Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Skidoo Mill

The imposing structure of the Skidoo Mill.
Skidoo: Death Valley's most famous ghost town. At its height, it was home to over 700 people, and had many saloons, billiards parlors, general goods, and its endless network of high-grade gold mines that produced over 1.5 million US Dollars. As a result of its remote location and the resulting extreme cost of transportation of said ore, the only cost-effective solution to mine here was to construct a mill on site. The first mill was only five stamps, which was constructed before the famed 23 mile water pipeline to a spring below Telescope Peak (Hummingbird Spring) in 1909, built first to provide water to the town and later extended to power the mill. The existing mill was built after the original mill was destroyed by a fire on June 2, 1913. Five stamps were recovered, and the mill was rebuilt and in service before the end of the year. This is the mill that stands today. Most of its outside structure collapsed in the 1960s or 70s, but what remains was spared from the Park Service's haphazard shovel of destruction, which had removed most of the rest of Skidoo's remains around the same time. A more complete history of Skidoo will be written in a future post.

Blue Bell Mine Cabin

On the abyssal edge of Death Valley is a small canyon containing a silver location dating to the early 1870s and some of the first Italians in the region, the Nossano brothers. The claims were worked, reworked, relocated and renowned for almost a hundred years until the last efforts built a sturdy tin cabin and cableway. 
The Garibaldi mine changed hands many times until it became the Blue Bell in the 1880s, and a more elaborate history on it will be written in that post. The mine that led to the construction of this cabin was the Hanging Cliff Mine, across the canyon from the end of the tram, which was patented as the Hanging Cliff Mill. No evidence of any milling activity exists here anymore. A look across the canyon reveals much equipment left at the Hanging Cliff Mine, but with no clear way to access it. It should be mentioned that this, along with all other mines in the park are no longer active claims, but collecting and prospecting are not allowed.