History of Lookout, Death Valley !
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History of Lookout and Modoc Mine, Death Valley !

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I nyo county California on the northern end of the Argus ranges mines were discovered in 1865 and was found to be rich in gold, silver and other minerals.

T he Cerro Gordo mines by 1871 were heading for a peak with 4,800 people along with a great number of mules and at the years end produced 2,200 tons of ore.

T hen in May 1875 on the eastern slopes of the Argus range Jerome Childs found rich smelting ore in the Lookout District, over looking Panamint Valley. Three months following the Comstock giant George Hearst purchased the claims and formed the Modoc Consolidated Mining Company. George Hearst was the father of the well-known publisher William Randolph Hearst. Besides the Modoc Consolidated the other principle mines were the Minnietta Group owned by Jack Gunn of Owens Valley. This all led to the founding of the townsite Lookout.

I n October 1876 with Hearst leading the Modoc Company, they built two large furnaces, which produced ten tons of silver-lead bullion at $500 dollars a ton per day. At this rate, they exhausted all of the local timber by the end of the year and started using pinyon from the Panamint Range. The furnaces averaged 3000 bushels of charcoal a day.

I n the spring of 1877, the Modoc Company hired S. B. Morrison to build ten great charcoal kilns at the mouth of Wildrose Canyon. These kilns, which are still standing today, were fashioned after the two kilns built near Owens Lake for the Cerro Gordo mines. The Wildrose kilns stood 25 feet high and had a diameter of 30 feet at the base. It took 42 cords of pinyon and a week to yield 2000 bushels of charcoal per kiln. It took a crew of forty men hired by James Honan, who was contracted to supply the pinyon wood for the kilns. The Cerro Gordo Freighting Company owned by Remi Nadeau was also contracted to haul the charcoal to the furnaces. Through the spring and summer of 1877, the Modoc furnaces turn out $630,000 in bullion.

M orrison after building the kilns stead on to run them and moved his wife and children there to live. Wildrose now supporting almost a hundred souls had a boarding house owned by Honan, M. Scheeline had the store and Ed Hall, who the canyon was named after, owned the blacksmith shop. In the fall of 1877, the Modoc ore started to decline. By the mid summer of 1878, the company shut the furnaces and the kilns at Wildrose. A few years later, the Modoc had a revival but the kilns at Wildrose never saw the fire again.


Bancroft Volume 24, History of California 1860 - 1890, page 651

HSUMD Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert http://www.ridgecrest.ca.us/~matmus/Hist.html#localhist

Richard Lingenfelter, Death Valley & The Amargosa, Page 126

Exploring Death Valley, Ruth Kirk, Page 51

Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert Vol. 18 No. 5 A United Way Agency May 2003 http://www.maturango.org/May03.html

Richard Lingenfelter, Death Valley & The Amargosa, Pages 126, 127

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