The Eclipse Mine was the first mine to operate in Owens Valley, operating on and off from 1860 – 1980s. The most significant years being from 1860 – 1912. It was originally owned by the Union Mining Company, whom in turn sold it to a small English mining firm going under the name Eclipse Gold Mining Company, for $150,000. In 1874 ten men where working The Eclipse Mine. In 1875 the 20-stamp mill was completed, as well a 3-mile tram way that connected the mine with the mill. In 1876 The Eclipse shipped $18,346 worth of bullion, and by 1877 they expanded the mill by adding 10 additional stamps. Despite the addition of the 10 stamps, The Eclipse was operating at a loss and the English decided to sell the property. The Eclipse was purchased by a group of local merchants lead by A. W. Eibeshutz. The new owners changed the name of the mine to The Brown Monster. They pressed on, and built an additional 30-stamp mill ten miles away along the Owens River. In 1878 the main vein was discovered.
In 1880 the Carson and Colorado narrow gauge railroad was incorporated, and by 1883 the line ran from Carson City, NV to Keeler in the Owens Valley. The tracks ran within a mile of the site of The Brown Monster, which began to provide easy access to haul in equipment and miners.
Eibeschutz began running into some financial difficulty by 1885, he had spent a considerable amount of his money suing the English company that had previous operated as The Eclipse Gold Mining Company. That same year he began leasing the mine to Tom Bastion.
From 1886 through 1896 there is little to no recorded history of the mines. In 1896 the Hirsch mine had been renamed the Reward, the shaft had reached down to 115 feet, and 25 men were employed by the company.
The town site of Reward officially came to be in 1900 with the opening of the Post Office. The Post Office would only stay open for six years, they would close their doors in 1906. A school house was built in 1903. No documentation was found on any additional businesses, services or even population of the town site.
In 1902, A. W. Eibeshutz sold The Brown Monster Mine to the owners of the Reward Mine, for $15,000. In 1903, the 30-stamp mill was dismantled and replaced by a 20-stamp mill which was located at the mine site and connected to the upper workings by a gravity tram. A. J. McCone and Associates took over the mines in 1910. In 1911 the mines and facilities had an overhaul, and electrical lines were constructed across the Owens Valley to bring power to the mines. In 1912 mining ceased to install a cyanide plant; the mine remained closed until 1932.
From 1932 through the 1980’s the mines at Reward would change ownership a handful of times, the last being International Recovery of Los Angeles. From 1889 to 1951 the Reward mines produced $600,000 (19,370 oz.) of gold, 102,600 oz. of silver, 30,900 lb. of copper and 203,300 lb. of lead (Conrad et al., 1987). Figures from 1952 on are not available.
Visiting Reward today you will find a number of stone building ruins and foundations, along with ore bins, head frames, and other long inoperational mining equipment. The mines are left wide open, and there are plenty of tailings to sort through.