Searles Valley Prior to 1900

After hearing of the success “Borax” Smith was having mining borax in Death Valley John Searles returned Borax flats, a place he had passed through while searching for gold. This time he and his partners filed five claims for minerals on the dry lake that would eventually be named after him. The San Bernardino Borax Mining Co. was formed by John Searles and his partners and it patented even more claims on Searles Lake in 1882.

Placer Mining Claims: 1875/07/16 SKILLINGS EBEN M; SEARLES JOHN W; SEARLES DENNIS; GRESSARD CHARLES

Placer Mining Claims: 1880/02/28 SKILLINGS EBEN M; SEARLES JOHN W; SEARLES DENNIS; GRESSARD CHARLES

Placer Mining Claims 1882/12/15 SAN BERNARDINO BORAX MINING CO

Both Hearst and Haggin were involved in gold mines in Deadwood City, South Dakota. So what were the doing is Searles Valley? They were mining in the Slate Range.

With the discovery of gold near the mouth of New York Canyon, men returned to the mines in the 1870s. George Hearst and associates worked the Lone View and the San Francisco mines in the 1870s and 1880s, and the ore was milled at the Slate Range Millsite, perhaps on the site of the first mill, located between Layton Canyon and New York Canyon. The Copper Queen Mine, later known as the Gold Bottom Mine, is located northwest of Copper Queen Canyon. Located in the 1880s, this mine produced about a million dollars worth of silver-lead ore before it shut down in 1943. Before World War II a twenty-five ton flotation mill was erected west of the mine.

Lode Mining Claims 1880/02/28 REESE D L; HEARST GEORGE; HAGGIN J B

Millsite Claims 1880/02/28 REESE D L; HEARST GEORGE; HAGGIN J B

I believe DL Reese is David Levy Reese, occupation miner, who registered to vote in Kern County in 1867 at age 24. He is quoted in California Journal of Mines and Geology, Volume 8 published about 1888. In the journal he is describing the Joe Walker Gold Mine near Kernville. I have been unable to find any other information about DL Reese.

George Hearst was a miner that struck it rich. He went on to become a senator for the state of California. Hearst became the owner of the San Francisco Examiner as payment for a gambling debt. This was the beginning of the Hearst Publish Empire.

J. B. Haggin’s story can be found in The Successful American, Volume 1, Part 1 – Volume 2, Part 1. He is described as the Copper King and the best known horseman in America.

Additional information about Argus and Slate Range mines can be found at Desert Fever.

 

 

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