|Spruce Mountain (Sprucemont, Hickneyville, Black Forest, Starr King, Jasper, Monarch Mine)|
40.55,-114.87 - SPRUCE MOUNTAIN quad
|VISITED||9/7/2014 Our Breakfast : Bacon and eggs and spicy hash browns
9/7/2014 Our Supper : Chili Cheese Chorizo Dogs
|DIRECTIONS|| From Fallon: North on US 95 for 33 miles to I-80; East on I-80 for 268 miles to Wells, NV; South on US 93 for 36 miles; East on Spruce Mountain Rd for 7.3 miles.
From Fallon: 344 miles
The towns and mining camps around Spruce Mountain were linked and involved with one another in such a fashion that it only makes sense to put them all on one page. The history of the region is turbulent and fluid, with companies coming, going, being bought out; mines opening, closing, and reopening, smelters and mills being built, operated briefly, closed, and reopened.
In 1869, lead/silver ore was discovered at the Killie (Latham) Mine, and soon the Black Forest, Juniper, and 4th of July Mines were producing ore. In 1871, the Johnson, Steptoe, and Latham Mining Districts were combined to form the Spruce Mountain Mining District. SPrucemont formed on the western slope of the mountain, wihle Starr King formed on the eastern slope.
Sprucemont ( and it's name variations) was the first town to form in 1871, followed by the Starr King Mining Co. town being renamed Jaspar in 1881. The company town of Black Forest was also here, and an early General Land Office plat shows "Hickneytown" (referred to in one contemporary news article as "Stickneyville") located by the Monarch Mine.
Hickneytown appears to have been settled by workers associated with the early production years of the Monarch Mine. C.W. Bennett patented the area on the northern edge of the town in 1878 as the Monarch Mill site. No remains of a mill have been found, and the 1880 Government Land Office (GLO) plat does not show that one was built. C.W. Bennett patented a total of eight properties and one half of these were mill sites. It is highly unlikely that mills were constructed at all of these parcels. Historically, properties patented as mill sites were often used to house mill workers (Maley 1996:400). It is possible that at least the Monarch mill site was patented in order to provide housing for the workers at the Monarch mine, and that this became the mining town currently referred to as Hickneytown.
"Advices from Spruce Mountain show several important and rich discoveries of mineral. Lanman and Osborned have erected a mill on this mountain and are running night and day. The orders for lumber in the immediate neighborhood exceed the supply.
In 1872, The Ingot Mining Co. built a 25 ton Philadelphia-type smelter at Sprucemont, but the company had gone bankrupt by 1873, the same year the Starr King Co. built their smelter. It's reported that about 200 people were living in Sprucemont at the time, although some accounts estimated high, probably for promotional purposes.
"...Sprucemont is the business point of the district, and for a new mining town is one of the most substantially built in Nevada. The visitor will take note the total absence of tents or canvas houses. The buildings are large and roomy and quite a number are two story, with architectural finish worthy of an older place. The population is variously estimated from 500 to 700, while one year ago the total number of persons in the district did not exceed fifty. The town and furnace are bountifully supplied with pure fresh water from near the top of Spruce Mountain, at an altitude of 1,906 feet above town, through iron pipes at an immense outlay. In this district there is another pretty village of some pretensions, situated about one mile northeast of Sprucemont, called Stickneyville, and it is favorably situated for water and timber."
There was a miner's strike in 1875, and tensions between mining companies and owners over the next months did not help the tenuous situation in the district.
"Reports from Spruce Mountain are that there was considerable excitement amongst the miners yesterday and the day before. They captured a mining superintendent named Schuller, locked him up, and while deliberating what they should to with him he escaped. It was feared there would be bloodshed before the row was terminated. It was also feared that the abandoned works of the Spruce Mountain Mining Co. would be fired, as the excitement was very high when the stage left."
The 1880 census shows 40 people in the Spruce Mountain census district. In 1883, rancher Jasper Harrell bought many of the mines, including the Starr King's, whose company town was renamed Jaspar. The first school opened there in 1885. The Ada H. Mine opened in 1886. The Juniper Consolidated Mining Co. built a smelter and closed it the next year, followed by the Jasper smelter in 1889. The Starr King Co. folded in 1890.
Charles Spence reopened the Black Forest Mine in 1901, and started the Jaspar smelter back up.The Sprucemont Hotel opened, but by 1905 most of Sprucemont had moved to Jasper. in 1904, the Black Forest smelter closed in July, was enlarged to 30 tons, and reopened in October. only to be enlarged again in 1906 to 45 tons.
Despite promising strikes by the Spruce Mountain Copper Co. in 1907 annd 1911, by 1913 there were only about ten men working in the district. In 1916, Charles Spence built a 50 ton furnace east of Jasper. The Black Forest, Keystone, and Ada H. mines being active. A 50 ton smelter was built at the Bullshead mine in 1917, and by 1918 the Bullshead Mining Co. had 20 buildings in Jasper. They built a 40 tone smelter in 1919. There was enough activity at the Black Forest mine that both Sprucemont and Jasper experienced a revival.
In 1927 a tram to carry ore was built from the Kilie mine to the ore bin at the Black Forest mine, whereupon it was loaded into a second section which ran down the canyon. By 1930, low lead prices caused some companies to fold and mines to close, and once again Sprucemont began dying, with most of the mining on the east side of the mountain.
"E Tunnel [of the Monarch Mine] is open and in good condition. At the portal is a substantial power house and living quarters for a dozen men. Two compressor units capable of combined production of 500 to 600 cubic feet per minute are installed in the power house. The compressor units are diesel powered; one, 85 H.P. and one, 125 H.P. and in good condition. The Company has on hand all the air drills, steel, etc., neccessary to start operations.... It is the writer's belief that the conditions existent here justify the granting of a $9,000 loan, or as much of it as necessary, to explore the territory adjacent to the old workings, and that it will result in the production of appreciable quantities of a strategic metal necccessary to the war effort."
The Black Forest P.O. closed in 1943, and while 1945 was the largest year of production for Spruce Mountain, all serious mining had ended by 1952.
|POST OFFICE||Sprucemount 4/29/1872 - 1/13/1880, 2/13/1880 - 4/14/1884,
Sprucemont 9/10/1886 - 6/26/1895, 11/1/1929 - 10/17/1935
Spruce 6/26/1895 - 8/31/1896, 8/17/1901 - 11/29/1902
Black Forest 1/9/1926 - 3/19/1943
The road to Sprucemont and beyond is easily passable by a pickup, but the further you get in the worse the roads get. Towards Black Forest you really need a 4WD. There are a few places even a side-by-side is going to have trouble because it's just not wide enough. Even we ended up using the winch once, so be careful.