Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tonopah Historic Mining Park 7/15/2011

The mining park

Coming back from Southern California I visited the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. The Park is 110 acres in size and has many of the original silver mines in the area including the Silver Top, Mizpah, Desert Queen and Grizzly. The hoist works at the Silver Top and Mizpah were pariculary interesting. The park has been voted one of Nevada's Top Rural Museums and is well worth a visit. If you stay in town the entry fee is $4. The Mining Park is open 7 days a week April thru September from 9 to 5.

History: The silver rush in Tonopah started in the spring of 1900 when prospector Jim Butler, traveling to the mining camp of Southern Klondike, decided to have samples of rock tested for minerals in the San Antonio Range. When the ore was analyzed the assayer in Belmont found each ton of ore had 640 ounces of silver and $206 in gold. Butler would not return to Tonopah springs until six months later to stake claims. The first claim Butler and his wife made was the Desert Queen. Butler's wife made a claim at the Mizpah (it was a rarity in the west for women to stake claims at mines). However, at first it cost an extraordinary amount of money to transport the ore to smelters so production remained small. Butler began to lease out his claims in December of 1900 for a year. All he asked was 25 percent of the gross output. Ore piled up because of the poor transportation infrastructure.

In January of 1902 Butler sold his mining rights to a group from Philadelphia who organized the Tonopah Mining Company. At about the same time a long epidemic plagued Tonopah causing about 1300 people to leave. After the 30 day epidemic, Tonopah entered a period of stability with few robberies and little violence. In 1902 town had 32 saloons, hotels and stores bolstered by rich ore strikes at the Desert Queen, Montana- Tonopah and North Star. However, the town was still plagued by transportation issues keeping its production down.

The completion of the narrow-gauge railroad in July 1904 helped to increase production at the mines and the town's importance. The railroad was named the Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad. In 1904 the County seat was moved from Belmont. In 1906 and 1907 total production surpassed $10 million. In 1908 the expensive Mizpah Hotel opened helping to put Tonopah on the map with wealthy east coast citizens. Through 1921 total silver production was $120 million. Production stayed at around one million through World War II. (Information from Tonopah: Silver Camp of Nevada By: Stanley Paher)

The Desert Queen mine headframe

The trestle on Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad

The steel headframe at the Mizpah Mine.
This would also be known as the Belle's Mine.

The hoist works at the Mizpah

The headframe of the Grizzly peaking out behing tailings

The shallow shafts made by the leasers

The loader at the Grizzly Mine

Hoist works at the Grizzly Mine

One of the stamps from the nearby 10 stamp mill.