Goldome Mill

The heavily vandalized Goldome Mill outside of Ivanpah, California
The heavily vandalized Goldome Mill outside of Ivanpah, California

The Goldome Mill is an abandoned modern mill site in the New York mountains of San Bernardino, California just off of the Ivanpah Road. The site was abandoned in the 1998 following the formation of the Mojave National Preserve by the California Desert Protection Act in 1994 and has slowly fallen into a state of decay. The mill site is currently classified as a Superfund Site by the Environmental Protection Agency which means that the site is known to contain hazardous waste which is improperly contained.

The mill was named Goldome, meaning “an abnormal growth of gold” out of an optimism as to the fortunes of those who invested in this venture. The construction of the site is very modern and industrial in appearance. All of the buildings are of metal construction and probably built during the late 1970s or early 1980s. All of the milling equipment, such as the trommel and sluice boxes appear to silently rest in state. This site was likely the mill site of choice for near by mines of its era, such as the Morning Start Mine or the

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In 2017, political vandals posing as “street artists” decided on their own to deface the site as part of their environmental message and forever changed the face of this site. The mill at Goldmine is heavily vandalized and at the time of our visit during the riots following the murder of George Floyd gave the site an uneasy felling. It is not too far a reach to understand that they vandals who defaced this site could be burning our cities down.

At the Goldome Mill, the work of vandals is undone by the harsh Mojave Desert.
At the Goldome Mill, the work of vandals is undone by the harsh Mojave Desert.

During our visit to the site, a large swam of bees built a hive in the main building. This prevented me from entering and exploring further, however, I will return to do so, at some point.

Goldome Mill Map

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Goldome Mill

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Goldome Mill 35.329586, -115.262246

Additional Reading

Vanderbilt California

A metal headframe marks a vertical shaft in the mining district outside of Vanderbilt California.
A metal headframe marks a vertical shaft in the mining district outside of Vanderbilt California.

Located in the New York Mountains, Vanderbilt California was an short lived gold mining town which lasted just a few short years, from 1891 to 1895. The mining district is found in the northeastern section of San Bernardino County, right at the California and Nevada Border and almost within sight of Primm, Nevada.

Gold was discovered in the New York Mountains, in January 1891 by a Piute Indian named Robert Black. Soon after, the news of the strike traveled quickly and there were several mines in operation, including the Gold Bronze, the Sagmore and the Boomerang. The district was named for the the Vanderbilt Family, in the hopes the gold strike would prove as rich as the Vanderbilt Fortune. A small camp was built to support the operation and with additional gold veins found in the fall of 1892, word got out and the rush started.

Two years later, in 1893, the small mining camp has attracted 150 people and boasted two stores, one saloon, three restaurants, stable, lodging house, a blacksmith shop and about 50 tents. The post office was added in February of 1893 and a Justice of the Peace, W. A. Nash was appointed. A weekly newspaper, the Shaft was soon published. A railway line and water works were planned, but never completed.

A population of about 400 was found in the small town in 1894. In addition of adding more buildings and saw more saloons and businesses followed to service the town. Two ten-stamp mills were constructed at the two large mine sites, however the service was short lived. Almost as soon as the mills were built, the mines struck water and the ore changed and made it such that the mines could not recover gold. The town died with the gold production in 1895. 1895 also saw work on the railroad to Vanderbilt ceased. The school closed in 1898 and the Post office closed in 1910.

Perhaps the towns biggest modern claim to fame was one of its famous citizens. Virgil Earp, older brother of Wyatt Earp and survivor of the infamous gunfight at the O. K. Coral, owned and operated a two story building which was served as saloon and hotel in the small town of Vanderbilt. It should be known that there were a lot of Earp Brothers, and there was a lot of migration during this period as populations moved quickly from town to town looking for fortune and opportunity.

Virgil Earp 1843 -1905
Virgil Earp 1843 -1905
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Vanderbilt, California

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Vanderbilt, California 35.330500, -115.251000

Further Reading

Desert Fever – An overview of Mining History of the California Desert Conservation Area

The Historical Mining Towns of the Eastern Mojave Desert

Morning Star Mine

Located in the Ivanpah Mountains, the Morning Star Mine is a gold / silver mine located near to California / Nevada border near Mountain Pass. The mining district enjoys amazing views and lots of wild life and wild flowers during the spring of each year, which are easily accessible from a grade dirt road. Numerous lower traffic side trails will allow access of other places to explore.

A remote side road leading a old mine site in the Ivanpah Mountains near the Morning Star Mine.
A remote side road leading a old mine site in the Ivanpah Mountains near the Morning Star Mine.

The location was first worked in 1907 and was known as the Clansman mine. Operations were initially quite small and in 1931 only two miners were on location. In 1937 the owner J. B. Mighton and Brown optioned the property to Richard Malik, who worked the location significantly until 1938.

The Morning Star Mine Cutoff Road.
The Morning Star Mine Cutoff Road.

Erle P. Halliburton worked the mine with ten men, starting in April of 1939. Halliburton known today, as the founder of his name sake company, Halliburton Oil. Mr. Halliburton made his fortune in Duncan Oklahoma where he borrowed a wagon, a team of mules and a pump, he built a wooden mixing box and started an oil well cementing business. The Halliburton efforts at this site where forced closed in 1942 by the War Productions Board order to close gold mining for the war effort.

Erle P Hallibuton 1940 - SMU Central University Libraries @ Flickr CommonsSouthern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library
Erle P Hallibuton 1940 – SMU Central University Libraries @ Flickr CommonsSouthern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

Following Halliburton’s death in 1957, the property was acquired by the Vanderbilt Gold Corporation in 1964, where upon the location was drilled and sampled. Fifteen years later, in 1979 the company finally complete a capital raise the in Morning Star mine was again on operation as an underground mine utilizing trackless mining equipment and the ore processed in nearby Vanderbilt, California. Due to the time period, this was probably the Goldome Mill and not within the town of Vanderbilt.

The modern Morning Star Mine site is not much to look at and a locked gate prevents access.
The modern Morning Star Mine site is not much to look at and a locked gate prevents access.

After just three years of operations, mining operations were again halted in 1983, due to the dropping price of Gold, however underground explorations continued with long hole drilling and testing. From 1984 – 1993 saw increased gold and silver production to the amount of about 75,000 tons per month. Water supply problems plagued the operation, however, with the price of gold between $350 and $500 per once the Vanderbilt operation made a return.

A vertical mine shaft is protected by a metal grate.
A vertical mine shaft is protected by a metal grate nearby the Morning Star Mine.

The mine was finally closed in 1993 after the gold prices dropped and several environmental violations and animal deaths caused by cyanide poisoning. With the creation of the Mojave Nation Preserve in 1994 from the California Desert Protection act, the NPS inherited an environmental problem and it slowly continues to clean up the site. At this point, access to the location is blocked with a locked gate. It was noted that several building and a milling foundations remain from this relatively modern mining endeavor.

A horizontal shaft in the Ivanpah Mountains.
A horizontal shaft in the Ivanpah Mountains.

Harrisburg California

Harrisburg California is a ghost town is located at 4987 feed above sea level in Inyo County and currently part of Death Valley National Park. Originally, the town was to be know as Harrisberry combining the names of Frank Harris and Pete Aguereberry after the two men discovered gold at the location in 1905.

"Shorty" Harris founder of Harrisburg Ghost Town, photographed in Ballarat.
“Shorty” Harris founder of Harrisburg, photographed in Ballarat.

It is reported that “Shorty” Harris met Pete Aguereberry in Furnace Creek in July 1905. During the scorching hot summer months, the two men pared up and set off to do some prospecting in the cooler temperatures of the higher elevations of the Panamint Mountains. Upon reaching a plateau, now Harrisberg Flats, the two men began searching a rock outcropping.

A piece of rock which was chipped off the north side of a long low ledge, upon inspection by the seasoned prospector, was found to contain free gold. There is some question as to which of two men, actually found the initial claim. The two man continued on the Wildrose spring for water, and upon their return divided up the out croppings between them and each staked their claim.

The camp was named “Harrisberry”, which was a combination of their two names. Shorty Harris was emphasized to exploit his notarity and promote the camp for investors. The two men split up and headed down to Ballarat. In Ballarat, Shorty spred the news of his new find. Upon returning to their claim, the newest gold rush in Death Valley was on. Aguereberry had to reclaim his sites by persuasion and force.

Cashier Mill ruin and Pete Aguereberry, 1916. From Dane Coolidge Collection,
Cashier Mill ruin and Pete Aguereberry, 1916. From Dane Coolidge Collection,

By August 1905, Harrisberry was boasting 20 different outfits within 3 miles of the initial strike. The mining ledge found supporting the Wildrose mining district, Emigrant Springs and the the future town of Skidoo.

As was common with gold strikes, growth in Harrisberry was fast. The population of the camp was 300 strong in September and 200 claims. The cooler temperatures further expected to drain the populations of Ballarat, Darwin and nearby Rhyolite and triple the population of Harrisberry. Both Harris and Arguereberry sought outside investors and soon the Cashier Mining Company was formed with capital investment.

A prolific story teller and colorful character, Shorty Harris started referring to his new town has “Harrisburg” while on a trip to Rhyolite. Each retelling of the story further cemented the towns name as Harrisburg. Eventually the mines production faltered and the venture failed. Aguereberry continued to work the area until his death in 1945.

There are no remains of the Harrisburg California town. The site was essentially a tent city.

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Harrisberg California

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Harrisberg California 36.362400, -117.107000 Harrisburg California

Greenwater California

In 1904, a copper strike near Greenwater Spring and ensuing rush to profit caused the formation of Greenwater in Inyo County, California. Originally known by two other names, Kunze and Ramsey, the merger of these two small towns led to the formation of Greenwater in 1906.

Greenwater Mining District, CA 1906
Greenwater Mining District, CA 1906

The discovery of gold in Rhyolite triggered a flood of prospecting and brought civilization closer to this remote area of Death Valley. This waver of prospecting found many small mining camps spring into the area and Greenwater was just a town.

Greenwater California 1907
Greenwater California 1907

Greenwater was a short lived venture. The tent city grew to a population of of about 1,000 people. Although the town contained about a dozen saloons, water needed to be transport in and cost $15 / barrel. Despite newspaper promotions at the time and financial backing of investors, the town began to falter in 1907 due to lack of profits.

Greenwater California
Greenwater California

Today, very little remains can be found in Greenwater California. Like many mining towns of its day, the population lived in hastily assembled canvas sided tents. It is easy to imaging, the town literally packing up their tents and moving on the the next great boom.

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Greenwater California

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Greenwater California 36.272023, -116.448592 Greenwater California