Ashford Mill (Death Valley National Park)

The Ashford brother (Henry, Harold, and Louis) discovered gold in the area in 1907, on land that was owned by the Key Gold Mining Company. The brothers filed a claim, but Key Gold Mining Company refused it. The brothers argued that KGMC hadn’t done the required annual assessment work to keep the claim valid. Three years later the brothers won their right to the claim, and began mining the Golden Treasure Mine.

In 1914, the Ashford Brothers leased the mine to a Hungarian Nobleman by the name of Count Kramer, who in turn leased the mine to Benjamin W. McCausland, a Los Angeles oil man.

In 1915, McCausland began developing the mine, and built the Ashford Mill (the sign at the ruins states 1914, however numerous sources state that the mill wasn’t built until 1915). When the supplies arrived to build the mill, McCausland realized he was shipped twice the amount of cement than he had ordered. The company told him to keep the extra, the cost of returning it would have been too high.  McCausland used the extra cement and built the walls of the mill extra thick.

September of that same year, McCausland abandoned the mine and his newly constructed mill, having found that much of the high-grade ore had already been removed. McCausland defaulted on his payments, and a lawsuit soon followed, awarding the property back to the Ashford Brothers along with all equipment that remained at the site.

Over the next 25 years the Ashfords leased the mine to several individuals and companies. With each lessee having the same results. 1941 was the last year of any activity at the mine or mill. The Ashfords never made a profit.

Today nothing but a few cement walls remain standing.

 

 

 

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.