39° 26' 22"N, 118° 03' 08"W - WONDER MOUNTAIN quad
|VISITED||July 21, 2001|
Highway 50E from Fallon 40 miles, Turn N on Dixie Valley Road (121) about 1.8 miles, Turn NE about 11.5 miles. The sites of Hercules (2.1mi.) , Victor (5.2 mi.), Red Top (6.5 mi.), and Kingston (5.8 mi.) are nearby.
Prospectors from Fairview made discoveries in this area in May of 1906 and by August there was already a newspaper and a thriving camp. The financial panic of 1907 halted most of the operation in the district until 1911 (or 1913, depending on who you're talking to) when the Nevada Wonder Mining Co. constructed a 200- ton cyanide mill at its mine, which operated until 1919. The town had telephone service by November 1906, electric power in February 1911 and a school from 1907 to 1919." The dates on the Mill photos from the Churchill County Museum don't jibe with these dates, so further research may be required.
First, a couple of brief overviews:
The first location in the Wonder District was made in April 1906 by T.J. Stroud on the Jackpot group of claims, and the NEvada Wonder mines was located shortly afterward by Murray Scott, William Mays, and others. The discovery of rich silver-gold ore started a stampede from Fairview that began in May in the same year, and in a few weeks over 1,000 locations were made. The discovery attracted considerable attention, and it was not long before a camp of several thousand people was established. In the first few years of the camp' s history, a number of companies were organized, but the bulk of the metal yield was derived from the Nevada Wonder mines, incorporated in Delaware on September 19, 1906.
At first, conditions were rough. Today's values are in blue.
Wonder, the scene of the latest mining excitement in Nevada, is situated about 22 miles northeast of Fairview, thus making it 80 miles from the nearest railroad point. It may be reached either direct from Fairview, or, as most prefer, by going to Westgate, 12 miles distant, where there is plenty of water, and thence to Wonder, 16 miles more. A stage leaves Fairview daily for the camp, and makes the trip in about six hours. The new camp is situated in the Silver mountains, about four miles from the head of an old river channel, and half way between Chalk Mountain and Horse Creek. It is flanked on either side by high rolling hills, which seem to be less broken than those surrounding Fairview. The tops are covered with a sparse growth of timber, which insures plenty of comparatively cheap fuel. There is enough mountain grass to feed burros. The camp was discovered during the early part of June, sensational surface ore having been obtained from the Wonder claim. The news immediately brought a rush of men from Fairview, nearly depopulating it temporarily, and all surrounding ground was staked off for miles. Several new strikes were made, but nothing approaching in richness the original location. The camp was discovered during the early part of June, sensational surface ore having been obtained from the Wonder claim. The news immediately brought a rush of men from Fairview, nearly depopulating it temporarily, and all surrounding ground was staked off for miles. Several new strikes were made, but nothing approaching in richness the original location. At present the camp consists of about 60 to 80 tents, no wooden buildings having yet been erected, though several are about to be. Beside work on the Wonder claim, there is much prospecting going on in the surrounding hills, and several rich finds are reported, especially near Horse Creek. Just now the camp is laboring under severe handicaps, the worst being lack of water. All water is hauled from Westgate, and has a ready sale at $6 ($160) per barrel. However, a new strike of water has been made three miles away, and there is every indication that a good supply will soon be secured. Prices of all commodities are high, but no higher that the conditions warrant. Meals of dubious quality may be had at 75¢ ($15.39). Town lots are closely held, prices ranging from $150 ($3,078.54) to $400 ($8,209.43) in the center of town. Wonder is emphatically not a "poor man's camp." All goods must be hauled in, and ore hauled out, to Hazen, and as the roads are in sandy soil, with frequent steep grades, freight rates are as high as 3 1/2 (17¢)cents to 5 ($1.03) cents per pound. But these difficulties can be overcome, and with an intelligent management of capital invested, Wonder should justify the good opinion already formed by conservative mining men who have visited the camp.
Miners are offered $5 ($128.00)per day at Wonder, Churchill county, with no takers on account of high cost of living there.
Wonder Sun is the name selected for a weekly newspaper to be published at the mining camp of that name in Churchill county.
Wonder began to grown quickly as word spread.
NEW DISCOVERY AT WONDER
Naturally, they tried to generate as much excitement about the town as possible.
WONDER THE COMING GREAT MINING CENTER
The scientific journals of the day were a little more subdued.
Wonder, Nevada May 8-- Since Tom Stroud wandered into the hills north of Fairview a little more than a year ago and discovered what is now the Wonder mining district, a transformation has taken place through which the bleak and barren
hills have presented scenes of life and activity with a vividness and rapidity that is marvelous and unusual even in Nevada. A special representative of the Salt Lake Mining Review recently visited Wonder and was much surprised at the advanced stage of development of a number of the properties inspected, considering the very few months that Wonder has been on the map. The constant boom of giant powder, heard night and day, the huge dumps seen at mouth of tunnel and top of shaft, together with the stacks of ore sacked ready for shipment all tell the story of the district's progress. It is stated that nearly three million dollars have been invested in properties in the district since its discovery and conservative estimates are to the effect that no less than $50,000 per month is being spent in development. Of a population of about 1200, over 300 are miners employed. A percentage that admits of but few drones and is self evident of the substantial effort that is being directed to the making of mines. The Wonder district is situated in Churchill county, about fifty seven miles a little south of east from the town of Fallon, the county seat and nearest railroad point, and about seventeen miles north of Fairview. Wonder, the principal town of the district, is located in what is known as Badger Flat at an elevation of 5700 feet. Here, substantial buildings are taking the place of the myriads of tents which served
as the habitations of the pioneers, many of whom in their eagerness to secure portions of the valuable ground were content even without these and slept in the open air sheltered only by the canopy of the heavens. In the town of Wonder alone are half a dozen general stores, two banks, several hotels, two lumber yards which cannot begin to supply the demand for building material, and any number of saloons, restaurants, and supply houses, and
almost every line of business represented in any prosperous town of this size and catering to the needs of a mining community.
This article points to the fact that the mill was probably built in 1911.
The mill of the Nevada Wonder Mining company at Wonder Nevada as well as that of the Nevada Hills Mining company at Fairview has been idle since early in January and it will probably be the first of April before the plants are again in active operation. This enforced idleness was caused by the Hydro-Electric Power Company being unable to generate the necessary power at Lundy, California, the seat of activity of the latter concern. Extremely cold weather early in the
year almost completely shut down the Lundy plant, only enough current being made at the present time to operate lights, hoists, and compressors. The Hydro-Electric Power Company, however, is rushing work with a large force of men in erecting a huge dam and will soon be able to furnish adequate power for all purposes. This dam should have been built last summer, but on account of the great avalanche of a year ago in which several men were killed and the then power plant destroyed, all energy was diverted to the reconstruction of the plant. Consequently the reservoir plans were unavoidably postponed and, the vicinity experiencing the coldest weather in over ten years, the present deadlock has
resulted. The temporary closing of the Nevada Wonder mill, however, has not interfered with the mine workings. The miners who had been busy stoping ore for the mill have been put on development work and much is being done now that could not be
done when the mill was running. The Nevada Wonder shaft is a small single compartment shaft and its capacity was taxed on an output of eighty tons of ore daily, the mill being a one hundred ton affair. Many eastern stockholders not knowing the circumstances questioned the reason for not running the full one hundred tons per day. The present opportunity is being taken advantage of and the shaft is not only being lowered from the 500 foot level, its depth two months ago, but is being sent down as a two compartment shaft as well, from the 500 foot point. It is now past the 650 foot point and will be lowered to 700 feet or more. It is also the intention to carry the two compartment shaft from the 500 foot level to the surface, after which the mill will not only run at full capacity but extensive development work will be taken care of also. The mine is equipped with 2 -14 inch Sullivan drills and Waugh stopers, a Leyner hoist, a Laidlaw Dunn Gordon compressor, and a Sturtevant blower, all operated by electric power. The Leyner drill sharpener and automatic ore gates at the mine bins being operated by compressed air. The mill has given entire satisfaction, more than meeting the expectations of the management as a value saver during the period of its running. It treated an average of eighty tons daily, all the small shaft could furnish, and the percentage
of extraction from the assay values of the ore ranged from a little over 90 per cent at the beginning of the run to 96 per cent at the time of closing down, and a further improvement in recovery is anticipated on resumption of milling, as several
changes and additions are now being made. The concentrators, which were experimental, have been abandoned and another Dorr thickener is being added to the equipment, also one more classifier and a system of continuous agitation is being installed. With the additions and improvements as outlined, the capacity of the mill will be one hundred and twenty tons daily. The refinery is equipped with Faber du Faure tilting furnaces, the building is heated throughout by an elaborate steam system. The fuel used for this purpose being California oil. Water is supplied through a ten mile four-inch pipe line from Horse Creek, a large 100,000 gallon storage tank above the mill constantly overflowing.
Production eventually slowed as the ore body was depleted.
The production of silver from this mine decreased gradually from 1915 to 1919 in consequence of the depletion of the ore reserves and necessity for treating ore of a lower silver content. The higher price of silver offset the increased costs and permitted this lower grade ore to be worked at a profit.
Things slowly petered out and finally stopped.
The property was taken over by a group of stern capitalists and they began a thorough, systematic development campaign. An immense tonnage or ore was blocked out and in 1913 a 200-ton cyanide plants was installed. Electric power was brought in from Bishop, California, and at the time of its installation this hydroelectric power plant held the distinction of being the longest transmission line in the world. The mine and mill were completely equipped with the most modern, up-to-date electrically drive machinery obtainable, and production commenced which eventually yielded over six million dollars. In 1919 the mine and mill were suddenly closed down and the property remained idle until 1924, when the machinery was placed on the market. in 1933 the mine and what machinery remained were purchased by the present owner, who continued to sell off the equipment. In the meantime, with the closing of all operating mines in Rawhide, Nevada Hills (Fairview) and Wonder, the principle points of power consumption, the transmission line was removed and all mining operations ceased. But the Wonder mine holds the distinction of being the only mine in the west where company operations were not followed by lessees or tributers. Early in 1931 a lease on the property was granted to a well known Tonopah lessee and operator. He found a man's size job confronting him, for during the long period of idleness the three compartment main working shaft that had been sunk to the 1300 foot level was found to be in bad repair and required considerable re-timbering. Having full faith in the property, the lessee set about the task of timbering the shaft and old workings, which work was completed only to the 200 foot level, when lack of funds prevented further activities along these lines.
Sep 1906 - Aug 1920
|NEWSPAPER||American Enterprise (weekly) during 1908 Wonder Miner (weekly) during 1907 Wonder Mining News (weekly) from 1906-1912|
The road to Wonder
is easy to find, easy to get to, and easy to drive on. As a result, the
townsite is pretty much picked clean. No buildings remain save the mill
ruins, and the debris ranges from a few rusty, flattened tins to more
recent mine equipment, abandoned in the 1960's and 1970's. All that's
left of the cemetery are a few pieces of wood and the remains of a picket
fence that once probably surrounded a grave.