Leadfield California – A Death Valley Ghost Town

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.

Photograph of an exterior view of the Leadfield Hotel in Death Valley's Titus Canyon, [s.d.]. The hotel is a simple wooden structure with a slanted roof and a rectangular façade. The upper left corner of the façade is missing, revealing the interior of the building. Three large rectangular windows and two doors alternate across the front of the building. There are three people standing on a caved-in porch in front of the hotel. A large rocky mountain rises up behind the hotel. The hotel was part of C. C. Julian's Leadfield boomtown, the hey day of which was in 1925. Photo Credit “University of Southern California. Libraries” and “California Historical Society” as the source. Digitally reproduced by the USC Digital Library.
Photograph of an exterior view of the Leadfield Hotel in Death Valley’s Titus Canyon, [s.d.]. The hotel is a simple wooden structure with a slanted roof and a rectangular façade. The upper left corner of the façade is missing, revealing the interior of the building. Three large rectangular windows and two doors alternate across the front of the building. There are three people standing on a caved-in porch in front of the hotel. A large rocky mountain rises up behind the hotel. The hotel was part of C. C. Julian’s Leadfield boomtown, the hey day of which was in 1925. Photo Credit “University of Southern California. Libraries” and “California Historical Society” as the source. Digitally reproduced by the USC Digital Library.

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.

C. C. Julian
C. C. Julian

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.

Julian at the Western Lead Mine located in Leadfield, California - Photo Los Angeles Times
Julian at the Western Lead Mine located in Leadfield, California – Photo Los Angeles Times

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.

"The Last Days of C. C. Julian," Los Angeles Times, 29 Sept. 1935
“The Last Days of C. C. Julian,” Los Angeles Times, 29 Sept. 1935

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. Once his Leadfield venture faltered, he moved onto to Oklahoma and was caught up in yet another scam. Julian later fled the country for Shanghai in March of 1933 m where he committed suicide in 1923 after several more failed schemes. Julian was buried in a beggers coffin and his funeral was attended by nine people.

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 Town Summary

NameLeadfield
LocationInyo County, Death Valley, California
Latitude, Longitude36.8466107,-117.0592307
GNIS1658952
Elevation4000 feet
Newspaper Leadfield Chronicle ( 192?-19?? )

Further Reading

Leadfield Map

Resources

Galena Nevada – Lander County Ghost Town

Galena Nevada was a silver mining from 1869 to 1907 and currently a ghost town located just just a west of highway 305 south of Battle Mountain, in Lander County, Nevada. The discovery of Silver at the head of Galena Canyon first lead miners in the area in 1863. Following the silver discovery three years later, in 1866, a mining camp forms to prospect the land.

Galena Nevada in the 1960's - Paher
Galena Nevada in the 1960’s – Paher

In 1869, the townsite of Galena is plotted and originally located in Humboldt County. Daily stage service from nearby Battle Mountain delivered peoples and supplies to the small town. The town grew in size and citizens by the month. The town boasts a park plaza, water system, public hall, schools, and a post office is started in 1732.

Within the boundary of Humboldt County, the towns fortunes could have been secured, however it lost the battle for county seat to Winnemucca. A court house is planned within the town to seat this honor.

After 1875, the town of several hundred people began to succumb to reality as production slowed. In 1874, plans for the court house are abandoned when the Galena Range is ceded to Lander County. By 1886, the French Mining Company took over the mines and later halted development. After the post office closed, there was mining activity in Galena starting around World War I and sporadically into the 1960’s

Town Summary

NameGalena Nevada
LocationLander County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude40.564, -117.13
GNIS854456
Elevation1877 meters / 6158 feet
PopulationSeveral Hundred
Post OfficeJune 2, 1871 – March 1873 [Humboldt Co.]
March 1873 – May 27, 1887 [Lander Co.]
As “Blanco” – October 11, 1888 – November 15, 1907

Galena Trail Map

References

Hiko Nevada – Lincoln County Ghost Town

Hiko Nevada starts to see initial activity in 1853. Silver mines in the area are largely responsible for the people settling the area.

Mill of Hiko Silver Mining Co. in 1871 - Timothy H. O'Sullivan - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Mill of Hiko Silver Mining Co. in 1871 – Timothy H. O’Sullivan – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

The town is founded by A William Raymond when he purchased several of the twenty six mines in the area of Pahranagat Valley. Raymond built the first mill, and laid out a townsite and named it “Hiko”. The name Hiko an Indian phrase which means “white man’s town.”

By the end of 1866, the area around it had attracted a few hundred residents. Hiko was the county seat of Lincoln County from 1867 to 1871 and is home a few hundred residents living in nearby ranches. By 1871 the mining activity west of Hiko started to falter. After the mining activity subsided, a time lawlessness came to the throughout the valley. At this time, the valley is known for its cattle rustlers, horse thieves and gun-fights.

In 1871 Hiko was replaced as the county seat of Lincoln County by Pioche which continues to serve this function..

As early as 1865, a camp was established here, and during the spring of 1866, W. H. Raymond and others laid out the townsite.  The name Hiko is apparently based on a Shoshone term for “white man” or ‘white man’s town.  Raymond purchased a five-stamp mill and had it shipped via the Colorado River to Callville and then hauled by oxen the 140 miles to this site.  In November 1866, milling began on Pahranagat ores and soon after, Hiko became the first county seat of Lincoln County.  In March 1867, Raymond spent nearly $900,000 developing the region before the enterprise failed.  The mill was moved to Bullionville in 1870.  Hiko consequently declined in population and importance, which accelerated following the removal of the county government to Pioche in February 1871.

STATE HISTORICAL MARKER NO.  206, STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE, NEVADA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Town Summary

NameHiko
LocationLincoln County, Nevada
GNIS845862
Latitude, Longitude37.5969036, -115.2241887
Elevation3,869 feet (,179m)
Nevada Historical Marker206

Hiko Town Map

References

Atolia California – San Bernardino County Ghost Town

Atolia is a ghost town and tungsten mine located in the Mojave Desert in northwestern San Bernardino County, California. The town is located just off the scenic 395 highway near Randsberg, California.

Atolia and mine in the Mojave Desert, circa 1908 postcard.
Atolia and mine in the Mojave Desert, circa 1908 postcard.

The town’s named was created from the combination for two mining company officials, Atkins and DeGolia, The site started as a tungsten mine in 1905. The town peaked around the time of World War II, when it is known as the largest producer of tungsten in the world. Despite this honor growth is hindered and the town is overshadowed by towns producing more glamorous metals such as gold and siler. Tungsten is a common component used to harden steel alloys. Prior to World War II, Germany is one of Atolia’s largest customers, when their trade access is severed with the formation of British Blockades.

Not to be outdone, the Germans developed cargo submarines known as U-Boats to run the blockade. On July 9th, 1916 the German U-Boat “Deutschland” arrived in Baltimore, Maryland to be loaded with tungsten from Atolia. The town reached a population of 2,000 people during World War I. Following the great war, demand for tungsten plummeted along with its price. The price dropped caused the tungsten mines for close.

There was a brief resurgence in Atolia during World War II, when demand for hardened steel opened the mines again for a brief moment in time.

Atolia Town Map

Town Summary

NameAtolia California
LocationMojave Desert, San Bernardino County, California
Latitude, Longitude35.3147387,-117.6170878
GNIS1660280
Elevation3,280 Feet
Population2,000
Post Office1906 – 1922, 1927 – 1944

References

Ivanpah California – San Bernardino County Ghost Town

Not of be confused with two others sites of the same name, Ivanpah is a ghost town and mine site located along the Eastern edge of San Bernardino County, California. Rich Silver deposits found on the lower slopes of Clark Mountain lead to the founding on the town in 1869.

Ivanpah - Bidwell Mill
Ivanpah – Bidwell Mill

The Piute Company of California and Nevada was funding the prospecting for Copper in the area when the rich silver ore is discovered. The company quickly laid out a townsite near “Willow Springs” and named the site “Ivanpah” which is the a Native American word for “Clear Water.”

By 1871, Ivanpah is a well know and flourishing trading post. The town itself is host to fifteen well built adobe buildings which include a hotel, two stores, several small houses and the head quarters for the Piute Company of California and Nevada. In 1875 a 5-stamp mill in constructed by the McFarlane brothers. The Lizzie Bullock mine receives a larger 10-stamp mill built by JA Bidwell. A Post Office is founded in 1878 and the following year the foot print of buildings includes o saloons, two stores, two blacksmith shops, two shoemakers’ shops, two hotels, two hay yards, a butcher shop, and several “neat and comfortable” houses.

Ivanpah was host to several mines in the nearby Mineral hills including Hite & Chatfield (renamed to Lizzie Bullock), the monitor and the Beatrice which is owned by Andrew, John, Tom and William McFarland.

The founding of Providence and Calico pulled interest away from Ivanpah, and the ore loosing its quality and value doomed the town to history.

Ivanpah Town Map

Town Summary

NameIvanpah
Also Known AsIvanpah I
LocationSan Bernardino, California
Latitude, Longitude35.545, -115.535278
Elevation4,880 Feet
Active1869 – 1898
Population100 – 300
Post Office1878 – 1899
News PaperGreen-Eyed Monster 1880

References