The Keane Wonder Mine is perhaps the most visited gold mining facility in Death Valley National Park in eastern California. Mining operations began in December 0f 1903 by Jack Keane. Keane and his partner Domingo Etcharren while Keane was prospecting in the Chloride Cliffs of the Funeral mountains. The names was originally called “Keane’s Wonder” when gold and silver were found.
Trying to raise capital, Keane and Etharren sold options to Joseph DeLamar from New York. Despite modest gold production, DeLamar quite his claims. It was not until 1906 when Homer Wilson and John Campbell bought into the mine that operations really starting producing. Homer Wilson was also involved in founding nearby Chloride City.
1907 saw the full operations in place. Operationally, the mine build a tramway up into the mountains, which was used to haul 70 tons of gold rich ore each day. The tramway climbed into the mountains over 1500 feet in elevation and was over one mile long.
The Keane Wonder mine survived the Panic of 1907. Operationally, the lack of water and high desert heat caused the mine to operated in the cooler air of the desert night. The mine continued until 1912, when it was sold and subsequently closed.
The Keane Wonder Mine was included in the founding of Death Valley National Monument. The popular site was closed to visitors by the NPS in 2008 over fears of collapse of underground tunnels, toxins and the structural stability of the cables used in the tramway. The location was opened to the public again in 2017.
Today, the aerial tramway, stamp mill, storage containers and assorted artifacts litter the grounds.