4WD or high clearance desired
  Phonolite aka Bruner (Nye Co.)

N39.07794 W117.76340 - Burnt Cabin Summit, NV QUAD

VISITED We Visited: February 14, 2015
Our Breakfast: Omlettes at Middlegate Station
Our Supper: Hamburgers at Cold Springs Station
DIRECTIONS Head east from Fallon on U.S. 50 for 52 miles to the junction of NV 722; take 722 and continue east over Carroll Summit for 7.7 miles; turn right (south) on local dirt road for 16.6 miles; turn right (west) on local road for about 1.0 miles.
From Fallon:
77.3 miles

The Phonolite area includes the sites of Phonolite-- later called Bruner-- Duluth, Peerless, and Penelas. Phonolite was never much more than 30 people at its peak, and the other sites were much smaller, except for Penelas, which at one time had about fifty workers. Despite its size, Duluth managed to have a newspaper during its short existence. Bruner was moved closer to the older mill at some point in its life.

The Bruner district is relatively small and is situated at the north end of the Paradise Range bordering the Churchill County line. It adjoins the Mammoth district on the south. The earliest reported work in the area was at the Paymaster in 1906. The Penelas mine has been the only important producer, with a total recorded production of $898,629 having been recovered from 69,001 tons during the years 1936-1940. The Penelas mine. so named after the locator who made the discovery before World War I, is situated in the southeast part of the district, on the east flank of the Paradise Range, and about 14 miles northwest of Ione. The Penelas Mining Company, of which L. D. Gordon of Reno is president-manager, operated the mine from 1931 to 1942. A 50-ton cyanide mill was built in 1935, and the installation had the distinction of being one of the most efficient small operations in the State. To facilitate communication from its remote location, prearranged short wave radio contact was made with Fallon, 80 miles distant by road. When the ore was exhausted in 1940, the operation was shut down and all surface plant subsequently sold. Only the shaft, stopes caved to the surface, and the tailing pile remain as evidence of past activity. The Ole Peterson mine, operated by Peterson in 1936 as the Golden Eagle, is the southern and more important retained part of several adjoining properties purchased in 1915 by the Kansas City-Nevada Consolidated Mines Company. At the Paymaster claim on the north end of the group the ore occurs in a poorly defined zone along a rhyolite-andesite contact. An excellent one and one-half compartment 375-foot shaft, with levels each 125 feet and about 2,000 feet of laterals, was sunk prior to 1920. A 50-ton cyanide mill, built in 1919 and destroyed by fire a few years later, was apparently
unjustified as no recorded production is shown for the company. Broken Hills, 12 miles west, was probably the principal source of ore for the mill. Little or no work has been done on the Paymaster since about 1923.
-Mineral Resources of Nye County, Nevada, University of Nevada Bulletin, Vol. XLV January 1951 by Victor E. Kral

In a 1991 report for the Miramar Mining Corporation, the unbearably handsome and excruciatingly intelligent geologist John Schilling created a fantastic resource for information regarding this district. I'm going to quote and paraphrase a lot of it here and hope he doesn't come after me with a rock hammer.

1906-15 - Development of individual mines
1915-25 - Purchase and development by larger mining corporations
1926-42 - Major period of mining
1948-49 - Some mining by lessors

There are references to "Peerless, Nev." as far back as 1890 and 1894, since the Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume 65 published in January 1898 shows "Assessments Levied By Mining Companies" activites for "Peerless, Nev." during those years, but "Mines & Mining In The States West of the Rocky Mountains," a publication of the U.S. Commissioner of Mining Statistics published in 1870, shows a Peerless Mine in the Amador District owned by a William C. Lipp. "Peerless" is a pretty common word, and this is referring to a mine by that name, nearer to Austin (19N 44E Section 7), and not the townsite we're looking for.

The Reno Gazette talks about Phonolite and Peerless as newly-formed contemporaries in an article written in late 1906. Among the location clues in the article are: "Three miles from Phonolite," "gold bearing ledge at Phonolite extends along range of hills to Peerless," "About a mile east and a little north of [Burnt Cabin] Summit," and- most interestingly- "On a number of claims at Peerless can be found fine trees 18" in diameter and big cedar is plentiful." Ain't no 18" diameter trees ever grown in the area the USGS has marked for Peerless that I know of, so I suspect it's closer to being in the hills up in the tree line somewhere, instead of a flat area with no signs of mines or digging nearby at all.

Phonolite and Duluth both spring into being about the same time. Phonolite was named after a volcanic rock common to the district, and Duluth was named for the Michigan city--to the southwest and separated from Phonolite by a hill.

This camp was promoted by the Mohawk-Duluth Mining Company of San Francisco who obtained a number of claims.... The Black Mule Claim, owned by David Fife and William Bills became the best known of the claims at Duluth and the center of the mine workings. In 1906 a 625 pound specimen estimated to contain $1200 in gold was displayed in brokerage houses around the state to promote the properties of Duluth. The rock was found in a strike made on the Fife properties. in 1907 ore sacked from teh surface was reported to run from $30 to $500. Henry (Bill) William Bruner came to Phonolite from Goldfield during the money panaic of 1906... [and] began acquiring mining claims for Kansas City speculators. Large milling improvements were contemplated... and an ample source of water had to be found.... In February 1907 it was decided that the water would be piped from Lebeau Creek across Ione Valley, a distance of nine miles at a cost of about $40,000. [The] Phonolite Townsite and Water Company was incorporated, and thepromoters laid out an elaborate townsite with an electric plant and water system. The streets.... were named for various states.... Those running the other direction were named for minerals: Lead Street, Copper Street, Silver Street, Gold Street, Mercury Street, and Manganese Street. All of this imaginative planning was to little avail, however, for the camp was soon a financial failure, and the post office closed in 1909.
-Gabbs Valley, Nevada-- Its History, Ghost Towns, and Legend.- R. Tipton

Mr. Schilling continues...

As the years went by, the camp was more frequently called Bruner and less often Phonolite and the post office renamed Bruner. Bruner reachd its peak at about 30 persons. The pipeline was finished in 1919. It was made of redwood wrapped with steel wire and was buried to keep the pipe from freezing. With an abundance of water on its way, construction started (1919) on a 50-ton mill at the Paymaster. Instead of traditional stamps, the grinding in the new plant was to be done by a ball mill. Two large deisel engines were set up to furnish the power. In a matter of months the large modern mill was finished. The fabulous new 50 ton mill at Phonolite ran only a month or two after it was completed in 1915. the one bullion bar that was made was shipped to San Francisco brining about $2000. Since there were about $3000 in outstanding debts the mill was shut down." (Fallon Standard, 19 Aug 20) The old town of Phonolite was gradually moved across the summit to the mill and by August of 1926 the boarding house and seven cabins were at the new location. The company was at that time constructing a four car garage on the new townsite, and planned to move all the rest of the buildings but one from the old settlement. Storage tanks with a capacity of 90,000 gallons supplied water for the town and mill. Sometime in the waning days of Phonolite the mill was shut down and a watchman hired. One night after welding on his automobile in the mill building, the mill went up in flames. The property was well insured.
-John Schilling, Mineral Resources And Geology of the Bruner Project Area, 1991

Some stories from the Reno Evening Gazette follow. Note that "Phonolite" and "Bruner" seem to be used interchangeably at some points. I believe that's because it was originally named Phonolite, and some people just kept calling it that, much to Mr. Bruner's chagrin, I'm sure. The townsite of Duluth was platted a mile east but only lasted barely a year or so, although it saw itself as a major competitor, even managing to produce a newspaper during its brief life, while Phonolite and Bruner made do without.

1906, August 20
Two Booming Camps In the South
Goldfield Men Taking Leases at the Latter Place-- Timber Near But No Water
The new camps of Peerless, about three miles from another new camp, Phonolite, is attracting attention of Tonopah mining men. The camp of
Phonolite is located less than two miles southwest from the Burnt Cabin summit, on the road from Austin to the Illinois mine. At Phonolite, where location work has been carried on steadily for the past six weeks, the showing is so good that a number of Goldfield men have taken leases on some of the claims, and men and materials are being sent to the new camp preparatory for a winter campaign of development.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1906 October 10
A new. strike has been made. in the hills north and a little west of the old camp of lone. A ledge is said to crop for a considerable distance on the surface, that shows free gold in any part. The camp that has been established at the scene of the find is called Peerless. Peerless is about twenty-five miles from lone and five miles from Phonolite, another new camp that has drawn many people to the scene from Carson City.
-San Francisco Call

1906, December 28
Salt Lake Man Likes New Mining Camp
Austin - Sam A. King, formerly of Salt Lake City, has just closed deals by which he becomes part owner of the town site of Phonolite, Nev., as well as twelve claims which are said to be among the best in the camp. The Phonolite Townsite, Water, and Light Company, with a capital stock of $1,000,000, has been incorporated with H.W. Bruner of Kansas City,president, W.W. Keith of Tonopah, secretary and treasurer, and F.M. Benedict, T.S. Wolcott and A.L. Kramer, directors. The company owns the only available water in that section and will at once take steps to pipe it to the town. Already 40 or 50 lots have been sold in the town .Application has been made for a post office and a mail route from Austin.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1907, February 2
Miners report Rich Strike At Duluth
Goldfield- Reports of another rich strike at Duluth were received here yesterday. The details are so far meager. Edward E. Merrifield received a letter from Messers. Fife and Bills that the shaft of the Younker Bros. lease on the Climax claim had struck a ledge at ten feet, thatis three and one half feet wide, all shipping ore. Quite a rush is on from Phonolite.

1907, February 15
It is reported that ore going a dollar a pound in value has been found in the Rose Yonker lease at Duluth. Dduluth has a newspaper- The Tribune- a live snappy publication giving all of the mining ining news of the camp.
-Salt Lake Mining review

1908, March 31
H.W. Bruner, and old Cripple Creek operator, who sold all his interests in Goldfield a year or more ago, to cast his fortunes with the then almost
unknown camp of Phonolite, has written to the News regarding the situation in that camp and from his letter, Phonolite is one of the good
ones that are being overlooked. "The Phonolite district is now fast coming to the front and I predict for it one of the largest camps in the state in the near future; that is a camp that will be permanent. If you can show another camp that can beat this in values in the state, or any other state, I am from Missouri."
-Reno Evening Gazette

1908, July 7
Find Big Vein in the Paymaster Mine
R.E. Bruner, brother of H.W. Bruner of Phonolite, Nev., has just returned from a several weeks visit to the property. Unless unerring nature has made a mistake, Phonolite is destined to be one of the steady producing camps of the state of Nevada.
-Reno Evening Gazette

In October of 1910 the town was renamed "Bruner," but it doesn't seem to be universally accepted. Meanwhile, Mr. Bruner is spending some of his hard-earned wages.

1915, March 13
H.W. Bruner, superintendent for the Phonolite-Paymaster Mining Company, was in Reno this week and returned home in his new Ford car, which he bought from the Calavad Auto Company.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1917, June 19
The government is asking bids for carrying mail from Frenchman's Station to Bruner, a distance of forty miles. With the new route established supplies of meat, vegetables and fresh fruit can be sent out by the merchants of Fallon to the camps along this line.

They started construction on the mill at the Paymaster mine in 1919.

1919, January 5
The Kansas City Nevada Consolidated Mines company operating the Paymaster mine at Phonolite in northwestern Nye county has mill construction under way. Machinery and equipment have been arriving
at Fallon for several months from which point it is shipped by caterpillar to the mine, a distance of about ninety miles. The plant will employ cyanide. Construction includes a ten mile water pipe line from lone. The head offices of the company are in the Commerce Building, Kansas City Missouri. H. W. Bruner is listed as general manager.
-Salt Lake Mining Review

Still slapping together that mill....

1919, October 30
At Bruner the mine is improving as development work is accomplished. The mill is about completed; the pipe line installed, and very soon it will be placed with the producers of Nevada. A truck line is now being run from Luning to Bruner and supplies are taken in that way.
-Salt Lake Mining Review

Almost done.....

1920, February 15
Additional financing is promised for the property of the Kansas City Nevada Consolidated Mines company operating at Bruner and it is expected that the mill that has been building for sometime will be in operation by March 15. A large tonnage of ore has been blocked out awaiting the completion of the mill.
-Salt Lake Mining Review

Mr. Silverino Penelas immigrated from Spain in 1904, and at the time of the 1920 census was 40 years old, but at the time of the 1930 census he was only 46 years old. His WWI draft registration card shows his birthday as November 15, 1879. In 1918 he was living in Manhattan, Nevada and working as a miner for the White Caps Mine company. It shows his nearest reletive was in Spain, so he was pretty much here all alone.

1921, August 2
After three years of prospecting and preliminary work in the mining district near Bruner, Silverino Penelas believes that he has uncovered some rich ground in his claims at Phonolite and is exhibiting some high class assays to support his contentions. He is spending a few days in reno because of ill health, but expects to secure a hoist and drill compressor before returning to his property.
-Reno Evening Gazette

By 1922, the mill had turned out two bullion bars. They processed ore from mines in the districts of Telluride, Mammoth, Broken Hills, and Bruner, but it just wasn't enough to keep it going. The Mine and mill holdings of the Kansas City Nevada Co. were sold by the sheriff in Tonopah on January 17, 1925. There were problems keeping the road open to Broken Hills which reduced the amount of ore the mill could process. This contributed to financial problems for the Kansas City company.

1925, May 16
Tonopah (Special) The Golden Eagle Mining and Milling Company, organized to take over and operate gold mines situated in the Phonolite District of Northern Nye county contemplates operation of the sixty ton mill built in 1919. the mill has been idle except for the short time it ran ore from the Broken Hill mine.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1925, October 10
Box Of Fuse Caps Explodes As Man Carries It In His Arms
Mine Superintendent Meets Tragic Fate at Phonolite Near Fallon
Glenn D. Cook Had Operated Properties In This State For More Than Ten Years
Fallon (Special) Glenn D. Cook, superintendent of the Golden Eagle Mining and Milling Co., was literally blow to pieces at the company's property at Phonolite sixty miles southeast of Fallon yesterday afternoon when a box containing 5000 fuse caps exploded in his arms. Cook was
carrying the box of caps into the tunnel of the mine when the accident occurred. There were no witnesses.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1926, July 28
Fallon (special) Ore is now being mined at the Golden Eagle Property, the start at production having been made one month after development work was resumed this year. Eight men are now working at the mine and it is probable that the force will be increased soon. Work is now underway toward improving the four-mile road which leads through the canyon to the mill from Lodi Valley, it was reported. Improvement of this road will make an easier haul of surplus water from the Golden Eagle to Broken Hills.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1927, May 10
Fallon (Special) That the Golden Eagle Mining Company has an ample water supply to carry out its milling operations is indicated by the report this week of Kay H. Beach, manager, that both reservoirs are now filled with water with much more run-off available were storage available. One of the reservoirs was built recently. In addition to these reservoirs the company has water stored in a number of tanks.
-Reno Evening Gazette

Meanwihle, Señor Penelas keeps plugging away... Here he is six years later, feeling better and still digging.

1927 December 15
Silverano Penelas, pioneer prospector and property owner of the Phonolite district, was recently in Reno on a business mission. Penelas has been persistently developing his property and has a fine showing of ore with some high-grade. Values are in gold and silver of equal value. Argenite is the princeipal silver mineral.
-Salt Lake Mining Review

1929, June 26
Fallon (special) The ore road of the Golden Eagle Mining & Milling Company exceeding one mile in length is now usable for the entire distance allowing the bringing of ore to the mill at the camp from both the lower Duluth tunnel and the upper Duluth tunnel according to Kay H. Beach, manager, who was in Fallon Tuesday.
-Reno Evening Gazette

Poor Mr. Penelas died in 1931 and is buried in the graveyard at Fallon, Nevada. In that year, Louis Gordon bought the property and the Penelas Mining Company was incorporated. It was owned by himself and Mr. & Mrs. Rollin H. White, owner of the White Sewing Machine Co. and the White Automobile Company. By 1935 a mining camp was formed near the mine, consisting of a mine office, store house, twelve family homes, four two-man bunk houses, and other living quarters for a total crew of fifty workers. There were electric lights, radios, and each home had an electric refrigerator. A 580' well was sunk to provide many of the homes with running water. A four inch pipeline was laid 6,000 feet to a new mill. They even had a radio broadcast station to send messsages to Fallon. The mine and the mill at Penelas continued production until 1941. The mill's equipment was sold at auction; houses were sold and moved or abandoned.

1935, September 9
Ore to Supply New 40-Ton Mill Said To Be High Grade
Most of the equipment for a 40-ton cyanide mill at the Penelas mine in northwestern Nye county is said to have been delivered at the mill-site and predictions were made that the plant would be in operation early in October. Equipment for the mill, supplied by the Western Machinery Co., includes a 20x6-in. Blake type jaw crusher, 5x5-ft ball mill, 54-in. by 18-ft Duplex rake classifier, three 20x10-ft thickeners, with super-structure and tanks, a 20x18 Door type agitator, and a 12x10-ft Portland filter with complete vacuum equipment. Pumps, compressors, belt conveyors, and motors are also included.
-Nevada State Journal

1935, December 9
Diesel Engine For Penelas Delivered
At Fallon it was reported last week that a 200-hp Diesel engine had arrived by rail freight for delivery to the Penelas mine, some 60 miles southeast of that town, where L.D. Gordon is constructing a 40 ton cyanide mill in the Ione district. Most of the equipment, it is reported, has already been installed and a substantial tonnage of high-grade mill ore was said to have been blocked in the mine.
-Nevada State Journal

Things are going swimmingly for the Penelas mine, but unbeknownst to them, they're about to run out of ore, and the U.S. government is going to order all non-war-essential mine work -- like gold-- stopped in 1942.

1938, June 27
Approximately 40 men are employed at the [Penelas] mine, which has been in steady operation for the past two years. Fifty tons of ore are being handled daily at the company mill.
-Nevada State Journal

1942, March 30
Penelas Plant Equipment Sold
Equipment of the 50-ton cyanide mill of the Penelas Mining Co. in the Bruner district, northern Nye county, has been sold at public auction and purchased by a San Francisco second-hand machinery firm. The mine and mill were closed with the exhaustion of pay ore late last year, after substantial bullion production extending over several years.
-Nevada State Journal

Obviously, Bruner was named after someone named Bruner, but I assumed it was H.W. the superintendent, not R.M. Well, there were problably several Bruners around....

1944 January 13
The Reno chamber of commerce today received a letter from a Nevada pioneer who left the state thirty-eight years ago after naming two towns in Nye county when he drove a sixteen-team jerk-line fright wagon between Goldfield, Tonopah, Austin, and other one-time boom towns. the letter was written in Chicago on Monday by R.M. Bruner."I may move to Nevada to spend my last days," his letter said with a request for listings of small houses for sale in Reno. He said he would prefer a house with trees and a nice yard.
-Reno Evening Gazette



Jan 26, 1907 - Jul 23, 1909 as Phonolite
Apr 27, 1907 - Dec 14, 1907 - Duluth
Oct 17, 1910- Jan 31, 1912 as Bruner
Dec 29, 1915 - Jun 15, 1920 as Bruner

NEWSPAPER Duluth Tribune (Duluth)

This is a complex site. Name changes, moving buildings, multiple mills, multiple "towns" in a small area make it all hard to keep track of. No idea where Peerless is-- some maps show coordinates east of Phonolite near where an old corral is now. Supposedly there was some surface mining there. Nothing worth looking at today. A claim map which was compiled from other maps shows the Duluth Group of mines and a notation "Trail to Duluth Camp" pointing off to the east somewhere. USGS puts its location on the main road. We didn't notice anything remarkable.

We decided- because there was nobody around to stop us- that Peerless is actually a small development on the west side of the hill as you're coming into the valley from the north, east of Buffalo Summit. Other maps show it to be out in the valley, which doesn't make much sense to us.

There isn't much left at Bruner except the remains of a dugout, a small concrete foundation, sagebrush, and lots of scattered debris. Continuing up the road you'll find the Paymaster Mine and it's corresponding mill. Below the mill was the camp. Continuing around the mountain, past the ruins of the Derelict mine and its collapsed bunk house, you will find the interesting site of the Penalas Mine and mill site, which is extensive. There was certainly a mill there, but there are concrete foundations all over the place. Some may have been for hoists and whatnot. All the equipment was auctioned off so no machinery actually remains. There are some scattered ruins along the way, decent roads, and wonderful Nevada vistas to enjoy.

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