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

Johntown Nevada – Lyon County Ghost Town

Located in Gold Canyon between Silver City and Dayton, Johntown Nevada is the first ghost town in Lyon county. None of the buildings are currently standing to mark the site of the original workings. The camp was started as a placer mining operation just off of the road in Gold Canyon in the early 1850s. The initial camp started when James Fenemore setup his tent in the side of the hill and started washing gravel for gold.

Placer mining, 1880s, in Gold Canyon. The original site of Johntown mining settlement , south of Silver, City Nevada - Stanley W. Paher, Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, Howell North, 1970, p 70. courtesy of Nevada Historical Society
Placer mining, 1880s, in Gold Canyon. The original site of Johntown mining settlement , south of Silver, City Nevada – Stanley W. Paher, Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, Howell North, 1970, p 70. courtesy of Nevada Historical Society
Continue Reading →

Mineral Park Arizona – Mohave County Ghost Town

Mineral Park is a ghost town located in Mohave County Arizona founded in 1870. Once started, operations continued until 1912. The journey was tough just to them to get into the area due to the remove location. Prospectors would travel up the Colorado River by steamship and disembark in Hardyville which is overrun by modern Bullhead City, Arizona. Once offloaded, they would need to find their way north about 40 miles across the hot dry desert.

Today, the town site is now covered by a modern mining operation.

Mineral Park, Arizona @1880
Mineral Park, Arizona @1880

The post office was founded on December 31, 1872 and shortly after its formation the town was the county seat for Mohave County. Once mining operations came online, the little town supported a variety of businesses to service operations and the needs of its citizens including lawyers, doctors, blacksmiths, carpenters, hotels, assay offices, smelters saloons and dining halls.

Stamp mill and Mineral Park, Arizona
Stamp mill and Mineral Park, Arizona

The railroards helped boost activity for Mineral Park, when in 1883 rails were installed just 20 miles to the south by the “Atlantic and Pacific” Railroad. The new rail line shortened the distance to transport materials and ore to the location and reduced costs.

Operations continued until 1887 when mine production declined. The county seat was moved to nearby Kingman and the town failed completely in 1912.

The cemetery and some buildings are on private property of the modern mines operations and permission should be sought prior to exploration.

Town Summary

NameMineral Park
LocationMohave County, Arizona
Latitude, Longitude35.3708275, -114.1530103
GNIS8104
Elevation4,252 Feet
Post OfficeDecember 31, 1872 – June 15, 1912
NewspaperThe Mohave County Miner

Mineral Park Map

Resources

Lida Nevada – Esmeralda County Ghost Town

Now on private property, Lida Nevada is a ghost town and mining camp located in Esmeralda County, Nevada just off State Route 266. The area probably saw it first activity in the 1860’s when Mexican and Native Americans worked the surrounding hills for gold. Their efforts were limited by their ability to extract gold from the ore. In the spring of 1867, American prospects arrived in Lida Valley and took steps to organize a mining district.

Lida Tent City in 1905
Lida Tent City in 1905

The town of Lida Valley was organized and plotted in March 1872. The town experienced an influx people and soon supported common business for these mining towns including a livery, stables, shops, saloons and a Post Office. On March 17, 1873, the United States authorized a post office for the small community. There was some confusion caused by the remote region and the post office was authorized for Inyo County, California. This mistake was corrected the following month. April 31, 1873 saw the newly established post office operating as Lida, Nevada.

Freight was brought into Lida from the nearest rail station in Wadsworth. The supplies were hauled into Lida from Silverpeak using a newly build road for $100 per ton. Ore was processed at one of steam powered mills which were constructed and springs in the area. A five stamp mill and an eight stamp mill processed ore and higher quality ore with value of $500 to $1000 per ton was hauled to Belmont and Austin for processing. In the 1870’s mining declined and by the 1880s Lida only had 10 businesses in operation.

In 1905 the town of Goldfield experienced a gold boom. Lida formed a chamber of commerce to capitalize on the event. The weekly Lida Enterprise was published and stage service to Goldfield was established. The springs near Lida helped supply Goldfield utilizing a newly constructed pipe between the towns. An automobile stage was setup in 1905 to provide service between Lida and Big Pine, California.

Prospecting Parties in Lida, Nevada
Prospecting Parties in Lida, Nevada

Lida prospered for about three years until the camp started to decline once again. Important properties were tied up in litigation which hampered the towns growth. Just prior to World War I, schools, hotels and some ranches found operation until the town languished completed.

Today, Lida is on private property.

Known as a contact point for Shoshone and Northern Paiute Indians, Lida Valley was the site of early prospecting in 1860’s.

Later prospectors organized a mining district in 1867 and laid out the town in 1872. Soon stores, shops, stables and a post office were established. Some ore was milled locally, yet high-grade ore ($500-$1,000 per ton) was treated at Austin or Belmont. After 1880 mining declined.

Lida revived and thrived for three years during the Goldfield boom but declined again in 1907. Mining efforts resumed a few years later, and a small community existed here until World War I.

Lida Historical Plaque

Town Summary

NameLida
LocationEsmeralda County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude37.4582807,-117.5068931
Elevation6,810 Feet
GNIS841625
Population300
NewspaperLida Enterprise
Post Office1873 – 1932

Lida Nevada Map

Resources

Columbia Nevada – Esmeralda County Ghost Town

The Columbia Nevada ghost town and mine site is location just one mile north of Goldfield in Esmeralda County Nevada. Originally named Stimler, the town was renamed to Columbia in 1902 in the Goldfield District. The Columbia mines are located near the base of Columbia Mountain which provided the inspiration for the name.

Columbia, Nevada - Paher
Columbia, Nevada – Paher

The various mines in the Goldfield district were spread out into smaller suburbs to prevent the crowding problems which Tonopah suffered. Columbia and Diamondfield are examples of this new practice.

The Columbia Club in the business district of Columbia, Nevada
The Columbia Club in the business district of Columbia, Nevada

Despite the growth of Goldfield, Columbia grew and flourished for a time. A business district which included a two-story hotel, post office and bank was opened in 1904. A Chamber of Commerce was formed by local businessmen to organize and raise $10,000 in capital. This money is used to build a two story edifice on Main Street which housed office suites and a lodge hall.

The small town did suffer from some of the problems of a growing city. New arrivals to the town would commonly squat on lots, alleyways and some buildings before the owners organized and kicked the squatters out. Columbia reached a population of 1,500 people in 1907. During this time, the town was comprised of many wooden and brick two story structures beyond the common tent city, giving the town a feeling of permeance. Regardless, the towns fate was entwined with the success of Goldfield. When interest in Goldfield began to fade in 1908, the nearby sub-urban communities around it followed suite. In 1918 the closing of the districts largest mines of Columbia, sealed the fate of the twon

Town Summary

NameColumbia
LocationEsmeralda County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude37.7243773, -117.2311898
GNIS854790
Elevation5,590 feet
Population1500
Post OfficeNov 1904 –
NewspaperColumbia Topics Oct 14, 1908 – June 24, 1909

Columbia Nevada Map

References