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Goodsprings District, Spring Mts, Clark Co., Nevada, USA

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 35° 49' 59'' North , 115° 30' 3'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 35.83330,-115.50084
GeoHash:G#: 9qmggeqb5
Locality type:District
Köppen climate type:BWk : Cold desert climate

A Cu-Zn-Pb-Ag-Au-V-U mining area located in the Spring Mountains, W of Goodsprings (town).

The ore deposits in the Goodsprings district remained unworked until 1856, although apparently they were known to the Paiute Indians and possibly to the old Spanish priests employed at different missions in California. Neither Fremont nor Beale and Heap, who crossed the Mountain Springs Pass, 4 miles north of the Yellow Pine mine, in 1844 and 1852, respectively, make any reference to them.

Reports of the Mormon missionaries sent out by Brigham Young to find lead include the announcement, made on May 9, 1856, that an Indian had reported the occurrence of lead 35 miles southwest of Las Vegas, just a short distance south of the Salt Lake and San Bernardino emigrant trail, in the vicinity of Cottonwood Springs. Nathaniel V. Jones visited the locality and returned May 11 to report a great quantity of ore exposed. The name "Potosi" was no doubt given to the locality by Jones, who in 1839, at the age of 17, lived in the Potosi lead and zinc district of southwestern Wisconsin. From Wisconsin he went to Utah and California in 1847, to Iowa in 1848, and back to Utah in 1849. In 1856 he was called by Brigham Young to open up the mines near Las Vegas.

At a meeting held on July 29, 1856, at Las Vegas, 15 men whose names are on record formed an association to work the mines and elected A. L. Fullmer their president. Owing to delays caused by lack of blasting powder and provisions, no work was started until August, when Jones appeared before the Las Vegas Mission with the following letter from Brigham Young:

This is to certify that the bearer, Bishop Nathaniel V. Jones, is counseled to forthwith proceed with the company to the neighborhood of the Las Vegas and to engage in manufacturing lead, and the said Bishop Jones is hereby empowered to call to his aid in the said manufacture and transportation of lead, building of furnaces, the mining of ore, etc., such persons as his judgment and necessities may dictate, not only southern missionaries but others of the brethren in the southern settlements if need be. Bishop Jones is a brother well and favorably known to us and many of the saints. He enjoys our confidence in his faithfulness, skill, judgment, and integrity and will keep a strict and accurate account of all services and aid rendered him in compliance with these instructions and report the same at my office in Great Salt Lake City. Done in Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, this 7th day of July, A. D. 1856.

On September 1 George Bean, one of the men of the association, started for Provo with a load of lead ore, which he was to trade for provisions. In December three wagons loaded with supplies, including horsepower bellows, furnace, hearths, and other apparatus, arrived at the lead "diggings." Early in January, 1857, Jones smelted the first ore and produced about 9,000 pounds of lead. The crude ore is said to have yielded 20 to 30 per cent of metal and was described as being of poorer grade than it looked when mined, owing to much "dry bone, blackjack, and sulphur." The efforts of Jones to smelt more ore proved futile, and several loads of the ore were shipped to Salt Lake City. After this failure to make bullion Jones and most of his men, with one wagon, started to make lead locations some 30 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Amber Mountain district. In February lead prospecting was abandoned.

The history of the district, as reviewed by Lincoln, credits Dudd Leavitt and Isaac Grundy with the production of 5 tons of lead in 1855 or 1856 from a furnace constructed in a fireplace at Las Vegas and with thus beginning lead smelting in Nevada. Lincoln has probably confused Grundy's operations in the Lincoln district, Beaver County, Utah, with those carried on in the Goodsprings district. Eissler credits to Grundy "in the fifties" the production in a small furnace near the Lincoln mine of "the first parcel of silver-lead ore on the Pacific coast smelted." Possibly Grundy attempted to smelt also some of the ore from the Potosi mines, but on account of the zinc he could not have succeeded any better than Jones.

The earliest specific reference to the Potosi mine in print is probably that found in a report by J. R. N. Owen to the Commission of the United States and California Boundary Survey, dated April 15, 1861, and quoted by Whitney 89 as follows:

Leaving this range [Providence] and proceeding northwestward across a low valley to the next range [Clark or Spring Mountains], we enter a district in which limestone is not only the prevailing rock but appears to form entire ranges of lofty and boldly defined mountains, among which are comprised the Kingston, Mountain Spring, and Las Vegas Ranges, the latter extending farther to the northward. It is in this Mountain Spring Range that the Potosi mines, which are now exciting considerable attention (1861), are situated, a few miles south of the present Salt Lake road, on the western slope of the mountains, and several hundred feet above the level of the plain.

The first description of the Potosi deposit appears to be that by C. A. Luckhardt, who examined it about 1870. At that time it was known as the Comet and was operated by the Silver State Mining Co. It was examined and described briefly by G. K. Gilbert in 1871. According to Burchard, the Yellow Pine mining district was organized in 1882. At that time the nearest railroad point was Goffs (Blakes), on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, about 80 miles south of Goodsprings.

For the period 1870 to 1880, when there was considerable activity in the Clark Mountain district, 30 miles southwest of Goodsprings, there is meager record for this district. S. E. Yount went into the district in 1884 to do assessment work on the Keystone, Boss, Columbia, and Doubleup deposits, previously located by his father, Joseph Yount, but work had been done
on two of these by John Moss, possibly as early as 1865. It was reported to Yount that about 1880 10 tons of copper ore was mined and sent out to the railroad. When Yount first saw the site of Goodsprings, there was an open spring in a patch of grass east of the present hotel of the Yellow Pine Mining Co., but there was not a single tree in the flat. The spring had been
named earlier for Joe Good, a cattleman, and was located by Yount as a mill site. A. G. Campbell went to the district in 1886, and in 1887 he built the first house, a stone cabin that still stands in the center of the settlement. Campbell prospected throughout the district, and by 1892, when rich gold ore in the Keystone mine attracted attention, he and his associates, A. E: Thomas, John Kirby, and W. H. Smith, had located the Rose, U.S. (one of the Alice group), Empire, Golden Chariot, May, Commercial, South Side, and Hoosier claims. During 1892 and 1893 a number of men went into the district, and many claims were located, partly because of the construction of the branch railroad from Goffs to Purdy in 1893. About 1893, according to local report, the first shipment of lead ore to a western custom smelter was made by A. G. Campbell, who assembled material from several deposits, largely the Kirby, and hauled it to Purdy for shipment to El Paso. The silver content of the lead ore appears to have been too low to make this profitable, and except for another shipment of 100 tons from the Potosi about 1900, little effort was .made to mine lead ore until the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad (now Union Pacific) reached Jean in 1905.

Up to this time most of the claims had been located (1) on iron gossans that yielded assays for gold, such as the Keystone, Golden Chariot, Chaquita, and Clernentina, (2) on copper-stained gossans, such as the Boss, Columbia, Doubleup, Ironside, Copper Chief, Alice, and Rose, or (3) on the iron-rich gossans of lead veins, such as the May, Lucky, Tam O' Shanter, and Ruth. A few lead deposits without conspicuous gossans had been located-the Potosi, Shenandoah, Lookout, Hoosier, and Root. Of all these, only a few were destined to become very productive, and many more that were to become notable sources of ore later were not located, even if they were known.

From 1893 to 1898 interest centered largly in the gold-bearing deposits, the Keystone, Boss, and Clementina, although many claims were located on lead deposits and some work was done. A few deposits in rather inaccessible situations, later to become productive sources of lead and zinc ores, were located during this period-the Anchor, Sultan, Mobile and Hilo (one of the Yellow Pine group). In 1898 an option was taken on the Columbia and Boss mines, a mill was built on the hillside south of Goodsprings, and 200 tons of copper ore was shipped from the Boss mine to the mill. The ore was never treated in this mill, but it later served as the nucleus for the original Yellow Pine mill. At this time, according to C. A. Beck, there were three buildings of stone and adobe at Goodsprings. This activity led to further prospecting, and between 1898 find 1901 many more deposits were located-the Ninety-nine, Azurite, Bullion, Bill Nye, Bybee, Prairie Flower, Accident, and Red Cloud. The Bybee claim was later the scene of the work that led to the discovery of the first zinc ore body of the Yellow Pine mine.

Two notable events in the history of the district were the completion of the railroad between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City in 1905, and the recognition of oxidized zinc minerals in many mines by T. C. Brown in 1906. The railroad had been built outward from Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, and the two parts met north of Jean late in 1905. The tractor road along the west side of Mesquite Valley through State Line Pass to Roach was built in 1904, largely to haul borax from the Death Valley region; but it also served to permit easy shipment of the ores from mines in the southwestern part of the district. Previously, the white and pale-brown earthy mineral, hydrozincite, commonly associated with the wellknown lead minerals, was considered to be a lead mineral. Brown had known the oxidized zinc minerals at Magdalena, N. Mex., and readily recognized the hydrozincite. Had much lead ore of average grade been shipped out of the district earlier, the presence of zinc would doubtless have been recognized. As zinc minerals exceeded those of lead in most of the deposits, considerable material was readily minable at many places, and the presence of the railroad permitted its shipment. From this time onward the district made steady progress, and even before 1914, when war in Europe brought high prices for zinc ore, it was attracting wide attention, as is shown by the sale of some of the most promising mines to outside groups, notably the Potosi, Anchor, and Boss. The narrow-gage railroad from Jean to Goodsprings and the Yellow Pine mine was built in 1910 and permitted that mine to lower costs greatly. The discovery of high-grade platinum ore in the Boss mine in March, 1914, attracted further attention in the mining world and led to the location of the town site of Platina, near
tho old Keystone mill on the edge of Mesquite Valley. The town grew quickly and in a few months had a hotel, stores, houses, and a population of several hundred. Within a year the boom collapsed, and in 1924 none of the structures remained.

When the price of zinc reached its peak in 1915 there was feverish activity in the district, and about 1917 the population of Goodsprings reached 800. Since then, with lower prices for the metals, it has ranged from 50 to 200. Although the town depends largely on the activities of the mines, it also has the largest supply of good water in many miles, so that it may be regarded as a permanent settlement.

A review of the discovery and development of the mineral deposits of the district leaves the impression that the outcrops of most of them were readily recognized by the first prospectors who saw them but that their development was retarded by the high cost of transportation. When railroads drew near, many deposits were quickly exploited. Until recent years, however, most of the claims were unpatented but held by annual assessment work, which shows that most of the claims were found and exploited by poor men who could not afford the costs of patenting but were content to work them and live near by. Compared with many mining districts elsewhere in Nevada and other western States, the Goodsprings district has profited little by the investments of nonresidents. Had more of these investments been made, many of the mines would have profited by the wider range of experience brought to bear on the local problems, among which the faulting in many mines is outstanding.

Local rocks include Mississippian to Early Permian limestone and sparse dolomite, siltstone, and sandstone.

Commodity List

This is a list of exploitable or exploited mineral commodities recorded from this region.

Mineral List

Mineral list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities






































var: Bromian Chlorargyrite







'Copper Stain'





var: Cuprian Descloizite

















var: Argentiferous Galena

'Garnet Group'



















var: Osmiridium










'Manganese Oxides'

'var: Manganese Dendrites'








var: Duhamelite





















var: Chalcedony









'Serpentine Subgroup'

















134 valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

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Rock list contains entries from the region specified including sub-localities

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Hewett, D.F. (1931), Geology and ore deposits of the Goodsprings quadrangle, Nevada, USGS Professional Paper 162.
Albritton and others (1954), Geologic Controls of Pb and Zn Deposits in Goodsprings District, USGS Bulletin 1010.
Lovering, T.G. (1954), A Contribution to the Geology of Uranium, Radioactive Deposits of Nevada, USGS Bulletin 1009-C: 63-106.
USGS (2005), Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS): U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, loc. file ID #60000185.

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