Nicknamed “The Widowmaker”, Delamar, Nevada is a ghost town and gold mining town in Monkeywrench Wash, Lincoln County, Nevada. Prospectors and Farmers from Pahranagat, John Fergusen and Joseph Sharp officially discovered gold in 1889 around Monkeywrench Wash. This event lead to the founding of the Fergusen Mining District and a camp of that name was established. Initial assays ranged from $75 to $1000 per ton of gold ore. This was more than enough to attract the attention of investors.
Meanwhile, the camp grew and Furgusen, or “Golden City” was a small tent town located near the Monkeywrench mine. The tent city of Helene was founded near the Magnolia Mine, and published a news paper, the The Fergusen Lode. A Post Office was opened in 1892.
De Lamar arrives
Dutch-American businessman Joseph Raphael De Lamar, an investor our of Montana, purchase the principal claims in 1983 for $150,000. He renamed the Fergusen district to Delamar, an obvious rework of this name. De Lamar founded three towns, one each in Idaho, Nevada and California, all of which bare his name. De Lamars investment centralized the people of the area and soon the smaller tent cities closed. The Furgusen Load was remaned to “The Delamar Load” in June 1894 and a post office was founded at the new town site later the same year.
The new town grew fast and by 1895 hosted more than 1500 residents. The citizens enjoyed an opera house, hospital, several churches, schools and a variety of saloons. Many of the towns structures are built from nearby rock. A new mill was processing up to 260 tons of gold ore each day by the end of 1896.
The town and mines of Delamar were the premiere mines of Nevada from 1895 to 1900. The town developed a second cyanide plant to aide in gold production in 1987. This plant was capable of processing 400 tons per day of gold rich ore.
A 900 feet deep well failed to produce failed a source of water for the down. As a result, two pipes were run 12 miles to Meadow Valley Wash and brought the water up 1500 in elevation to supply the town with water. Supplies were packed into Delamar from Milford, Utah, a distance of over 150 miles.
The town was nicknamed the Widow Maker. Poor Ventalation within the dry process mills produce a silica dust. This airborne dust drifted in the air within the mines and mills. The mine works would breathe this dust in and develop a fatal illness, silicosis. “Delamar Dust” and the town became known as “The Maker of Widows”. Despite this public warning, there was no shortage of miners, whom made just $3 / day.
There were an estimated 400 widows in Delamar, which for a population of 3000, in 1897, was quite high.
In the spring of 1900, fire destroyed about half of the town. Two years later, De Lamar divested his holding in his mines after they produced $8.5 million. The town still ranked high in the state gold production race. Despite this fact, the last major mine was closed in 1909 and the town collapsed.
While travelling north on Highway 95 from Las Vegas to Beaty, I spotted the Elizalde Cement plant from the road. We did not stop on that first passing as I was headed out to Race Track Valley, in Death Valley, CA. However, the memory of this missed destination occupied my mind for the duration of our camping trip.
A couple of quick trips across the “Interwebs” and I had misidentified the ruins I had seen as the remains of the Nevada ghost town of Carrara. Happily, I researched the “marble quarry” town of Carrara. A few months later we stopped at the location and open closer inspection, it didn’t feel “right”. Ghost Towns typically were built as tent cities and have few foundations. This site had a concrete walls, and was not laid out like a city.
Elizalde Cement Plant
Further research and I have found my error. The ruins I had found were of the Elizadle Cemet Plant. The Elizaldo Cement Plant was built in the early 1940’s by the Carrara Portland Cement Company. The nearby Carrara quarries were used to produce crushed marble, which was used in the white cements produced by the plant. Forty five men poured foundations for the plant between April 1941 and July of the same year.
The plant was named for Angel M. Elizalde, who was the President of Elizalde & Co. Ltd and a principal investor of the Cararra Portland Cement Co. Plans were already under-weigh to build a large advanced cement plant when Mr. Elizalde was elected President.
A large “fiesta” was scheduled for the opening on the plant in August, 1941. However, before a single pound of concrete is produced, a fire engulfed the site and the plant was badly burned. The fire claimed the machine shop, field office, blacksmith shop. This set back stopped construction at the site while the company searched for capital and replacement equipment.
Despite plans made for expanded production levels and reinvestment in the plant site, the start of World War 2 and increase in fuel costs doomed the plant. Today, a lot of concrete foundations lie in testimony to the unseen victims of World War 2. The plant is fenced off to curtail access, however, it has fallen prey to those with spray paint cans.
Now, I need to go back and find Carrara and its marble quarry! oh darn….
In 1904 first attempts to quarry the high quality marble at the Carrara site. These initial efforts failed with the inability to produce larger slabs from the highly fractured and unstable marble. More suitable deposits of marble are found in 1911. The American Carrara Marble Company laid out the Carrara town. The town was named for Carrara, Italy, which produced world class marble.
A Metropolis in waiting
The marble is hauled by a standard cable railway down three miles from the quarry to town. This designed utilized town cars on a single track. At the midway point, siding in the tracked allowed the two trains to pass each other in opposing directions. The car at the top of the track loaded with marble would supply all the pull the empty car at the bottom of the track up the mountain on a free return.
Rail lines were already available in the Vegas and Tonopah Railroad. Water is pumped from Gold Center, NV using a nine mile long pipe line. The supply was generous enough to allow the town to boast a town fountain, which would shoot water six feet into the air. The fountain was built by the Marble Company to promote the appearance of longevity for the fledgling town.
The rail road line to town is completed in 1914. Soon thereafter, large marble blocks, which could weight up to 15 tons, are shipped to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, the large marble blocks are cut to size, finished and polished.
Eventually, the company with founded the town lost profits. The towns people saw hardship and soon moved away. With the exception of a few hangers on, the town is gone in 1924.
The town boasted a newspaper appropriately named the Carrara Obelisk ( 5/8/1913 – 09/1916 ), a post office, hotel, store, saloon and restaurant to serve the 150 people who called the place home. The site contained about 40 buildings. The post office was open from May 5, 1913 to September 15, 2914.
Leadfield California is a ghost town located in Inyo County and Death Valley National Park and found on the Titus Canyon Trail. The town boom in 1925 and 1926, however, Leadfield is a town that was started on fraud and deceit.
According to Legend and an article in Desert Magazine, and shameless promoter C. C. Julian wandered into Titus Canyon and started blasting tunnels. He then discovered lead ore which he purchased and brought down from Tonopah, Nevada. Julian then produced maps and other promotional materials and found investors from the East coast. The town of Leadfield was born and died on the imagination of this one man.
The truth of the tale is not quite as interesting or spectacular. According the the National Park Service, Leadfield ore was first worked in 1905. During the Bullfrog boom, which took place outside of Beatty, prospectors worked the land looking for the next big hit. In the fall of 1905, nine mine sights were identified and claimed by W. H. Seaman and Curtis Durnford. The ore from these sites was assayed in Rhyolite at $40 per ton. The men bought out a local consortium and the Death Valley Consolidated Mining Company was incorporated which released promotional material and sold shares for 2.5 cents each.
The mine and its ore did produce, however the Death Valley Consolidated Mining Company soon discovered that the expense of hauling the ore to Rhyolite and then the frieght costs to ship the material to smelters further off caused the ore to be not profitable. After six months of operation the Death Valley Colisidated Mining Company disappeared.
Despite early failures, in March of 1924 three prospectors wandered into the canyon and staked several claims. Ben Chambers, L. Christensen and Frank Metts worked their claims of lead ore for over one year before selling the claims to John Salsberry. Mr. Salsberry saw enough promise to form the Western Lead Mines Company and started to raise capital via stock sales at $0.10 per share. By the end of 1925, the Western Lead Mines Company was working 50 claims in the valley and soon began in invest in infastructure in the form of a compressor plant. A long steep road was constructed for LeadField to the Beatty Highway.
In early 1926, the Western Lead Mines Company build a boarding house and piped in water from a nearby spring. The town of Leadfield was named officially January 30th, 1926. Stock from the Western Lead Mines Company went on sale in January and within a 24 hour period, 40,000 share of stock were sold at $1.57 per share.
In February 1926 it became known to the public that C. C. Julian purchase shares and was now President of Western Lead Mines Company. Almost immediately the California State Corporation Commission began an investigation into the stock sale because a permit was not granted for the stock sale. The promoter went to work, along with several other mine operations, raise interest and money for the town. City plans were filed with Inyo County, however the spectre of investigation loomed.
Despite the arrival of a post office, investment into the location, and hundreds of feet of tunnel, C. C. Julian was ordered to cease sale of stock by the California State Corporation Commission. Around the same time, the primary tunnel of the Western Lead Mines Company penetrated to the ledge which experts predicted the highest quality ore. This ore was assayed at 2% and far too low for profit considered freight costs.
Leadfield and the surrounding mines where gone months later. Mr. Julian was blammed despite the facts that he did not start the venture, there was ore at the location, and he invested money and time towards the venture. Mr. Julian is responsible for the road through Titus Canyon, which many every year.
For a detailed history, the NPS offers a great article.
Bodie, California is the ghost town by which all others are judged. Located at 8300 in the Bodie Hills above Mono Lake, Bodie is the largest and perhaps best preserved ghost town in America. Established as a ghost town and state park in 1962, the town site is now administered by the Bodie Foundation.
Currently preserved in “Arrested Decay” a condition and phrase coined by the State of California for the Bodie, the town site is preserved as it was found in 1962. This essentially maintains the structures as the were at that time, and work may be done to keep them to that standard. Some buildings get new roofs, windows sealed and foundation rebuilt to preserve the state of degradation. It is because of this forward thinking policy that the town remains in the state of decline that it does.
I remember my first visit to Bodie was probably in the the late 1970’s. My father drove our old Ford truck into the town, and as I jumped out my eyes found the old Standard Mill. The Standard Mill still dominates the valley with its grayish-blue siding, multiple smoke stakes and extreme size. The Standard Mill is the most intact mill in California and processed over $14 million dollars in gold during its 25 years of service.
Formed in 1859, the town under went several mining booms, busts and fires. At it’s peak in 1879, Bodie hosted 5000 – 7000 souls, 65 saloons, a “Redlight” district, a china town, four volunteer fire stations, several newspapers, churches and of coarse, a Jail. Bodie maintain a rough reputation over the years and suffers from murders, shoot outs, stage robberies and the odd bar room brawl.
By 1910 the population settled at about 700 people, mostly families, as the miners and those who service the miners moved on to more prosperous areas. The last printed paper was in 1912, and signaled the beginning of the end for the scrappy little town. Although labelled a ghost town in 1915, Bodie continued to linger and dwindle is size until 1940 when the Post Office closed.
Under threat and vandalism the state of California took over the town site, and currently hosts some 200,000 visitors per year.
Remote locations, harsh weather and rustic builds make Bodie is a popular site for photographers.
The road into Bodie is accessible to almost any vehicle, but can server as a launch point the many back roads and trails. Nearby attractions are Masonic, Chemung and Aurora who like to get off the beaten path.
Gold was first discovered in the Mono Lake region in 1352 and placer gold was then discovered at the future site of Bodie in July, 1859* by William S. Body. On July 10, 1860, the Bodie Mining District was organized. In August, 1859 quarts veins were also discovered in the area, but the lack of -water and the extreme difficulties of transporting supplies and equipment over the mountains and desert tended to severely restrict mining activities at Bodie for some time. From 1860 to 1877, Bodie polled only some 20 votes a year, and in 1865 the town still had only SOP 14 small frame and adobe houses.NATIONAL SURVEY OF HISTORIC SITES AND BUILDINGS
In 1876-77, however, new quartz discoveries were made at the Bodie and Standard mines, touching off a great gold rush to Bodie in 1878. From a few shacks, a term of some 250 wooden buildings rapidly appeared in the desert and the population leaped to 10,000 or 12,000 persons, with the usual assortment of gambling dens, breweries, saloons, and the nightly shootings, stabbings and brawls. Bodie soon merited the title of “Shooters Town,” and a “Bad Man from Bodie” was then universally recognized to be a particularly unpleasant individual. In 1879, when Bodie reached its pinnacle, its main street was over a-mile long and built solidly with one and two-story frame buildings. In 1881 a 32- mile narrow gauge railroad was constructed from Mono Lake to Bodie to carry in fuel and lumber. % 1883, however, the boom was over and all but the Bodie and Standard mines closed down; these two mines finally consolidated in 1887. In 1895 Bodie had a small revival when the cyanide process of recovering gold was put in use, Mining continued intermittently up to World War II, when Bodie finally became a true ghost town.
Bodie Trail Map