. Water is pumped from Homewood Canyon a distance of 6500 ft. Idle at time of visit.

O. B. J. Mine (Tyler Mine), with which is consolidated the Thurman and Aster Mines, comprising 14 claims, is on the south side of Tuber Canyon, on the west slope of the Panamint Mountains, some 15 miles north of Ballarat ; elevation at principal workings, 3450 ft. ; owners, C. W. Tyler, Trona, California, and Mrs. Reed, Santa Barbara, California; under lease and bond to L & H Corporation; Wilbur B. Ganse, 629 Subway Terminal Bldg., Los Angeles, California.

These properties were fully described in our Report XXVIII, pp. 371-372, under the name of Panamint Mines Company.

The present lessee’s operations have been largely confined to sampling and mapping.

Two men are employed on this work. 

Radcliff Mine, consisting of 10 patented claims and a millsite, is situated on the south side of Pleasant Canyon, on the west slope of the Panamint Mountains, about 6 miles east of Ballarat; elevations on the property range from 4000 to 7000 ft. ; owner, W. D. Clair on the property; post office address, Trona, California.

Since our last report on this property (1932), Mr. Clair has continued to mill the old tailings left by former operators.

Ruth Mine (Graham- Jones). It comprises 13 claims, known as Ruth, Ruth No. 1, No. 2, No. 3; Island, Empire, No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3; Crown, Crown No. 2 ; Red Bluff, West Extension, and Larry Jean, situated in Homewood Canyon, in the Argus Range of mountains, in South Park Mining District, 12 miles north of Trona ; elevation 4000 ft. ; owners, Graham Estate, Porterville, Calif.; F. L. Austin, Trona, Calif.; II. R. Evans, Kernville, Calif. ; under lease and bond to Burton Bros. Inc., Tropico, Calif. ; George Wyman and N. E. Sweetzer, Mojave, Calif.

Ore occurs along a fault fissure in quartz-monzonite, strike N. 75° E., dip 70° S. ; width 6 ft, to 40 ft. The gold occurs in a very fine state in iron-stained porphyry, associated with pyrite.

Development consists of tunnel driven N. 75° E., 700 ft. on which level an ore shoot 100 ft. in length, with an average width of 9 ft. was developed. At 700 ft. from portal, a two compartment winze was sunk to a depth of 100 ft, with a drift west 150 ft, and 100 ft. east, The ore-shoot developed on this level is 200 ft. in length, with an average width of 10 ft. with a reported average value of $14 per ton in gold. There is a glory hole 40 ft. wide and 200 ft. in length, 150 ft, in elevation above tunnel level. On glory hole level, a tunnel has been driven east 400 ft. Former operators mined and milled 10,000 tons of ore from the glory hole. Estimated tonnage of ore developed from the glory hole level is stated to be 30,000 tons of ore with an average value of $6 per ton in gold. Between the tunnel level and the glory hole level it is estimated that there is developed ] 0,000 tons of ore with an average value of $6 per ton. Between the tunnel level and the winze level it is stated that there is developed 10,000 tons of ore with an average value of $15 per ton in gold. The total estimated tonnage of ore is said to be 50,000 tons. Water for mining and milling operations is secured from springs one mile west of the mine and flows by gravity through a 2-in. pipeline to a storage tank having a capacity of 20,000 gallons.

Mine equipment consists of a 75 hp. 2-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine which drives 310-cu. ft. Ingersoll-Rand compressor; 15 hp. single drum air hoist ; blacksmith shop ; air drills, and mine cars.

Mill : Ore trammed in one-ton ore cars to coarse ore bin having a capacity of 35 tons; from the coarse ore bin to a 12-in. by 16-in. Blake crusher, crushed to H-in. size to 16-in. belt conveyor over Dings magnetic pulley to Symons cone crusher, crushed to J-in. material from Cone crusher to 16-in. belt conveyor to revolving screen, the minus 1-in. material to fine ore bin, capacity 75 tons, oversize material from revolving Mill driven by 80-h.p. Atlas ing screen returned to Cone crusher.

St. George Mine (Merry Christmas). This property comprises 12 claims situated on the east slope of the Argus Range of mountains, on ridge northwest of Snow Canyon, in the Modoc Mining District, 34 miles north of Trona, California ; elevation 4500 to 5500 ft. ; owner, J. C. Cress Estate and Marie E. Strezer, of Los Angeles; under lease and bond to Charles F. Hamilton, 1541 So. St. Andrews Place, Los Angeles, California.

From 1895 to 1896 the property was operated by the Argus Gold Mining Company, which company installed a 5-stamp mill. In 1913 and 1914, the mine was operated by the Snow Canyon Mining and Milling Company, Dallas, Texas. This company installed, two aerial tram lines from mines to the mill. In recent years the property was operated off and on by John C. Cress. Two systems of veins occur in the granite; one strikes N. 50° W., dip 70° to 75° S. Widths vary from 2 ft. to 4 ft. The other system strikes E.-W. ; dip 70° S. The vein quartz shows free gold associated with pyrite, chalcopyrite and arsenopyrite. The principal development work has been on the St. George and St. Patrick claims, also on the California group of claims. At an elevation of 5500 ft. on the St. George claims, a tunnel has been driven N. 20° E., 282 ft. to the vein, then a drift has been run on the vein N. 50° W. 500 ft. About 45 ft. south of these workings, there is a tunnel driven along a fault fissure in the granite, N. 70° E. 650 ft. and then a drift N. 40° W. 200 ft. (see Fig. 7). The vein developed in this drift has a width of 3 ft. The St. George shaft has been sunk on the vein to a depth of 200 ft. where it connects with a raise from the north tunnel level, at a point 447 ft. northwest of the crosscut tunnel (see Fig. 6). About 500 ft. northwest of the St. George shaft, there is a tunnel 200 ft. in length on the same vein. Ore mined from levels of the St. George shaft was dropped through the raise to the tunnel level and trammed in cars on the surface for 1000 ft. to the ore bin, then by aerial tram to the mill. The ore mined from the St. George vein is reported to carry from .$15 to $25 per ton in gold. On the California claim there is a tunnel driven on the vein N. 50° W. 180 ft. ; at 100 ft.

Skidoo Mine (Silver Bell). It comprises 12 claims, situated in the Wildrose Mining District, on the west slope of the Panamint Range of mountains, 65 miles north of Trona ; elevation, 6500 ft. ; owner, Judge W. Gray, Las Vegas, Nevada; under lease to Journigan Mining & Milling Company; Roy Journigan, president and manager, Trona, California.

There are two systems of quartz veins that occur in quartz-monzonite. The main vein system strikes northwest and dips from 30° to 40° SW. The other system trends east and dips 60° N. The veins average from 18 in. to 2 ft. in width, with a maximum width of 4 ft. The ore is free-milling and values range from $15 to $20 per ton in gold. The outcrops of eight veins have been mined from tunnels.

Development consists of incline shaft 800 ft. deep, sunk on the east vein system, and a A vertical shaft 300 ft. deep, on the main vein system, with over one mile of tunnels and drifts.

The property was operated by Gray and Worcester Mining Co. from 1935 to 1937. The ore mined was hauled by truck to Journigan Mining & Milling Company for treatment. In January, 1937, Roy Journigan secured a lease on the property and at present 5 men are employed getting out ore from old stopes on the property, also hauling dump material to Journigan ‘s mill for treatment.

The mill is situated in Emigrant Canyon, being an amalgamation and cyanide plant with a capacity of 25 tons per day. Twenty-five-ton ore bin, 6 in. by 8 in. Blake crusher, 25-ton fine ore bin, to a 3 ft. by 4 ft. Straub cone-type of ball-mill, ground in cyanide solution to 20-mesh ; pulp flows over 4 by 8 ft. amalgamation plates, then to seven 14 ft. by 5 ft. cyanide tanks, solution from tanks to 4-compartment zinc boxes. Mill operated by 15 h.p. Fairbanks-Morse gas engine. This mill also operated as a custom mill for ore in the district.

Four men are employed.

Southern Homestead Mine, comprising 10 claims is on the west slope of the Panamint Mountains, 10 miles south of Ballarat ; elevation about 3500 ft. ; owner, Harry E. Briggs, Trona, California, with whom there is associated James E. Babcock, Rives-Strong Bldg., Los Angeles, California.

Here in the quartzite, are found three (possibly there are more) altered diorite dikes. The strike is NE., dip about 10° to 15° SE.  These dikes are mineralized with auriferous pyrite, some pyrrhotite and a little very fine, free gold. They vary in thickness from 2 to 15 ft. as now exposed. One of these dikes has been traced by a series of trenches and short tunnels a distance of about 400 ft. along the west slope of the mountain and about 300 ft. in the south side of the canyon. Samples taken show values from $’2 to $16 per ton in gold, with an average value of about $10. Idle at the time of visit. 

Stockwell Mine, consisting of 6 unpatented claims, and 10-acre millsite, is on the west slope of the Slate Mountains, 10 miles NE. of Trona ; elevation, 3000 ft. ; owner, Stockwell Gold Mining Company ; E. E. Teagle, president; V. E. Stockwell, secretary, Los Angeles; under lease and bond to Century Mining Company; Julius E. Linde, president; Roy E. Orvedahl, secretary; office, Trona, California.

The property was discovered in about 1897, and acquired by B. P. Greenleaf and V. E. Stockwell early in the twentieth century. They organized the company in 1918, after doing about half of the development work described below. Present company started operations September, 1937.

The vein in the granitic country rock strikes N. 20° W. and dips about 60° NE. It varies in width from 3 ft. to 30 ft. between walls, maximum width of ore probably being about 12 ft. Vein filling consists of talc, crushed quartz and altered wall rock. Mineralization consists of iron pyrite with a little ehalcopyrite.

Development consists of a cross-cut driven east 136 ft. to the vein; drift N. 240 ft. to a 200-ft. vertical shaft, from surface which it intersects at the 50 ft. level. On the 200-ft. level of this shaft, a cross-cut has been driven 32 ft. to the foot wall of the vein but has not gone through the vein. On the tunnel level a drift has been driven south 574 ft. from the cross-cut. At 510 ft. from the cross-cut, the drift intersects an incline shaft from surface. This shaft is sunk on a 60° inclination for 260 ft. The tunnel level is 120 ft. below the surface. In the tunnel an ore shoot begins some 50 ft. south of this shaft and appears to extend north some 170 ft., varying in width from 3 ft. to 12 ft. It is approximately 200 ft. north from this shoot to another similar one, which is reported to be 200 ft. long.

On the 170-ft. level of incline shaft, drift north about 60 ft. to hole raise from 210 ft, level. On 210-ft. level, drift north about 280 ft. south 30 ft. The north drift picked up the south shoot showing some sulphides. On 260-ft. level, drift north 90 ft. Vein here is vertical, about 12 ft. wide. At 127 ft. south of crosscut, a winze has been sunk to a vertical depth of 100 ft., developing 6 ft. of sulphide ore. The vein material is quartz, mineralized with pyrite and ehalcopyrite.

About 1000 ft. north of these workings and in the next canyon a vertical shaft has been sunk 150 ft, (inaccessible at time of visit). Reported that on the 150 level, a drift was driven northwest 140 ft. and crosscut from the face northeast, with a drift from the crosscut southeast, a total of 400 ft, on this level. Several short tunnels and open-cuts have been made in this canyon. These workings show a vein on each side of a monzonite dike which is about 100 ft. wide. Some 750 ft. west of this canyon several tunnels have been driven, one of which is about 700 ft. long. This work was done on a vein, strike N. 70° W., which appears to form a junction with the veins mentioned above, in the canyon.

The present company during the latter part of 1937, shipped 400 tons of ore to the Selby Smelting Co. stated to have an average value of $25 per ton in gold and 2% in copper. At the camp and mill site which is 3 miles west of the mine at an elevation of 1900 ft. there is a well 270 ft. deep, which supplies water for the camp and for the mine and mill.

Mine equipment consists of Worthing portable compressor with a capacity of 260 cu. ft. air drills and Ingersoll-Rand tugger hoist. The company is planning to install a 50-ton flotation plant for treatment of the ore.

Two men are employed

Treasure Hill Mine. It comprises 12 claims situated in Wildrose Mining District, in the Panamint Range of mountains, 55 miles north of Trona; elevation, 5250 to 5800 ft.; owners, L. E. Mendelman, I. Kusnick, Paul Cores and Albert King, of Los Angeles, California.

Five parallel veins occur in a gneissoid granite; strike N.-S., dip 40° E. Widths vary from 12 in. to 4 ft. The vein quartz is mineralized with free gold, associated with pyrite and galena.

Development consists of shafts and tunnels, totaling 488 ft. A tunnel 152 ft. in length intersects a shaft sunk from the surface at a depth of 65 ft. Ore extracted from these workings is said to carry $7.35 per ton in gold and silver. Idle.

Hoot Owl Iron Deposit. It is situated on the east slope of the Slate Range, 20 miles north of Trona ; elevation, 2400 ft. ; owner, Lloyd Helm, Inyokern, California; under lease to Bradley and Exstrom, 820 Market Street, San Francisco, California.

A massive outcrop of iron ore occurs in granite, with a strike of NE.-SW. It is 200 ft. in length and 50 ft. wide. The mineral is  64% metallic iron with low phosphorus content; n in gold. Development consists of a 2-compartment vertical shaft 150 ft. deep in iron ore. About 500 ft. northeast of the shaft, there is a tunnel driven southwest 240 ft. The face of this tunnel is in ore. Ore is being hauled by truck to Trona, for shipment to San Francisco. To date they have shipped 150 tons.

Four men are employed.

Minnietta Mine. The property comprises the following claims : St. Charles, St. John Dividend, St. Arthur, Helen G. and St. John Millsite, totaling 105 acres, situated T. 19 S., R. 42 E., in the Modoc Mining District, on the east slope of the Argus Range of mountains, 30 miles north of Trona and adjoining the Modoc Mine on the south; elevation, 3000 ft. to 4000 ft. ; owner, Mrs. Jack Gunn, Independence, California; under lease and bond to Ralph Merritt, Los Angeles.

The property was discovered in 1889 and has been worked off and on to date. The reported production of the mine is said to have been over $1,000,000.

The orebodies occur in fissures in limestone and on bedding planes of the limestone which are cut by diabase, intrusive dikes. The principal mineralization occurs on the hanging wall of diabase dikes. These dikes are from 10 ft. to 25 ft. thick. The fissures strike N. 50 to 60°

W. and dips 35° S. The width of the orebodies worked was 5 ft. to 20 ft., the ore being argentiferous galena, silver chloride and chloro-bromides, said to carry 7 oz. in gold, with 30% to 50% lead, and 50 oz. to 200 oz. in silver.

Development consists of 6 tunnels and 3 shafts. At an elevation of 2000 ft., the lower tunnel No. 1 is driven south 2700 ft. with a drift along a diabase dike 600 ft. in length. Other tunnels are 50 ft. to 200 ft. in length. Below Jack Gunn slope, a shaft is sunk on an inclination of 35° to a depth of 340 ft. At 200 ft. in depth the ore is cut off by thrust fault. On 165-ft. level, drift north 150 ft. and south 147 ft. ; on 220-ft. level, drift north 50 ft. and south 50 ft. ; on 330- ft. level, drift south 75 ft. A small lens of ore was developed on 165-ft. level.

Mine equipment consists of 18-h.p. gas engine hoist; portable Ingersoll-Rand compressor, 300 cu. ft. capacity ; 1-ton ore skip ; trucks ; blacksmith shop.

Six men are employed.

Modoc Mine. It comprises 8 patented claims, totaling 160 acres, situated in T. 19 S., R. 42 E., on the east slope of the Argus Range, in  the Modoc Mining District, 32 miles north of Trona and 15 miles southeast of Darwin ; elevation, 3500 ft. to 4000 ft. ; owner Hearst Estate, San Francisco, California.

The property was discovered in 1875 and operated until 1890, during which period the production was $1,900,000. The orebodies worked occur along fissures in the limestone of the carboniferous age which has been intruded by diabase dikes.

The ore deposits occur along the bedding planes of the limestone where intersected by diabase dikes and sills. The general strike of the ore fissures is northwest and southeast. The ore mined is an argentiferous galena and lead-carbonate, with gold and silver values;reported to carry 7 oz. gold, 30% to 50% lead and from 50 oz. to 200 oz. silver.

The dumps were worked by leasers, being treated in jigs, and concentrates produced are said to have carried 70 oz. to 160 oz.  silver, with 30% to 50% lead,

Modoc District. This district is situated on the east slope of the Argus Range, 35 miles north of Trona, and 15 miles southeast of Darwin. The productive mines were the Minnietta, and the Modoc, which properties were operated from 1880 to 1890. The Minnietta has been operated off and on until 1915, and during 1936. The mine was acquired under option by Ralph Merritt, of Independence, who started development work on the property in the hopes of developing the downward extension of the orebodies formerly worked. Some high-grade ore was developed, but no large orebodies discovered to date.

The Modoc Mine, was operated by the Modoc Consolidated Mines Company of San Francisco, and the production amounted to $1,900,000. The Minnietta Mine is said to have a production record of $1,000,000.

California Queen Mine No. 4. It comprises a group of claims located 10 miles northeast of Trona, on the west slope of the Slate Range of mountains; owner, California Queen Mining Co.; C. S. McCarthy, Trona, Calif.

Slate Range District. This district is situated on the west slope of the Slate Range, 9 miles north and east of Trona, in the southern part of Inyo County. The Ophir Mine, and the Slate Range Mine (Copper Queen) were under operation during 1936 and 1937. The Ophir Mine is stated to have produced $800,000 and Slate Range Mine is said to have a production of about $900,000.

Ophir Mine. It comprises 15 claims, 2 patented and 13 unpatented, situated on the west slope of the Slate Range of mountains, 10 miles northeast of Trona; owner. Engineers Exploration Company; W. A. Coons, president; Edith Coons, secretary; C. O. Mittendorf, manager, California Reserve Bldg., Los Angeles, California.

The orebody consists of a fissure in limestone which strikes N. 30° with a dip of 60° to 70° W. which has been developed along its strike for over 1000 ft. “Width of orebodies developed along the fissures varies from 2 ft. to 20 ft.. The ore is galena and lead-carbonate, and lead-vanadate. The ore shipped from the property carries 30% lead, 3% zinc, 20% iron and from 5 oz. to 7 oz. in silver.

The company operated the property from 1926 to March 1, 1930, when operations were suspended due to a drop in metal prices. In 1929 a 100-ton concentration plant was installed on the property which operated from Nov. 1, 1929, to March 1, 1930.

Mill: 300-ton coarse ore bin, Wheeling jaw crusher, 2-in. Symonds disc cone crusher, 100-ton fine ore bin, Hardinge rod-mill in closed circuit with Duplex Dorr classifier; Dorr bowl type of classifier, 2 Wilfley sand tables and 4 Wilfley slime tables. Mill is driven by electric motors; total hp., 130. Electric power is secured from the Southern Sierras Power Company.

The mine was reopened and operated under lease to C. O. Mittendorf in June, 1936, to September 1, 1937, who shipped 400 tons of ore to Selby Smelting Co., with an average grade of 40% lead and 7 oz. in silver per ton.

Development consists of three shafts, the main vertical shaft being 500 ft. Deep underground workings consist of 2500 ft. of drifts and cross-cuts.

Mine equipment consists of 50-hp., double drum, electric-driven hoist 300 cu. ft. Ingersoll-Rand compressor. The property is reported to have produced $500,000. Idle.

Silver King Mine. It is situated in Sec. 8, T. 24 S., R. 43 E., M. D. B. & M. on the west slope of the Slate range, 9 miles north of Trona; elevation, 3600 ft.

Silver Beef Mine. It is situated in the South Park District, 6 miles east of Ballarat, near the summit of the Panamint Range. Idle.

Sterling Mine (silver). The property comprises 6 claims situated in T. 20 S., R. 42 E., M. D. B. & M., in Revenue Canyon, on the slope of the Argus Range of mountains, 28 miles north of Trona; elevation, 3000 ft. ; owner, Sterling Mining Company ; James Stevenson, president, Trona, California.

A quartz vein, 4 ft. to 6 ft. wide, occurs on contact of quartz monzonite and limestone. The vein quartz is mineralized with argentite and bromide of silver; said to carry from $8 to $15 per ton in silver. The vein strikes N. 10° E., dips 60° E.

Development consists of a shaft sunk on the vein to a depth of 285 ft. On the 150-ft. level, a drift has been driven 50 ft. south in ore. On the 280-ft. level, drift south 20 ft. About 50 ft. south is another shaft 120 ft. in depth sunk on the vein with stopes each side of the shaft. Ore mined goes to jig-back tram with a length of 1500 ft. to a 35-ton ore bin located in the canyon 500 ft. in elevation below the mine. From the ore bin, ore is delivered to a No. 2 Wheeling crusher, then to a 4 ft. by 4 ft. Kohler ball mill; in closed circuit with Dorr

Duplex classifier, then to 2 Wilfley concentrators and 3 Groch flotation cells. Concentrates produced were reported to be 2.5 oz. in gold, with 300 oz. in silver per ton, the ratio of concentration being 60 to 1. A 75-hp. semi-diesel gas engine drives the mill. Water to operate the mill comes from a spring in Revenue Canyon, a distance of one mile through 10-in. pipeline to a storage tank having a capacity of 10,000 gallons.

Mine equipment consists of a 6-hp. hoist and 310-cu. ft. National compressor.

Fifteen men are employed. 

Other mines in the valley include Orondo, St Patrick, Veta Gold, Stone Cabin, Aquarius Travertine, Borosolvay Quarry and West End Quarry.

Additional Reading:
An Overview of Mining History of the California Desert Conservation Area
Trona Mountain Water System

Desert Fever: An Overview of Mining History of the California Desert Conservation Area

The information on the page was obtained from California mining records and other sources in the public domain. More detailed information about these mines and other Trona topics can be found in Trona Trivia  by Dr. O.N. Cole. which was written in about 1984. This book is available for sale from the SVHS or may be borrowed at your local library by having them look it up on WorldCat and then having them contact  the San Bernardino County Library System or other library that owns this title.  Another source of information on mines in Searles Valley is Searles Valley Story published in 1975 and is out of print. There are 10 libraries around the country that own copies of this book and it may be borrowed through libraries that participate in the inter-library loan program.

4 thoughts on “Searles Valley Mines

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  2. Diana Linde James

    In researching info on my Grandfather Julius E. Linde I keep getting refered to this site . I think he and a relative named “Orvedahl” bought a mine but did not have it long due to the war. Anyone have info on this? thanks

  3. David L. Stevens

    In an email from F.L. Austin 3:

    “My recollection on the claims on the Ruth went back to the early 1900s. A miner named Doug Graham discovered gold on the sight of the Ruth at that time maybe a little earlier. At some point in the 20s or 30s Graham needed some backing a “grub stake”. My grandfather Fred L. Austin Sr. was a pipe fitter with American Potash and Chemical Corp. I’m not sure that was the name of the company at that time. He had moved to Trona around 1910 and was working on the original construction of the plant. There was a Doctor Evans in Trona during those years. My grandfather and Dr. Evans backed Doug Graham each receiving a 1/4 interest in the mine. Graham retained 1/2 interest.

    Doug Graham lived in a small cabin not far from where the canyon starts as you as you leave the flat land and start up the canyon from the Trona road. The cabin was on the right side of the road going up the canyon up on a little rise maybe 40′ above the level of the road. My granddad pointed it out to me several times. There wasn’t a lot of it left in the 60s. Graham was attacked at the cabin by a relative from the east who believed he had gold stashed in the cabin. He beat Graham up pretty good. By the time Graham was able to get into Trona for help riding a burro he done and died several days later as a result of the beating and exposure.

    At some point in the 30’s the Ruth was leased to the Burton Brothers. They are the ones that built all the building and the mill. At one time there was a school for the miners children, assay office, black smiths shop, bunk house, good water system, in short it was pretty much a small village. The Ruth milled ore for the Mohawk and Davenport mines there in the Homewood Canyon area.

    Along with the rest of the mines the Ruth was shut down during WW-2 and never really was productive again. The Ruth ore ran around $8 a ton.

    As for the Orondo 1945 probably would have been a logical date for granddad to have been interested in those claims. I was born in 1944 and spent a lot of summer vacations in the 50s in Trona. My granddad passed away in 55. He would point out a light spot on the hills across the lake and tell me that was a claim he owned or had a stake in. I’m pretty sure we owned the claims. Granddad was always interested in mining I have a fond memories of being at Ted Lang’s gas station in Argus drinking a cold soda and listening the he, Ted, and on occasion Seldom Seen Slim talk about gold and share samples of quartz with gold in them.

    I learned to swim at Valley Wells one summer and did my first flying there in my dads Cessna. We could walk right across the highway from granddad’s house to the dump with our 22s and shoot at whatever. There was the innards of a big piano in the dump that always intrigued me for some unknown reason.

    Trona in the 1950s was a magical place for a young kid”

  4. David L. Stevens

    In an email from F.L. Austin 3:

    “In the section on Searle’s Valley Mines. A fellow talks about a mine across the lake in the Slate Range. My family owned the Ruth Mine for a number of years. We also had a mining claim across the lake in the slate range. I’m pushing 70 years old now and it’s been a long time since I have thought about those claims in the slate range. The name that comes to mind is the Orondo ( not sure about that spelling). The Yellow Aster also come to mind but I think it was the Orondo. There were some shacks on the property. I have flown over them with my dad in the 1960s. There wasn’t much left at that time. The mine ended up on Navy property. If memory serves me correctly the Navy paid my dad or granddad a small amount when they took over the property.”

    The Yellow Aster is in Randsbrug and the Orondo in is the Argus Range so Fred’s memory is about as good as mine. I tried to see of I could locate the area using Google Earth and have concluded that it is either near Copper Queen Canyon Rd. or Standard Mine Rd.


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