Silver Star Mine

The Silver Star Mine is a small mine site located off of the Zinc Mountain Road in San Bernardino County, California. The site rests at 4931 feet above sea level in the Ivanpah montains. The lonely site features a small humble cabin the miners used to survive and beat the heat. There is also a wrecked automobile near at the site, which has long since given up the battle against rust.

Silver Star Mine Cabin
Silver Star Mine Cabin

There is not much information available for this location on the Internet and hopefully I will be able to find some eventually. The mine site is also know as the Lucky Lode deposits. The route into the area is reasonably passable and should be suitable for most cars, provided the driver is used to operating on the back roads of the desert.

Silver Star Mine
Silver Star Mine rusted out auto

Some places claim that this mine produced lead, copper and zinc. The fact that this mine is found just off of Zinc Mountain Road offers some credence to a zinc mine. Other online sources claim this is a tungsten mine. A shallow mine shaft is located near the cabin. The shaft contains an old wooden ladder used by the miners and appears to be filled in, collapsed, or suspended after about 20 feet of workings.

Silver Star Mine Shaft
Silver Star Mine Shaft with ladder.

This stark hole in the ground reminds us what a challenges the life of a miner must endure. Hot, dry deserts, narrow, dark tunnels in a hostile landscape.

Silver Star Mine Trail Map

Resources

Leadfield California

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.

Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California
Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California

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.

On first sight of Leadfield, my son yelled "Dad, get the tool box.  We need to fix this town!"
On first sight of Leadfield, my son yelled “Dad, get the tool box. We need to fix this town!”

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.

Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California
Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California

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 blamed 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 is a favorite route of visitors every year.

Leadfield Sign, Death Valley, California
Leadfield Sign, Death Valley, California

For a detailed history, the NPS offers a great article.

Leadfield Map

Resources

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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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.

Old Plumbing remains in the town of Vanderbilt, CA
Old Plumbing remains in the town of Vanderbilt, CA

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 horizontal mine shaft in Vanderbilt
A horizontal mine shaft in Vanderbilt

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.

Exploring the ghost town of Vanderbilt, CA
Exploring the ghost town of Vanderbilt, CA

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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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.

Resources