Desert Fever
An Overview of Mining History of the California Desert Conservation Area

Riverside County



The first recorded mining in the Arica Mountain appears to have been done by Lum Gray. Gray and a Civil War friend, John L. Thomas Brown, had prospected together for many years. Gray discovered gold here, probably in early 1894, and he, with help from his brother, opened a mine named the Onward. Not to be stingy with his success, he invited John T. Brown out, who opened a mine on the same ledge to the southwest. According to Camile Dekens, later involved in freighting in that area, Gray dug a well and shipped a three-stamp mill to the property. Lum Gray died sometime after the turn of the century and his brother Bud took over.35

In May, 1912, the property, then known as the Arica group of claims, was leased. Jack Gray, the son of Lum Gray by a former Negro slave, had pretty well taken charge of operations. In November, Jack visited Blythe and reported that 25 men were at work and shipments of ore would be made to Jerome within a few days. This activity seems to have been short-lived. 36

About March, 1913, the mine was leased to Mr. J. V. Priest of the Assets Realizing Mines Company. In September, 1914, it was reported that “more than $100,000 has been expended on improvements on the property in the way of buildings and underground workings.” This article continues by saying they “bought a ten-stamp mill and will have it on the property in the next few days… The stamp mill will be put up at the mine and water supplied by pumping from wells about 3 miles distant.” In November, 1914, when state geologists visited the property, 10 men were working at the mine and preparations were being made to ship ore. No mention is made of the mill, but mention is made that water was being pumped from Brown's Well to the mine. 37

By this time, John T. Brown had died, and his son, Floyd, and Jessie, Floyd's wife, were working the elder Brown's mine. In the November, 1914 visit, the state geologists reported that there was a three-stamp mill on the property. If this was the mill referred to earlier as being shipped to Lum Gray's mine either Mr. Dekens was mistaken about the original location, or this mill was moved.38

It was about this period of time, Camile Dekens relates, that Al Eaton purchased the tailings from Jack Gray's three-stamp mill, which had processed Gray's and Brown's ore. Dekens hauled 3 metal tanks, a gasoline engine and a retort to the mine. Eaton worked about a year treating the tailings with cyanide, employing a Mexican to haul water from Brown's well and gather firewood. Every week Eaton would meet Dekens at Brown's well with a block of gold 21/2 x 3/4 x 5 inches, which would be quietly given to the station agent at Blythe Junction (Ride). Eaton told Dekens he took out $100,000, which was more than was taken out of the ore the first time. The three-stamp mill and the donkey engine remained at the mine until junk dealers stripped the mine during World War I. 39

In January, 1916, a hundred-ton mill was reportedly being built at the Priest Mine, but its existence is not mentioned elsewhere. On January 11, 1917, James Priest put on a crew of 17 men at the mine to repair the road and ship ore. In April, a Lane Chilean mill was moved on the property, and it was expected to be operational by June. More men had been hired; now the total was up to 25. However, shortly America became involved in the war in Europe, and early in the war the mine shut down. 40

After a total lack of activity for 2 years, in November, 1919, the Assets Realizing Company again tried at the mine. Under the direction of Mr. A. Hoagland, “a force of men” began work at the mine. They had plans to replace the cyanide plant with a flotation process. Operations soon were suspended again, and it was not until the late l920s that the mine was relocated by E. E. Schellenger and Henry Hartman, two local prospectors. In 1929 there was a ten-stamp mill and cyanide plant at the mine. It is difficult to say when this mill was installed; perhaps it is the mill installed in early 1917 by Priest. There is no mention of it after 1929.41

In the early 1930s, two properties were active in Arica Mountain. The Gray Mine, operated by J. M. Shiner and a Mr. Baker, was one of these properties. Shiner and Baker, in January, 1932, had just finished installing a new headframe and a twenty-five-ton ore bin, and had shipped a railroad car of ore to the smelter in Superior, Arizona. By the end of the month, it was reported they had shipped 2 more carloads, and 12 men were at work at the mine. A month later on February 25 , it was reported they were ready to ship their sixth carload of ore. 42

About this same time, Edwin White and others opened the Arica Mine on Arica Mountain. Their first shipment of ore took place in early November, 1931. Early in December, 1931, a John Deere tractor was brought up to the mine to serve as an engine for the shaft hoist. These men also bought a truck for hauling out ore and began talking about installing a small mill in order to ship concentrates. Winter was busy and by February 25, they had shipped 5 carloads of ore via Rice, where an ore loading platform was completed January 8, 1932.43

Nothing more is heard about the Arica Mountain mines until September. The Arizona smelters were closed during the summer of 1932, a condition that forced White and his associates to put in a mill or quit. In September, a three-stamp mill was installed, powered by the old John Deere tractor, and White anticipated employing 7 men. In April, 1933, it was announced that Edwin White, P. B. Mc lntyre and Louis Facet sold interest in their mine to R. E. Douglas of Los Angeles, who planned to install a mill, and had already built a house on the property. These plans may never have materialized, for nothing more is heard about mining in Arica Mountain. 44



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© Larry M. Vredenburgh, Gary L. Shumway, Russell D. Hartill