Take it easy
  Illinois Mine

N 38.9942° W117.88031° Downeyville, NV Quad

VISITED July 9, 2016
Our breakfast: Eggs and breakfast meats at Middlegate Station.

Head east on US-50 E for 47 miles to Middlegate Station; turn right and head south on SR 361 towards Gabbs for 34.9 miles; turn left and head north east for a little over 8 miles.

From Fallon: 90 miles


This property has certainly had its ups and downs, triumph and tragedy...

The property consists of a group of mining claims, known as the Illinois Group, with a compete Lead smelting plant, water system, Ore stock and surface equipment, constitute the property holdings of this company. The Illinois group consists of five patented mining claims known as the Sand Mound, Silver Link, Illinois, Nevada, and White Pine.

The mine was discovered in 1875 by Alfred Welsh. The first work was done upon the Illinois vein. Welsh was poor and during the years 1876 and 1877 only the assessment work required by law was done. In the latter part of 1877 he made an agreement with Raymond and Ely of Pioche, Nevada, whereby they undertook to drive a tunnel on the vein until is should reach a depth of 100 feet, and whereby they agreed to buy the property. They erected a small ten-ton smelter on the property, which was operated for about two years, during which period a body of ground of small lateral extent on the Illinois vein was worked to the depth of about three hundred feet. All of this was hand work, the ore being hoisted by hand windlasses; but the exceeding richness of the mine enabled it to pay handsomely, even against such obstacles, and about $500,000 worth of bullion was disposed of during these two years. At this time Raymond and Ely were also operating heavily at Pioche where their operations were not profitable. They became involved and their creditors wiped them out. A balance was due Welsh on the purchase price of the property, for instead of paying for the mine out of the proceeds of it, Raymond and Ely had been investing in their Pioche operations the money they were securing from the operation of the Illinois vein.

Welsh, therefore, put in his claim for the balance due him on the purchase price, and in the final settlement of the affairs of Raymond and Ely. Welsh came out of the settlement with a two-fifths interest in the Illinois group, and Messrs. Booth and Company, wholesale grocers of Sacramento, California, got the remaining three-fifths. The smelter had not been paid for so that the people who had erected it came and took it away.

The property then closed down and remained closed until 1889. Welsh, penniless, borrowed $250 from an ore purchasing firm and secured a lease on his interest. During the following 18 months, he sold them $130,000 worth of ore. He made further shipments to other smelters exceeding $250,000. He then purchased the three-fifths interest from Booth and Company for $10,000 cash and agreeing to make further payments of $5,000 a month.

Just at this time when the mine was producing royally and prospects seemed bright, Welsh decided to visit his family back east. He found all his kin hard up, so he paid off all their mortgages. One brother, however, had no mortgage, and therefore did not receive any money, and began to make threats about what he would do unless Welsh equalize him with the rest of the family. Welsh brought that brother back to the mine. The friction between the brothers increased until one day in 1891 the younger brother placed a double-barreled shotgun against Welsh's stomach and blew a hole through him as a final argument and fled.

There was no one to continue the work in the mine so all operations stopped. Booth and Company enforced their mortgage and took over ownership. Ownership passed into the hands of T.G. Phelps, a member of the Booth firm. He died shortly after this, and the property lay unworked until 1905. At this point the mine was dismantled, buildings destroyed, and old workings wrecked. A new owner brought in a small steam hoist and drove a shaft down through the old workings. Ore was struck in 1906, and since that time the property has produced approximately $325,000 in ore. Thus, the production of the mine to date has been something over $1,000,000. The mine was closed down on April 1st, 1914, on account of encountering water in the Illinois shaft; not, however, until the continuance of the ore body had been demonstrated, as the last samples taken from the shaft had shown a great increase in the gold content of the ore.

The property prior to 1914 was again equipped with the following:
Complete lead smelter containing a lead blast furnace 48" x 108" capable of processing 100 tons per day
Machine shop with steam power plant, lathes, drill presses, blacksmith shop
Surface plant with steam power plant, steam hoist, gasoline engine, air compressor, power rock drills, ore cars, blacksmith shop
Water system from spring producing 15,000 gallons per day, conveyed to mine by four miles of 3 inch pipe to 68,000 gallon storage tanks located above all working places.
Complete steam power plant
Ore bins, sampling plant, fully equipped laboratory

-Report on the Illinois Mining Group, May 1, 1914

One assumes the mine was dewatered at some point....

Kindly notice the above report is dated May 1, 1914, since which time the smelter has been replaced by a mill, as it has been found that the ores will concentrate and cyanide to better advantage. THe ore stock around the old smelter has been disposed of, and the steam hoist replaced by a gasoline hoist. The other conditions remain practically the same except the machine shop and other equipment not necessary to smelter maintenance.
-Update on Report on the Illinois Mining Group, September 23, 1925

Things didn't go so hot after that...

About all equipment purloined; smelter and mill disposed of or stolen in parts. A mine without equipment instead of equipment without a mine.
1948 June 23






Lots of interesting ruins, rock walls, and the remains of mills and such. Some deep, deep holes, so be careful. Road is a bit washed out and a short-wheelbase vehicle will be very handy.

See also Marble / Lodi.

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