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Wayne Hsieh / 5,060 items

N 2 B 29 C 0 E Nov 13, 2014 F Dec 25, 2014
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Rhyolite, the most famous ghost town in the Death Valley area, was created in 1905 after two prospectors, Frank "Shorty" Harris and Ernest "Ed" Cross came across the area after failing to strike it rich in the Funeral Mountains (in the center distance). While looking for their burros, the prospectors came across a rich vein of gold: "The rock was green, almost like turquoise, spotted with big chunks of yellow metal, and looked a lot like the back of a frog."

The two quickly told Montillus Beatty, and news reached Ernest Montgomery, who rushed over to what is now the ghost town of Bullfrog. After a few failed attempts, and with the help of a Shoshone named Hungry Johnny and a prospector named Al James, Montgomery struck a rich vein with gold assayed at $16000 a ton. With that, the Bullfrog Hills Gold Rush was on. In a month, the town of Rhyolite sprang up, centered around the Montgomery Shoshone Mine, with a population of 1200. Half a year later, it was at 2500. Montgomery sold his mine to industrialist Charles Schwab in 1906, and the latter quickly set up water piping, electricity, and a railroad spur. By 1907, the population peaked at 4000, with thousands more in surrounding communities, and boasted concrete sidewalks, electricity, water mains, telephone and telegraph lines, newspapers, magazines, police and fire departments, a hospital, a school, a train station and railway depot, three banks, a stock exchange, an opera house, a public swimming pool and two church buildings. The 1908 John S. Cook and Co. Bank (center), built of Italian marble at a cost of $90000, dominated the town. The stock market hummed away, shares of the 74 mines in the area quickly growing from 6000 to 750000.

Things came to a head in 1908 when an independent evaluation found that the shares of the mines were grossly overvalued, leading to a massive crash. Though many mines were still profitable, the town quickly began to decline. The 1906 Great San Francisco Earthquake and the Panic of 1907 soon lead to even greater devaluations and more people left. By 1910, the population was less than 700, by 1922, there was 1 individual who died in 1924. Now protected under the BLM, Rhyolite is now a popular tourist stop on the way to Death Valley.
Beatty, Nevada

Tags:   Rhyolite ghost town Bullfrog Hills gold rush abandoned Cook Bank Nevada

N 1 B 20 C 0 E Dec 25, 2014 F Dec 25, 2014
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Established on the banks of the Amargosa River in 1905 following the Bullfrog Hills Gold Rush, by Ernest Montgomery, who also founded the (ghost) town of Ballarat and owned mines in the rising town of Rhyolite, Beatty was named after local rancher Montillus Beatty. Serving as the main transit hub of the Bullfrog Mining District, Beatty became the terminus of the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad (LV&T) in 1906 and the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad (BG) and the Tonopah and Tidewater (T&T) in 1907, and the center of town was the Montgomery Hotel. Ernest Montgomery later sold the hotel to industrialist Charles Schwab, who sold it to a Dr. William Phillips, who quickly became the town's most eager promoter, dreaming of grandiose projects and claiming to make Beatty the "Chicago of the West". After a year of briskly selling lots, he skipped town.

By 1909, the population around Beatty (including the Bullfrog Mining District) was near 10000. But just as suddenly as the rush went started, ended. By 1912 the strike was over and the population crashed, and by the 1920s, the population was a bit more than 100. It slowly grew since then, helped by construction at Scotty's Castle and the rising tourist trade to Death Valley, which became a National Monument in 1933. The population has stabilized at around 1000, excepting a brief surge when a new mine opened in 1988 when the population doubled, only to crash down again when the mine closed ten years later. Still, the town does a brisk trade as the "Gateway to Death Valley" and is the lone survivor of the Bullfrog Mining District, surrounded by the ruins of Gold Center, Bullfrog, Amargosa, Bonanza, and the most famous of them all, Rhyolite.
Beatty, Nevada

Tags:   Beatty Nevada Bullfrog Hills Gold Rush

N 0 B 28 C 0 E Dec 25, 2014 F Dec 25, 2014
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Into the Funeral Mountains through Daylight Pass, back towards Nevada. The name Hells Gate is unclear, I've heard one interpretation is there being an abrupt temperature shift descending from the mountains. Titus Canyon, a narrow canyon, is behind the peaks.
Daylight Pass, Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek, California

Tags:   Death Valley National Park California Furnace Creek Daylight Pass Nevada

N 1 B 18 C 0 E Dec 25, 2014 F Dec 25, 2014
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In the decades since its discovery in 1849, Death Valley was prospected (like much of California) for gold or silver. These largely turned up empty. However after large deposits of Borate, important in cosmetics and detergents, were discovered in the area in 1882, William Coleman and Francis Smith established the Harmony Works, which processed Borax here by boiling the borate in water and then letting it precipitate in settling wells. The works were later purchased by Francis "Borax" Smith, who aggressively promoted "20-Mule-Team Borax" throughout the country and contributed to making Death Valley a household name. The Harmony Works here were abandoned in 1889 when the company moved mining operations towards Barstow.
Harmony Borax Works, Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek, California

Tags:   Death Valley National Park California Furnace Creek Harmony Borax Works abandoned ruins

N 1 B 25 C 0 E Dec 25, 2014 F Dec 25, 2014
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The most famous export of Death Valley was not silver or gold but borax, Na2B4O7ยท10H2O, which has a variety of functions but is mostly used for laundry detergent. From 1883, after the Pacific Coast Borax Company took over operations in Death Valley, to 1889, when the operations were closed and moved South, borax was shipped out by the "Twenty Mule Teams" to the nearest rail junction at Daggett, California 275km away. These teams, actually made up of 9 teams of mules and 1 team of horses at the wagons, hauled two massive wagons 4.9m long and 1.8m deep, as well as a water tank. The train could carry 9 metric tons of borax for a total weight of 33.2 metric tons, some of the largest wagons pulled by draft animals. The horses would control movement of the wagons, while the sure-footed mules provided the endurance. In 6 years of operation, the trains pulled out some 9000 metric tons of ore over a 10-day trip, and never had a recorded breakdown.

The 20-mule team came to public attention thanks to Francis (Borax) Smith of the PCBC, who sent out the teams to major US cities, several World's Fairs, and President Woodrow Wilson's Inauguration to offer samples of their product. Though the 20-Mule Teams were eventually replaced by trains and trucks, the name lives on in "20 Mule Team Borax" offered by the Dial Corporation,
Harmony Borax Works, Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek, California

Tags:   Death Valley National Park California Furnace Creek Harmony Borax Works abandoned ruins Twenty Mule Team 20-Mule wagons


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