When one thinks of Death Valley National Park the image of pine trees, and forest doesn’t usually enter one’s mind. Rather stark landscapes, brutal heat, and rocks, lots of rocks are what is imagined. This isn’t always the case however, many of the high peeks in Death Valley National Park are blanketed in forest, and even receive a fair amount of powdery white snow during the winter months. The Phinney Mine is one of such places, located in Phinney Canyon at 6,775 feet in the Grapevine Mountains, part of the “Nevada Triangle.”
The Phinney Mine sprang to life during the depression era in the 1930’s as a two man mining operation, with Charles E. and F. C. Phinney, both from Beatty, NV as the proprietors. The two men worked the mine through 1938, shipping a total of fifty ounces of ore, amounting to about $850. Seeing no profitability they abandoned the mine. Charles Phinney and his wife Florence settled in the nearby community of Beatty, NV, where Charles passed in 1951 (NPS has his death as 1952, however cemetery records indicate 1951).
The Phinney Mine can be accessed via a short hike up a side canyon located at 36°57’26.80″N 117° 6’21.70″W. At the mouth of this canyon there is significant traces of a mining camp, including an old metal water tank, advertising “Fotos of Death Valley.” Further up the canyon are the ruins of the mine, including a large can dump, and a collapsed cabin on the side of a ravine. There are two adits, one is partially collapsed at the entrance, while the other remains stable and still contains the ore cart tracks.
To some the Phinney Mine may come across as insignificant, however I find that it is a perfect example of depression era mining. It showcases the struggle of two men that worked hard with minimal supplies, for very little in return. They did this in an environment that was harsh and life threatening, something that we wouldn’t see in today’s society of technology and cushy lifestyles.