Highland Mining District near Pioche NV

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This page last updated on 06/15/2017
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05/03/2016 Trip NotesToday, Bob Croke and I made the trip to Pioche Nevada to visit Harvey Smith and his friend "P. Rob", a long-time local resident. The main goal of today's visit was to do some 4-wheeling around the valley and Highland Range located behind the town of Pioche in search of some of the areas' old gold and silver mines (Fig. 02). A total of 26 mines in this area made up what was called the Highland Mining District. The major mines are noted in (Fig. 02) above. From the track that we took (in purple) we traveled a total of 25 miles and, to be best of our knowledge, visited five mine sites; the Ely Valley Mines, Black Prince Mine, Mendha Mine, Highland Queen Mine and one we were unable to identify. Unfortunately, there is very little information about any of these mines online. Upon leaving town, we had to stop and open a few barbwire fence gates on our way out to the Highland Range due west of the town (Fig. 03). The first mine site we visited was the Ely Valley Mines. As you can see from the pictures in (Figs. 04 & 05) this was an extensive site with two head-frames and several support structures. Its primary commodity was Zinc and Manganese, with secondary ores of Silver, Gold, Lead and Copper. From here we headed out across the desert valley toward the Highland Range (Fig. 06). Shortly we came upon a car "graveyard" with dozens of old vehicles that had been taken out into the desert and abandoned. Over the years, many of them had been picked clean of any usable parts. We took turns having our pictures taking siting in some of the better cars (Fig. 07). While walking around, everyone took turns trying to determine the make and guess their year of manufacture (Fig. 08). There was even an old wooden horse trailer. Nearby this "graveyard" we passed a structure that looked like a head-frame, but couldn't find any mine openings (Fig. 09). As headed further up into the Highland Range towards the Mendha Mine, we were privy to some nice views stretching out over the valley below toward the Pioche Hills and the Parsnip Range beyond (Fig. 10). (con't below)
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Trip Notes Continued: Next we came to the Black Prince Mine. It is obvious from the substantial headframe and all of the tailings surrounding this small site, that a lot of mining occurred here (Fig. 11). The mine consisted of a 60-degree inclined shaft, that appeared quite deep. As you can see, the headframe is still intact but the couple of buildings at the site are pretty much collapsed (Fig. 12). The primary products of this mine were Gold and Lead. From here we pushed on to the Mendha Mine site. This was probably one of the largest sites we visited. As we approached the site, there were several buildings that probably housed some of the mines' workers. Then the site with a large wooden ore loading structure came into view (Fig. 13)  The Mendha mine was a producing gold-silver-copper-lead ore from ore bodies in limestone. There was a shaft 700 feet on the incline and 300 feet in vertical depth (Fig. 14). There were a couple of mine opening on the site, along with a few buildings, a large outhouse, a building that contains hundreds of drill boring samples, and a few very large building foundations (Fig. 15). The primary products here were Copper, Gold and Lead. From this site we drove to the site of the Highland Queen Mine (Fig. 16). There was a mine tunnel at this level that was very long (Fig. 17). P-Rob noted that he has often wondered whether if it may go through the mountain to the upper tunnel at the Mendha mine on the other side of the mountain. There was another mine about about a half mile above this level, however we decided not to go to it. In addition to the a lot of stuff scattered about the area, there was a pretty large building that contained some heavy equipment (Figs. 18 & 19). The primary products here were Gold, Lead and Silver. As this site is about 7.500 feet in elevation, it provided a nice view looking back to the Pioche Hills (Fig. 20). In fact, zooming in shows the town of Caselton Heights (Fig. 21). From here we headed back to P-Rob's. We then drove into town and explored some of the old mine site and buildings, as well as some of the town's more famous structures before having lunch and heading back to the "City". Already we were mising the smell of the clean fresh mountain air.
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