Goldome Mill

The heavily vandalized Goldome Mill outside of Ivanpah, California
The heavily vandalized Goldome Mill outside of Ivanpah, California

The Goldome Mill is an abandoned modern mill site in the New York mountains of San Bernardino, California just off of the Ivanpah Road. The site was abandoned in the 1998 following the formation of the Mojave National Preserve by the California Desert Protection Act in 1994 and has slowly fallen into a state of decay. The mill site is currently classified as a Superfund Site by the Environmental Protection Agency which means that the site is known to contain hazardous waste which is improperly contained.

The mill was named Goldome, meaning “an abnormal growth of gold” out of an optimism as to the fortunes of those who invested in this venture. The construction of the site is very modern and industrial in appearance. All of the buildings are of metal construction and probably built during the late 1970s or early 1980s. All of the milling equipment, such as the trommel and sluice boxes appear to silently rest in state. This site was likely the mill site of choice for near by mines of its era, such as the Morning Start Mine or the

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In 2017, political vandals posing as “street artists” decided on their own to deface the site as part of their environmental message and forever changed the face of this site. The mill at Goldmine is heavily vandalized and at the time of our visit during the riots following the murder of George Floyd gave the site an uneasy felling. It is not too far a reach to understand that they vandals who defaced this site could be burning our cities down.

At the Goldome Mill, the work of vandals is undone by the harsh Mojave Desert.
At the Goldome Mill, the work of vandals is undone by the harsh Mojave Desert.

During our visit to the site, a large swam of bees built a hive in the main building. This prevented me from entering and exploring further, however, I will return to do so, at some point.

Goldome Mill Map

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Goldome Mill

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Goldome Mill 35.329586, -115.262246

Additional Reading

Vanderbilt California

A metal headframe marks a vertical shaft in the mining district outside of Vanderbilt California.
A metal headframe marks a vertical shaft in the mining district outside of Vanderbilt California.

Located in the New York Mountains, Vanderbilt California was an short lived gold mining town which lasted just a few short years, from 1891 to 1895. The mining district is found in the northeastern section of San Bernardino County, right at the California and Nevada Border and almost within sight of Primm, Nevada.

Gold was discovered in the New York Mountains, in January 1891 by a Piute Indian named Robert Black. Soon after, the news of the strike traveled quickly and there were several mines in operation, including the Gold Bronze, the Sagmore and the Boomerang. The district was named for the the Vanderbilt Family, in the hopes the gold strike would prove as rich as the Vanderbilt Fortune. A small camp was built to support the operation and with additional gold veins found in the fall of 1892, word got out and the rush started.

Two years later, in 1893, the small mining camp has attracted 150 people and boasted two stores, one saloon, three restaurants, stable, lodging house, a blacksmith shop and about 50 tents. The post office was added in February of 1893 and a Justice of the Peace, W. A. Nash was appointed. A weekly newspaper, the Shaft was soon published. A railway line and water works were planned, but never completed.

A population of about 400 was found in the small town in 1894. In addition of adding more buildings and saw more saloons and businesses followed to service the town. Two ten-stamp mills were constructed at the two large mine sites, however the service was short lived. Almost as soon as the mills were built, the mines struck water and the ore changed and made it such that the mines could not recover gold. The town died with the gold production in 1895. 1895 also saw work on the railroad to Vanderbilt ceased. The school closed in 1898 and the Post office closed in 1910.

Perhaps the towns biggest modern claim to fame was one of its famous citizens. Virgil Earp, older brother of Wyatt Earp and survivor of the infamous gunfight at the O. K. Coral, owned and operated a two story building which was served as saloon and hotel in the small town of Vanderbilt. It should be known that there were a lot of Earp Brothers, and there was a lot of migration during this period as populations moved quickly from town to town looking for fortune and opportunity.

Virgil Earp 1843 -1905
Virgil Earp 1843 -1905
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Vanderbilt, California

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Vanderbilt, California 35.330500, -115.251000

Further Reading

Desert Fever – An overview of Mining History of the California Desert Conservation Area

The Historical Mining Towns of the Eastern Mojave Desert

Morning Star Mine

Located in the Ivanpah Mountains, the Morning Star Mine is a gold / silver mine located near to California / Nevada border near Mountain Pass. The mining district enjoys amazing views and lots of wild life and wild flowers during the spring of each year, which are easily accessible from a grade dirt road. Numerous lower traffic side trails will allow access of other places to explore.

A remote side road leading a old mine site in the Ivanpah Mountains near the Morning Star Mine.
A remote side road leading a old mine site in the Ivanpah Mountains near the Morning Star Mine.

The location was first worked in 1907 and was known as the Clansman mine. Operations were initially quite small and in 1931 only two miners were on location. In 1937 the owner J. B. Mighton and Brown optioned the property to Richard Malik, who worked the location significantly until 1938.

The Morning Star Mine Cutoff Road.
The Morning Star Mine Cutoff Road.

Erle P. Halliburton worked the mine with ten men, starting in April of 1939. Halliburton known today, as the founder of his name sake company, Halliburton Oil. Mr. Halliburton made his fortune in Duncan Oklahoma where he borrowed a wagon, a team of mules and a pump, he built a wooden mixing box and started an oil well cementing business. The Halliburton efforts at this site where forced closed in 1942 by the War Productions Board order to close gold mining for the war effort.

Erle P Hallibuton 1940 - SMU Central University Libraries @ Flickr CommonsSouthern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library
Erle P Hallibuton 1940 – SMU Central University Libraries @ Flickr CommonsSouthern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

Following Halliburton’s death in 1957, the property was acquired by the Vanderbilt Gold Corporation in 1964, where upon the location was drilled and sampled. Fifteen years later, in 1979 the company finally complete a capital raise the in Morning Star mine was again on operation as an underground mine utilizing trackless mining equipment and the ore processed in nearby Vanderbilt, California. Due to the time period, this was probably the Goldome Mill and not within the town of Vanderbilt.

The modern Morning Star Mine site is not much to look at and a locked gate prevents access.
The modern Morning Star Mine site is not much to look at and a locked gate prevents access.

After just three years of operations, mining operations were again halted in 1983, due to the dropping price of Gold, however underground explorations continued with long hole drilling and testing. From 1984 – 1993 saw increased gold and silver production to the amount of about 75,000 tons per month. Water supply problems plagued the operation, however, with the price of gold between $350 and $500 per once the Vanderbilt operation made a return.

A vertical mine shaft is protected by a metal grate.
A vertical mine shaft is protected by a metal grate nearby the Morning Star Mine.

The mine was finally closed in 1993 after the gold prices dropped and several environmental violations and animal deaths caused by cyanide poisoning. With the creation of the Mojave Nation Preserve in 1994 from the California Desert Protection act, the NPS inherited an environmental problem and it slowly continues to clean up the site. At this point, access to the location is blocked with a locked gate. It was noted that several building and a milling foundations remain from this relatively modern mining endeavor.

A horizontal shaft in the Ivanpah Mountains.
A horizontal shaft in the Ivanpah Mountains.

Black Tailed Jackrabbit ( Lepus californicus )

Black Tailed Jackrabbit enjoying the shade of a Joshua Tree
Black Tailed Jackrabbit enjoying the shade of a Joshua Tree.

The Black Tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) commonly known as the American Desert Hare makes its home in the western half of the United States including California, Nevada, Arizona and parts of Mexico. One of the largest species of hare, the animal boasts large distinctive ears, powerful rear legs, black tips on its ears and a black tail for which the animal gets its name.

This species of hare commonly reaches sizes of 18 to 24 inches long and may weigh between 4 and 8 pounds. Typically, the females are slightly larger compared to the males. The animal will mate ear round depending upon environment and the young are born with a full compliment of fir and open eyes, which classifies it as a true hare and not a rabbit, despite its common name. The female does not build elaborate nests for birth. A new born hare is and well camouflaged and quite mobile within minutes of birth. The juveniles will stay near the mother for nursing, but are not protected by the mother.

Commonly found in desert scrub, prairies and meadows at elevations up to 10,000 feet, the Black Tailed Jackrabbit is quite adaptive to various environments. Camouflage is their only defense, and they will freeze when a threat is near. Their diet consists of a variety of green vegetation and grasses, however they are known to consume dried or woody plants in the harsh winter months. The hare does not hibernate during the winter months.

The Black Tailed Jackrabbit is a valuable member of the ecosystem. It serves as a prey item of other carnivorous animals including coyotes, foxes, eagles, hawks, owls and various Native American tribes.

Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia )

Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia )
Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia )

A member of the sunflower family, the Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia ) boasts a delicate lavender flower in the harsh desert environment. Also known as the Mojave Woodyaster, the plant commonly reaches about 30 inches in height. The green-grey colored stems hold a solitary flower which is about two inches in diameter. The plant gathers sun with three inch long silver-green leaves and an individual plant may offer dozens to purple hued flowers.

A solitary Mojave Aster next to a wind blown Globe Mallow bush.
A solitary Mojave Aster next to a wind blown Globemallow bush.

The Mojave Aster typically blooms between March and May, and again in October when the monsoon season allows. It in commonly found between 2000 and 3500 feet in elevation, however in California it is know to thrive between 700 and 6500 feet. The flowers of this plant are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.

The aster is known to grown in the Great Basin and Sonora deserts and thrives in the Mojave. Like many other desert adapted plants, this plant thrives in sandy dry, well drained soil and common on desert slopes and washes.

The Havasupai people used this plant and its flowers as a fragrence to mask body odors and as an incense. Dried leaves where commonly carried in clothes by the tribal members.