4WD or high clearance desired

39° 59' 33"N, 117° 54' 44"W - BOLIVIA quad

VISITED 5-20-01 and 6-19-2004 Our Dinner: Nathan's Chili Cheese Dogs
DIRECTIONS Hiway 50 to Dixie Valley Road (SR 121) turnoff, 27 miles until D.V. Rd. turns to dirt, continue on D.V. Rd. for another 27.9 miles, then left on local road for about 4 miles . (*NOTE: Forgotten Nevada Field Correspondent J. Petersen reports that this road is now washed out and is in the middle of Dixie Valley somewhere.) From Fallon: 100 miles

"There are two nickel-cobalt occurrences in the Table Mountain district that were of sufficient importance to induce a number of attempts at exploitation in former years. The deposits are situated in the vicinity of the old camp of Bolivia about 3 miles up Cottonwood Canyon on the east slope of the Stillwater Range. The mouth of Cottonwood Canyon is l-1/2 miles N. 35° W. from the Boyer Ranch in Dixie Valley. There is a uniform grade up the canyon, but in several places the road has been washed out and some repair work is necessary to make it passable for automobile. Cottonwood Creek [is] of variable flow, [and] is fed by melting snows and springs; during certain periods. The flow may exceed a thousand gallons per minute. The Nickel Mine at Camp Bolivia was discovered in 1880 by John Mason, Charles Bell, and his brother, William. The Lovelock or Cobalt mine, about 1 mile west, was located at the same time by George Lovelock, Sr., The mines were prospected for a number of years, . . following their discovery, and the first ore is said to have been shipped to Swansea, Wales, from the Lovelock mine by W. S. Keyes.

"In the late eighties the company erected a sulfuric acid leaching plant at the mine at a cost of $50,000, but this venture was unsuccessful owing to the fact that the Italian chemist who designed the plant was unfamiliar with the metallurgy of nickel-cobalt ores. Later, a 5-ton-capacity water-jacketed furnace was erected at the Nickel mine, but it blew up a short time after it was placed in operation.

"A number of copper prospects occur on Treasure Box Hill at the head of Bell Mare Canyon south of Cottonwood Canyon. Deposits are reached on horseback up Cottonwood Canyon past the Nickel properties. From Boyer ranch the distance is about 15 miles. The principal properties were located in the early [eighteen] sixties by Alva Boyer, C, S. Kellogg, Jacob Stranager, and Patrick Reid.

"In about 1900, a group from Colorado erected a small smelting furnace on the Azurite-Nevada Queen group of claims, which is still intact, but, judging from the condition of the smelter, no ore was reduced."
(Vanderburg, Reconnaissance of Mining Districts in Churchill County, Nevada)

"There was formerly a road up the canyon to the mines, but it has been completely washed out, and the mines at present can be reached only on foot through a steep-walled canyon.

According to Lincoln, nickel and cobalt deposits were discovered by George Lovelock and Charles Bell about 1882. Production was chiefly from the Lovelock Mine until 1886. About 200 tons of ore was shipped to England for reduction, 90 tons during 1885. The Mine reopened during 1898 and an attempt was made to smelt, but there was little or no production. There was less work on the Nickel Mine- one car of ore was shipped to Camden, New Jersey. It was reopened in 1904 and an attempt was made to leach ore with sulphuric acid. A small smelter was built, but there was only 50 tones of production (matte.) Idle since 1907. (University of Nevada, Nickel Deposits In Cottonwood Canyon)

POST OFFICE March 21, 1890- March 15, 1892; August 15, 1893 - July 18, 1895; Oct. 4, 1905 - March 20, 1906

Luis remarked that "It looks like the world exploded," as we started up the canyon. Indeed- the entrance to the canyon has a collection of rocks and dead trees like nothing you've ever seen. Throughout our journey, we were struck by the power of the water that must occasionally come from this canyon. We passed by several major canyons which empty into this one, and when the water drains out of all of them at once, it muse be quite the spectacle. The remains of a boiler which had slammed into a cottonwood gave mute testimony to the power involved. That being said, the condition of the road- if you want to call it that- is dependent upon the whims of the creek bed through which we splashed fifty percent of the time.

As you arrive in the general area, you come upon the ruins of a couple of wooden structures and some stone foundations. Although the USGS map says Bolivia is further down the road, I believe this is probably where the main part of the town was. A little further up is the Nickel mine, three interconnected mine shafts. The bottom one was blowing up deliciously cool air. Some idiot- or group of idiots- has fashioned a homemade ladder out of wire and PVC pipe in an attempt to go into the mine. Their handiwork was laying at the bottom. If there is more stupid thing to do, I don't know what it would be.

The hills are pockmarked with prospects and mine shafts. Bolivia was, for me, one of the best sites. It's remote, and virtually untouched. There is plenty to see, it's situated in a beautiful canyon, and if you want to do a little sightseeing you can continue on the canyon and take Kitten Springs Road until you cross the Old Emigrant Trail and hit Lovelock.

When we returned to the site in June of 2004, we were relieved to discovered that nothing had changed. This time, we approached the site from the north, through Lovelock and Kitten Springs. We took the time to explore the northern end of the site a bit more that we had done previously, and also struckout on some of the many roads criss-crossing the area. Everywhere one looks, one is reminded of the vast amounts of water that re-carve the landscape every rain- some of the erosion left behind is staggering.

Photographs | Return to Previous Document | HOME