Potosi Nevada

Potosi Nevada is the oldest lode mine in Nevada and the town site is located just off highway 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada.  The site was started in 1856 by some Mormon prospectors who were lead to the location with the help of a Piute guide.  The Mormons found the site in April 1856 and a month latter it was named Potosi after the boyhood home of Nathaniel Jones.  They did not begin mining until August after a return trip to Utah for supplies.  

Potosi mine, south center of sec. 12, T. 23 S., R. 57 E., the mine workings explore a zone at the base of the Yellowpine limestone. Clark County, Nevada. Circa 1921. Plate 33-B in U.S. Geological Survey. Professional paper 162. 1931.
Potosi mine, south center of sec. 12, T. 23 S., R. 57 E., the mine workings explore a zone at the base of the Yellowpine limestone. Clark County, Nevada. Circa 1921. Plate 33-B in U.S. Geological Survey. Professional paper 162. 1931.

By September, the first wagon of ore sent back to Utah for trading and three months later three wagons returned with supplies including bellows, furnace, and hearths among other things.  On Christmas day 1856, an crude adobe furnace was used to smelt ore.

In the spring of 1861, a larger smelter was setup by the Colorado Mining Company at the Potosi Spring.  News of new silver mine spread all over the west in no time.  The town of Potosi was setup 700 feet below of the Potosi Mine or the Las Vegas Silver Mines as they were called and was soon home to 100 miners.

Carol Lombard was killed on a Douglas DC-3, Jan 16, 1942 on Mt Potosi
Carol Lombard was killed on a Douglas DC-3, Jan 16, 1942 on Mt Potosi

The site continued to slowly grow and develop until 1906.  In 1913 the Empire Zinc Company purchased the rights and was soon Potosi was Nevada’s largest producer of Zinc.  After nearly 100 years of production Potosi produced about 4.5 million in lead, silver and zinc.

Town Summary

NamePotosi
LocationClark County, Nevada
GNIS849366
Latitude, Longitude35.9708047, -115.5408395
Elevation5705
Population100
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Cerro Gordo California

Located in the Inyo Mountains on the eastern side of Owens Valley, Cerro Gordo California is a currently a ghost town after almost 100 years in operation from 1866 to 1957.  Several buildings still survive, including the general store, assay offices and hoist house. Cerro Gordo, spanish for “Fat Hill” is located on private land and permission to visit must should be obtained.

Cerro Gordo overlooking the then full Owens Lake.
Cerro Gordo overlooking the then full Owens Lake.

The town site is currently on the ridge of the mountain range, and accessible from either the western side in Owens Valley, or from the East from the Saline Valley Road.  Founding of the site is credited to Pablo Flores who began mining near Buena Vista Peak.  Initial development of the area was hindered by Native American activity in the area.  The establishment of Fort Indepence helped “control” this activity and the amount of activity in Cerro Gordo increased.  Early efforts were primitive with most mines being open pits or trenches and smelting was done in adobe ovens.

Mortimer Belshaw
Mortimer Belshaw

The location began to develop with the foundation of the first store at Cerro Gordo by Independence businessman Victor Beaudry.  He soon acquired several claims in exchange for payment of debt at his store and soon built two smelters.  

In 1868, Mortimer Belshaw established a partnership with another stakeholder the Union Mine.  He secured financing from Los Angeles, and built the first road, a toll road known as the “Yellow Road”, which gave him a lot of control over shipments coming down the mountain.

Cerro Gordo was famously a rough and tumble town and claims that a murder a week was commonplace. Water is not available at the townsite and several attempts were made from bring the life sustaining liquid to the town. For a time, water was piped in from several springs many miles away. The springs dried up when the Owens Lake was drained by Los Angeles in the 1920’s. Water was brought up by burro and for a time it was pumped up from 600 feet down the Union Mine. The ore was delivered down hill to Keeler utilizing an aerial tramway. From Keeler, the ore was transported some 275 miles to the small port city of Los Angeles.

The townsite was place for sale and the ghost town was sold for $1.4 million dollars along with some 360 acres surrounding and 22 structures remaining. The development group which features Brent Underwood is hoping to turn the town into a destination of sorts. While undergoing renovations, the American Hotel burnt down on June 15th, 2020 along with the ice house and a nearby residence. Brent Underwood is currently living full time in the town and uploads videos about once per week on a YouTube channel.

It is clear from his videos that Mr. Underwood has a passion for the area, the town, the history and some point, I would love to pay him a visit.

Town Summary

NameCerro Gordo
LocationInyo County, California
Latitude, Longitude36.53771, -117.795031
GNIS220862
Elevation8500 feet
Population4000

Cerro Gordo Trail Map

Resources

Anniversary Mine and Narrows

The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool.  Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

The Anniversary Mine and Narrows trail is truly a fun place to go and the location has a little bit of everything. This is a very short side trail found off the northern shore of Lake Mead and suitable for almost any vehicle.

Located in the Muddy Mountain Wilderness of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Anniversary Mine was founded in 1921.  The colomanite mine operated at seven years until 1928 and produced an estimation 200,000 tons of ore.  The mine is located a short ways off North Shore Road (167).  There exist some foundations, and tunnels along with some minor infrastructure of the operation.

The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool.  Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
The narrows near the Anniversary Mine are a fun place to hike and keep cool. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Should you drive down into the wash you have the opportunity to continue on to the left, or you can turn right and drive towards the mine narrows located at the end of the canyon.  The only obstacle is right at the beginning and and easy to get past with some clearance. Once past the trail is just a wash, but do yourself a favor.  Park the 4×4 and take the time to walk it. Just past the beginning obstacle, there are some tunnels about 20 feet up on the side of the canyon wall, which are fun hike up to and explore.

Leaving the side trail from the Anniversary Mine, Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Leaving the side trail from the Anniversary Mine, Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

There are things to explore all along the route to the narrows and it is a great excuse the get out of the truck.  The slot canyon is about 1/4 of a mile in length and a bit tight in the few places. This is a nice place to hike on a hot day.

Anniversary Mine 4×4 Trail and Destination

Alabama Hills

Located near Lone Pine, CA the Alabama Hills are an awesome spot to visit and explore in Inyo County.  Large boulder formations erupt from the ground and create a maze of canyons, trails and roads. This feature in itself, is more than enough fun to justify a trip to this area, however add to the equation that the Alabama Hills has appeared in more Hollywood movies than one person can name and you have the perfect combination of terrain and nostalgic history.

Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California
Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, California

The location are featured in many “Western” movies and is the birth place of the Lone Ranger, Star Trek and Iron Man. A final punctuation mark is the area is located in the foothills of Mount Whitney (14,505 ft), the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

Access to the locations is extremely easy, just follow Whitney Portal Road west out of Lone Pine, and take a right turn on  Movie Road. From here the possibilities are almost endless. The BLM publishes the “Movie Road Touring Brochure” which gives directions on how to find the film locations of some of your favorite movies.

Looking down on the Alabama Hills and Owens Valley from Whitney Portal
Looking down on the Alabama Hills and Owens Valley from Whitney Portal

There is an over-abundance of camping locations within this location.  I would love to camp in this site, with the only draw back being the number of tourists driving the trails. This is actually a big draw back for me.  Most of the trails are easily accessible by almost any vehicle on the market. My last trip, we saw a brand new Porsche driving movie road.  

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California
Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

The routes are short and easy traisl, however, there are a labyrinth of roads and canyons to explore and get lost. The fun can be search for and finding the filming locations of some of your favorite movies or televisions shows..

The area is managed by BLM. Camping is allowed by the BLM, however camping should follow all rules, regulations and the leave no trace principles in order to protect this resource and camping destination. Personally, my preference is to camp at the nearby Tuttle Creek, Lone Pine, or Mt. Whitney campgrounds.

Take your time and enjoy.

Alabama Hills Trail Map

Resources

Ubehebe Lead Mine

The Ubehebe Lead Mine is located just west of the Racetrack Playa Road off of the Bonnie Claire Road.  Discovered in 1906, the mine is located on the west side of the Racetrack valley just south of Teakettle junction.    The site was started as a copper mine and during to coarse of its operation would produce lead, copper, gold and zinc.

Ubehebe Lead Mine Trail sign located just off of the Racetrack, Death Valley, CA
Ubehebe Trail sign located just off of the Racetrack, Death Valley, CA

In February, 1908 a large eight foot thick vein of lead ore which was perceived to run through the mountain changed the mines name and destiny.  In order to prepare, the site hauled in 26,000 lbs of provisions to feed and supply a crew of eight men for the duration of the summer.   When processed the order produced significantly lower than expected.  The lack of water, remote location and less than desirable returns caused production of the Ubehebe Lead Mine to be sporadic.

Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA
Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA

The site currently has a main adit which is blocked off about 10 feet inside of the entrance.  Several other adits are located up the hillside and all are blocked to entry at this time.  There are a few collapsed buildings of light construction that have given their all against the harsh environment and several foundations are also evident.  An aerial tramway was built to the northern works and a single tramway cable is still suspended and connected to tramway on the ridge above.

Exploring the Ubehebe Mine tails pile, Death Valley, CA
Exploring the Ubehebe Mine tails pile, Death Valley, CA

The entire area has undergone extensive washing: bits of rail and pipe sections lie about near the mine, as do crockery fragments, pieces of glass, and tin cans that have worked down from the camp site. The several dumps nearby contain nothing of historical significance.

Looking back at the jeep, Death Valley National Park, CA
Looking back at the jeep, Death Valley National Park, CA
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