Take it easy
  Ophir (aka Twin River, Toiyabe City)
MAP

38° 56' 40"N, 117° 16' 36"W South Toiyabe Peak Quad

VISITED August 14, 2004
Our supper: MRE's at the Ophir graveyard
DIRECTIONS

Highway 50E from Fallon 47 miles to Middlegate and the junction of Highway 361; Turn S on SR361 for 29.9 miles to the junction of SR361 and SR844; take SR 844 east 16.7 miles, then north for 7.2 miles to Ione; take SR21 over Ione summit for 8.1 miles; take Indian Highway and local forest development roads generally SE (follow signs) for 13.7 miles.

From Fallon : 122.6 miles

WHAT WAS

Ophir became a going concern way back in 1863, when silver was first discovered in the area. More discoveries the next year led to the construction of a huge mill, and road improvements into the area. In three years there were over 400 people living in the area. Despite ups and downs, mining continued in the area until the 1930's.

Here is a description from the 40th Parallel Survey:

The Murphy Mine, or, as it is sometimes called, the Twin River mine, because formerly the property of the Twin River Mining Company, is one of the best developed and most important mines in this part of the range; or, indeed, in Central Nevada. The mine is situated in Ophir Cañon, about two miles west of the opening of the cañon into Smoky Valley. The costs of working the mine are greatly enhanced by the extreme hardness of the rock, requiring a large outlay in steel, powder, and muscle. Steel of 1 1/8 inches diameter is used for drills, and it is not uncommon to dull 30 of them in boring a two-foot hole. Two men are required constantly to sharpen the tools for 44 miners. In June, 1868, there were 44 miners employed, nearly one-half of whom were stoping. Including fillers, landers, rock-pickers, &c, the mining force was 70 men. At that time the mine was producing about 12 tons of milling ore per day to obtain which some 50 tons of rock were mined and raised for assorting. Labor was then employed chiefly by the day at an average cost of $4, in coin, for miners. The machinery at the hoisting works at the mouth of the incline consists of an engine, having a cylinder of 12 inches diameter and 24 inches stroke, driving a winding wheel by friction gear and a pump by means of toothed pinion and wheel. The pump is an eight-inch draw-lift, raising water from the bottom of the mine, being extended as the dept of the incline increases. The mine is very wet and the pump must be constantly employed while mining work is in progress. The company owns a large and costly mill, which is situated in the neighborhood of the mouth of the incline, only a few hundred feet distant, so that the ore, after necessary assortment, is delivered at very little expense.

The mill comprised 20 stamps, 8 roasting furnaces, and 8 amalgamating pans, and 5 settlers or separators, besides retorting, melting, and assaying department that are furnished with all the necessary appurtenances of the business. The mill is furnished with a Blake's rock breaker. The stamps, 20 in number, weigh 800 pounds each; they drop 9 inches, 70 times a minute. Screens of wire-cloth, having 60 meshes to the linear inch, are used, the discharge being on both sides of the battery. THe capacity of the stamps is 20 tons per day. The machinery is driven by an engine of which the cylinder is 18 inches in diameter and 36 inches stroke; for which steam is furnished by two tubular boilers, 15 feet long, consuming about 6 cords of wood per day. The total product of the mine from the date of organization to the time of its suspension of work in the summer of 1868 is shown by the company's books to be about $700,000. Notwithstanding this large production, the greater portion of which was obtained at a fair profit above actual running expenses, the company has suffered great pecuniary embarrassment, and, late in 1868, became bankrupt. The chief cause of the embarrassment, it is said, was the large outlay made at the beginning of operations, in costly surface improvements, involving not only all the money advanced by the stockholders, but all the profits of the mine beside. The mill alone cost $183,000.

Meantime the mine was never opened sufficiently in advance of the demands of the mill, so that the latter was often employed to only part of its full capacity; thereby enhancing the costs of treatment; and it was deemed necessary in the summer of 1868 to close the mill until the mine could be more extensively opened, and ground thus prepared for more economical operations. The production of bullion being thus suspended, a call upon stockholders for further capital became necessary, but owing to the existing discouragement on their part or to a lack of proper appreciation of the true conditions of affairs, the assessments were not paid and the company became embarrassed. The property was attached and all mining operations were suspended. The amount of indebtedness was comparatively small, not exceeding the actual value of the supplied and material on hand and available for use; saying nothing of the mill, hoisting machinery and improvements that had cost about $250,000. In the summer of 1869 the property of the company was sold by the assignee, and was purchased by a new organization known at the "Cambridge Silver Mining Company." The new owners employed a small force in the autumn of last year in draining the mine and extending the explorations; but this work was shortly after suspended without obtaining definite results.
-Report of the Geological Expedition of the Fortieth Parallel - Clarence King 1867-1869

So, things are looking up again.....

OPHIR CANYON - From Captain Pargue we learn that matters at Ophir Canyon are wearing a much brighter aspect that for years past. A San Francisco company has lately come into possession of the splendid Murphy mine property, and recent workings in the mine have developed a splendid body of ore. The company started their mill last Monday and we look for large returns of bullion from that district shortly- [Reese River Reveille, 12th]
- The Daily State Register, Carson CIty, March 15, 1872

And...... things are not going so well....

Valuable Mill Property At Auction - Monday ,May 17, 1875 At 12 o'clock M., at Salesroom, No. 310 Montgomery St., San Francisco, we will sell the MILL AND APPURTENANCES of the Twin River Consolidated Mining Company. The machinery and appurtenances of the Twenty-Stamp Mill belonging to the Twin River Consolidated Mining Company located at Ophir Canyon, Nye Co., Nev., MIdway between Austin and Belmont, COMPRISING 20 Stamps (800 pounds each) and Batteries (dry crushing), 1 Blake Rock Breaker, 6 Amalgamating Pans, five feet diameter (four of them nearly new), 6 Settlers, seven feet diameter, and the other appurtenances of the Milling work, together with an excellent STEAM ENGINE, 18x42 INCH, also, TWO TUBULAR BOILERS, Fourteen feet long, and all requisite shafting, gearing, pulleys, belting, etc, and a valuable lot of Sierra Nevada timber in the Battery Frames and in the Mill and Furnace Buildings. The whole is in excellent condition having been in operation within the past year, and constantly in charge of a keeper while unemployed. The Mill-site and Tailings are reserved. - John Middleton & Son, Auctioneers.
-The Pioche Daily Record, May 2, 1875

So, things are looking up again.....

The Reese River Reveille says old Ophir Canyon District is looking up again. Ophir Canyon Mining District is situated about 45 miles southwest of Austin, in the Toiyabe range of mountains, and in the early days of Reese River Excitement was noted for its rich mines. The Murphy mine produced millions in bullion, and during its season of prosperity quite a populous town sprang up which was known as Ophir. A 20-stamp mill was erected for crushing the ores, and things went along prosperously for some years, but like many other mining districts in this State, it had its back-set, and the the last seven or eight years but little mining as been carried on there.
-The Pioche Weekly Record, June 10, 1882

A cave in and demonitization of silver contributed to work being stopped around 1887. [In a nutshell, demonitization abolished the right of holders of silver bullion to have their metal struck into fully legal tender dollar coins; it ended bimetallism in the United States, placing the nation firmly on the gold standard. Due to the high price of silver, little of that metal was presented at the Mint, but it was thought that development of the Comstock Lode and other rich silver-mining areas would lower the price, causing large quantities of silver dollars to be struck and the gold standard to be endangered.]

Purchased by new owners in 1917, major operations were suspended during WWI. And then....

NEVADA OPHIR PLANNING BIG DEVELOPMENT
Famous Old Murphy Mine Will Receive Thorough Exploitation by New Company
The Nevada Ophir Mining company, controlling the famous old Murphy mine situated 80 miles north of Tonopah, in the Toiyabe range of mountains, Ny county, better knows as Ophir Canyon, is to undergo a comprehensive campaign of explorations. Already a force of seven men is at work in prosecuting surface development and in construction of a road leading to the seat of operations and by the end of May it is hoped to have underground development inaugurated. A.W. Newberry, well-known mining engineer, is resident superintendent and J.T. Harrington who has been in charge of the property for a long period, will serve as assistant. Walter E. Trent, for a long time in charge of the Louisiana Consolidated property at Tybo, serves as President.
Reopening the old incline shaft will be one of the first undertakings. This shaft has a depth of 360 feet and from the five levels which were worked it is estimated that the production averaged around $1,000,000 a level during the years 1868-1870. The last work performed on the property was in 1887, and owing to the caving of a certain portion of the workings no authentic account of developments in available, the old maps either having been lost or destroyed, together with valuable data touching upon production. A report issued by T. A. Oliver on february 18, 1887, then superintendent of the property, shows that the average value of the ore was 200 ounces in silver, while on the fifth level the values varied from 50 to 1000 ounces of silver per ton, with the pay streak being four feet in width. The Murphy, or Nevada Ophir, is a silver mine that should again give a good account of itself. Operations ceased with the demonitization of silver, since which time the property has only been worked at irregular intervals. The holdings passed to the Nevada Ophir Mining company in 1917, to be held for active operations until after the termination of the war. The management now believes that the time is opportune to proceed with thorough exploitation in view of the present high price of silver, and within a few months production should be inaugurated.
-Tonopah Daily Bonanza, May 2, 1922

POST OFFICE

June 18, 1867 to December 5, 1893 as Twin River

NEWSPAPER None
WHAT IS

As you can tell from the directions, we made the trip to Ophir longer than it had to be, mainly because we needed to shake off the grime of the city and ride. And ride we did, covering about fifty miles that day. The weather cooperated for the most part, and we enjoyed a brief but refreshing shower, while a lightning storm pounded the canyon to the north of us. Unfortunately for us, bow-hunting season opened that day, as we were informed by a friendly game warden, and we saw many hunters stalking their elusive quarry- frightened away, no doubt, by a couple of idiots riding their quads. But hey, the documentation of historic sites knows no holiday! Anyway, we felt safer than we would have if it had been regular deer-hunting season. We crested a 10,000 foot pass, quads panting, to look down on Ophir Creek Canyon and the Murphy Mine. Situated in a breathtakingly deep canyon, the site of Ophir contains some remarkable ruins, mostly constructed out of the native rock found in the area. There is plenty to see in the area, roads everywhere, and a mill site and cemetery at the mouth of the canyon; we never did make it any further. You're in quaking aspen country (at least, you are if you came the way we did) and there are lots of initials carved into the trees. While the road is not bad, you'd be more comfortable with a high clearance vehicle, as you cross the creek several times and there are some rocky stretches. Coming back that night as we crossed the Ione Valley heading towards Gabbs, we were surround by thunderstorms, and the lightning seemed to strike around us like hundreds of angry scorpions. Very cool.

 
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