Take it easy
  Red Rock Quicksilver Mine

N37° 51' 27.1" W118° 14' 31.6"

VISITED July 18, 2020
Our breakfast: Jerry's in Fallon
Our lunch: S'Socorro's Burger Hut in Mina
DIRECTIONS From Coaldale Junction, head west on Highway 6 for 6.2 miles to junction of NV 773; head southwest on 773 for 12.6 miles to NV 264; head south on NV 264 for 5.5 miles; head west on dirt road [GPX file].

Some definitions to help you enjoy this page and your life in general.

Unlike gold and silver, mercury is usually measured by the flask, an iron or steel "bottle" that holds the liquid mercury. If you have a flask of mercury, you have 76 pounds of the stuff.

Mercury was refined using retorts and rotary furnaces. A retort simply heated up the crushed mercury ore until the mercury vaporized. Mercury boils at around 675°F and the vapor is collected and allowed to cool, where it become liquid at room temperature and can be collected in a flask. A rotary furnace performed the same task, only the ore was fed into a tube which slowly turned and more evenly exposed the ore to heat.

First, a general description.

The Red Rock mine lies on a group of four claims in the southern end of the district and about 11 miles west of the Chiatovitch Ranch. In 1928 George Dunnigan acquired the property and leased it to E. F. Good and J. L. McKinney. Good, after buying out McKinney's interest, produced more than 1,000 flasks from retorts and a small rotary furnace between November 1928 and January 1931. In 1931 the mine was operated by several lessees who recovered two hundred flasks. The present owner too over the property in 1932 and by operating it at various times from 1932 to 1939 recovered about 130 flasks of quicksilver. In October 1939 Fred Volmer, manager of the Calumet Gold Mines, obtained a five year lease and by the winter of 1942 had recovered 435 flasks from ore treated inn the 20-ton Cottrell furnace.
-Quicksilver Deposits in Nevada, University of Nevada Bulletin, December 1944

Mr. McKinney evidently sees some potential here.

J. L. McKinney of the firm Good & McKinney operating a cinnabar property in Fish Lake Valley announces that he has taken over the Container, Container No. 1, and the Two Pines adjoining his present location. Since taking over the Red Rock group the firm has shipped ninety-eight flasks of quicksilver. Last month's production was twenty-eight flasks. This production has been made from one retort and a second retort will be installed soon.
-Reno Evening Gazette, April 10, 1928

Aside from being used to refine gold ore before cyanide came into common use, quicksilver was used in items like thermometers, batteries, medical applications, switches, and the manufacture of explosive, among other things. Light house lenses sometimes floated in a pool of mercury, which acted as a bearing, and it was even used in decorative pools and fountains. So there were plenty of reasons to mine the stuff.

It has been found impossible to secure accurate figures showing the output of quicksilver for the year but the Nevada Mining Press estimates it at 8,250 flasks, six thousand being credited to the Pershing Quicksilver Company. The remainder is distributed as follow: B & B Quick, 1150; Castle Peak, 500; Red Rock, 400; miscellaneous, 200
-Reno Evening Gazette, December 31, 1929

Much of the ore was dug from shallow tunnels so the mine was not particularly dangerous. However, Tragedy did not hesitate to make an appearance.

Richard Schwartz, a fifty year old [actually 43- ed.] employee of the Red Rock Quicksilver company, was burned to death Friday morning in the vicinity of the Red Rock mine at Mount Montgomery. Schwarts occupied a small frame house where his charred body was found after the ruins of his home were searched. He was lying on a mattress and the theory of Sheriff Mercer and Judge Tawney, to coroner, is that Schwartz started the fire by smoking in bed and was unable to escape the flames which made short work of the flimsy shack.
-Reno Evening Gazette, July 14, 1930

Lots of starts and stops due to price fluctuations.

Tonopah, Nev. The Red Rock Quicksilver Company at Mount montgomery is arranging to reform after an aggressive development campaign. A tank car of fuel oil arrived last week and is being hauled to the mine from Coaldale.
-Reno Evening Gazette, November 25, 1930

Returns from the Red Rock Quicksilver Inc., operating at Mount Montgomery make an excellent showing for January and february. In January the company shipped seventy-six flasks and in February sent out fifty-one flasks. On the first of March the mine force was dismissed, according to Tom Morrison who held a lease on the entire workings and the company took care of the reduction equipment operating the furnace and one retort under the management of Elmer Good. Last week a concentrator was installed and this functioned so economically that the retort was abandoned. The concentrator handled five tons of dust a day doing in two hours what took the retort twenty-four hours to do.
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 10, 1931

McKinney Leases Red Rock Mine and Plant at Montgomery Pass
J. L. McKinney is reported to have leased the Red Rock Quicksilver company's mine and plant near Montgomery Pass with the idea of resuming operations. The Red Rock suspended production four months ago when quicksilver slumped while under lease to George Wardle and associates and when in full swing is good for at least 75 flasks a month.
-Nevada State Journal, October 12, 1931

Activity continued up to and during World War II.

Reports from Fish Lake Valley are to the effect that Fred Vollmer, Silver Peak mine maker and operator, has taken over the Dunnigan quicksilver mine, the Red Rock, which belongs to Walter Dunnigan, and lies two miles south of the B & B quicksilver mine. The Red Rock was located by george Dunnigan, father of Walter, about ten years ago. It will be immediately equipped with the necessary machinery and a one-hundred foot shaft sunk to prove continuity of the ore bodies as all of the production, which amounts to $170,000 up to date, has been mined through shallow tunnels. The property is already equipped with retorts and rotary furnace and ore as high as forty per cent has been produced.
-Reno Gazette Journal, September 27, 1939

An important strike of high grade cinnabar ore has been reported in the Red Rock mine on montgomery Mountain. The new strike enables the forty-ton retort furnace to operate continually. Twelve men are employed.
-Reno Evening Gazette, August 8, 1942

Nevada ranked second among the states in the nation as a mercury producer during 1945, Matt Murphy, state inspector of mines announced to the Carson City Nevada Appeal. Nevada's production in 1945 totaled 4,338 flasks of mercury, Murphy said. That figure was short of the all-time record of 4,764 flasks achieve in 1929. Of the properties which made the 1929 record possible, only one was in operation in 1945. The operating property was the Red Rock.
-Reno Evening Gazette, January 25, 1947



A well preserved collection of many buildings. Apparently Mill was torn down by the Forest Service, who felt it was their duty to protect everyone from mercury. Local residents seem annoyed, as several signs point out this fact. Interpretive displays are in two locations. Please beware that there are many homes out here before you get to the mine so be sure you don't tresspass. A rotary furnace remains at the mill site.

Also, the Forest Service wants to "Maintain six Forest Service system roads, install barricades on unauthorized routes, close existing road near Red Rock mine with safety concerns, add another 0.5 mile of road to improve access, and change other roads to single-track for motorcycles." so get up there before they close the whole thing off.

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