Delamar Nevada

Delamar Nevada in the 1890's. Many of the buildings were transported from nearby Pioche on wagons. After the devastating fire in 1909, most of the remaining wooden buildings were transported back to Pioche.
Delamar Nevada in the 1890’s. Many of the buildings were transported from nearby Pioche on wagons. After the devastating fire in 1909, most of the remaining wooden buildings were transported back to Pioche.

Nicknamed “The Widowmaker”, Delamar, Nevada is a ghost town and gold mining town in Monkeywrench Wash, Lincoln County, Nevada. Prospectors and Farmers from Pahranagat, John Fergusen and Joseph Sharp officially discovered gold in 1889 around Monkeywrench Wash. This event lead to the founding of the Fergusen Mining District and a camp of that name was established. Initial assays ranged from $75 to $1000 per ton of gold ore. This was more than enough to attract the attention of investors.

Meanwhile, the camp grew and Furgusen, or “Golden City” was a small tent town located near the Monkeywrench mine. The tent city of Helene was founded near the Magnolia Mine, and published a news paper, the The Fergusen Lode. A Post Office was opened in 1892.

Dutch-American businessman Joseph Raphael De Lamar
Dutch-American businessman Joseph Raphael De Lamar

De Lamar arrives

Dutch-American businessman Joseph Raphael De Lamar, an investor our of Montana, purchase the principal claims in 1983 for $150,000. He renamed the Fergusen district to Delamar, an obvious rework of this name. De Lamar founded three towns, one each in Idaho, Nevada and California, all of which bare his name. De Lamars investment centralized the people of the area and soon the smaller tent cities closed. The Furgusen Load was remaned to “The Delamar Load” in June 1894 and a post office was founded at the new town site later the same year.

Delamar mill and tailings in foreground. Hog Pen, the opening to the Delamar mine, is in the background high up on the mountain -  Unknown photographer - Stanley W. Paher, Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, (1970), Howell North, p299, Ashley Cook Collection
Delamar mill and tailings in foreground. Hog Pen, the opening to the Delamar mine, is in the background high up on the mountain – Unknown photographer – Stanley W. Paher, Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, (1970), Howell North, p299, Ashley Cook Collection

The new town grew fast and by 1895 hosted more than 1500 residents. The citizens enjoyed an opera house, hospital, several churches, schools and a variety of saloons. Many of the towns structures are built from nearby rock. A new mill was processing up to 260 tons of gold ore each day by the end of 1896.

The Delamar Lode newspaper office, 1890s. Delamar, Nevada. The young assistant, to the left, is known as a printer's devil.
The Delamar Lode newspaper office, 1890s. Delamar, Nevada. The young assistant, to the left, is known as a printer’s devil.

The town and mines of Delamar were the premiere mines of Nevada from 1895 to 1900. The town developed a second cyanide plant to aide in gold production in 1987. This plant was capable of processing 400 tons per day of gold rich ore.

A 900 feet deep well failed to produce failed a source of water for the down. As a result, two pipes were run 12 miles to Meadow Valley Wash and brought the water up 1500 in elevation to supply the town with water. Supplies were packed into Delamar from Milford, Utah, a distance of over 150 miles.

The WidowMaker

The town was nicknamed the Widow Maker. Poor Ventalation within the dry process mills produce a silica dust. This airborne dust drifted in the air within the mines and mills. The mine works would breathe this dust in and develop a fatal illness, silicosis. “Delamar Dust” and the town became known as “The Maker of Widows”. Despite this public warning, there was no shortage of miners, whom made just $3 / day.

There were an estimated 400 widows in Delamar, which for a population of 3000, in 1897, was quite high.

In the spring of 1900, fire destroyed about half of the town. Two years later, De Lamar divested his holding in his mines after they produced $8.5 million. The town still ranked high in the state gold production race. Despite this fact, the last major mine was closed in 1909 and the town collapsed.

Resources

Elizalde Cement Plant

The Elizalde Cement Plamt as seen from US 95 south to Beatty, NV
The Elizalde Cement Plamt as seen from US 95 south to Beatty, NV

While travelling north on Highway 95 from Las Vegas to Beaty, I spotted the Elizalde Cement plant from the road. We did not stop on that first passing as I was headed out to Race Track Valley, in Death Valley, CA. However, the memory of this missed destination occupied my mind for the duration of our camping trip.

A couple of quick trips across the “Interwebs” and I had misidentified the ruins I had seen as the remains of the Nevada ghost town of Carrara. Happily, I researched the “marble quarry” town of Carrara. A few months later we stopped at the location and open closer inspection, it didn’t feel “right”. Ghost Towns typically were built as tent cities and have few foundations. This site had a concrete walls, and was not laid out like a city.

Elizade Cement Plant, near Carrara, NV in Nye County
Elizade Cement Plant, near Carrara, NV in Nye County

Elizalde Cement Plant

Further research and I have found my error. The ruins I had found were of the Elizadle Cemet Plant. The Elizaldo Cement Plant was built in the early 1940’s by the Carrara Portland Cement Company. The nearby Carrara quarries were used to produce crushed marble, which was used in the white cements produced by the plant. Forty five men poured foundations for the plant between April 1941 and July of the same year.

The plant was named for Angel M. Elizalde, who was the President of Elizalde & Co. Ltd and a principal investor of the Cararra Portland Cement Co. Plans were already under-weigh to build a large advanced cement plant when Mr. Elizalde was elected President.

A large “fiesta” was scheduled for the opening on the plant in August, 1941. However, before a single pound of concrete is produced, a fire engulfed the site and the plant was badly burned. The fire claimed the machine shop, field office, blacksmith shop. This set back stopped construction at the site while the company searched for capital and replacement equipment.

Despite plans made for expanded production levels and reinvestment in the plant site, the start of World War 2 and increase in fuel costs doomed the plant. Today, a lot of concrete foundations lie in testimony to the unseen victims of World War 2. The plant is fenced off to curtail access, however, it has fallen prey to those with spray paint cans.

Now, I need to go back and find Carrara and its marble quarry! oh darn….

Resources

Carrara Nevada

Cararra, NV as seen from US 95 south to Beatty, NV
Cararra, NV as seen from US 95 south to Beatty, NV

Carrara Ghost town is a small ghost town and marble mine located about ten miles south of Beatty in Nye County, Nevada on the east side of US 95.

In 1904 first attempts to quarry the high quality marble at the Carrara site. These initial efforts failed with the inability to produce larger slabs from the highly fractured and unstable marble.  More suitable deposits of marble are found in 1911. The American Carrara Marble Company laid out the Carrara town. The town was named for Carrara, Italy, which produced world class marble. 

A Metropolis in waiting

The marble is hauled by a standard cable railway down three miles from the quarry to town. This designed utilized town cars on a single track. At the midway point, siding in the tracked allowed the two trains to pass each other in opposing directions. The car at the top of the track loaded with marble would supply all the pull the empty car at the bottom of the track up the mountain on a free return.

Rail lines were already available in the Vegas and Tonopah Railroad. Water is pumped from Gold Center, NV using a nine mile long pipe line. The supply was generous enough to allow the town to boast a town fountain, which would shoot water six feet into the air. The fountain was built by the Marble Company to promote the appearance of longevity for the fledgling town.

The rail road line to town is completed in 1914. Soon thereafter, large marble blocks, which could weight up to 15 tons, are shipped to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, the large marble blocks are cut to size, finished and polished.

Eventually, the company with founded the town lost profits. The towns people saw hardship and soon moved away. With the exception of a few hangers on, the town is gone in 1924.

Carrara Nevada in Nye County
Carrara Nevada in Nye County

The town boasted a newspaper appropriately named the Carrara Obelisk ( 5/8/1913 – 09/1916 ), a post office, hotel, store, saloon and restaurant to serve the 150 people who called the place home. The site contained  about 40 buildings. The post office was open from May 5, 1913 to September 15, 2914.

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Resources

Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps

Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps - By Stanley W. Paher
Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps – By Stanley W. Paher

Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps is a wonderful book written by Stanley W. Paher and published by Nevada Publications. The book is Copyright 1970 and contains 492 pages of “Brillantly illustrated with 700 historic and modern photographs; with numerous maps, complete index, appendix and bibliography.” This book contains information and stories from more than 575 mining sites and ghost towns in Nevada.

My copy of this book was purchased by my father for $15 at a thrift store. The pages are dog eared and well worn and covered in yellow post-it notes for later reference. The book is wonderfully organized, the source of a lot of great information about the early days of Nevada mining. The stories, photographs paint a fantastic picture of the rough and rugged individuals who settled my new home state. In many ways, the enjoyment and knowledge that I have, is based and builds upon the great work of Mr. Paher.

Stanley Paher grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and jeeped thousands of miles over the rough roads of back country Nevada. He graduated from Sacramento State with a B.A. in English. He continued his educations at the University of Nevada, where, in 1969 he earned a Masters Degree in Political Science.

The book is available for purchase from Amazon and quite a hefty price on this writing, however you can find it much cheaper at various other online stores.

Anyone who is at all interested in ghost towns, mining or Nevada history really needs a copy of this book in his/her library.

ISBN-13: 978-0913814048

ISBN-10: 0913814040

Additional Reading

Zebra Tailed Lizard ( Callisaurus draconoides )

The Zebra-Tailed Lizard is a medium sized lizard which features a long black and white striped tail and commonly found in California, Arizona and Nevada. Additional coloring includes two rows of brown / bray spots down the middle of the back, and is often marked with cream colored spots. The males boast belly bars which range in color from blue to yellow and orange. The females belly bars are often much more muted or lacking completely.

A male Zebra-Tailed Lizard ( Callisaurus draconoides )
A male Zebra-Tailed Lizard ( Callisaurus draconoides )

This animal is commonly between 4 and 6 inches in length from snout to vent and its regenerative tail may double to overall length of this animal. The female lays a clutch of up to 15 eggs, however the more common number is between 2 and 8 eggs. A healthy population will host between 4 and 6 lizards per acre, however the number seems much higher when they are darting around you in the Mojave, Great Basin or Sonaran deserts

The Zebra tails are frequently found at elevations up to 5,000 feet. The are usually found in areas which have sandy soils and open spaces in which they can run. An ambush predator, the lizard will often lie in way for its dinner to walk by and is known to feed on bees, wasps, beetles, caterpillars, ants and grasshoppers. Additionally it is known to consume other small lizards and spiders.

Very tolerant of the high heat of the desert in which it lives, the feisty lizard is known to be active during the high temperatures of the summer sun when most animals seek shade and go underground. These lizards are know to alternately stand on opposing feet and alternate between then two stances as a means of protection from the harsh landscapes in which it lives. During the cooler nights, the lizard may burrow down into fine sane, however is also known to sleep on the surface on warm nights.

When spotted by a predator, the reptile will curl its boldly stripped tail over its head which may serve notice to the predator that it was spotted. When needed a quick burst of speed will serve as the best prevention to being a meal to larger animals.

A Zebra Tailed lizard photographed ny my lovely wife in the Ivanpah Mountains of California.
A Zebra Tailed lizard photographed ny my lovely wife in the Ivanpah Mountains of California.