4WD or high clearance desired
  Bolivia (aka Nickle, Cottonwood)

39° 59' 33"N, 117° 54' 44"W - BOLIVIA quad

VISITED 5-20-01 and 6-19-2004 Our Dinner: Nathan's Chili Cheese Dogs
DIRECTIONS Hiway 50 to Dixie Valley Road (SR 121) turnoff, 27 miles until D.V. Rd. turns to dirt, continue on D.V. Rd. for another 27.9 miles, then left on local road for about 4 miles . (*NOTE: Forgotten Nevada Field Correspondent J. Petersen reports that this road is now washed out and is in the middle of Dixie Valley somewhere.) From Fallon: 100 miles

"There are two nickel-cobalt occurrences in the Table Mountain district that were of sufficient importance to induce a number of attempts at exploitation in former years. The deposits are situated in the vicinity of the old camp of Bolivia about 3 miles up Cottonwood Canyon on the east slope of the Stillwater Range. The mouth of Cottonwood Canyon is l-1/2 miles N. 35° W. from the Boyer Ranch in Dixie Valley. There is a uniform grade up the canyon, but in several places the road has been washed out and some repair work is necessary to make it passable for automobile. Cottonwood Creek [is] of variable flow, [and] is fed by melting snows and springs; during certain periods. The flow may exceed a thousand gallons per minute. The Nickel Mine at Camp Bolivia was discovered in 1880 by John Mason, Charles Bell, and his brother, William. The Lovelock or Cobalt mine, about 1 mile west, was located at the same time by George Lovelock, Sr., The mines were prospected for a number of years, . . following their discovery, and the first ore is said to have been shipped to Swansea, Wales, from the Lovelock mine by W. S. Keyes.

"In the late eighties the company erected a sulfuric acid leaching plant at the mine at a cost of $50,000, but this venture was unsuccessful owing to the fact that the Italian chemist who designed the plant was unfamiliar with the metallurgy of nickel-cobalt ores. Later, a 5-ton-capacity water-jacketed furnace was erected at the Nickel mine, but it blew up a short time after it was placed in operation.

"A number of copper prospects occur on Treasure Box Hill at the head of Bell Mare Canyon south of Cottonwood Canyon. Deposits are reached on horseback up Cottonwood Canyon past the Nickel properties. From Boyer ranch the distance is about 15 miles. The principal properties were located in the early [eighteen] sixties by Alva Boyer, C, S. Kellogg, Jacob Stranager, and Patrick Reid.

"In about 1900, a group from Colorado erected a small smelting furnace on the Azurite-Nevada Queen group of claims, which is still intact, but, judging from the condition of the smelter, no ore was reduced."
(Vanderburg, Reconnaissance of Mining Districts in Churchill County, Nevada)

"There was formerly a road up the canyon to the mines, but it has been completely washed out, and the mines at present can be reached only on foot through a steep-walled canyon.

According to Lincoln, nickel and cobalt deposits were discovered by George Lovelock and Charles Bell about 1882. Production was chiefly from the Lovelock Mine until 1886. About 200 tons of ore was shipped to England for reduction, 90 tons during 1885. The Mine reopened during 1898 and an attempt was made to smelt, but there was little or no production. There was less work on the Nickel Mine- one car of ore was shipped to Camden, New Jersey. It was reopened in 1904 and an attempt was made to leach ore with sulphuric acid. A small smelter was built, but there was only 50 tones of production (matte.) Idle since 1907. (University of Nevada, Nickel Deposits In Cottonwood Canyon)

Some newspaper cllippings regarding the area:

1883 August 29
S.R. Young of Lovelock has sent a fine specimen of nickel ore to this office. It is from the mine of that mineral, at Cottonwood, owned by Bell, Curtis & Co. It is from the lowest level of the mine, the permanceny of which is now established without a doubt.
-Reno Evening Gazette

You will note that many references to this camp refer to it as "Cottonwood" or simply "Cottonwood Canyon." It was also referred to as "Nickle" but sometimes spelled "Nickel."

1883 September 20
Reports brought by persons just arrived at Lovelock's from the Cottonwood Canyon nickel mines are very encouraging. The ledges increase as depth is attained, and carry ore in quantity that assays from 40 to 63 per cent of metal. It is stated on good authority that New York men are about to purchase the mines, the consideration being $250,000, but the owners do not care to sell even at those figures, knowing that they have a good property, with an unlimited quantity of ore in sight.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1884 May 22
Two Chicago experts arrived at Lovelock last Thursday and left for Cottonwood Canyon to examine the nickel mines belonging to Bell, Curtis & Co, and the cobalt and nickel mines of George Lovelock.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1886 August 15
The English companies who bought Lovelocks' nickel mine have men on the ground now looking at the property.
-Reno Evening Gazette

A quiet camp is a dying camp....

1887 July 14
Only a few men are at work in the Cottonwood nickel mines in Churchill County, and consequently the camp is very quiet. A party of mining experts are expected there soon, and if they report favorably on george Lovelock's mine it will, in all probability, be sold.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1897 January 30
Operations have again resumed in the nickel mines at Cottonwood, thirty miles south of Lovelock.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1897 September 13
A Life of Usefullness and Honor Ended
The national Nickel Company has been for some years experimenting with its ore in Cottonwood Canyon, near Lovelocks [sic] and a few weeks ago Dr. C.P. Turner of hartford, Connectict came out and set in motion the works patented by him for reducing the ore by a checmical-electric process. He was succedding entirely to his satisfaction and was planning to return to his home and his family, when, on Wednesday last, he had a terrible fall which caused his death 1t 6 o'clock on Friday evening.
-Reno Evening Gazette

A brief period of resurgence but not enough activity to convince the Post Office to open an office there, unfortunately.

1902 November 7
Colonel D.J. Noyes has arrived at Lovelock and tells the Tribune that the American Nickel COmpany will resume work on its properties at Cottonwood, Churchill county, at once. Colonel Noyes estimates there are 16,000 tons of nickel ore in teh company's mines, which is worth from 50 to 60 cents per pound and represents a total value of $17,020,000.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1904 December 22
Eastern Capital Sends Man to Nevada
An expert mining engineer was recently sent to Nevada to make an inspection of the mines of the American NIckel Company. The engineer has reported that he found the mines were of no recent discovery, having been first found about thirty-five years ago. The property is forty-none miles by wagon road southeasterly from Lovelock, Huboldt county, Nev. It costs $20 a ton to get freight to the nearest town. At the time of the engineer's visit in November the entire force, it is stated, sonsisted of one engineer, one fireman, a superintendent, cook, and one miner.
-Reno Evening Gazette

1906 September 17
Charles Bell, superintendent of the American Nickel Company's mines at nickel, or more familiarly known as Cottonwood, was in town over Sunday. Mr. Bell stated that they have been making good progress in the development of their properties this season. Even since the installation of the new boiler, air compressor, pump, and other machinery this spring then have been sinking or cross-cutting, always in ore of greater or less value. At the 400 foot level they ran 130 feet in good ore and found only one of the vein walls. They will soon begin sinking to the 500 foot level, and are fast developing on of the largest nickel mines in the United States, if not in the world.
-Reno Evening Gazette

POST OFFICE Nickle March 21, 1890- March 15, 1892; Nickle August 15, 1893 - July 18, 1895; Nickle Oct. 4, 1905 - March 20, 1906 (rescinded)

Luis remarked that "It looks like the world exploded," as we started up the canyon. Indeed- the entrance to the canyon has a collection of rocks and dead trees like nothing you've ever seen. Throughout our journey, we were struck by the power of the water that must occasionally come from this canyon. We passed by several major canyons which empty into this one, and when the water drains out of all of them at once, it muse be quite the spectacle. The remains of a boiler which had slammed into a cottonwood gave mute testimony to the power involved. That being said, the condition of the road- if you want to call it that- is dependent upon the whims of the creek bed through which we splashed fifty percent of the time.

As you arrive in the general area, you come upon the ruins of a couple of wooden structures and some stone foundations. Although the USGS map says Bolivia is further down the road, I believe this is probably where the main part of the town was. A little further up is the Nickel mine, three interconnected mine shafts. The bottom one was blowing up deliciously cool air. Some idiot- or group of idiots- has fashioned a homemade ladder out of wire and PVC pipe in an attempt to go into the mine. Their handiwork was laying at the bottom. If there is more stupid thing to do, I don't know what it would be.

The hills are pockmarked with prospects and mine shafts. Bolivia was, for me, one of the best sites. It's remote, and virtually untouched. There is plenty to see, it's situated in a beautiful canyon, and if you want to do a little sightseeing you can continue on the canyon and take Kitten Springs Road until you cross the Old Emigrant Trail and hit Lovelock.

When we returned to the site in June of 2004, we were relieved to discovered that nothing had changed. This time, we approached the site from the north, through Lovelock and Kitten Springs. We took the time to explore the northern end of the site a bit more that we had done previously, and also struckout on some of the many roads criss-crossing the area. Everywhere one looks, one is reminded of the vast amounts of water that re-carve the landscape every rain- some of the erosion left behind is staggering.

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