Ashford Mill Ruins – Death Valley

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This page last updated on 06/15/2017
(Fig. 01)
The Mining Background: The site of today’s relatively sparse ruins are all that remain of the mill that was built to process the gold mined in the Golden Treasure mine that was located in the mountains more than 5 miles northeast of the site. The Ashford Brothers - Henry, Harold, and Louis discovered the Golden Treasure Mine in 1907. In 1910, Harold Ashford began work in the former claims of the Keys Gold Mining Company. In the mountains to the east, Ashford and his brothers worked the mine for four years without striking results.

In 1914 They leased the mine to B.W McClausland and his son Ross which led to the construction of a 180 ft. tunnel into the side of the mountain. The site of this mill was built 5 miles southwest and 3,500 ft. below the mine. The mill included a jaw-crusher, a ten-foot Lane mill, a Wilfley table and a Diester slime table. Note: The Wilfley and Diester tables were mechanized gravity shaking tables that were used to separate gold particles from the ore. The picture in (Fig. 02) is a picture of the mill that was taken in 1934. The McCauslands were described by the Inyo Register as being wealthy residents of Los Angeles, and in late August they announced that their 40-ton capacity mill was in operation, and they had plans to increase its capacity to 150 tons. Its been said that at its operational peak, the mine employed nearly 28 men. However, despite taking out an estimated $100,000 worth of ore, the McCauslands soon discovered that the ores from the mine were not rich enough to justify their capital expenditures. In order to cut their losses, the McCauslands failed to pay the Ashfords for the upcoming year's lease on the mine. As a result of their failure to make the lease payments, the Ashford's brought suit and regained control of the mine by the end of 1915.

The mine then laid idle till about 1926, at which it was worked sporadically until it was then again leased out in 1935 to the Golden Treasure Company. Again, as shipping costs became quite expensive, they also eventually gave up. It has been recorded that total shipments by the Golden Treasure company amounted to no more than $18,000 during their tenure.  The mine went through another a series of lessors but the mine never produced much paying ore and by 1941 was idle. Even though it has been estimated that over the years nearly $100,000 worth of gold was extracted, as was often the case with many western gold mines, the mines’ expenses exceeded the profit, causing the mine to be eventually shut down.

Point of Interest: If one wants to view the original mine site, one can drive east (4WD only) up the Ashford Canyon Road directly opposite from the mill. After traveling east on Ashford Canyon Road for about three miles, you must then hike about 1.25 miles up the remnants of the old road to Ashford Canyon and the mine site.
(Fig. 02)
Today’s Mill Ruins: The site of today’s relatively sparse ruins are all that remain of the mill. There are only two structures still standing. One being the crumbling walls of a concrete office building (Fig. 03), and the other being the ruins of the mill itself Figs.04-07). Besides a very limited amount of debris, about the only thing left of the mill is its large concrete foundations. According to local legend, a double load of cement was shipped to the McCauslands while construction was in progress. Rather than send it back, which would have entailed further transportation expenses, the extra cement was used in construction of the mill and office building, which largely accounts for their still standing today. The pictures in (Figs. 08 thru 10) are close-ups of the 100-year old wood remains found on the mills foundations. While roaming around the mill ruins I captured this picture of a lizard (Fig. 11). Because there are literally hundreds of lizard species, I still not sure what it is. Email me in you know ...
(Fig. 03)
EFP-P1030292 Stitch2
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