Panamint City California

Panamint City California - 1875
Panamint City California – 1875

Panamint City California is a ghost town and silver mine site located in Inyo County. The town site was built in Surprise canyon in the Panamint Mountain Range which is now located within Death Valley National Monument. Currently, the town is only accessible to hikers. Previously, it was possible to drive into the ghost town, however a series of flash floods washed the roads completely out.

Interest is the area was initidated in 1972, when silver was discovered by three bandits who were hiding out in Surprise Canyon. These bandits were William L. Kennedy, Robert L Stewart and Richard C. Jacobs where in Surprise Canyon doing some prospecting and looking for the Lost Gunsite Mine. The men were wanted for robing the Wells Fargo Stages. The men entered into an arrangement, and sold their claim to Nevada Senator John P Jones. The Honorable Mr. Jones arranged for amnesty for the bandits and they agreed repay the stolen $12,000 from their profits.

Senator John Percival Jones
Senator John Percival Jones

Nevada Senator John P Jones and fellow Nevada Senator William M Stewart created the Panamint Mining Company and bought up the larger mines in the canyon. The location started to boom with the involvement of the two senators.

William M. Stewart. Photo by Matthew Brady
William M. Stewart. Photo by Matthew Brady

Panamint City was founded in 1873 – 1974 and soon the town contained all of the services and stores required to support a town of 2000 people. Mines, Saloons, stores, post office, cemetery and a red light district were all built in the upper end of the canyon and arranged along a single road about one mile long. In general, most of these mining booms towns earned a reputation for lawlessness and Panamint City was no different.

Due to the towns reputation, Wells Fargo refused to open an office in Panamint City. To transport the silver from the town, the bullion was caste into 450 round balls, which were then transported in wagon to Los Angeles, CA

Panamint City Stamp Mill
Panamint City Stamp Mill

Flash floods are a constant danger, and on July 24, 1786, Panamint City experience just such a flood. This flood washed out most of the young town. Inyo county maintained a road into Surprise Canyon until 1983 when a flash flood again scoured the canyon. Currently, there is no vehicle access. Much of the Panamint City Stamp Mill is gone, however the tall brick smoke stake still stands as a sentinel in time to mark the location of the town.

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