Mojave Mining District (Gold Town & Reefer City, CA – Standard Hill)

The Mojave Mining District is located between the towns of Mojave and Rosamond, CA. Access to the area is relatively simple, there are several exits from Highway 14 just outside of the town of Mojave that will take you into the heart of the Mining District.

The Mojave Mining District is made up of five different mountains (hills), Standard Hill, Soledad Mountain, Middle Butte, Tropico Hill, and Gem Hill.  Gold was first discovered in the area in 1894 by George Bowers. The Mojave Mining District despite beginning a year prior to the Randsburg Mining District was always overshadowed by the Rand Mining District until the 1930’s when the Mojave Mining District managed to  produce $12,000,000.00 in gold and silver.  In 1942 the US Government required all unessential mines closed (Limitation Order L-208) due to World War II, sadly like many other mines The Mojave Mining District never recovered from the shut down.

Standard Hill is the location in which George Bowers first found gold in 1894, and what caused the explosion of activity in the district. George’s first mine was called the Yellow Rover Mine. Soon to follow at Standard Hill was the Exposed Treasure and Desert Queen Mines. The Exposed Treasure and Yellow Rover consolidated in 1900, and became the Exposed Treasure Gold Mining Company. Around this same time a 20-stamp mile and cyanide plant was constructed at Standard Hill. In 1921 the name of the operation would be changed from the Exposed Treasure Gold Mining Company to the Standard Mining and Milling Company. The estimated total production of these mines come to around $3,500,000.

Gold Town

Gold Town

 

Whitmore Mine began operation in 1912, Whitmore was located roughly one mile from the Standard group.  The most productive time period for the Whitmore Mine was between 1936 – 1942. 4,500 tons of ore was shipped, which was estimated to be worth around $100,000.  The Yellow Dog Mine which is located just a small stretch north of the Whitmore Mine was located around 1902. There wasn’t much activity at The Yellow Dog until 1922. It was than worked into the early 1930s, and produced close to a quarter of a million dollars.

Today none of the mines are in operation, however there has been a buzz locally for the last couple of years that the mines at Standard Hill will resume operation soon. It’s unsure how much this is rumor, or fact.

You can access some of the mines on Standard Hill. Both the Whitmore and Yellow Dog are easily accessible. The mines within the Standard Group however are completely off limits. The entire area is fenced off, and there really isn’t a great vantage point to get a good look.

The remains of Gold Town are the first thing that you will come to on Silver Queen Road. There are some ruins directly along Silver Queen, and additional ruins along the top of the mountain outside of the Standard Hill mining operations. The history of Gold Town is unclear, it’s listed on few maps and mentioned only a few times in any documents. I’ve found it listed simply as “historical”, but yet in other places I’ve read of it being more of a modern failed subdivision. What the history is here, if any is rather unknown. At the top of the hill there is what appears to be more modern structures (1950’s – 1960’s), as well a number of burnt down buildings,  and  the ruins of a mill.  Empty chemical barrels litter the landscape. If you continue up the road a little further you will come to the locked gate to the Standard Hill mining operations, this is the best vantage point to get a quick glimpse of a few of the mines located within.

Abandoned home in Gold Town.

Abandoned home in Gold Town.

 

Continuing on Silver Queen Road, make a right on Goldtown Road. Before even making the turn you will be able to see the Whitmore Mine on Standard Hill. There are a few dirt roads off of Goldtown Road leading up to the Whitmore. There are a number of abandoned housing structures in the area, including an old railroad car which was a characteristic of nearby Reefer City (we’ll get into that here in a few). Some maps show Whitmore Mine and the surrounding structures as being part of Reefer City, others do not.

To get to the Reefer City town site return to Goldtown Road, and make a right. The town site is just a short distance down the road, however there are no ruins.  The town came to be in 1933 , though never being incorporated it was an official mailing address for a number of decades. Some of you may be wondering about the name Reefer City, considering today “reefer” is a slang word for marijuana. The town was not named for marijuana, the name came from the refrigerated rail cars that were purchased by the mining company to house the miners working the mines. Reefer was the term used for refrigerated rail cars by the railroad industry. When the mine played out in 1942 (Whitmore) Reefer City became a ghost town of roughly 50 rail cars, many of which had extensions and porches built on to them.

A "reefer", likely left over from the days of Reefer City.

A “reefer”, likely left over from the days of Reefer City.

 

In the 1960’s Reefer City had a brief resurgence due to the lack of housing on nearby Edwards Air Force Base. Many of military personnel began renting out the rail cars from the site owner. This continued until sufficient amounts of housing was available in Mojave. In 1971 everything remaining of Reefer City was dismantled and removed by a private salvage company.

 

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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