Take it easy
  Bristol Silver (Bristol City, National City, Tempest)

N 40.41677 ° W116.80049° Bristol Well, NV Quad

VISITED September 2016

Go to Pioche, Nevada. You there yet? Outstanding!! Now head north on US 93 for 14 miles; turn left on Bristol Wells Rd. Stay on Bristol Wells Rd for 6.2 miles. You're at a junction. One mile to the west is Bristol Wells; continuing on the road for 3.8 miles will take you to the mine site.


Luckily- for us- Bristol's inclusion as a National Historic place means that someone already cobbled together a nice description to get us started:

Bristol City was a mining town situated on the western flank of the Bristol Mountain range 10 miles west of U.S. 93 via county maintained, graded dirt roads (45 mph) at a point 14 miles northwest of Pioche, Lincoln County, Nevada. By 1882 the town had five stores, 8 saloons, 2 hotels with restaurants attached, 3 stables, a lodging house, express office, printing office, 1 barbershops, butcher, laundry, shoemaker, blacksmith shop, and post office. The charcoal ovens, remains of furnace residue, a 1 original stone building remain. In recent years the cattlemen have developed water, holding corrals, a stable, and a weather shelter. The facility is presently being maintained and operated by the cattlemen, and includes 3 charcoal ovens, stable, stone house, windmill and pump, water trough, small reservoir, and a holding corral.

Mining claims were first located in the Bristol Wells area in 1870; the district was organized a year later; and the town of National City was built around the National Mine. in 1872 a furnace was erected to treat silver-lead ores hauled from the Bristol Mine, 4 miles east of National City. New and richer deposits found in 1878 caused an increase in activity. A 12-stamp mill was installed. More people were attracted to the area, and the name of the town was changed to Bristol City. A 5-stamp mill with smelter was built in 1880. The business district with post office and newspaper, the Bristol Times, served about 700 people in the outlying area. Ovens of shale and sandstone converted pine logs into charcoal for the smelter. Water was obtained from wells at Bristol and was hauled a distance of from 3 to 5 miles to the mines. Bristol became the trading point for hundreds of nearby mines.

About 1890, when a new smelter began treating copper ores, Bristol Wells had a population of about 400. When the second burst of mining activity ended about 1893, Bristol Wells became inactive. About 1900 a small leaching plant was installed to recover copper from the Bristol Mine's ores. The mill operated only two years. After construction of the Salt Lake Railroad through Lincoln County, local milling was not resumed. In 1911 operations at Bristol and at Jackrabbit, 2 miles northeast, were combined and after 1913 an aerial tramway linked the two points. Bristol's ores were then sent on the tram, loaded onto railroad cars, and sent to Salt Lake City smelters via Pioche. The mines were intermittently active until about 1918, when some were consolidated and then sold a number of times. In 1922 the camp was renamed Tempest after the Tempest Mine, and in 1929 it was renamed again, this time after the Bristol Silver Mines. The post office was discontinued in 1950.
-W. E. Wieprecht, Recreation Park Planner, Nevada State Park System, 1971

The Bristol Silver Mine was a large producer of lead and copper as well.

BRISTOL S.M. COMPANY -- This Company fired up their mill at Bristol the early part of the week, started pumping tanks full of water, and the stamps fell on Thursday. It is hoped that the water supply will be better than heretofore. The Mayflower mine is looking better at the present than it has for some time. A new strike has been made in the mine,, but as to the extent and richness of the ore we did not learn.
-Pioche Weekly Record, June 17, 1882

Our banking establishment has not yet opened its doors.
Men wishing to obtain employment will do well to keep clear of Bristol.
Dick Riepe keeps up his reputation as a caterer, but as a beer maker, oh my!
The little engine placed on the Tempest mine was packed up there on mules.
There is not much prospecting going on at the mines in this district as there has been.
We do not expect to see any coin floating around until after the first pay-day of the Day mines.
The Day company's furnace here is altogether out of fashion-- it is not run in conjunction with a store.
The "tiger" has been taking a rest for a number of days. He will emerge from the jungle when coin doeth appear.
The teams hauling ore from Royal City and a few loads coming in from Highland and Pioche, together with the coal teams, gives Bristol a lively appearance, but there is not any money to be had.
The engine at the Tempest mine was completed a week ago and commenced running then. The work of timbering the shaft is drawing near completion. A force of eight men is employed at the mine.
The Day furnace is in the best of order. Foreman Dick Walsh, one of the most experienced furnace men in this State, has spared neither labor nor expense in placing it in this condition for the coming run. Everything about the premises is as neat and tidy as possible-- in face, could not be more so. When the furnace starts up, Foreman Walsh is going to surprise the natives by the vast quantity of ore he will shovel into it and the large stacks of rich bullion he will take out. Long may she wave.
The Bristol Mining Company is working along as usual. Of late the working force at the Mayflower has been greatly reduced-- some of the men being discharged and others quitting on their own account-- but the mine is now being worked into shape. They are now doing work that ought to have been done in the first place, and would have saved the company considerable inconvenience, and was so advised by Charles Roe and FOreman McQuaig, but their advice was not accepted. The company is now working as economical as possible. The mill is running as we as can be expected under present circumstances.
-Pioche Weekly Record, June 3, 1882

C. V. Gilmer, of this city, has just marketed a carload of ore from the property of the Iron and Silver Consolidated company is Bristol District, Lincoln county, Nevada. The ore is high grade as it runs 30 per cent in copper besides carrying values in silver. At the present time Chicago people are negotiating for the purchase of this mine.
-Salt Lake Mining Review, 1899-04-29 Mining Brevities

The new shaft at the Bristol Silver Mine has been completed. Ore production has been about 50 tons daily and shipments are to be increased to 75 tons daily. Recent settlements indicate 23 oz. zinc per ton and 24.8 percent lead. Ore is being mined from the 900 level.
-Pacific Mining News, May 1922

Robert McCracken interviewed Mary and Louis "Scotty" Scott in March, 1992 for the Lincoln County Town History Project about his time working at the Bristol Silver Mine:

RM: Did they have a lot of ore at the Bristol?
LS: Oh, yes. They had good copper ore out there. That was a big operation and it was going pretty good in the 1930s when I was mucking out there.

RM: Tell me about some of the underground workings there.
LS: Bristol Silver was an incline shaft.

RM: How far down?
LS: I worked on the 1050 and I think they hit water between the 1100 and 1200. They had to quit there. They thought at one time that they would run a tunnel out from down there to drain the water into the dry lake, but they never did. They started to run one through the mountain to come out on this side, but they never did get it completed, either.

RM: How many tons a day were they taking out of the Bristol?
LS: Let's see, there were about 6 or 7 cars on that train and they ran it every day, so they were probably bringing 60 to 70 tons a day out of there.

RM: How many men were they working?
LS: Oh, gosh, I lived in the boardinghouse there; there must have been about 50 of us at the boardinghouse.

RM: Were there any families living there?
LS: Yes, there was the superintendent and the mine foreman, and the blacksmith old Dominic Belingheri and the one who kept the books.

RM: When did the Bristol open?
LS: Bristol [started] long before my time. It goes way back. My grandfather built the towers for the tram line.

RM: So they were bringing the ore out of the Bristol on a tramline over the mountain to Jackrabbit and putting it on a narrow gauge?
LS: A narrow gauge would run from there into town.

RM: Oh, and then you put it on the railroad here to take it . . .
LS: Up to the AS&R in Salt Lake.

RM: But it went down to Caliente first, didn't it?
LS: Yes, it'd go to Caliente this was just a branch.

RM: When did they put that railroad in?
LS: It must have been before 1910. The Union Pacific went clear around to Caselton around to the Prince. It's all taken up now, but they had a [branch line there].

RM: Did the Bristol Silver have rich ore?
LS: Some of the copper was pretty rich, and they hit some pretty high grade silver there in pockets I heard of some pockets that would run 1000 ounces to the ton.

RM: Wow!
LS: So it was real good stuff. The copper was good; they had some beautiful stalagmites and things down there where the water had leached the copper out.
- Lincoln County Town History Project, Robert McCracken Interview with Louis Scott

Oh, so you want to run a mine the size of the Bristol Silver mine? Cool. This is a list of some of the stuff you'll have to scrape together to get 'er done:

Hoist and compressor building
Blacksmith and machine shop building
Assay office
Main office, shift boss office, and store room
Change house
Boarding house, equipped to accommodate 75 men
Bunk houses and dwellings, equipped to accommodate 100 mean and 25 families
Powder magazines, saw shed, etc.

One Nordberg double drum hoist, equipped with time relay controls and direct connected to a 125 HP Westinghouse slip-ring motor
One Sullivan 850 Cu ft. Angle compound compressor direct connected to a General Electric 150 HP Synchronous motor
One Ingersoll Rand 450 cu. ft. compound compressor belted to a 75-HP General Electric Motor
Conveyor-type ore sorting equipment
Necessary surface tracks and waste dump site

Ten Pneumatic rock drills
Three Sullivan Turbinair Tuggers
Fifteen mine cars
Wheelbarrows, picks, shovels, etc. sufficient for a crew of 50 men
Necessary air and water lines
One ventilation fan, together with 2,000 feet of 10" ventilation pipe

One Rumsey High pressure Triplex pump, connected to a 35 HP motor
One Rumsey High pressure Triplex pump, connected to a 10 HP motor
Two 5 HP sponge pumps
Three high pressure Boiler feed pumps
One Byron Jackson 4 stage centrifugal pump direct connected to a 150 HP motor
1,800 feet of 7" water column, and 1,800 feet of 4 1/4" water Column

Twenty four miles of 44,000 Volt transmission line
Two miles of 23,000 volt transmission line
Two miles of 11,000 volt transmission line
Transformers: three 200KVA 23KV/440V; three 25 KVA, 23KV/2.2KV; three 200KVA, 11KV/440V; three 100KVA; 11KV/440V, three 10KVA, 2.2KV/110V
Miscellaneous wiring and power service lines for mine and camp purposes
Fenced substations.

One Broderick and Bascom Aerial Tramway, 9,000 feet long in good operating condition- capacity- 300 tons in 24 hours
Two tramway terminals, equipped with ore storage bins with a capacity of 500 tons Both terminals housed
Loading station and storage bins at Tempest Mine

Eighteen miles of narrow gauge railroad in fair condition
Locomotive and 13 railroad cars
Roundhouse, and storage bins and tanks
Necessary maintenance tools and equipment

One triplex pump, connected to 35 HP motor
One deep well pump, with 10 HP motor
Three storage tanks, with total capacity of 35,000 gallons
Two miles of 3" pipe line

Power plant building, 150' x 30'
One 360HP Fairbanks-Morse Diesel Engine, direct connected to a 300 KVA Generator, together with panels and accessory equipment


A little early history....

Beginning in 1879 a Mr. T. S. B. Martino ran a stage line between Pioche and Bristol. It appears that this line ran daily using lightweight four-horse wagons for passengers and light freight. A few years later, the stage line was sold to Mr. Seph. Willet. Mr. Hiram L. Craw also ran a stage line between Pioche and Bristol in competition with the Martino line. Craw, born in Michigan in 1838, came to Pioche in 1872. He and his wife had 10 children, many descendants of whom remain in the area today. In the mid-1880s, Billy Culverwell added to his staging interests by starting a tri-weekly stage between Pioche and Bristol.
- Inventory and Evaluation of Historic Lincoln County Transportation Systems for the National Register of Historic Places (Drews, Zeier, Reno) January 2012

C. V. Gilmer, of this city, has just marketed a carload of ore from the property of the Iron and Silver Consolidated company is Bristol District, Lincoln county, Nevada. The ore is high grade as it runs 30 per cent in copper besides carrying values in silver. At the present time Chicago people are negotiating for the purchase of this mine.
-Salt Lake Mining Review, 1899-04-29 Mining Brevities

Manager E. F. Freudenthal has given is some interesting news in regard to the Camp at Bristol. The recent strike made at this camp has developed into a bonanza, the ledge being nine feet wide and all pay ore. It was encountered in the crosscut from the main ledge and still ore in the face of the drift ion the strike of the vein. A winze has been sunk 50 feet and shows ore in great quantities. This bonanza was tapped at a depth of 375 feet and appears to be a separate and distinct vein from the one that the company was working upon. The future of Bristol is as bright as any camp in the west. With reduction works, which will soon be erected, Bristol will assume the place occupied by it in the early days. All assessment work on claims adjoining the Bristol property belonging to other parties is being done, making an old cap as bristling mining camp.
Salt Lake Mining Review, 1900-12-15

There are practically no production records available for operations prior to 1906; however, it is reported that from 1878 to 1906 the district's gross production was in excess of $3,000,000. Of that amount, the Hillside mine is credited with $2,000,000. The May day, the Tempest, and Gypsy, the National, the Vesuvius, and the Great Eastern mines are credited with $1,000,000. The production from the Hillside Mine served as the principal ore supply for the Bristol Wells Smelter, which operated during the late 1870's and early 1880's. The smelter ceased operations due to poor metallurgy resulting from a small amount of sulphur contained in the hillside ore, which caused a considerable amount of the copper and the silver to be lost in the slag, resulting in poor recoveries. A pan-amalgamation mill was then built at the Roeder Mill SIte and approximately 30,000 tons of ore was produced at the Hillside Mine for testing and treatment at the mill; however, only about 10,000 tons of this ore was treated and mill operations were discontinued, leaving approximately 20,000 tons of Hillside ore at the mill site. This ore, together with the tailings from mill operations, was shipped in later years to the Salt Lake smelters and, while records are not available, it is reported these shipments brought handsome returns. In more recent years, several small operators have been working around the surface of the old mill site and a number of flasks of quicksilver have also been recovered.

At that time, buying electricity generated from Boulder Dam was much less expensive than making it themselves.

The following reflects clearly the advantages of Boulder Dam power over that generated by Diesel engines at the Jackrabbit Power Plant: ON a monthly basis of 3,000 tons production while carrying 250 feet of development, power consumption is estimated at 125,000 KWH a month. The cost of power while the Company operated its diesel plant was 3 cents per KWH, whereas the present cost, using Boulder Dam power, is less than one cent per KWH. On the above basis of operations, this would reflect a saving of $2,500 per month, or approximately 83 cents per tone in favor of Boulder Dam power.

[The Sheriff] thought we might like to talk to Alexander Lloyd, a former law enforcement officer now in charge of the county's welfare department.
Al sat in front of a window overlooking the town in which he was born. He recalls when 23 mining companies sounded 23 distinct steam whistles to set the time of day. His father was superintendent of one of the mines, his father-in-law, Jake Johnson, was sheriff for 20 years. "There isn't a hole up there on the hill that I haven't been down," he said. "As a boy I explored them all." There used to be a narrow gauge railroad into town where the highway is now. It replaced ore-hauling oxen in the early '70s. Fuel for the smelters, where the complicated lead-silver-zinc-gold ore was broken down, was the biggest early problem. "You can see the stumps where the trees were chopped down all over the high country," Al said.
But when the mine shafts hit water at the 2100-foot level, the problems of the mining companies were insurmountable. Al does not believe this would still hold true with today's cheaper power from Hoover Dam and vastly improved engineering techniques. There was no tapering off of the rich veins at the fateful 1200-foot level—water that could not be drained off was what defeated them. "The district here is rich, and not only in high grade," he declared. Al cited the Bristol Silver Mine which has been in operation since the '70s and is still going strong, with a three-man operation "on the other side of the hill." Ore from the Bristol is valued at $7000 a carload—which netted its three operators between $50,000 and $60,000 last year.
-Desert Magazine, January 1960

Although certainly not one of the deadliest mines, the Bristol Silver mine had its share of fatal accidents. The ones I could find are documented here.

A bit on the tram, whose towers still stand for the most part.

In 1891, the Pioche Consolidated Company built a tramway from the Day Mine to the Jackrabbit Railroad. At that time it was operated by gravity: two cars could be hauled up the grade, pulled by descending full cars The account of this tramway is lacking in details, but considering steepness of the terrain, it is likely that it was an aerial tramway. In 1914 the Day Bristol Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company built a new 9,000 foot long aerial tramway from the mines to the Pioche Pacific Transportation Company terminal at the base of the tramway. In 1914 control of the mine passed to the
California-Nevada Mining Company and almost immediately to the Uvada Copper Company. Lightning started a fire, disabling the tramway for a while in 1917. The railroad terminal burned in January 1924, but was back in service in May. Supplies were carried up to the mines in empty tram buckets. Passengers rode up to the mine in buckets when snow blocked other access routes. The tramway operated until 1955. The upper part of the tramway near the Bristol Mine is depicted in a photo in Nevada Highways and Parks (1949 v.9, no.11:19).
- Inventory and Evaluation of Historic Lincoln County Transportation Systems for the National Register of Historic Places (Drews, Zeier, Reno) January 2012



October 15, 1878 - April 2, 1887 (as Bristol)
May 1, 1891 - March 27, 1893 (as Bristol)
August 30, 1922 - January 22, 1929 (as Tempest)
January 22, 1929 - December 31, 1932 (As Bristol Silver)
January 13, 1936 - February 15, 1950 (as Bristol Silver)

NEWSPAPER Bristol Times

Try as we might, we could not get permission from the Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC to take photographs. "The Bristol mine is a closed facility and has been placed into an environmental response trust to protect human health and the environment.  The beneficiaries of the trust are the United States and the State of Nevada." I'm sure it will be razed to the ground for our "safety" in the near future.

Luckily, there have been others who have ventured onto the site, either as part of a tour or by ignoring fences and signs. There is a movie here, some great photos here.

We tried anyway. We couldn't get close- there were locked gates, and lots of cables strung across smaller access roads, washes, gullies- anything they could do to prevent a vehicle from getting to the site. There might be a way to get in from the top, but that's debatable. We came down one road from the south only to find we were locked inside the perimeter- fortunately, the cable across the road was so loose we could lift it and scoot underneath. On the way up via one of the more, um, unused roads, we did find some huge trash and can dumps, however.

Needless to say, we didn't manage to get too many photos.

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