San Bernardino



San Bernardino County is not only the largest county in California, but it is the largest in the United States. As a county it has been uniquely endowed with rich mineral deposits. Large deposits of gold have been mined at Stedman and Vanderbilt, with smaller but still important deposits at Alvord, Oro Grande, Old Dad Mountain, Dale and Nantan, Calico, Ivanpah, Waterman and Providence were the largest silver deposits, with lesser, but important deposits in the Mescal Mountains and at the Death Valley Mine. The most important copper mines are the Copper World and the Bagdad Chase (known usually for its gold production).

Salt Spring, along the Mormon Trail that connected Salt Lake City and San Bernardino, became the first confirmed gold discovery in the county in 1849. The 1850s are a silent period, but in the 1860s the prospectors who fanned out looking for another Comstock Lode or La Paz gold placers discovered ore in the Clark, Providence, New York, Whipple, Turtle and Sacramento mountains and in the Slate Range. Most of these discoveries were made within two days travel of major transportation routes: the Mojave Road or the Colorado River. Between the late 1870s and World War I, mining activity continued with fairly even intensity, with gold mining surpassing silver early in the 1890s. Vanderbilt, Stedman, Hidden Hill and a host of small gold rush boom-towns followed the discovery of gold at Goldfield and Bullfrog, Nevada early in this century.

Except for a brief period after World War I when silver prices were high, low metal prices and inflation put a damper on mining in the 1920s. However, with the Great Depression of the 1930's and an increase in the price of gold by nearly $15 an ounce, many small operators reactivated old mines. The region around Barstow, Vanderbilt, Stedman and Dale were the principal centers of mining activity until World War II.

During World War II, iron was extracted from the Vulcan Mine in the Providence Mountains, and the Bagdad Chase Mine remained active. Since the war there has been sporadic mining of gold, silver and tungsten in the county. A major new mine opened during the 1950s, the Mountain Pass rare earth mine. Recently, exploration has outlined potential large tonnage molybdenum properties in the New York and Ord Mountains, copper in the Cooper Basin area of the Whipple Mountains and gold in the Clark Mountains.


In the Holcomb valley, some thirty miles from San Bernardino, are found gold and silver in considerable quantities, and also valuable lead mines.In Lytle creek canon, thirteen miles northwest of San Bernardino, gold in considerable quantities has been mined for some years past, and later workings, with improved facilities, give promise of good results. American miners are working twenty or thirty placers here at present.

The Bear valley mines, four miles east of Holcomb valley, have gold-quartz free-milling ores in large quantities.

At the Alvard Mine, 100 miles northeast of San Bernardino, gold is found in a quarry of hard quartz agate.

Calico mining district, forming the northern boundary of Silver valley, is the richest silver camp now in operation in the county. The approximate estimate of silver bullion shipped during the first two years of work here was $2,500,000. There are 170 stamps here all told, of which 125 run day and night. The processes here include much chloriding. The silver bullion extracted amounts to from $75,-000 to $100,000 per month. Since 1881 over $14,000,000 have been taken from this camp; and the best mining experts pronounce it to be stilt in its infancy.

To the north of Calico there are the following districts: Avawatts, Granite, Wells, Panamint, Ibex, Saratoga, Salt Springs, Goode Springs, Tecopa, Resting Springs and Potosi, all containing gold, silver, copper and lead. To the west are situated the Grapevine, Black's Ranch, North Camp, Oro Grande, Galena and Crema districts, which contain gold, silver, asbestos) iron, and large quantities of marble.

To the south are the Dry Lake, Holcomb, Bear Valley, Black Hawk, Morongo, and Old Woman Springs districts, containing gold, silver, iron, copper and galena.

After Calico comes Victor, with ten stamp mills already running, and another in prospects, The Ord Mining District is situated seventy-five miles northeast of San Bernardino, within ten miles of the established course of the thirty-fifth parallel railway. Ord Mountain has an altitude of about 2,500 feet above the adjacent country, and 7,500 feet above the sea level. It covers an area of twenty-five square miles. This entire mountain is "laced" with gold-bearing veins from two feet to 200 feet in width.

Next, Pioche & Co. bought the San Jacinto grant, and tried to "float" it over the tin mines. In short, the litigation over this property has never been quieted, and these mines, famed and important as they are, have brought in no revenue to the county. The only practical result from them took the form of a box made of the tin from them, which was presented to ex-Secretary William H. Seward, all the newspapers of the United States chronicling this as a remarkable item.

About thirty miles east of the Ord district, is the Dry Lake district, with a promising gold mining camp.


Still eastward some forty miles farther is the Trojan district.

In the Mojave district is a large number of mines under Los Angeles control-the Soledad, Sanchez, Champion, Noble, Empire, Chieftain, etc. In the same district Pasadena companies are working.

The Oro Grande mires on the Mohave river, are about fifty miles from San Bernardino There are six principal mines, from which hat been taken an immense quantity of ore.

There are other districts south and west which have been purchased or bonded by capitalists; and north and east lie rich sections whose development will follow upon the building of the Utah Southern Railway. Each of these mining districts covers a space of about thirty miles square.

At Gold Valley a large English company is expending much money in tunneling, etc. Hydraulicking was begun this spring in the placers here.