Viking Talc Mine

Viking Talc Mine - Wood dormitory style housing at The Viking Talc Mine

 

The Viking Talc Mine is an interesting stop along Saline Valley Road, just a couple of miles from the pavement of Highway 190. Like many of these smaller mining operations, finding historical data is difficult. What little I have managed to gather comes from a 1942, U.S. Geological Survey titled, “Talc deposits of steatite grade, Inyo County, California.”

At the time of the report, Edith Lockhart of Darwin owned the Viking Talc, and had leased it to a Mr. Wilcox in April of that same year.

Much had likely changed since this report was published, however at the time, the following specifications had been reported:

“There is a 20-foot shaft on the premises with two drifts at the bottom, one extending 20 feet and the other about 100 feet eastward. These workings are partly in talc and partly in country rock. On the surface 50 feet east of the shaft there are a 30-foot trench and a short adit that exposes 1 foot to ? feet of talc; 15 feet farther east, a pit exposes 2 to 3 feet of talc in stringers.”

“The rocks are similar to those at other talc mines in this region. Light-gray to black massive dolomite predominates, but within it is an intermittent, apparently steeply dipping strip of silica rock that resembles piartzite. The talc occurs sporadically and irregularly along this siliceous material, and probably was derived from it.”

“The talc is white, opaque, blocky, and soft. It has some superficial orange-red stains (which are commonplace in the district) and a few limonite cubes. No sample was taken, but nearly all the talc in the district is of steatite grade except where obvious impurities are too abundant.”

Three buildings remain standing at the Viking Talc Mine, two of which are large identical wood buildings. These wooden buildings likely served as dormitory style housing for mine workers. The other is a large stone structure, which also contains a wooden addition.  The wooden addition has been turned into a “cabin” style retreat, but very barebones.

The mine itself is located roughly a half-mile up canyon. Wood headframes remain in place, allowing a glimpse of the past.  The mine shafts are all vertical, and remain open for exploration (remember: “stay out, stay alive”). 

The Viking Talc Mine - The stone building at the Viking Talc Mine.

The Viking Talc Mine – The stone building at the Viking Talc Mine.

 

The Viking Talc Mine - Where there is a mine, there is always a can dump.

The Viking Talc Mine – Where there is a mine, there is always a can dump.

 

The Viking Talc Mine - An interest mix of a headframe and sleuth box combination.

The Viking Talc Mine – An interest mix of a headframe and sleuth box combination.

 

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.