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
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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.


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


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

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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Evening Star Mine, Mojave National Preserve

The Evening Star Mine first came to our attention in the winter of 2014, while researching the mining history of the Mountain Pass located in California near the border with Nevada.  On a whim, while driving home we did a little exploring in the Mountain Pass area just inside of the California border outside of Primm, Nevada.  We frequently drive past this area, marveling at the Wild Burro population, but just did not stop to investigate.  Our brief stop opened the flood gates as we “discovered” gold fish in a water trough.  After some investigation the mining districts of the Ivanpah mountains were exposed, at the Evening Star Mine is principal among them.

Evening Star Mine, Mojave, California - 2015 Photo by James L Rathbun
Evening Star Mine, Mojave, California – 2015 Photo by James L Rathbun

Operating between 1939 and 1944, the Evening Star Mine was the only producer of tin ore in the eastern Mojave Desert.    Located in the Mescal Mining District, the site maintains an impressive sixty foot head frame which is built upon three towers of different heights and supply ore to an ore bin.  The mine is unique in that the crusher is located at the top of the head frame.

The Evening Star Mine began life in 1935 as a copper claim.  J. Riley Bembry prospected and then within a year, sold the claim to Trigg L. Button and Clarence Hammett of Santa Ana, Califonia.  The two men began digging the Number 1 shaft.  In 1940, the claim was again sold, this time of Vaughn Maynard of Santa Ana who then sold it to the Tin Corporation of America in 1941. The Tin Corporation of America continued sinking the shaft, and shipped 25 tons in June 1942 to Texas City, Texas.

Carl Wendrick Jr. secured the lease in 1943 with a government loan and soon the site hosted eight men who built a larger head frame.  Over 400 tons of ore were processed and several tons of tin concentrates were sold to the government stockpile in Jean, Nevada.

The structure is essentially sound, and in good condition, however steps are being taken to stabilize the head frame.  The mine shaft itself is closed to access by BLM using a cable net.