Delamar (The Maker of Widows)
I n 1889 two rancher-prospectors out of the Pahranagat Valley working their way up Monkeywrench Wash by the names of John Ferguson and Joseph Sharp discovered gold there. A mild rush began in 1892 mainly from the depression struck town of Pioche after hearing about the $75 to $1000 a ton reported assay. The results were the staking of a number of claims with some development being made. Small camps were formed, one being Ferguson or Golden City located west of the Monkey Wrench Mine and the other was Helene founded at the Magnolia Mine. Helene hosted a local newspaper called the Ferguson LODE, and had a post office from June 1892 to December 1894.
About this time the judgements on the $180,000 bond issue of 1873 amounted to $440,000. In the latter part of June 1893, silver had dropped to 73 cents an ounce. A mill, which had been built in Condor Canyon, some three miles north of Panaca had been treating ore from Pioche and Delamar, but it burned down in June of 1895. In April of 1894, Captain Joseph Rafael De Lamar of Montana bought the most important mines in the area for an estimated $50,000 and moved the town site over the ridge and called it Delamar. This was the major fact that imposed injury to Helene, forcing the little camp to dry up. The principal producers, of gold, were the Jim Crow, April Fool and the Magnolia mines. In June 1894 the Delamar LODE commenced publication and two months later a post office was opened. By 1895 most of the camp contained many business structures and dwellings built of stone. A fifty-ton mill began operation in May and in less than a year was handling up to 260 tons of ore daily.
The Plattner or chlorinating process never secured a foothold in Nevada. At the Delamar Mine the barrel chlorinating process was installed in 1895 and tried for a time. It was discarded in favor of fine grinding and cyaniding. The first Cyanide plant in Nevada was constructed in 1896 for the treatment of the Comstock tailings at Silver City by R. D. Jackson. There is a record that the first plant in use was in the Silver Peak district, but there doesn't seem to be any reference of this in the history books. The first two large cyanide plants in use were the Delamar plant at Delamar. And the Eureka Cyanide Plant on the Carson River above Dayton. The Delamar plant was built in 1896 or 1897. The Eureka Cyanide plant was constructed in 1897 by A. J. McCone. The Delamar plant employed Griffin mills for fine grinding and treated the raw pulverized ore in leaching vats. Until the appearance of the Butler plant this plant was the only cyanide plant treating raw ore in Nevada. At this plant zinc dust was used successfully as a precipitant in place of the usual practice of zinc boxes and zinc thread. Practically all other early cyanide plants in the state were erected for the treatment of tailings.
Also in 1895, Delamar received notoriety on the account of the issuance of aluminum coins as pay, fearing the danger of robbery when shipping gold and silver to meet the pay rolls, but the U. S. Government stepped in and quickly stopped this practice. Delamar also became notorious about the same time on the account they didn't pay just bullion Tax. For the first quarter of 1896, they made the following report. Tons milled; 20,677 tons, Value, $575,462; Extracting, $77,435; Transportation, $22.436. Milling, $372,186 or over $18.00 per ton. The way they got around the Tax was by forming a separate Company to mill the ores and by charging extremely high rates to eat up part if not all the profits of the mine, and the State and County officers seemed to be completely unable to prevent the practice.
A second cyanide plant was built in 1897 to keep up with the ever-growing demands for milling. Many who attempted to drill for water failed as one hole went 900 feet. This lead to the construction from Meadow Valley Wash some 12 miles east and 1500 feet lower a 3 and a half inche pipe line, have three pump stations to booster water up over the ridge, at a forty gallons a minute inadequate rate to the town. Electrical Power for Delamar also came from Meadow Valley Wash, where there was a Power Plant operating. By 1897 the 3000 souls of Delamar supported numerous saloons, stores, theaters, and professional offices. Supplies were freighted in by as many as 120 different mule-driven outfits from the railhead at Milford, Utah some 150 miles away.
A couple of noted businessmen in Delamar were James Nesbitt, born in Oct 12,1841 with his brother George, born in Jan 14, 1844, they were natives of Ireland. They had come to the United States early in life with George first headed for Arizona, engaging in mining and later moving to Pioche where Brother James was located in business. They engaged in the mercantile business about 1873. In 1895 they both moved to Delamar, where they opened a branch store, which was the largest establishment in town. They then branched out into mining and were the original owners of the Big De Lamar mine. After having their mill running for quit some time, they sold their interests to Captain De Lamar, but retained large mining interest in that area and controlled the water system which they had built. They were large holders of Agricultural lands in southern Nevada, having a large ranch at Hiko and another twenty miles south of Pioche.
Another of Delamars residents, Delos Ashley Turner M.D., was born in Pioche, Dec 9, 1877. At the time he became identified with Lincoln County, living in Pioche. He served as Deputy Sheriff and for many years in Pioche and was Sheriff of the County as well, and also served as an U. S. Marshal. In 1893 he went to Delamar, where he was captain of the guard on the bullion coach and assisted in carrying gold from the mine to the railroad, some one hundred and thirty three miles of travel. In Delamar he was the postmaster and superintendent of the water works at Delamar over a period of six years.
Delamar also had the distinction along with the uniqueness in that the gold was found in quartzite. Mining and working the ore resulted in excessive dust in the mines and in the mills. The minute particles of glass like rock proved particularly hazardous to the lungs of those who breathed in the powdered dust. The camp became well known for the large numbers of workers who contracted silicosis and suffered premature death from the affliction. Even those who didn't work the mines but just lived there often died from the dreaded dust.
Delamar never was the great Bonanza camp, the facts were it operated on the greater part of low-grade ore. It was significant in the contribution made to the production and employment of the State during the long period of depression. Between 1895 and 1900 the $8,732,231 in gold bullion which made up 49 percent of the mineral production of the entire state during those "Dusty" years.
Stagecoaches first transported the bullion from Delamar until 1897, when an eight-mule team wagon began hauling the load in a five ton steel safe equipped with a time lock. After a fire destroyed half the town in the spring of 1900, it was only partially rebuilt. In 1901 the Rev. B. J. Darneille packed up and left Delamar to take charge of the St. Paul's Church in Elko, taking the place of the Rev. George F. Plummer. In 1902 John Delamar sold his mines which had produced 8.5 million in gold. Simon Bamverger who installed a 400-ton mill in 1903, and remodeled the Cyanide Plant that same year headed the new owners. But Delamar still ranked third behind Goldfield and Tonopah in statewide mineral production as late as 1906, along with out producing such high publicity booms as Bullfrog, Rawhide and Manhattan. After the Bamverger-Delamar mine shut down in 1909, all mining ceased in Delamar.
There was $13.5 million taken out up to 1909, and still another $600,000 removed during a revival from 1929 to 1934 which caused the post office and schools to start up again. Stone foundations, mill ruins and two cemeteries are all that remain today. Now days Delamar attracts Many a sightseer and photographer as still being of great interest.
History of Nevada; By Sam P. Davis
200 Years in Nevada; By Elbert B. Edwards
Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps; by Stanley Paher
Mining Districts and Mineral Resources of Nevada: by Francis Church Lincoln