|Ophir (aka Twin River, Toiyabe City)|
38° 56' 40"N, 117° 16' 36"W South Toiyabe Peak Quad
|VISITED||August 14, 2004
Our supper: MRE's at the Ophir graveyard
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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
June 18, 1867 to December 5, 1893 as Twin River
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.