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Reconnoitering Trips Northern Nevada, Southwestern Idaho (and a Blip of Southeastern Oregon Thrown in for Good Measure) June 19 - 28, 2001 This is the trip that I consider to be my favorite trip I have ever undertaken. It had been in the planning stages since the previous December. Originally, quite a number of people were invited and had semi-committed themselves to come along. Over time, however, eventually the number of people whose semi-commitments became firm commitments to this trip narrowed to four. And I was one of them. Between June 19 and 27, 2001, I undertook a trip throughout northern Nevada, southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho in search of ghost towns, adventure and to enjoy the wide open spaces that the Great Basin is known for. Beside myself, there was Alan Patera, of Oregon; Graham, of the California Bay Area; and Gil, of southern California. Since we were coming from different points on the map, we elected Midas, Nevada - located in the far western side of Elko County northeast of Winnemucca, as a meeting point. Gil was originally going to drive to my primary home, then at Ridgecrest, California, and ride with me. However, at the last minute, he changed his mind and drove his car the entire trip. Graham and I chose to meet at Hawthorne, Nevada or at Mono Lake, depending on the circumstances of our first morning travels. Alan was to meet Graham and I in the evening at Midas on our first day out. Gil planned to meet us at noon the following day at Midas. My 4x4 rig at the time was my 1996 Chevrolet S-10. It was bone stock, with standard suspension. It was powered by the 4.3 liter V6 with the higher power option; a 5-speed manual transmission; standard, lever activated 4x4 transfer case. The interior sported the LS option package, which included upgraded interior materials; but the truck still had manual crank windows, no tilt steering wheel; and had an aftermarket cruise control installed. Other options were bucket seats and console. The truck had nearly 100,000 miles on it when we started. It turned over the century mark during this trip, on a dirt road in the wide open spaces of north-central Elko County. Graham drove a 1990 Chevrolet ¾-ton 4x4 pickup with a low profile, pop-up camper. The truck is scarcely optioned, running a 350 cubic inch V8 and a 5-speed manual transmission. Graham has equipped the truck over the years for expedition and is well equipped to tackle everything. However, his truck became problematic over the course of the trip. Alan Patera drove his bone stock 1997 Ford Explorer. It's the most stripped Explorer I've seen, virtually no options. It's well used off road and the lack of fluff has suited this rig well. Gill tagged along in his 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix. He slept in it, ate in it and drove it over miles of dirt roads. The car would have escaped unscathed, if not for his hitting a deer on the dirt road between Tuscaurora and Midas after he split from our group on the last day we all were together. He continued to drive his wrecked car for a couple more days, until he stopped to visit friends in Reno. My camera at the time was one of the original Sony Mavica digital cameras, with a resolution of 640x480. For storage of photos, it used standard floppy disks. The Mavica was in its dying stages at the time, I had owned it about three years. It started acting up on the second day of the trip; completely quit, inexplicably began working again, then died completely on the last day of this adventure. I took a 35mm Pentax camera along as a backup, but had taken along a roll of old film. None of the photos I took with the Pentax came out, I had shot one roll. When processing the many disks of digital photos, I found that about ten or eleven disks had been corrupted by issues with the camera, so that I was not able to extract the images from the disks, loosing around 200 images. Many of the lost images were of ghost towns, such as in the case of National, Nevada; so that I have no images whatsoever of that location, others few. My written documentation for each day of the trip will be in a rather paraphrased format, but includes all travel and most experiences. You can gather the rest of the trip from the video and photos. I will break the six plus hours of edited video taken and cut down to videos for each single day, along with a photo slide show at the end. This thread will contain all content from this trip from start to end. In a break from my past custom when presenting video on this forum, and due to the volume and number of ghost towns visited, I will not write up a history for the ghost towns or historic places visited. That is far too time consuming and labor intensive. There are plenty of written and web resources if one wishes to pursue their quest for knowledge of these sites. Below, a list of historic locations we visited – in the order that we visited them: 1. Bodie & Benton Railway, California. 2. Stillwater, Nevada. 3. White Cloud City (Coppereid), Nevada. 4. Unionville, Nevada. 5. Midas, Nevada. 6. Spring City, Nevada. 7. Paradise Valley, Nevada. 8. Buckskin, Nevada. 9. National, Nevada. 10. Delamar, Idaho. 11. Silver City, Idaho. 12. Rio Tinto, Nevada. 13. Pattsville, Nevada. 14. Aura, Nevada. 15. Cornucopia, Nevada. 16. Edgemont, Nevada (from a distance – on private property) 17. White Rock, Nevada (from a distance – on private property) 18. Tuscaurora, Nevada. 19. Dinner Station, Nevada. 20. Metropolis, Nevada. 21. Charleston, Nevada. 22. Jarbidge, Nevada.
I decided to attempt to organize information for all the Humboldt area mines in one location. This will include the cities of Humboldt City, Star City, Unionville, and surrounding ghost towns. [Letter from the Humboldt Mines, Alta California, September 9, 1861] LETTER FROM THE HUMBOLDT MINES. __________ [FROM A REGULAR CORRESPONDENT.] __________ HUMBOLDT, NEVADA TERRITORY, Aug. 25, 1861. Location of the Mines. These mines, as I have already stated in writing, are 175 miles northeast of Carson City, and about 130 east of Honey Lake, with both of which they are connected by means of an entirely level and, with the exception of some sand, most excellent wagon road. The mining districts cover the whole of a mountain range running parallel to the Humboldt river, and about 10 miles east of it This range, which as yet has no name, is from 15 to 20 miles across, and has an altitude of some 3,000 feet above the valley of the Humboldt. These mountains are not precipitous or broken, but rounded, and by means of ravines that cut them deeply at many points, easily passed through. The whole area of what are known as the Humboldt mines is about 40 miles long and 15 wide, being divided into 9 different districts. Seventy miles to the south, and in a group of mountains separated from these by a desert plain, are the Silver Hill mines; not so extensive, nor supposed so rich as those of the Humboldt. Humboldt City is distant from Sacramento City, 330 miles ; from Red Bluff, head of navigation on the Sacramento river, 285 miles. Freight from the latter is 8 cents — from the former 10 to 12. The road to Red Bluff is said to be easier as well as shorter. Goods brought that way, however, have to pay additional freight or the river. Notwithstanding this, it promises to be the favorite route for bringing in goods when the roads that way shall have the benefit of further improvement. From here to Honey Lake the road was improved by having the stones thrown out, and some additional work done upon it by Col. Lander last summer. He also dug out and walled up the springs, insuring a supply of good water at convenient points along it. It is not so well supplied, however, with wood and grass. Population. There are now about three hundred people in these mines and vicinity. Of this number, about fifty are on the river, mostly at Lassen's meadow, twelve miles north of this place, cutting hay. Quite a number of emigrants have stopped here lately, some of them being families. They get ready employment either at mining, getting out stone, making adobies, cutting hay, wood, etc. Wages vary from forty to fifty dollars per month, with board. Most of the early settlers are from Honey Lake, or Plumas and other counties in that vicinity. We have had an addition to our population of nearly a hundred within the past month, and are constantly receiving new accessions. We have now six families in the town, which numbers nearly two hundred inhabitants. A few weeks ago there were but two women residing in this whole region of country, and not a single child. We have an exceedingly well behaved and orderly community, scarce a single fight or serious disturbance having occurred here since the mines were discovered. The Town. Humboldt city contains about 50 houses or places of abode of various kinds. Many of these are built of stone, and are both neat and commodious. The town consists of two parallel streets, running east and west, between the walls of a deep ravine called Lindsey's Cañon. This ravine has a gradual but steep descent towards the west, with a handsome stream of water flowing through the centre. The sides of this cañon are composed of an excellent building stone ; a fortunate circumstance, as lumber is scarce throughout this whole region of country. Adobes are also being made on an extensive scale, a most superior kind of earth being found here for their manufacture. Between these and the fine stone, easily procurable, a ready material has been found for several large and substantial buildings, either completed or under way. As this is expected to be the principal town in these mines, building lots are held at prices varying from $50 to $200. Goods of all kinds are here in fair supply, and selling at moderate prices. The cheapest article of provisions is fresh butter, which, coming from Honey Lake, where much is made, sells for fifty cents a pound ; flour sells at 14 cents ; potatoes, 10 ; bacon and ham, 40 ; fresh beef and mutton, 20 to 25 cents. Boots, clothing, miners' tools, etc., about freight and charges advance, on San Francisco prices. The Mines. There is no longer room for doubting the valuable character of the mines found here. Excepting that taken from the Comstock lead at Virginia City, the richest silver ore yet found in the country is that obtained from the ledges here. The assays thus far made range from two to seven hundred dollars of silver to the ton. Some very rich gold bearing ledges have also been met with. One discovered about a week ago, in the Buena Vista district, consisting of decomposed quartz, yields over $2 to the pan of washed rock. Arrangements are on foot for working this at once, either with arrastras or in a small mill, if one can be got in. Further south other and similar ledges have been discovered, but the great trouble with all here is, the want of machinery for reducing the rock, or, perhaps I should rather say, of money in the first instance to open the claims. I consider this the best field for investments in mining property on this side the mountains. General Items. As the season is now getting advanced the weather is mild and pleasant — the nights being quite cool. It is never so hot, by many degrees, up in the mines, as on the plains below. The heat here this summer has at no time been oppressive ; nor are the winters severe, snow never being more than five or six inches deep, and lying only for a short time. On the plains there is still less snow. The climate, taken altogether, may be considered both pleasant and healthful — as much so as any part of California. There has been no ailments here except one case of rheumatism, now convalescent. An immigrant arrived here some six weeks ago severely wounded by a gun shot ; but he is also recovering. Except these, there has been no sickness, or woundings, either intentional or accidental. So far our population has been well behaved and orderly. As the election approaches, politics engrosses much attention. There are a good many persons here of Secession proclivities, yet I doubt not we shall be able to elect a sound Union man to the Legislature. In connection with the Fort Churchill region, we choose one member to the lower branch of that body. It is presumed that this section of country will be erected into a county, in the event of which this place will, most likely, be the county seat. Every one here is pleased with the new Territorial arrangements, and the prospect of having a permanent and well ordered state of affairs. The presence of Dr. Degroot, the Census Marshal, a few weeks since, was the first intimation our people had that they were being looked after, or any more cared for by the Government authorities. From his reports it will be seen that we have in this section a population of over five hundred. The election proclamation of Governor Nye, which has since reached us, was another cheering evidence that we are still within the pale of civilization, and that legal protection is soon to be extended to us. The Governor is well thought of by all parties here ; and it having been given out that he intends visiting this section before long, his advent is looked for with much interest His appearance would give great satisfaction to the whites and the Indians — the latter having heard much of his coming, and being anxious for a "big talk" with him. They mingle freely with the miners here, a feeling of mutual good-will existing between them. They are an intelligent, well-disposed race, many of them speaking English, and readily engaging in the service of the whites. Quite a number are employed herding sheep and cattle, for which they are well fitted. Mining, chopping and mowing are too severe for them, but all light kinds of work they do cheerfully and well. They have great confidence in the whites, readily taking their advice, and believing what they tell them ; hence they still talk of the promises made them by Col. Lander, over a year ago, and expect their fulfillment. It would be a pity to disappoint them in this matter, and, it is said, Gov. Nye will make them some presents of blankets this fall — it not being his policy to do anything farther for those refusing to come on the Reservations set apart for them. This they will be given to understand, after which they will be free to act as they see fit. This is the true course to take, as no aid will be of permanent benefit to them unless they are settled and made to adopt habits of industry and thrift So long as they follow their present wild modes of life, they sot only require no assistance, but are very, little the better for it if rendered them. I thought this was an interesting read and gives a little hint into what life was like back when Humboldt City was a thriving city. ["O. P. Q.," Letter from the Humboldt Mines, Alta California, November 15, 1862] LETTER FROM THE HUMBOLDT MINES. __________ [From an Occasional Correspondent.] __________ HUMBOLDT CITY, N. T., Oct. 30, 1862. Editors Alta. — I arrived in this city on Saturday last, after the short trip of five days from your city. I find the miners much encouraged by the character of the rock now being taken from the lodes here. Several lodes that were lately incorporated in your city, have their agents here to attend to their opening, which has given quite an impetus to trade, and working men are in demand. Much cannot be done this fall, but sufficient will be accomplished to show capitalists that the Nevadians are a live people, and have the best silver leads yet discovered, New Road. Major Bidwell of California, and who has built a road from Chico landing to Susanville, left town yesterday. By his road the distance to California has been much shortened : from Chico to Susanville 75 miles, Susanville to Humboldt City 130 miles, and freight has been brought through at 10 cents, and pays well. Several of the residents here have started in for loads. Mines and Mining Interests. Mr. Richer and party left a few days since. They express themselves as highly pleased with the appearance of the mines. Surveys have lately been made on the Humboldt river, opposite our city, for a mill site ; twenty-three feet fall has been obtained in a ditch three miles in length. A chart for a map has also been made by Mr. Epler, County Surveyor, and will be lithographed in your city shortly ; this will give you an idea of our leads and localities. Some of our leads have been found to prospect largely in gold. The Sigel and Annie Laurie prospect largely from the croppings. The Cashier Company have added a mill site to their lead, and will put up machinery early in the spring. This company is incorporated. Local Matters. The weather is still fine, and sleeping in the open air continues pleasant, with every prospect of an open fall and winter. The Cala Company are working their ore with an arastra ; they have not cleaned up yet, but from the present appearances it will pay handsomely. New salt beds are being discovered every day ; this more than makes up for the scarcity of wood. The mail and express run regularly once a week, and we feel that we are now within the pale of civilization, and that we can winter here in comfort. The express starts in a few moments, so for the present I take my leave. O. P. Q. ["Etul Esaep" (Lucius Curtis "Lute" Pease), Letter from Humboldt, Sacramento Union, March 2, 1863] LETTER FROM HUMBOLDT. __________ [CORRESPONDENCE OF THE UNION.] __________ HUMBOLDT CITY, February 18, 1863. Our Town and its Facilities. Our Winter is pleasantly passing away, and but little of interest has transpired here since my last, save that we have a tri-weekly United States mail established, which gives us less cause of complaint about letters. One Cowles has taken the contract, and is now carrying the mail matter horseback, with the intention of running passenger wagons next Spring. Not long ago a considerable excitement was raised here by the reported discovery of a rich gold lead in the first range east of this. Men rushed madly thither, some on horseback, with pack animals, mules and picks ; others on foot, packing their provisions, blankets and prospecting tools. The mania continued to rage for days, but, as is common, the disappointed gold seekers soon began to return, cursing the cause that led them away. And what is strange, men rush to these excitements who have the best claims in these mountains, and more feet than they can take care of. Bolivia District. This is a district recently formed in the first range of mountains east of this, about seventy miles south-southeast of this place, where are located many claims, the discovery having been made by some Spaniards, who have been prospecting the claims and have produced some very fine silver-bearing ore, assays of which are very promising. Assays were made of ore taken from claims known as the Sacramento and Independence. I have visited this district and faithfully examined its formations and external appearance, and though many claims have had argentiferous rock taken from them, I must acknowledge that with all my efforts to discover a ledge or lode of quartz or mineral, none could I find. The surface of the country in the immediate vicinity of the mines is very barren, and, indeed, bears the semblance of a mineral region. Judging from all that can be seen, I am of the opinion that the mines will be found to exist in rich chimnies, like some of the mines in Sinaloa, Mexico. Table Mountain District. This is a district little known, though situated about forty miles south of Unionville, is very accessible, and contains numerous quartz leads, only a few of which have been taken up or prospected. I was indeed astonished to find such promising leads as I there saw, and nothing being done to develop them ; and more particularly surprised when I received the returns of an assay made of ore taken from the Champion ledge, which appeared to be chiefly galena, of which, I am prepared to assert, tons can be taken from the surface or top of the ledge. The Eclipse and Senator ledges contain similar ores. I understand that the Champion Company have organized, and the trustees of the company have let a contract to sink a shaft forty feet on the ledge, for feet in the claim. Many leads throughout the mountains will doubtless prove good when prospected ; but the truth is, too little, as yet, has been done to develop the mines in any district. However, all are gradually progressing, feet are changing hands, and who will do something are securing feet in different leads. In Unionville, Star, Santa Clara, Humboldt, El Dorado and Echo districts, a goodly number of tunnels are being run, but in consequence of the hardness of the bed rock the work progresses slowly. In the Winnemucca ledge, in Humboldt district, a new "strike" has been made, which promises well, and it is the opinion of many that the lead may now be ranked among the first in this section. We anticipate a lively time here next Summer, when things will assume a form of business that will bring the persevering and deserving a rich reward. ETUL ESAEP.