DEATH VALLEY PROJECT & HISTORIC OVERVIEW
The project documents the remains of three early twentieth century gold mining operations in Death Valley. Today these mining ruins are located on public lands within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park, (DEVA) and are considered cultural resources that reveal valuable information about historic technological processes and the cultural fabric of industrialization in the American west. DEVA was established as a national monument in 1933, and has since been expanded, making it second in size only to the vast Wrangell-St.Elias National Park in Alaska. The 3.3 million acre park is located in southeastern California's Mojave Desert. Gold prospecting began in Death Valley as early as 1849 with the first pioneer wagon trains passing through on their way to the Los Angeles and western California gold fields. Although these early attempts to cross the valley were not specifically prospecting expeditions and were doomed by the extreme environment, they did spread the news that gold and silver were to be found in promising quantities. The most significant gold mining activities began later though, in the 1880s, and continued well into the twentieth century, covering a period of 120 years. While many of these ventures were hopeful for large-scale industrial development and attracted the attention of larger investors, gold mining in Death Valley is best described as sporadic. None of the sites now within DEVA boundaries amounted to more than small to mid-scale operations. For example, Keane Wonder and Skidoo, two of the three sites documented, were the largest of their time in Death Valley, each taking just around one million dollars in gold over about ten years of operation.
ABOVE: Skidoo 15 Stamp Mill (1907), Panamint Mts. DEVA One of the three sites documented this summer. (HAER photograph by G. Archimede)
FURTHER MTU - IA RESEARCH: INTERPRETING THE HISTORIC MINING LANDSCAPE MTU IA Home Page: http://www.industrialarchaeology.net