|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
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
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.
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.
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
1906 October 10
1906, December 28
1907, February 2
1907, February 15
1908, March 31
1908, July 7
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
1917, June 19
They started construction on the mill at the Paymaster mine in 1919.
1919, January 5
Still slapping together that mill....
1919, October 30
1920, February 15
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
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
1925, October 10
1926, July 28
1927, May 10
Meanwihle, Señor Penelas keeps plugging away... Here he is six years later, feeling better and still digging.
1927 December 15
1929, June 26
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
1935, December 9
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
1942, March 30
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
Jan 26, 1907 - Jul 23, 1909 as Phonolite
|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.