Schwab California

Schwab is a gold mining camp and ghost town located in Echo-Lee Mining District of Death Valley National Park in California. The little townsite of Schwab was a short-lived mining camp run by three ambitious women: Gertrude Fesler, Mrs. F.W. Dunn, and Helen H. Black.

Schwab, California - “In the afternoon the townsite company drinks tea,” Death Valley Chuck-Walla magazine, Vol 2. No. 1, June 1907
Schwab, California – “In the afternoon the townsite company drinks tea,” Death Valley Chuck-Walla magazine, Vol 2. No. 1, June 1907

in December of 1906, as the Echo-Lee District is beginning its real boom stage. A new townsite is platted to serve the many mines in the area. The townsite was named Schwab, after the well-known steel and mining magnate, who helo interests in the Echo-Lee District. The townsite was promoted by the Schwab Townsite Company, which was incorporated in Nevada on December 31st, 1906. Thoe project is financed by S. H. Black, J. C. Houtz and J. E. Cram and $30,000 got the town up and running. The town being fully paid in advance by the three principles, made Schwab a closed corporation.

Ads in the Bll Frog Miner and the Rhyolite Herald and attempted to raise interest in the town. The owners claimed to have made arrangements for the town for the completion of a restaurant, a lodging house, a mercantile store, an assay house and a saloon. They also stated that roads were being built and stage service would be establised.

Gertrude Fesler was a young stockbroker out of Chicago who moved to Rhyolite and ended up purchasing a one-third interest in Schwab, located in the Funeral Range. After meeting her business partners, Fesler soon bonded with their wives and it wasn’t long before Mr. F.W. Dunn put his wife in charge and Helen Black purchased her husband’s share in Schwab!

Schwab was a popular town for local gold prospectors in early 1907, but the town did not survive the Financial Panic of 1907. Little remains of the town today besides one fuzzy black and white image from the Death Valley Chuck-Walla magazine, showing the three women and one unidentified person sitting at a tent, and small historic artifacts such as broken glass.

The town of Schwab is situated just below the Inyo and Skibo camps at the junction of the wagon roads leading up the east arm of Echo canyon and to Death Valley on the south. In other words, Schwab is located in the north or upper branch of Echo Canyon, astride the main Echo-Lee wagon road, across a small ridge from the present Inyo ruins, and about 1-1/2 miles from those ruins. At this location, evidence of the old townsite may be found.

The remains consist of seven leveled tent sites, some with ow and crude stone retaining walls remaining. More tent sites were once present, but have been erased by high water in the adjacent wash during Death Valley’s infrequent but violent flash floods. Two of the tent sites have eroded cellars behind them, about ten feet square and five feet deep. Since an immense pile of broken 1900 to 1910-dated beer bottles is located directly behind one of these tent-cellar sites, it is safe to say that this was the tent saloon, where once twenty-nine men were counted drinking at one time. The townsite covers several hundred feet along the-shallow wash which marks the northern branch of Echo Canyon, and remains are mostly restricted to the west side of that wash On the east side, however, is another tent location, and a shallow, unmarked grave, a lonely monument to one prospector who ended his days during the brief life of Schwab. About 300 yards to the west of the townsite is a crude derrick, the remains of Schwab’s well. The well site is dry and completely filled in, but numerous five gallon cans are scattered along the trail from the well to the townsite.

Rhyolite Herald of 22 February 1907.

Town Summary

NameSchwab, California
LocationDeath Valley National Park, California
Latitude, Longitude36.50556, -116.72361
Elevation3,340 feet
Population200
Post Office

Schwab Map

References

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