Oatman Arizona - Trip Notes for 10/10/2019

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This page last updated on 10/12/2019
(Fig. 01) Remains of the Tom Reed Mine Mill

(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 02) Remains of the United Eastern Mine and Mill Site
Directions: Today we approached Oatman from the west, taking 215 to the I-15 to I-95 to Searchlight and Laughlin and to the Avi Resort Casino. We then took Aztec Road and crossed over the Colorado River and turned right onto the Veterans Parkway. We then turned left onto Route 153/ Oatman Hwy to Oatman. This approach is about 136 miles from Las Vegas to Oatman.
Side Notes on United Eastern and Tom Reed Mines: Referring to the map in (Fig. 02), the first thing you see is that the two main mines on each end of town, the United Eastern Mine and the Tom Reed Mine, are less than a mile apart. It appears that both of these mines followed a similar vein that ran between them and connected several nearby mines, e.g. the Tip Top Mine, the Big Jim vein, immediately northeast of the Grey Eagle and Black Eagle claims of the Tom Reed Company, etc. The structure of the mines in this area was generally northwest trending faults and veins, often generally close to the surface. Total underground workings on the Tom Reed vein amount to 15 miles. This includes the Ben Harrison, Aztec, Grey Eagle, and Black Eagle  mines. The Ben Harrison shaft was the original development on the Tom Reed claims; the shaft apparently is connected to the Tip Top and Olla Oatman shafts and to the No. 1 and 2 shafts of the United Eastern; The Harrison shaft is 900 feet deep with a winze from the 700 foot level to the 1400 foot level. The diagram in (Fig. 03) shows some of the tunnels and shafts of these mines. Two ore bodies were reached by the Ben Harrison shaft, Tip Top ore body and Ben Harrison ore shoot. The Tip Top body is located under the town of Oatman, it extends from the 0-foot level down to below the 1400 foot level. The Ben Harrison ore shoot extends from just below the surface to about 800 feet. The Tom Reed vein extends beyond the Benjamin Harrison and Tip Top claims to become the Aztec, Big Jim (offset by faulting), United Eastern (branching off the main vein) and American vein.

(Fig. 03) Map showing some of the tunnels and shafts of the mines surrounding Oatman
10/10/2019 Trip Notes: Referring to the map in (Fig. 02), the first thing you see before entering the town are the tailings of the Tom Reed Mine and mill site (Fig. 01). This was the first area we tried to examine and photograph. The picture in (Fig. 04) shows what the mine and mill site looked like its early days. Note that the minehead for the mine is located behind and left of the mill buildings. This appears to be where we located what was the mine shaft (Fig. 05), left an behind the mill. The machinery in (Fig. 06) may have been used to bring the ore up to the mill. Trying to identify and sort out these mines is almost impossible. The mines and claims were sold to various persons and companies, which often belonged to different mining districts. This was complicated by the fact that various prospectors were always discovering new veins of gold ore.

(Fig. 04) Tom Reed Mine and Mill

(Fig. 05) Click to enlarge
(Fig. 06) Click to enlarge
(Fig. 07) Click to enlarge
Side Note: As an example, in 1900, prospector Ben Taddock was in the area and discovered a new vein of gold ore. Ben sold his new discovery claim to a judge whom later sold it to the Vivian Mining Company. Over the next few years the mine produced over $3 million worth of gold. Once word got out more miners and prospectors arrived in the area. Then another two years later in 1904 the Tom Reed vein was discovered and this vein became known as the Tom Reed Mine and was run by the Tom Reed Gold Mining Company. After a few years the Tom Reed vein became hard to follow and production became very sporadic. Then another group of men who knew geology and mining formed a new company and called it the United Eastern Mining Company. These men put down a new shaft on another area. They then surveyed the area out underground and started mining a new vein and were soon mining all kinds of gold and silver. Then still another mine started on the Tom Reed Vein. It was the Big Jim Company and soon these three mines became the largest and wealthiest, producing almost $36 million worth of gold. Of the three big mines in Oatman, the United Eastern produced $10.8 million and the Big Jim, produced $3.8 million in gold. Workings included the Tom Reed shaft at 100 feet deep. In 1904 a 20-stamp mill was erected on site. Two ore bodies were reached by the Ben Harrison shaft, Tip Top ore body and Ben Harrison ore shoot. The tip top body is located under the town of oatman. It extends from the 0 foot level down to below the 1400 foot level. The Ben Harrison ore shoot extends from, just below the surface down to about 800 feet. The Tom Reed vein extends beyond the Benjamin Harrison and Tip Top claims to become the Aztec, Big Jim (offset by faulting), United Eastern (branching off of the main vein and Amerian veins.
Trip Notes Continued: Referring to the map in (Fig. 02), the next area we explored were the tailings of the United Eastern Mine located on the north end of town (Fig. 03). We drove out on the Rock Hound Hill Road that leaves the Oatman Road on the right just before the town begins and heads north and around the back side of the town. After passing quite a few houses the road makes a sharp turn to the left and heads west and southwest. The road then becomes Mural Road and leads to the site of the United Eastern Mine and mill. The picture in (Fig. 03) are today's only remains. The picture in (Fig. 08) shows what the mill looked like when it was built. Though we couldn't fully understand the purposes for all of the cement structures, this appears where the original mine shaft was located at the top of the hill (Fig. 09).

(Fig. 08) Early picture of the United Eastern Mine and Mill

(Fig. 09) The United Eastern Mine Shaft 
Side Note on the United Eastern Mine: In March, 1915, a cross-cut on the 465-foot level went through 25 feet of ore that assayed at $22.93/ton. By the end of 1916, after an ore body estimated to contain gold to the value of about $6,000,000 had been blocked out, a 200-ton mill had been built and a new shaft in the hanging wall of the vein had been completed and equipped. The mill was afterward enlarged to a capacity of 300 tons. Meanwhile, the Big Jim vein, immediately northeast of the Grey Eagle and Black Eagle claims of the Tom Reed Company, had been discovered. In April, 1917, the United Eastern Company purchased the Big Jim mine. The able mining engineers who were directing the United Eastern Company were well aware that the Big Jim and Grey Eagle veins were probably once continuous and owed their separation to faulting, but they were convinced that the amount of the throw about 400 feet, was too great to enable the Tom Reed Company to make successful claim to the Apex of their vein. The known ore bodies of the United Eastern property were exhausted by June, 1924. Dump ore was treated in 1925, and some production was made by lessees in 1926. Considerable diamond-drill prospecting was done, particularly from the eighth and tenth levels, but without success. The total yield of the United Eastern mine from 1917 to 1926, inclusive, amounted to approximately $14,853,395. The average costs per ton, according to Moore,115 amounted to $8.254 of which $4.332 was for mining. Since late 1932, lessees, employing about thirty men, have mined approximately 50 tons of ore per day from between the 500- and 700-foot levels of the Big Jim mine. This ore was milled in the Telluride plant of the Oatman Associates Mining Company.
Historical Side Notes: The Tom Reed Gold Mines Company was a mining company incorporated in the Arizona Territory in 1906. The company was organized by California investors in response to the discovery of gold in the area around Oatman. The company purchased a claim on what is now known as the Tom Reed vein and in 1908 began production of high grade ore. The mine was initially successful, producing millions of dollars in gold and silver ore. In response to this success, the company invested a large sum of money creating a stamp mill on site, powered by water piped four miles from Cottonwood Canyon. An electric generator was also installed which provided electricity to Oatman as well as the mine. Despite several attempts to extract ore from various promising locations, the Tom Reed vein remained the company’s only real success. By the 1920’s the company struggled with diminishing ore and had opened its mill to other companies. However by 1930 the company’s mine was not producing ore and in March 1932 the mine was closed. The company continued on until 1939 when it was formally shut down. In the late 1950s the Sawyer Exploration Company took over and reactivated the company renaming it the Sawyer Petroleum Company. The Tom Reed however was the greatest producing more than $13 million in gold and silver. In one year, 1909 the Tom Reed produced over 1 million worth of gold from just 40,000 tons of ore. Production for the period 1908 - 1913 was some $13,053,000 (period values). The United Eastern Mine and Big Jim Mine closed in 1924. Then the depression of the 1930's made operation of the larger mines unprofitable. The Tom Reed Mine closed in 1932.
Trip Notes Continued: Driving north out of town the last area we visited was the area of the Gold Road Mine site. Refer to the Map in (Fig. 10) below. It appears that at one time there were several mines in this area, that were all part of what was called the Gold Road Mines. The picture in (Fig. 11) is an overhead shot of the mill area. The diagram in (Fig. 12) shows several shafts and tunnels of the Gold Road Mines - reaching depths of nearly 900 feet. 
(Fig. 10)

(Fig. 11) Gold Road Mine and processing area
(Fig. 12) A view showing the shafts of the group of Gold Road Mines

Trip Notes Continued: Just north of the main area there is evidence of two of its main mines (Figs.
13 thru 15). The mine shaft in (Fig. 15) is a very deep shaft (Fig. 16) and sits upon the top of the overage (Fig. 18) that appears to be from the two mine diggings across the street (Figs. 13 & 14). It can be assumed that the ore was transported to the mill down below (Fig. 19). There are dozens of remaining foundations of buildings that remain from what used to be the town of Goldmine. It has been recorded that 1949, the entire town, which had grown to over 700 residents, was razed in order to save taxes.
(Fig. 13) Click to Enlarge
(Fig. 14) Click to Enlarge
(Fig. 15) Click to Enlarge

(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19) The Gold Road Mine processing plant

Side Note
Para Resources Inc. (“Para”), is a Canadian company, and is the first company to have secured the rights to all of the patented and unpatented claims along the Gold Road Mine (Fig. 13 & 20) and the Tom Reed (Tr-Ue) veins which includes the sites of over 7 historical underground mines. The Gold Road property consists of 279.07 acres of 18 patented claims, 4 patented millsite claims totaling 20 acres and 1,820 acres of 91 unpatented claims fully owned or controlled by Para Resources Inc et al.  Para also has under lease from Cruski Mines an additional 14 patented claims totaling 466 acres (188.26 acres). Total acreage owned or controlled by the Company is 2,603.07.
These mines mostly ceased production in 1942 as a result of the US war effort. It is important to note that the mines stopped production while still mining high grade ore. Para believes that there is significant potential to re-open these mines and to process the mineralized material at Gold Road Mine which is approximately 1 mile away on a paved road. Para has entered into an asset purchase agreement, along with its indirect 88% owned subsidiary, Gold Road Mining Corp., to acquire from Mojave Desert Minerals LLC all of the assets comprising the Gold Road Mine. The Gold Road Mine is the only fully permitted mine in the largest primary gold district of Arizona. The Gold Road mine has produced over 700,000 ounces of gold and operated as recently as 2016. In August 2017, Para, through its 88% owned subsidiary Gold Road Mining Corp., acquired the 500 TPD CIL/CIP Gold Road Mine and Mill, including patented claims and a mill and processing facility. In February 2018, Para published a NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment on the Gold Road Mine and in April 2018, a NI 43-101 Technical Report on Report on the Oatman Gold Mining District for the Tr-Ue vein. Both reports recommend multi-year exploration plans that together target and additional 1,600,000 to 2,150,000 ounces for an estimated cost of US$14.2 million.
Large-scale development of the property began when the Gold Road Mining and Explorations Co. sank several shafts, including the Tom Reed and Harrison. By 1906, the Tom Reed Gold Mines Co. acquired the property and began producing high-grade ore. A mill was erected to grind the rock, which was later mixed with cyanide to recover the gold from the ore. By the 1920s, the gold and silver content of the ores decreased as the depths of some mines reached below 1,000 feet. Ore mined in the district during its boom years averaged $12.37 per ton. In 1924, mining further decreased when the United Eastern ore body became exhausted along with the ore from the Tom Reed Mine eight years later. By then the San Francisco district had produced over $34 million worth of gold.
Trip Notes Continued: After exploring these mines, just a few miles beyond this area, around mile marker 30, is a set of about 30 steps on the right side of the road that lead to the Shaffer Spring, a natural spring that has been named by local residents as the "Fish Bowl Spring" (Figs. 20 & 21).  The picture in (Fig. 22) is Bob trying to capture a picture of some of the gold fish in the bowl.
Side Note: A man named Shaffer created this hidden roadside spring site in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration. While constructing the “Gold Road Section” (Rt 66) that weaves between Gold Road Mine and Kingman, Arizona, he noticed water cascading down the cliff walls. To take advantage of the precious resource, he built a series of steps that lead to a basin of stones to allow the water to pool. Because the water stems from a consistent natural source, the bowl remains full year-round. Locals frequently keep it stocked with goldfish (leading some to call it the “fish bowl spring”), and the snails clinging to its walls help keep the algae at bay so the water stays fresh. Desert-dwelling animals like bees and burros still frequent the site to quench their thirsts. Humans, however, are less common. Only travelers who already know of its existence or those who happen to spot the stairs will ever stumble upon this secret spring. Be aware there are no handrails and the steps are uneven.
(Fig. 20)
(Fig. 21)
(Fig. 22)
Trip Notes Continued: Between these stops we spent time in town (Fig. 23) roaming the towns' main drag, visiting some of its touristy shops, watching the burros, and having lunch at the restaurant in the Oatman Hotel (Figs. 24 thru 26).

(Fig. 23)
(Fig. 24)
(Fig. 25)
(Fig. 26)


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