Take it easy
  Ludwig (aka Morningstar)

38° 57' 20"N, 119° 16' 36"W Artesia Lake Quad


We Visited: 11/8/2003
Our Dinner: Chili!
We Visited:
Our breakfast: Eggs at Pioneer Crossing in Yerington
Our Lunch
: Cheeseburgers at King's Diner in Yerington


Directions: Take Highway 50W from Fallon 26.5 miles; south on US 95 ALT 57 miles; continue south on SR 338 for 13 miles; continue on SR208 for 6.5 miles; turn right and head north on Hudson Way and continue on Delphi Rd. for 13.4 miles.

From Fallon: About 116.4miles.


In this area of the state, copper is what is mined, and Ludwig is no exception. Copper ore was discovered in the mid 1860's and produced for a couple of years, but they didn't have much luck smelting it until after the turn of the century when the Nevada-Douglas Company bought the mines in 1907.

The Ludwig Mine, in Mason Valley, has produced tons upon tons of copper, and it has not been fairly prospected yet.
-Reno Evening Gazette, January 10, 1888

the smokestack at the Ludwig mine was blown down and totally demolished during the late wind storm. Several small buildings were also demolished.
-Reno Evening Gazette, 2/15/1904

The camp of Morningstar coalesced from the influx of men and equipment, and it was eventually named named Ludwig around 1911, although it was referred to as Morningstar after that occasionally.

In 1911 the camp began to be served by the Nevada Copper Belt Railroad from Wabuska. The Laughing Fish site has some of the old railroad schedules available. The train would go from Wabuska to Yerington and Mason, down to Nordyke and Wilson, then swing through Wilson Canyon and head north on the other side of the range to Hudson, Colony, and Ludwig. By the way, if you'd like to see the Wabuska railroad station, it's at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. The Nevada Copper Belt Railroad Company was completed in 1911 and was mainly used to haul freight from Ludwig, Nevada, where the headquarters of the Nevada-Douglas Consolidated Copper Company was located, to the smelter at Thompson which was on the main line of the track about 19 miles north of Nordyke. The company was reorganized in 1941 as the Nevada Copper Belt Railway Company. In 1942, the 9 miles of track from Hudson to Ludwig as well as the 2 1/2 miles from Wabuska to Thompson were removed. The passenger service was terminated in 1945, and the entire line was abandoned in 1947.

Morningstar, the terminal town on the Nevada Copper Belt roailroad, was visited by fire one morning this week. The property loss was heavy, but was covered by insurance.
-Reno Evening Gazette, 12/16/1913

From the 1913-ish book, LYON COUNTY- WHERE IT IS, AND WHAT IT CONTAINS: Close to California, made up of rich valleys and mineral-laden hills, it still has available lands at reasonable prices, and is an ideal homing spot. by Cora Fay White:

Ludwig is essentially a mining camp thrifty, prosperous and cosmopolitan! The Nevada-Douglas Mining Co. has extensive works there, and these, together with The Gypsum Plant, afford employment for many men. Comfortable residences, adequate offices, modern school house, social hall, and a variety of commercial houses are to be found in this typical Nevada camp, which, after all, does not differ in personnel from any other cosmopolitan community, either East or West. Electricity is used practically in the mines, as well as for all other possible purposes.

Almost a thousand people lived and worked at Ludwig until 1914, when activity waned. They began mining gypsum in the 1940's but by 1960 most everything was gone.

POST OFFICE 6/12/1908 - 11/24/1911 (Morningstar) 11/24/1911 - 7/19/1932 (Ludwig)

There are more ruins and debris in Ludwig than our initial studies led us to believe. It's a large site with lots of interesting things scatteed over quite a large area. There were several of what we'll refer to as "mills" in the area. We're pretty sure they were used to reduce the copper ore for shipment elesewhere, and/or possibly for use with the gypsum operations that came later. The copper mines in the area were large, open, and scary. Clearly, copper deposits are larger than gold and silver and the massive amounts of rock that has to be moved to get at it was evident here. Huge tailings piles, huge mines and pits.

Large buildings of concrete and brick existed here. One of the concrete buildings was finished quite nicely at one time. We'll have to see if the local museum has any photographs of Ludwig before it was carried away.

One of the interesting things was there seemed to be an unusual number of clay pipes in the area, some of which led to sumps and underground chambers. Was it a sewer system, or did it have to do with the copper or gypsum operations? Right now it's a mystery.

A little web research reveals that some "art students" use Ludwig as a field trip destination.

The dynamic three day field studies art project, Desert Sculpture at the Ludwig, Nevada abandoned mining site will be included in this course. Students will travel to Ludwig to camp, work and build several large sculpture forms that will be burned the last night of the program to exemplify the nature of conceptual sculpture.

City folks. Sheesh.

UPDATE: I got a letter from one of the "city folks" where they explain:

Dear the writer of the article on Ludwig, NV, I am writing you to inform you about the art class that uses Ludwig as a feild destination. First we are not a bunch of city folks though there are some that come out with us. Second there are 2 sculptures that we buld. One made from wood and other objects that we find out there that are left from the mining camp that once exested there. This is called the Ludwig Watcher becuse we leave it on the bluffs overlooking Smith Valley. The second sculpture is made from wood that we bring, we burn down this sculpture. This type of art is called conceptual art in that it begins as an idea, plan, thought, design and last for a short period. We document the process and always the emphasis in conceptual work is on the process instead of the end form. During the day we will also make small clay forms to place inside a simple brick kiln inside the sculpture that we burn down. The heat from the sculpture will fire the clay. Now I hope that I have informed you a little more about our fun little trip.

Let's hope these Burning Man rejects don't decide to use materials from any other historical sites as "art." The State of Nevada was very interested in these activities and informed the "art class" to keep their "art" in California and reminded them of the penalties of desecrating Nevada's historical sites, which include using their lifeless bodies to test the depths of some of the local mine shafts.

UPDATE: 10-19-2008 - A California man died after he fell into a mine shaft near Smith Valley on Saturday morning, according to the Lyon County Sheriff's Office.
Terry Berardy of Mokelunke, Calif., was unconscious and unresponsive aftfer he was extricated from the shaft in the area of Ludwig Mine. Deputies and other emergency workers from Lyon County Search and Rescue, Mason Valley firefighters and the Washoe County Hasty Team assisted with the rescue and extraction.
He was pronounced dead at the scene after workers extricated him from the mine shaft. No one else was injured, according to deputies. Berardy had fallen at least 80 feet down the shaft as he and other friends and relatives were exploring the area, which is located along the mountain range between Yerington and Smith Valley.
-Nevada Appeal, Sunday, October 19, 2008.

Well people, I hate to say "I told you so," but....

UPDATE 2-22-2014 Lots of fences going up, and men in pickups wearing saftey vests indicate a nenewed interest in the Ludwig area. No gates or signs yet, so if you want to see it now might be better then later.

UPDATE 1-16-2015 The Record Courier reports that Art Wilson Mining has begun work at Ludwig, fencing off 300 acres. They are getting quite cross about people cutting the fences, and will probably station someone out there to beat the crap out of you if you try. If you're lucky.

UPDATE 2-5-2016 Art Wilson Mining has apparently been bought out by ACG Minerals which uses gypsum agriculturally.

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