Death Valley Mine / Dawson Camp (Mojave National Preserve)

Death Valley Mine - This two-story home is the first thing that will greet you upon your arrival.

Death Valley Mine – This two-story home is the first thing that will greet you upon your arrival.

 

Based on the name of this abandoned mine  you would expect that it would be located within Death Valley, however it actually sits roughly seventy miles from Death Valley’s most southern border in the Mojave National Preserve on the North East Slope of the New York Mountains.

The Death Valley Mine was founded in 1906, by a gentleman that resided in nearby Kelso by the name J. L. Bright. Bright sold the mine to the Death Valley Gold Milling and Mining Company of Denver in July of that same year. A camp by the name of Dawson sprung up near the Death Valley Mine, named after the directors of the company, the Dawson brothers. The camp served as a community for the workers of not only the Death Valley Mine, but other mines that played a part in the Cima Mining District.

The first load of ore left the Death Valley Mine that same July. Wagons full of ore were hauled to Cima where it was transferred to the Salt Lake Railroad and California Eastern and delivered to the smelter in Needles, CA. The July 22nd edition of the Los Angeles Herald reported that, “A carload a week is now being shipped from the Death Valley mine to the smelter. The ore is said to average $60 or better to the ton. The values are mainly in silver.”

 

Death Valley Mine - Smaller, single-story home.

Death Valley Mine – Smaller, single-story home.

 

In September of 1907, Death Valley Gold Milling and Mining Company and neighboring Arcalvada Mining and Milling Company consolidated their efforts and became known as the Death Valley-Arcalvada Consolidated Mines Company. Between the two mines seventy-five men were employed in November of 1907.  Total haul for 1907 is estimated at around 75,000 ounces of silver.

In June of 1908, the company became involved in litigation that lasted until 1915. Immediately out of litigation the mine was sold, and had its most prosperous years between 1917 – 1921. In 1927 the mill and underground workings caught fire, however the mine was continued to be worked into the 1930’s.

Death Valley Mine would be revived one last time in the 1950’s before fading into the Ghost Mine and camp in which it is today. Total production value for the entire life of the mine is unknown, but pre-1930 estimates indicate roughly $131,000.00.

 

Death Valley Mine - Steel headframe, and hoist.

Death Valley Mine – Steel headframe, and hoist.

 

Today a number of structures survive including a large two-story home, a small single story home, as well a number of shops and sheds of sort. All of the buildings you are free to roam and explore as well as the grounds around the mine and camp. Mining equipment litters the landscape, most from the 1950’s reactivation. One of the most unusual finds is the steel headframe, and intact lift hoist.  There are currently no private property signs despite the locked gate to keep vehicles from entering.

For me the Death Valley Mine was one of my favorite ghost mines / camps that I have had the pleasure of visiting in the past year due to the volume of buildings and equipment that is still present. Kudos to the Mojave National Preserve for not destroying these historic and cultural artifacts from a bygone era like so many National Parks and BLM managed areas have.

 

Death Valley Mine - Engine house (complete with engine), and workshop.

Death Valley Mine – Engine house (complete with engine), and workshop.

 

 

 

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.

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