Rawhide Nevada

Rawhide, Nevada. 1908.
Rawhide, Nevada. 1908.

Rawhide Nevada was a mining town in Mineral County. The town site is located approximately 55 miles south of Fallon, and 22 miles down a dirt road south of highway 50.  The town was founded in 1906 when gold and silver deposits were discovered by prospector Jim Swanson in the hills surrounding Rawhide.  Charles  B. Holman and Charles “Scotty” A. McLeod soon join him and also found gold on nearby Holligan Hill.

Rawhide, Nevada - 1915
Rawhide, Nevada – 1915

Rawhide is an example of a town that existed on the promise and promotion of gold rather than the production of gold.    Fueled by rampant speculation the population swelled.  Rawhide boasts four churches, three banks, twelve hotels, twenty eight restaurants, thirty seven saloons, a theater and a school to support a population of 7,000 in 1908.  However, the over promise and under delivery of gold doomed the town, at its glory began to fade.

The city of Rawhide was already in decline, when in September 1908 a fire tore through the town.  In August 1909 the town flooded and destroyed much of the town as described in this excerpt from a Colorado newspaper.

Sept. 4, 1908. Devastating fire in Rawhide Nevada. Over $1 million in property damage and thousands were left homeless.
Sept. 4, 1908. Devastating fire in Rawhide Nevada. Over $1 million in property damage and thousands were left homeless.

NEVADA TOWN SWEPT FROM MAP BY CLOUDBURST

Ten-Foot Wall of Water Overwhelms Squattertown, Near Rawhide, in the Night.

SIX REPORTED MISSING

300 Families Rendered Homeless and Property Piled in Tangled Heap by the Flood.

Rawhide, Nev., Aug. 31.  “Squattertown”, a settlement just south of Rawhide, was swept by a ten-foot wall of water, following a cloudburst in the hills to the north tonight, and 130 buildings were partially or completely destroyed.

It is reported that two women and four children are missing, but up to a late hour tonight it was impossible to obtain verification of this report.
The cloudburst occurred on the summit of the low hills to the north of the camp. In a few moments a three-foot wall of water was pouring down the slope, covering the three miles from the summit to Main street with the speed of a railway train. The flood rushed into the street, which lies in a hollow and forms a general drainage canal, and every business house on the east side was flooded to a depth of from one to four feet.
Several structures were torn from their foundations and floated some distance down the street, while the crest of the flood was covered with furniture, animals and debris.

Gathering force as is poured down the channel, the flood swept into and over Squattertown, half a mile further down. The water formed a wall 10 feet high as it crashed into the frame structures, inhabited for the most part by miners and their families, and buildings were overturned and demolished at the first blow.

Darkness had fallen and the worst of devastation went on in the night.
Before the wave had passed 500 persons were homeless and their property piled up a tangled heap in the basin at the foot of National hill.
Several daring rescues were made. Mrs. Hobeloff and her two children clung to the wreckage of their home as it floated down the street and were rescued by Emil Gutt and P. R. Whyteck.

The Fountain Bar, a saloon located in a small frame building was swept from its foundations and carried five blocks down the street to be landed high and dry on a low bank, with its fixtures little disturbed.

Colorado Spring Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO 1 Sept 1909

Streets of Rawhide, Nevada 1908
Streets of Rawhide, Nevada 1908

The town survived but was never the same.  The twin tragedies gave the citizens more than enough reason to leave and the over promise of gold gave them little reason to stay.  In 1941 the post office closed and the town ceased to be.  Mining is still alive and well in Nevada, and sadly a modern mining operation has destroyed the town site.

Rawhide Trail Map

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Rawhide Nevada

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Rawhide Nevada 39.016600, -118.391000 Rawhide Nevada

Chemung Mine

Located off the Masonic Road between Bridgeport, CA and the Masonic town site, are the remains of the Chemung gold mine.  The Chemung gold mine operated from from 1909 to 1938 and produced over one million dollars in gold.  In the 1920s, the Chemung mine was producing low grade and high grade ore.  The ore was processed onsite, and then shipped to near by Bodie for smelting.

The Chemung Mine located just outside of Bridgeport, CA. Photograph by James L Rathbun
The Chemung Mine located just outside of Bridgeport, CA. Photograph by James L Rathbun

Along with the increase cost of mining supplies which reduced growth, a poor gold market and the cost of hauling the ore to Bodie over the poor roads for smelting and little mine was doomed and closed its doors in 1938.

The Chemung mine history is not a mining failure, but a failure of management and litigation.  During its time of production, the mine built and tore down three mills.  During the last year of operation in 1938, 20 men worked the site and less than one year later the mine was closed.  The mine itself produced well, however endless litigation for various reasons doomed the mine.

The Chemung gold mine over looking the Bridgeport Valley.. Photograph by James L Rathbun
The Chemung gold mine over looking the Bridgeport Valley.. Photograph by James L Rathbun

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s new life was found in the mine with the efforts of Elton “Heinie” Heinemeyer.  Heinemeyer mined for years but never struck it big.  Well liked by the town of Bridgeport, CA Heinemeters well being was the source of concern for the people of Bridgeport and it is reported that he would always find time to visit and entertain those who traveled to check up on him.

Currently, the mill building structure is intact but the years of harsh weather have taken its toll.  A mild wind will cause some of the walls to shake or shudder, and the lower outer wall is leaning outward.  In June 2016, bars restricted access to the mines themselves although the mines do offer a cold breeze on a warm day to cool you down.

The Chemung mine still maintains and impressive structure. Photograph by James L Rathbun
The Chemung mine still maintains and impressive structure. Photograph by James L Rathbun

There are stories that the site is haunted by a spirit or ghost, but only on Saturday nights, which seems a bit odd to me.

The Chemung Mine working still seem ready to go. Photograph by James L Rathbun
The Chemung Mine working still seem ready to go. Photograph by James L Rathbun

On a personal note, the Chemung mine surprised me.  I have been to Aurora three times, Masonic at least three times, and Bodie… at least ten.  My last visit to Bodie was in 2013 and afterwards I was looking in Google Earth when I “discovered” the Chemung gold mine.  How had this mine, such an impressive structure, evaded my radar for so many years?  It took me three years from that day to make my first visit to Chemung, and this place is definately on my list for a repeat visit.

Time, weather and gravity have taken its toll on the structure of the Chemung Mine.. Photograph by James L Rathbun
Time, weather and gravity have taken its toll on the structure of the Chemung Mine.. Photograph by James L Rathbun

 

Chemung Mine Trailmap

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Chemung California

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Chemung California 38.350087, -119.149947 Chemung Mine

Potosi Nevada

Potosi Nevada is the oldest load mine in Nevada and the town site is located just off highway 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada.  The site was started in 1856 by some Mormon prospectors who were lead to the location with the help of a Piute guide.  The Mormons found the site in April 1856 and a month latter it was named Potosi after the boyhood home of Nathaniel Jones.  They did not begin mining until August after a return trip to Utah for supplies.  

Carol Lombard was killed on a Douglas DC-3, Jan 16, 1942 on Mt Potosi
Carol Lombard was killed on a Douglas DC-3, Jan 16, 1942 on Mt Potosi

By September, the first wagon of ore sent back to Utah for trading and three months later three wagons returned with supplies including bellows, furnace, and hearths among other things.  On Christmas day 1856, an crude adobe furnace was used to smelt ore.

In the spring of 1861, a larger smelter was setup by the Colorado Mining Company at the Potosi Spring.  News of new silver mine spread all over the west in no time.  The town of Potosi was setup 700 feet below of the Potosi Mine or the Las Vegas Silver Mines as they were called and was soon home to 100 miners.

The site continued to slowly grow and develop until 1906.  In 1913 the Empire Zinc Company purchased the rights and was soon Potosi was Nevada’s largest producer of Zinc.  After nearly 100 years of production Potosi produced about 4.5 million in lead, silver and zinc.

Potosi Nevada Mine and Townsite Trailmap

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Potosi Nevada

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Potosi Nevada 35.966900, -115.542000 Potosi Nevada

Nelson Nevada and Eldorado Canyon

Rock spires carved by erosion located in Eldorado Canyon, Nelson, Nevada.
Rock spires carved by erosion located in Eldorado Canyon, Nelson, Nevada.

The ghost town of Nelson, Nevada, which is located in Eldorado Canyon along Lake Mojave, is a quaint destination which offers the visitor a brief glimpse into the past.

History

El Dorado Canyon has a long and storied mining history which includes 150 years of mining activities by Native Americans, Spanish Explorers and Mormons prior to 1861. In 1863, miners from nearby Potosi flooded the area and established four town sites in the narrow canyon, the establishment of which caused some excitement on the western coast.

Many structures are still standing, Nelson, Nevada.
Many structures are still standing, Nelson, Nevada.

In 1864, near the mouth of Eldorado canyon a ten-stamp stamp mile is built. This despite a six month lead time for supplied to arrive in the remote location. At the time, Eldorado canyon was part of the Arizona territory and the Eldorado mill was the first in the Arizona territory.

As the town grew, in 1865 the town added a post office. However the area was a rough camp with the nearest law about 300 miles away. Vigilantes dispensed justice to those who crossed the line.

Founded in 1905 Nelson, Nevada is located some seven miles west at the head of Eldorado Canyon. The town of Nelson slumped for two decades beginning in 1909, but the 1930’s found a resurgence in gold production. By 1941, the three cyanide mills processed 220 tons of ore daily. The population reached 600 persons, however increased costs caused the gold production to slow and eventually cease. The Techatticip mine produced over half of the total gold produced in the area. The gold produced by the region has an estimated valued at $10,000,000.00.

In 1951, Davis Damn is completed. The original town site in Eldorado canyon was buried and drowned by the rising waters of Lake Mojave.

A visitors center and store are open to those who travel here.  Nelson, Nevada
A visitors center and store are open to those who travel here. Nelson, Nevada

Today

Today, the town of Nelson hosts some 37 people in the 2010 census. The older section of town hosts many old buildings, ruins, cars, mining equipment and all in all is an eclectic collection of mining and western history. The current occupants have a wonderful collection of old mining gear and western history, mixed with an eclectic collection of art.

Nelson, Nevada

The town was recently used as a movie set, and the a tour of the town is available to those interested.

Nelson, Nevada is a quiet destination worthy of a few hours if you are in the area.
Nelson, Nevada is a quiet destination worthy of a few hours if you are in the area.
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Nelson Nevada

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Nelson Nevada 35.708000, -114.825000 Nelson Nevada and Eldorado Canyon

Kokoweef Mine

The Kokoweef Mine and in fact all of the trails and mines located in the Ivanpah / Mountain Pass area represent exactly why I started Destination4x4.  My wife and I routinely drive between our home in Las Vegas, NV and Los Angeles, CA to visit family and friends.  One trip we decided to jump off the 15 and just investigate the Mountain Area off of Bailey Road.  After a few nice discoveries, we continued our drive home and that night I opened up Google Earth and started investigating the area.

Kokoweef Mine from below - 2015

Kokoweef Mine from below – 2015

One of my discoveries was Kokoweef.  Immediately upon exiting the I-15 at Baily road was a sign for Kokoweef.  Little did I realize that I had just walked into a legend of the “Kokoweef River of Gold”.  Obviously, I don’t think I have discovered anything, but rather learned more of the desert history which surrounds us all and seldom seen or learned about.

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