|Silver Hill (Churchill Co.)|
|VISITED||7/21/01 and 10/25/03
Our dinner: Beef Stew, Coleslaw, Rolls on the trail
40 miles east on U.S. 50 from Fallon, turn left (North) on Dixie Valley road. Proceed 27 miles north to intersection of Settlement Road. Go 2.2 miles WNW, take left form and head SW 1.7 miles.
In 1860, prospectors discovered silver here and by the next year there were a couple of hundred people living in Silver Hill. Oddly enough, there was neither a post office nor was there even an application for one. By the summer of next year, almost everyone had left for strikes elsewhere. A few remained, and by 1880 "rediscovered" silver ledges were the catalyst for new building, including a boarding house and two blacksmiths. A couple of years later interest died again, only to be energized a third time during the 1906 boom. [Paher]
In Historic Site Studies in Churchill County, Nevada Davis quotes historians Thompson and West that the major mines in the district were the Bayfield, Black Prince, Eastern Star, Iron Point, Spar, Morgan, and Mammoth. The Iron Point tunnel was 160 feet long. Davis writes that the upper ruins cabin "still has it's wooden window casing intact." However, this is no longer the case in 2003. Either vandals or natural actions of the elements have disintegrated it.
Paher mentions a stage line operating from Silver Hill to Virginia City. and there was also a toll road from Stillwater.
"He [Moses Job] operated a toll road from Stillwater to Silver Hill, charging fifty cents for camels probably used in the salt trade, and a quarter for horse and rider." (Childers, Magee Station and the Churchill Chronicles)
In our estimation as professional (well, we would be professionals if someone paid us) explorers, this toll road went from Stillwater to Silver Hill via Job Canyon. In other words, it went east through Job Canyon then north up Dixie Valley and then west into IXL Canyon.
Before the 1906 boom, Cyrus Kellogg owned the Black Prince Group of mines. In the September 24, 1932 Fallon Eagle, Ira Heber Kent wrote about "The Passing of Old Man Kellogg", most if not all of which could be read in Bunny Corkill's In Focus article, Stillwater, Nevada Welcomes Its Third Century.
"The old man was the owner of six claims known as the Black Prince Mines, in addition to his other holdings, lying on the ridge and extending down each side of the mountain above Cox's Canyon, as we called it in those days, about twenty miles from Stillwater..."
The claim map shows a single cabin, and it has been our task to locate this cabin and plunder document it. The problem is, the claim map, as recorded, appears to be inaccurate. Twice we have assaulted the canyon and twice we were repulsed by lack of time and breath.
Kent relays a story about recovering Kellogg's body after an accident, and describes his cabin.
Along in the middle of December, there came some heavy snow storms and we could see that the snow, glistening in the sunlight, must be very deep up around the country in which the Black Prince Mines were situated. So we ran over the holidays up to about the 5th of January, when someone raised the question one evening if we didn’t think we ought to go up and see what had become of the old man; that he could not have much grub left by this time and maybe some accident had happened to him. This desultory discussion led to our assembling one morning in front of the saloon about four o’clock, and leaving for the mountains. . . . We had two pack horses loaded with blankets and our own grub, and I think there were four or five in the party who were mounted on their best horses, with a string of ten or fifteen head of loose saddle horses we drove ahead of us to break down the trail.
Snow Makes Going Tough
When we reached the canyon and started up the back-bone of the ridge to go over to the Black Prince Mines we found the snow even deeper than we had anticipated. Sometimes we would go through drifts from two to five feet deep. The man in front, riding his horse, would plunge and break the trail and when his horse was exhausted, he would fall back and a fresh man would ride ahead and take up his work. In this manner we arrived at the camp of old man Kellogg along about mid-day, as near as I can remember.
Now I wonder if I can draw a picture of the mine and surroundings so that it will be intelligible to my readers. The mine was situated at the head of a blind gully about twenty feet wide. As you approached the north side, the trail led down into the gully leaving the cabin about twenty or thirty feet to the right, and on ground about four or five feet higher than the bottom of the gully. The side of the cabin faced the gully, with a huge fireplace that would accommodate pine logs about three feet long, opposite the door. On the end nearest the mountain was the mouth of the tunnel which had been covered over so that Mr. Kellogg, after eating his meals, could proceed through this covered way into the tunnel which at that period I should think must have extended about two hundred feet into the mountain with crosscuts at various points where ore had been taken out in between. Directly in front of the door, on the opposite side of the gully, was a juniper tree the top of which was about fifteen feet high, or about five feet from the top of the bank which would be about twenty feet east of the trail.
Find Kellogg in Tree
When we had arrived at the edge of the gully on the trail, wading through snow from two to four feet deep, we saw an object apparently sitting in the top of the juniper tree at the side of the trail about five feet below us. Upon closer examination this proved to be the body of the old man. He was in a sitting posture, with his knees drawn up under him and his head bending down onto his knees. His right hand, in an extended position, was clutching a limb of the juniper tree which we eventually had to saw off to let the old man down as we could not detach his fingers. From his position he could look directly into the door of his cabin, which was standing wide open, and at that time a stretch of snow a foot or more deep extended across the room.
-Stillwater, Nevada Welcomes Its Third Century. by Bunny Corkhill
Turns out Mr. Kellogg was known far and wide.
He was well known in the mining and ranching communities.
A DESERT TRAGEDY
This is a canyon that doesn't get too many visitors except cattle. There are cow paths all over the place, but most traces of road are now extinguished. Be prepared to do some hiking to really explore this site. The walls of the canyons are steep and sandy, and we found walking sticks comforting and useful.
The road got a little too narrow and sandy for us, so we walked most of the way. Braver souls got further with their quads than we did. Somewhere during the trip my thermos ended up missing. There are several rock ruins and some scattered lumber and metal around the site, over a very large area. On our second trip we hiked quite a bit to try to find some other cabins, and we did manage to locate the one on the map and an additional one nearby.
Some guy on a yellow quad or jeep was parked on the top of the hill over Silver Hill yelling something. We yelled back. He yelled some more. Neither one of us could understand the other, if he heard us at all. Maybe he was just yelling. Maybe he was yelling, "I took your thermos and there's nothing you can do about it, sucker!" Who knows.