Mining History of Death Valley, California

Death Valley is situated in California and is one of the oldest mining areas in the US. Now it has been turned into a National Park, which does mean that no mining or prospecting is currently allowed in the park.

Nevertheless, the area still features an extremely rich history for miners and should potentially be a great place to explore. There are also areas just outside of the park that also have gold mining opportunities.

We have done some additional research surrounding the area in California, to see how the mining boom started and what you will be able to do today if you visit Death Valley. We have also looked at some of the top minerals found in the area and whether or not you will be allowed to go prospecting in the area.


Death Valley Mining History


The first major gold discovered in California in 1948 was also one of the biggest booms in history. The state of California experienced this amazing gold rush for over 140 years.

In Death Valley, the mining started around the 1890s, but it was generally quite sporadic and limited. This was due to the lack of fresh water and old equipment that could not really get the job done. While occasionally, the higher grade ores were mined, it was quite tough to mine the lower-grade ores with the technology of the time and still remain profitable.

Borax deposits were the main mineral mined here at the start, but due to the remoteness of the area, it became a little too expensive to continuously keep up the mining. The borax was transported with 20 mules to the railhead at Mojave and the borax products were advertised on the side of these mules, which eventually spike a boom in the tourism.

In 1927, the visitors were flocking in and they camped at the Borax Companyís developed Greenland Ranch. The company eventually built a few cabins for these tourists and with better accommodation, the amount of tourists also increased, which subsequently raised the revenue of the company. This allowed for more serious mining for the time being.

Gold and Talc were some of the major resources that were found in Death Valley. The first gold was actually found in 1849 by a group of Mormon Missionaries. This led many people back to the region and gold mining also started, but it was also cut short due to the remoteness of the area.

While Death Valley was never one of the top producing gold mining areas, Skidoo definitely was. Skidoo was founded in 1906 and used a water pipe that stretched 21 miles from Telescope Peak. The mines yielded around $1.5 million in Gold in 1917.

Little remains of the area now and it once had a population of around 700 people.


Death Valley Today


Today Death Valley is a National Park so naturally none of the mines are active anymore.

Death Valley features many opportunities that you could enjoy and also see the greatness of the nature surrounding it. It is an amazing place to explore.

There is definitely still gold in this desert. In fact, there are likely some very rich areas that a could be mined today if there was access, but unfortunately the National Park status prevents any form of prospecting within the boundaries of the park. Any removal of material could result in serious trouble.

The old mines are still very interesting places to visit though, even if you canít look for gold anymore.


Visiting Death Valley


Taking the family out on an outing is great and Death Valley will be a good break away from the rush of the city. Death Valley might not be the mining legend it once was, but the history is certainly enough for us. The beauty of the nature surrounding these mine remnants will clear your mind and you will have a vacation.

Keep the weather in mind when you visit Death Valley. It gets its name for a reason, with summer temperatures that are often the hottest in the entire country. Always go into the desert prepared for extreme heat and harsh conditions.

Metal Detecting for Gold Nuggets

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