|Olinghouse (Ora, McClanesburg, Fort Defiance)|
N 39.6572° W119.42616° Olinghouse, NV Quad
|VISITED||June 4, 2016
Our breakfast: Omelettes at Moe's Wig Wam in Fernley.
Take US 50 / ALT 50 to Fernley (27.6 miles); continue on BUS 80 for 3.2 miles; continue north through Wadsworth on SR 447 for 2.3 miles; take Olinghouse Rd for 6 miles.
From Fallon: 39 miles
First, info from the historical marker:
-Nevada Historical Marker No. 24
Prospecting activity began at Olinghouse around 1860, but maximum productivity did not occur until the period 1901 to 1903. In 1907 inadaquate ore reserves contributed to the decline of large scale company mining and the properties were leased to small operators. Placer deposits have been sporadically worked inthe Olinghouse area since its first discovery. Between 1939 and 1954 the Natomas Company explored the alluvial fans at the mouth of Olinghouse and Frank Free canyons. Two attempts were made in the 1960's to work the eluvial (not water worked, per se) placer deposits on Green hill, but both operations were unsuccessful
In the period of 1897 to 1907 independent miners extracted gold from the shallow underground workings and placer material on the flanks of Green Hill. The Olinghouse Canyon at Green Hill reached the peak of its activity in the period of 1905 to 1907 when a town site and several mills sprung up in the Canyon. A railway was constructed up Olinghouse Canyon to connect the new town site and the mines to the Truckee Valley below. The old Olinghouse town site is directly to the west of the present Green Hill Mine.
And just to make sure we have everything covered...
The Olinghouse district was first prospected in 1860, locations were made in Fort Defiance Canyon in 1864, and the Green mountain Mines at Olinghouse were located in 1874 (Hill, 1911). Prior to 1900, placer deposits situated in several ravines tributary to Olinghouse Cayon were extensively worked by Wadsworth residents (Overton, 1947). The period between 1901 and 1903 witnessed the greatest activity in lode mining in the district, with three mills running most of the time (Hill, 1911). In 1906, a railroad was constructed between Olinghouse and Wadsworth, connecting the camp with a 50-stamp mill located on the Truckee River; the mill ran for only three months and the operation failed due to lack of ore. The railroad was dismantled in 1909 and the track was sold to the Nevada Copper Belt Railroad, then under construction near Yerington (Myrick, 1962). After the failure of the railroad, company operations at olinghouse ceased and the mines were turned over to lessees (Bonham, 1969). Only intermittent mining activity occurred at Olinghouse until 1986 when Western Goldfields Co. secured land in the eastern part of the district and conducted limited drilling. Phelps Dodge began work in 1991. Alta Gold acquired Phelps Doge's interest in 1994.
Oh heck, one final overview and that's it, I swear....
Elias Olinghouse had been a teamster between Denver and Salt Lake City before the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad disrupted his business. The desecration resulted in a shift farther west into Nevada where another teamster line from Wadsworth southeast to belmont, near Tonapah, was established. WHen the inexorable advancement of age dictated that Olinghouse search for a less strenuous occupation, he finally settled down quietly in a canyon northeast of Wadsworth to raise sheep. Although not a miner, he witnessed the activities of various strangers in the canyon as various placer deposits began to be worked, and his interest in mining commenced to gorw, culminating inthe purchase of several claims from a man named McClane and the erection, in 1903, of a small mill to process ores. Needing assistance as the operation grew, he called on his nephew, Henry J. Olinghouse, to join in the management of the enterprise.
Two men, Brooks McClane and F. Plane, originally located the source of the placer deposits on Green Hill in the year 1897. As the word spread, interest developed in the area, and people began to pour in. Some men pedalled their way on bicycles from Reno, 30 miles to the west; others came from Wadsworth, 8 miles to the east. Many mining claims were recorded, and a two-stamp mill was brought to the new settlement, and the left fork of the canyon creek, originally named McClanesburg, or Ora Post Office, and subsequently retitles Olinghouse. Old W. Cattawalder "Bill" Williams was ever ready to claim fatherhood of the new town, for he was the one to locate Cabin No. 2, one of the main producers of the area, even though a later sale was made to a man named Dondero and a Reno restaurant keeper named Frankovitch. The pair of them in turn, sold it to the Springfield Nevada Mining Co.
An interesting part of Olinghouse history was the Nevada Railroad Company. Operating for only a couple of years, it employed special geared locomotives, the only type of locomotive capable of pulling a load up the steep track-- in some locations up to a 9% grade. According to Trains Magazine's web site:
On main lines, grades are generally 1 percent or less, and grades steeper than about 2.2 percent are rare. The steepest grade on a major railroad's main track (as opposed to industrial spurs) was historically said to be on the Pennsylvania Railroad north of Madison, Ind. Now operated by short line Madison Railroad, the track rises 413 feet over a distance of 7012 feet - a 5.89-percent grade. The title for steepest main-line grade long rested with Norfolk Southern (and predecessor Southern Railway) for its 4.7-percent grade south of Saluda, N.C. With Saluda's closing in 2002, BNSF's [Burlington Northern Santa Fe] 3.3-percent Raton Pass grade in New Mexico became the steepest main-line grade in North America.
Mr. Olinghouse was busy with other things other than mining.
COMMISSIONER (SHORT TERM)
They start getting serious
THE OLINGHOUSE CANYON MINE IS YIELDING WELL
REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS
By 1898, things have progressed enough to where we need a place for th email to be delivered and sorted.
A new post office as been established at Olinghouse Canyon, with Mary Norris postmistress.
A PAYING MINE
REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS
The camp is starting to get noticed
There is a gold camp at Olinghouse Canyon, which is about twenty miles east of Reno. Three mills are going there. The ores are gold, medium and high grade. Each of ht emills running can crush from ten to twenty tons per day. A scaricity of water has retarded operations. Sheriff McGinnis is a leading owner at Olinghouse, having several claims and prospects.
PROGRESS AT OLINGHOUSE
ACTIVITY IN WHITE HORSE
Elias Olinghouse passed away in 1913.
More recent history of the Olinghouse area can be found on the Great Basin Minerals web site where it says, "With the advent of bulk-mineable heap leaching came renewed interest in the hard-rock potential of the district. Phelps Dodge was unable to find sufficient reserves in 1997, and so the property was picked up by Alta Gold Company, which quickly brought it into production. In 1999-2000, while Alta Gold was actively mining in the district, nearly all of the known fine crystallized wire and nest gold specimens were recovered and distributed. In April 2000, after about 30,000 ounces of gold production, Alta Gold went bankrupt, and, with only a few hours' notice, Olinghouse operations permanently shut down. This was primarily because of the low price of gold and spotty production. The properties reverted back to the bank that was holding Alta's operational loan. When the bank couldn't sell all the properties, they reverted back to the former owners, who are now engaged in long-term, multiple civil court battles to see who will control the choicest tracts. It is uncertain if another adventurous mining company will try to work Olinghouse once more and if any specimens will be preserved.
Couldn't find much information regarding "Fort Defiance," not to be confused with similarly-named places in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio, and other places-- or the epic 1951 western starring Dane Clark, Ben Johnson, Peter Graves, and Iron Eyes Cody. It is not mentioned in the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly Vol. VII No. 3-4 article on Early Nevada Forts by Colonel George Ruhlen. Information we did locate indicates it was, most likely, a fortification erected by miners during the Paiute Troubles of 1860 and likely not a "true" military installation. It is not shown on the 1877 Wheeler Survey. Its location is clearly marked on a survey map of 1911. It is also prominently marked on an investment company's map of 1905 as "Old Fort Defiance." Ditto on early State highway maps from 1919.
To date, in and immediately adjacent to the BLM-managed lands of the White Hills Allotment,
known cultural resources represent significant past human use of the landscape. Known cultural
resources within the White Hills Allotment are predominantly related to mining and include
historical mining camps, prospects, mining complexes, residential areas, and transportation sites
including roads and trails; ranching features; debris scatters; and the site of Fort Defiance, a
small fortification erected by miners during the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian War in 1860.
June 28, 1898 - October 31, 1902 (Ora)
Despite the rumors and reports of armed hillbillies guarding access to the town, Olinghouse is deserted. There are many many "No Tresspassing" signs so just stay on the road and you'll be fine. The local mine company has blocked access to the mine works, and they have alse fenced off their HQ and yard in the center of town. There are plenty of ruins around to look at.
North of Olinghouse in Jones Canyon is the remains of a old ranch and a substantial dam. The pond has a lot of water this year and actually covers the road so don't accidentally drive into it.