Take it easy
  Bottle Creek District (White Peaks, McAdoo, Scossa, Birthday, Baldwin, and Blue Can Mines)

41.35998 N 118.30974 W Bottle Creek Ranch Quad

VISITED December 10, 2016 - FAIL! Got Stuck!
Our Breakfast: Eggs at Jerry's in Fallon
Our Dinner: Pizza at Winnemucca Pizza
April 15, 2017 - Success!
Our Breakfast: Eggs at Jerry's in Fallon
Our Dinner: Burgers at Spare TIme Bowling Center, Winnemucca

From Winnemucca, take US 95 north for 31.6 miles to the junction of Highway 140; head west on 140 for 25.8 miles to the junction of Bottle Creek Rd.; head south on Bottle Creek Ranch Rd. for 7 miles; head west on local dirt road for 2.7 miles.


Things started off slowly here.

The Bottle Creek District is on the east slope of the Jackson Mountains. In 1936 cinnabar was discovered by the Scossa brothers, James and Arnold, of Winnemuca. Shortly after this discovery a large number of locations were made, but most of the work has been confined to the Red Ore and White Peak groups of claims owned by the Scossa brothers. In July 11937 the Scossa claims were sold to John A. Fulton of Reno, and associates. No production of quicksilver had been made up to the time of the author's visit.
-Bottle Creek District Property Report, Vanderburg, 1938

Just a bit more detail...

According to Bailey and Phoenix, cinnabar float was known in the district as early as 1928, but the lodes were not discovered until 1936. Production from the district from late 1936 through 1943 yielded 4,544 flasks of quicksilver , with more than 3,000 flasks coming from a single diabase dike on which the Blue Can and McAdoo mines are located . By the end of 1943 activity in the district was nil . Renewed activity occurred in the mid 1950's, and from 1956 to 1958 two flat lying ore bodies in a basalt flow were mined by open-pit methods at the Red Ore Mine resulting in a production of about 1,000 flasks of mercury. Interest in the district declined again after 1958 but picked up again in the mid to late 1960's when the price of quicksilver reached all time highs of $800 to $1,000 per flask . Production records are very sketchy for this period but indications are that very little production resulted . There has been very little interest in the district for mercury since the early-mid 1970's. There has been some interest shown in recent times as a potential area for gold exploration. Rytuba reports that total production for the district has been around 5,900 flasks of mercury.

From the feds...

The quicksilver deposits in the Bottle Creek district, which had only been known a few years when Roberts and Granger (Roberts, 1940) mapped them in 1939, became important producers during the Second World War. By the end of 1943 they had produced 4,544 flasks of quicksilver (Bailey and Phoenix, 1944, p. 80). Production declined after the war, and ceased altogether in 1947. The mines remained idle until late 1955, when the extraordinarily high price of mercury stimulated activity in most of the known quicksilver districts in the State. A mill was constructed for the purpose of upgrading low-grade material, and open-pit mining operations were begun at several of the old mines. In 1957 the mill was treating about 60 tons per day of material containing 2 to 5 pounds of quicksilver per ton and upgrading it by gravity concentration to about 20 percent mercury. The concentrates were fired in a D retort at Winnemucca.

General Geology of the Jackson Mountains Humboldt County, Nevada

They picked up steam right after Vanderburg's inspection.

The first retort was installed by D.J. Wootan, and production began in September 1938. The monthly production of the district from September 1939 to September 1939 is as follows:
September - 8
October - 18
November - 20
December - 29
January, 1939 - 25
February - 14
March - 11
April - 13
May - 33
June - 33
July - 26
August - 37
September, 1939 - 33

Late in 1938 and early in 1939 quicksilver ranged in price from $75 to $93 a flask; in September 1939 it rose to $165.
- Quicksilver Deposits of the Bottle Creek District, Geological Survey Bulletin 922-A, 1940

Some brief descriptions of the mines during the quicksilver heyday in this district, from the U.S. Department of the Interior:

The Baldwin group of 12 claims in the eastern part of the district includes the Blue Bucket, Blue Bucket Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, Blue Bucket Fraction, Blue Bucket Fraction No. 1, Black Beauty, Senator, Senator No. 1, Apex, and Sunflower claims. They are owned by H. W. Baldwin, of Winnemucca, and the estate of John C. Duryea and were located i n September 1936. For a time in 1937-38 they were under option to the Fulton Quicksilver Co., of Reno, but the option was released. In December 1939 the group was optioned to James 0. Greenan, of Reno, who has since been carrying on development. The workings, chiefly on Blue Bucket Nos. 1 and 3 claims, consist of a 28-foot shaft and a connecting drift and a short adit , all in rhyolite.

The Birthday mine is owned by D. J. Wootan, M. S. McGown, G. Wootan, and M. Wootan. The property includes eight claims,of which the Birthday, Birthday No. 1, Lone Star Fraction, Mercury King, Amador, and Perhaps claims are in one group. In the southwestern part of the area mapped. The Last Chance and
Hector claims, in the central part of the district, adjoin the Scossa White Peak group. The claims were located in October 1936 by D. J. Wootan. Ore was discovered on the Birthday claim in June 1938, and the
North shaft was sunk soon afterward. A two-tube retort was put into operation in September 1938, and two more tubes were added in September 1939. The property produced 47 flasks of quicksilver in 1938 from a two-tube retort , and 165 flasks in 1939, when two tubes were operated until September 15 and four
tubes thereafter.

The property of the Bottle Creek Mercury Co. known as the Blue Can or Tin Can mine consists of nine claims adjoining the McAdoo group in the central part of the district. the claims were located in November 1936 by C.P. Hoakins, T. Smith, and Thos. C. Niebuhr, of Winnemucca, and are the Blue Can, Blue Can Nos. 1,2,3,4,5,and 6, Goodenough, and Bottle Creek Mercury claims. According to Mr. Niebuhr, the property between October 11, 1938 and February 5, 1939, produced 40 1/2 flasks of quicksilver in a two-tube retort from ore averaging 32 pounds of quicksilver to the ton. The property was sold to James O. Greenan of reno, Nev., in February 1939 who has since been carrying on development there.

The MCADOO property comprising 25 claims is owned by Dr. W.C. McAdoo of Winnemucca. One group, including the Bluebird Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Bluebird Fraction,Anthill, and Rainbow Fraction Nos. 2 and 4, is in the central part of the district. The Anthill No. 1, Red Ore Extension,Blue Eagle Nos. 1 and 2, Pickup Nos. 1 , 2, and 3, Tiger Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, and Standard Nos. 1 , 2, and 3 claims are scattered throughout the southern and eastern parts of the district. The discovery was made on the Bluebird No. 3 claim by Dr. McAdoo in September 1936, and the discovery shaft was sunk 6 months later . Some of the claims were under option to the Fulton Quicksilver Co., of Reno, Nev., during part of 1937 and 1938, but the option was released. A two-tube rtort was put into operation in May 1939, and four more tubes were added in July 1939. One hundred fourteen flasks of quicksilver had been produced by October 19, 1939.

The Niebuhr property, owned by T. C. Niebuhr, of Winnemucca,is in the northwestern part of the district near the common corner of Tps. 40 and 41 N., Rs. 32 and 33 E. It consists of seven claims: Sun-Set, Sun-Set Nos. 1 and 2, Big Four, Big Four No. 1, Alice Bell , and Alice Bell No. 1. Cinnabar
was discovered on the Sun-Set claim in March 1939. No quicksilver had been produced at the time of visit, but Mr. Niebuhr reports that a two-tube retort was installed and a flask of quicksilver was produced from about 5 tons of ore treated in January 1940. The workings on the property at the time of visit included a 17-foot shaft and several open cuts. The shaft, in massive rhyolite, is traversed by a fault zone 2 to 3 feet wide that strikes about N. 55° E. and dips 65° SE. Cinnabar coats rhyolite fragments in the fault zone and locally impregnates the finely crushed matrix . According to Mr.
Niebuhr, solid cinnabar "bunches" weighing as much as 2 pounds have been found in the fault zone.

The Scossa property, owned by James and Arnold Scossa,of Winnemucca, consists of two groups of claims — the White Peak Nos. 1, 2, and 3, in the central part of the district, and the Red Ore Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Red Ore Fraction, and Red Ore Fraction Nos. 1 and 2 about a mile south of the White Peak group.
The claims, the first staked in the district , were located in September 1936. A little assessment work was done on them in 1936 and early in 1937; and in July 1937 they were optioned to the Fulton Quicksilver Co., of Reno, Nev. This company carried on development work including the sinking of a shaft 112 feet deep on the White Peak No. 1 claim and drifting on the 62-foot and 112-foot levels. Several shallow shafts were also put down on the Red ore group. In 1938 the claims reverted to the Scossa Bros., who have since further developed the property. A 30-ton Cottrel Furnace was put into operation in October 1939.

A Preliminary Report - Geological Survey Bulletin 922A

McAdoo Mercury Mine. Owner, Mrs. Eve McAdoo
In June 1940, McAdoo was treating 6 tons of ore per day in three retorts (12 pipes) and producing 20 flasks of mercury per week. A 10 foot 6 hearth Herreshoff furnace was installed by the McAdoo Co. in 1941 but production was suspended by lack of ore in 1942. Most of the ore produced has come from the blue Can Mine claims. BLue Can Mine and the McAdoo Mine are connected. This property has been developed by a 100 foot inclined shaft with levels at 20, 50, and 100 feet below the collar. Workings are in a continuation of the dike developed in the Blue Can Mine, 200 feet south. The 100 foot level connects with the 78 foot level of the Blue Can Mine. Considerable mining equipment is located at the mine.
-U.S. Bureau of Mines, Preliminary Examination Report, 1942

Produced 4.544 flasks by the end of 1943. Idle 1944 to late 1955 when high price of mercury caused reopening. In 1957 the mill was treating 60 tons a day of material containing to to 5 pounds of mercury per ton and upgrading it by gravity. Concentrates were fired in a D retort at Winnemucca.
-Bottle Creek District Property Report, CARROLL E. BRADBERRY AND ASSOCIATES, 1964

And some news clippings of the day...

Winnemucca, Nev June 23-- (Special)
Work is going forward on the cinnabar ground belonging to D. W. C. McAdoo and Herbert Baldwin and also that belonging to the Scossa brothers, sixty-four miles northwest of Winnemucca on the east slope of the Jackson range about ten miles west across the desert valley floor from the famous Austin Jumbo mine in the Slumbering hills. McAdoo and Baldwin have nineteen claims in the district, about two miles north of Bottle creek, where a recent gold strike has attracted attention, and have prospected is with tunnels and cuts. At present they have about three hundred tons of ore on the dump, the mercury coloring the soft white rock pink and orchid with occasional spots of bright red. The ore runs from a half of one percent, which is considered good, to forty percent for the high grade, Dr. McAdoo said assay reports show. Operations on the Scossa property at present include sinking a shaft on one of the best prospects, and a hoist is being installed for this work. The Scossa brothers have around 500 tons of ore out, and Dr. McAdoo said Sunday a furnace would probably be put up, either on his ground of on Scossas' and the ore from both properties treated in it. Timothy Smith and Tom Niebuhr of Winnemucca are developing claims in the district, which covers an area of four square miles, and report some excellent showings. A good road to the district turns off the Denio highway some miles past Sod House.
-Reno Evening Gazette, June 23, 1937

The Blue Can quicksilver mine in the jackson mountains of Humboldt county is being developed steadily by James C. Greenan and the showing of ore is being increased daily, it was said this week at the
local office. A small retort is being supplied daily with development ore and is paying expenses, it is understood.
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 11, 1939

Humboldt county's Bottle Creek mining district is fast becoming one of the centers of mercury mining activities now under extensive development and with additional activities planned, it is reported by the Humboldt Star. Leading operations is the work now being carried on by the J.O. Greenan interests of which A. M. Tweed is overseeing operations. The property formerly known as the Blue Can claims and formerly owned by C. Tim Smith, Tom Neibuhr and C. P. Hoskins of WInnemucca,, is now being prospected and is reported to be producing. Twenty men are now in the Bottle Creek camp and also a promising property is the Birthday mine, owned and operated by D. J. Wootan and two sons, Gerald and Maurice, and M. S. McGowan. D. J. Wootan and McGowan have the controlling interests. A total of thirty pounds of quicksilver is being reported daily and from twelve to sixteen flasks are being shipped monthly. The mine was located in 1937 and Wootan made the big strike in May, 1938. James Scossa is also operating in the district and another retort is under construction.
- Reno Evening Gazette, July 8, 1939

Here is a nice long article about what's going on in Bottle Creek

Bottle Creek Holds Lead At Present By LAURA BELL
WINNEMUCCA, Nev., May 29.
(Special) — Of the half-dozen quicksilver districts in this section that ship flasks of the silvery metal through Winnemucca, none can compare at present to the Bottle Creek area. Of all the districts in the state, this one, perhaps has made the greatest progress in the shortest time. Situated sixty-three miles northwest of Winnemucca, it was first discovered in 1936 by two well known prospectors, James and Arnold Scossa, in the foothills on the eastern side of Jackson mountain. There was not even a road into the district at that time. Now a visitor is amazed at the development on the various properties, the number of buildings and reduction plants, and the prosperous activity in evidence. Driving up the canyon in which the district is situated, one comes first to the Baldwin property,which is being operated on a bond and lease by the Greenan interests. The ore in this deposit is said to differ considerably from that of the rest of the district, being harder and occurring in a different formation. The Greenan people are trucking the ore from this ground to the plant on their Blue Can property, a mile and a half up the canyon. This fifty-ton furnace was completed two weeks ago by the H. Gould company of San Francisco, and from the day of warming up has been making a recovery more than satisfactory to the- company, according to reports. Mr. Greenan stated last week that in one five hour run on high-grade ore, fifty flasks were recovered. If this is not some kind of a record, it is pretty close to one, according to mining men. With quicksilver quoted at $190-$192 and the producers receiving better than $170 a flask, a little work with pencil and paper will disclose that that was a lucrative five hours. The Greenan plant is now running twenty-four hours a day and development work in the south end of the main Blue Can workings reportedly promises a rosy future. W. G. Donaldson is the engineer in charge of the Bottle Creek properties. Joining the Greenan ground is the property of Dr. W, C. McAdoo, Winnemucca dentist, who is at present showing a waning interest in his original profession. He and Mrs. McAdoo have completed a cottage on the property and are moving out there today for the summer. Dr. McAdoo's plant, a battery of twelve pipe retorts, is situated some two hundred feet from the large Greenan plant and at present is turning out about twenty flasks a week. The ore in this district is exceedingly high grade, and development work on the McAdoo ground has shown his deposit to be increasing in size. Farther down the canyon is the White Peaks mine, so named by the Hollywood men, Eugene Frenke and Anthony Lebeche, who took over the property last February from the Scossa brothers. The thirty-ton rotary furnace installed by the Scossas is in operation and development work is going forward in the main workings. The new operators also are running two 750-foot prospect tunnels south of the camp under the original discovery of the Scossa boys. Adjoining the White Peak property is the Wootan ground, on which one of the first rich discoveries was made in the district. This has been taken over on a lease and bond by Dr. McAdoo and is being operated in conjunction with his own mine. Leaving the south end of the district, one may drive two miles farther up the canyon through sagebrush and water courses to the new Niebuhr strike, which has all the earmarks of making as big a deposit as Niebuhr's original discovery in the camp. He is operating a small retort and taking out several flasks of quicksilver a week. T. C. Niebuhr was one of the original discoverers of the Blue Can mine, which was taken over last year by the Greenan people from him, C. Tim Smith and C. P. Hoskins of Winnemucca on a bond and lease. On adjacent claims higher up the hillside can be seen the promising showing which two prospectors, Bill Hagen and James Higgins have just opened up.
-Reno Evening Gazette, May 29, 1940

Present Heavy Producer to Have Herreshoff Roaster Installed, Is Report
Winnemucca, Nev. June 1-- A new thirty ton Nichols Herreshoff furnace will be installed on the McAdoo quicksilver ground at Bottle Creek, sixty-three miles northwest of here, it was learned today. Dr. W.
C. McAdoo, Winnemucca dentist, who owns and operates the mine, signed a contract this week with George S. Connolly, vice president and chief engineer of the pacific Foundry Company of San Francisco, and installation will start immediately. Dr. McAdoo has been taking out about twenty flasks a week, with twelve pipe retorts which he has been operating for some time and he will continue to use them while the new plant is under construction. It was pointed out that the new plant, which will cost approximately $30,000, can take care of a much larger tonnage and lower grade ore than can be handled in the pipe retorts. The operation of the Herreshoff multiple hearth type of furnace at Bottle Creek will be watched with particular interest by mining men since there are now two rotary type furnaces in operation in the district, a Gould on the Greenan property and a Cottrell on the Scossa ground, recently taken over by Hollywood interests, and an opportunity will be had to compare the two types of furnace.
-Reno Evening Gazette, June 1, 1940.

The late 1930's and the early 1940's were the glory days of mercury mining in this district.

Dr. W. C. McAdoo, principal owner of the McAdoo quicksilver property at Bottle Creek, died at the Humboldt general hospital this morning of a heart ailment. He had been confined to the hospital for the past two years. Dr. McAdoo, a former resident of Virginia City and more recently a practicing dentist in San Francisco,, took over the Bottle creek property about eighteen months ago and equipped it with what was regarded as one of the finest retorting plants in the state. The property, since its original development, had attracted widespread interest. Believe to be fifty-five years old, Dr. McAdoo was a World War veteran and a member of Vernon Robins Post No. 5, American Legion, in Winnemuca, where he resided with his wife, who survives him. (Note: I don't think he was confined to the hospital for the "past two years," when the paper just printed a photo of him standing at the mine in October of 1940. Maybe they meant "weeks" or "months.")
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 26, 1941

New Orebodies Are Developed At McAdoo Mine
Humboldt county's McAdoo mining property—one of Nevada's largest quicksilver producers for one and one-half years—today resumed operations following a two month shutdown, it was announced by the Star. Work reopened on a twenty-four hour day schedule today with four men going to work and bringing the full crew to sixteen men at this number one producer in the Bottle Creek district. For the past six weeks between ten and twelve men have been working in developing new orebodies. A promising strike was made about four weeks ago by Bill Johnson, assistant cook, while prospecting about fifteen
hundred feet from the main workings. A forty to fifty foot shaft has been sunk and the ore runs approximately forty pounds of quicksilver to the ton. The McAdoo Mining Company drastically curtailed
production late in January, when twenty-five men were laid off although a crew was kept on to search for orebodies and overhaul equipment. At that time, Mrs. Eva McAdoo, owner, announced the men had been only temporarily laid off and that work would be resumed when additional ore was found. A thirty-ton Nichols-Herreshoff furnace is on the property, having been placed in operation in September of 1940. Since September of that year, production averaged around $25,000 a month up until shortly before the shutdown came. Resumption of work by the McAdoo company marks the second firm to
resume operations within several weeks in the Bottle Creek district. James O. Greenan, widely known Nevada mining operator, secured under lease and option cinnabar claims and a twenty-ton rotary
furnace of James and Arnold Scossa, merging this property with claims Greenan owned previously. The reopening of work by both these operators in the Bottle Creek indicates quicksilver activity in
Humboldt county is again on the upward trend since this country was the fourth largest American mercury producer in 1940.
-Reno Evening Gazette, April 11, 1940

Furnace is in Bottle Creek Mercury Camp
The Humboldt star has announced the purchase of a thirty-ton Herreshoff mill, mill site and water on the McAdoo property in the Bottle creek district by Melvin McCoy and John Hardin from Mrs. Eva
McAdoo. McCoy and Hardin has been operating the Blue Bucket quicksilver property which adjoins the McAdoo mine on the north, and is one mile form the mill, since early in May. McCoy leased the
property from Baldwin a year ago. Fourteen men are now employed at the mine and if miners can be hired, twenty men will be put on the payroll within the next few weeks. The bunk house and cook house
on the McAdoo property will be put to use immediately. Ore is being hauled from the mine to the mill by Albert DeLong.
-Reno Evening Gazette, August 22, 1942

Baldwin Property At Bottle Creek Will Be Equipped
A mercury plant of special design, employing certain patented features, is being fabricated by the Gardner Manufacturing company of Oakland for early installation at the Blue Bucket cinnabar mine in the Bottle Creek District.
-Reno Evening Gazette, August 19, 1944

By this time, things were winding down

Reports from Humboldt county this week said that operations had been suspended on the Blue Bucket cinnabar mine of the Molybdenum Products Company in the Bottle creek district, following a meeting and reorganization of the company directorate at Tacoma, Washington where the main office is located. Buildings for a well-proportioned camp and for a processing plant had been completed, together with new roads to and through the property, and it was indicated that an efficient mercury plant could have been placed in operation within a few weeks.
-Reno Evening Gazette March 23, 1946




When we visited this location on a snowy, rainy December morning we had already turned back from another site, fearing its slippery claws would strand us there, alone and frightened. Too bad we didn't go home at that point. Instead, we continued here and got ourselves royally stuck. Luckily, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department stopped fighting crime long enough to send out a deputy who politely 'tsk tsked" our stupidity and pulled us out.

Our second trip was better. Avoided the road we used the first time, which had by this time developed huge ruts and washouts. Not much equipment left here, but many different retorts of various designs and sizes, and many buildings. The site is spread out over a wide area, with many of the buildings being rooming houses and such for the miners.

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