History of Potosi Mine !
Bob and Brenda Exploring
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History of Potosi Mine !

References to: Nevada History 1881 by Thompson and West
and Stanley Paher's Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps

Potosi Mine

L isted in the Yellow Pine District at the extreme southeast corner of Lincoln County in 1881. Located in the Spring Mountain range some thirty miles southeast of Las Vegas.

I t seems every book has a different story about Nevada's oldest lode mine. One says the Indians Were mining bullets before the white man came but in the 1840's did the Indians have guns and powder, I think not. While another story claims a Mormon battalion making its way back from California in 1847 Found ore here and named it after an Indian guide. Then there is the possibility that the Mexicans may have been up here years before mining the ore and that's how the Indians found out about it. What ever the facts Leading up this may have been, the Mormon's out from the Las Vegas mission did locate lead ore here In 1856, with the help of a Paiute guide.

O re thus far has only been located at one site. It crops out on the West Side of an almost perpendicular cliff 150 feet height near the summit. The ore is of Argentiferous Galena nature, lying horizontally, and varying in width from one to five feet with an outcropping of thirty feet at the base of the cliff.

I n 1852 the Mormons obtained the contract to carry the mail over a route which Congress had that year established from Salt Lake Utah to San Bernardino. A station was built at Las Vegas, and Brigham Young located a settlement at that point, partly for protection of the route. In June of 1855 the Las Vegas mission was established by William Bringhurst and twenty-seven other brethren at Las Vegas Creek down on the Spanish Trail as part of the Mormon Church's Southern Indian Mission and mail station.

T he Mormon's planted gardens, put in irrigation ditches, and built 150-foot square walled fort and a corral along with a few houses. Although the Fort has been reconstructed in recent years it is still said to be the oldest structure in Nevada today. The Indian Farm or fields used to grow agricultural Products by the Paiutes but of course the Brethren were in supervision of the project. The Farm was located 1.5 miles north of the Fort at Las Vegas Springs.

I n a letter giving a description of the " Vegas " By Brother George Bean he tells how they found 50 Paiute Indians on the Colorado River where they had raised a little wheat on a sandbank, and how it was ripe for harvest. Sounds to me like the Piautes already knew all about agricultural long before the Mormons arrived. Another important task undertaken by the Las Vegas missionaries was their exploration for wealth, the Potosi Mine. The Mormon's found the mine by way of a Paiute guide, another case where the Indian lead the white man To wealth.

I n May of 1856, one month after their reported find Nathaniel Jones was sent down from Salt Lake to examine the new mountain of lead for which he later named Potosi. It wasn't until December when three wagon loads of supplies arrived carrying bellows, furnace, hearths and other mining equipment that production could start. Soon after that they built a crude adobe smelter some 700 feet below the mine where they packed ore by mule down to be smelted. But all efforts to obtain the lead for bullets was abandoned by January 1857 because the ore was to brittle probably because of the high zinc content for their use. Later that same year when Brigham Young fearing a U.S. military attack led by Col. Albert Johnston against the Mormon Church (known as the "Mormon War"), pulled all of the Mormon's back from Las Vegas to establish a settlement in Meadow Valley, but the conflict never occurred.

S ilver ore was discovered by the Colorado Mining Co. in 1861 and mined until 1863. They also built a larger smelter at Potosi Springs. Some Seven years later the Silver State Mining Company reopened the Potosi and called it the Comet Mine and the stone cabins at Potosi Springs were then called Crystal City.

A fter the turn of the century zinc was the primary mineral extracted and processed at Potosi. Late in 1913 the Empire Zinc Co. bought the mine and ran it the next four years making Potosi Nevada's largest zinc producer. An Aerial tram built from the mine down to a mill above Potosi Springs helped improve production greatly. The mine ran well up until 1920 and had a short burst in 1925 to 1928. The total estimated production from Silver, lead and zinc grossed close to 4.5 million for the Potosi Mine.

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