Take it easy
  Riley Mine

N 41.185469° W117.252804° Dry Hills South, NV Quad

VISITED August 6, 2014
Our Breakfast: Eggs at the Black Rock Grill in Lovelock
Our Supper: Burgers and French Dips at the Black Rock Grill in Lovelock

From Fallon, head north on US-95 for 33 miles to I-80; turn right and head NE on I-80 towards Winnemucca for 96.2 miles; continue on I-80 for 16.2 miles to Golconda; Take Morrison Ave. Exit and turn left, cross freeway and turn right on NV789 (Old Highway 40 and Midas Rd); continue for 15.9 miles and veer left at Midas Rd junction; continue straight on Getchell Mine Rd for 7.9 miles; turn left and head west on dirt road for 0.7 miles.

From Fallon: 169.6 miles

WHAT WAS This was a tungsten mine, the second largest producer of tungsten concentrates in Nevada in 1947. To learn about the wonder that is tungsten, you could start in no better place than reading the exciting short volume TUNGSTEN: The Indispensable Metal courtesy of www.tungsten.com and the boys at the Midwest Tungsten Service. Meanwhile,

The Riley Mine, formerly known as the Dernen property, is situated about 23 miles NE of Golconda and a short distance west of the main Getchell road. This property was leased by J.E. Riley in 1942 from the Tom Dernan estate, who developed and operated the mine until October 1945, when it was purchased by U.S. Vanadium Corp. All mining until the middle of the 1940's was done in 8 pits along 1,700 feet of the ore zone. Production of the near surface ores in these pits to the middle of 1945 amounted to 88,000 tons that averaged 0.68 percent WO3 [Tungsten trioxide]. A large tonnage of ore from underground workings was mined and milled by the U.A. Vanadium Corp., from 1951 to the shutdown in 1957, shortly after the termination of the tungsten purchase program.
-Geology and Mineral Deposits of the Osgood Mountains Quadrangle Humboldt County, Nevada
Geological Survey Professional Paper 431, 1964

Freedom needs tungsten, and we were not only using it but storing it, just in case.

Riley is well known in connection with his interests in the Riley mine, one of Nevada's outstanding tungsten producers which is near the Getchell mine. He became interested in the tungsten property March 1 and started operations May 1. Four pits are now being operated at the Riley mine with production running from 200 to 225 tons daily. The Riley ore is being stockpiled at the Metals Reserve stockpile in the Getchell district with a total of approximately 20,000 tons of ore stockpiled to date. Riley recently purchased a five-eights yard power shovel from the Bradley Mining Company at Stibnite, Idaho. In bringing the shove to the Potosi district it turned over near Elko two weeks ago. THe shovel is now being rebuilt in Reno where it was taken last weekend by the Isbell Construction company. Underground drifts at the tungsten property will be opened in the near future so that work may be continued steadily during the winter, it is reported.
-Reno Evening Gazette November 6, 1943

They were digging it out as fast as they could, to beat the Axis into submission.

One of the largest producers of tungsten ore in Nevada during the past 16 months has been the Riley scheelite mine in the Potosi district of eastern Humboldt county, two miles south of the Getchell gold mine and 23 miles north of Golconda in the Osgood range. Active operations started in April 1943 when patented claims were purchased and the enterprise has been financed throughout with private capital. OPen pit mining was started on the outcrops of scheelite, after stripping the surface with bulldozer, the ore being loaded to trucks by means of three power shovels. Within 30 days from the start two pits have been opened and as production increased, eight medium-sized pits were opened by use of kagon drills [?] and jackhammers.
In describing the project, Manager J.E. Riley stated that under the contract with the Metals Reserve company he was required to exert every effort to produce quickly and on a major tonnage basic for the war effort. By July 10,000 tons of ore had been delivered to the government stockpile, around two miles distant from the mine. As fast as equipment and manpower could be obtained, production was increased until an average of 7,500 tons per month was attained and in June, the last month of the Metals Reserve contract, over 10,000 tons of pre was delivered to the stockpile. During 12 months of deliveries something over 80,000 tons of scheelite was deposited at the MEtals Reserve stockpile.
This operation was delivered with a crew of 25-30 men. Average tungsten content of the ore was .65 WO3. Around 10,000 tons of the stockpile ore was treated in the concentrator of the Getchell Mine Inc. The Potosi scheelite stockpile was said by Jay A. Carpenter, director of the state bureau of mines, to be the largest at present in the United States and 85 percent of this ore was produced by the Riley mine. Construction at the Riley mine has included a modern camp consisting of five dwellings for families, a thirty-man bunkhouse, boarding house, office, garage, and machine shop, water system and access roads.
-Reno Evening Gazette, August 12, 1944

And a little more detail...

Riley mine and camp are on the east slope and near the center of the Osgood Mountains. The Riley property ranges from 5,400 to 5,800 feet. The Riley mill is in the SE corner of the property, and the camp has been built in a small canyon about one-fourth mile SW of the mine. Water is obtained from a series of springs near the camp, and, except in the late summer, is sufficient for mine and mill requirements. This supply can be augmented from wells in the valley. Water transporting the mill tailings is impounded in ponds and pumped back into the mill circuit. Freight and express shipments are handled through Red House, Nev, a station on the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific about 15 miles south of the mine. Mail is delivered daily to the post office at Red House, and there are telegraph facilities at this station. The Winnemucca-Getchell telephone line passes about two miles to the east, and connections have been made with it.

Power for mill operation is obtained from Sierra Pacific Power Co.'s 66,000 volt transmission line, which passes one-fourth mile east of the property. Air for mine use is supplied by diesel-driven, portable air compressors. The camp at the Riley mine is on the property of the Getchell Mine, Inc., and comprises twelve 1 and 2-room frame buildings for men with families. A bunk house and boarding house was formerly maintained by the company, but at present single men are rooming and boarding at the Getchell Mine, Inc., 2 miles to the north, where board and room are furnished at the daily rate of $1.70. [That's twenty-one bucks in 2016 dollars] Men are transported to and from work in company trucks. An elementary school is maintained at the Getchell Mine and is under the supervision of an accredited teacher. Children of high school age attend school at Winnemucca.

Common labor is scarce and it is difficult to obtain skilled miners and mill operators. Prevailing wages range from $0.90 an hour for common labor [$11.15 in 2016 dollars] to $1.65 an hour [$20.40 in 2016 dollars] for skilled mechanics and shovel operators. Time and one half is paid for all work over 40 hours weekly.

Plant buildings on the property comprise the mill, assay office, mine office, machine shop, and warehouse. Broken ore and waste are loaded into 3-ton dump trucks by two Diesel-driven shovels; compressed air for drilling is supplied by portable compressors; stripping is done by two bulldozers; a well-equipped machine shop services the automotive equipment; and a mounted, motor-driven, electric welding outfit is used for making minor repairs to equipment in the field.

-Exploration of the Riley Tungsten Mine, US Bureau of Mines, September 1946

The end was sudden, but not totally unexpected.

Winnemucca- Some 60 Riley miners were laid off here due to the expected end of the tungsten stockpiling program on June 30, a spokesman reported. The Riley mine is owned by Union Carbide Nuclear Co., and operated by John Etchart, a former Golconda man, contractor for Union Carbide. Situated in the same locality as Getchell, the Rile tungsten ore has been milled by Getchell which accepts a limited amount of custom ore. Riley has no mill and additional Riley cutbacks are anticipated in the near future. It was understood that unless congress votes to extend the tungsten stockpiling program, Nevada faces the prospect of a complete shutdown of tungsten mining operations.
-Reno Evening Gazette, April 17, 1956





Nice little collection of old buildings and mine works. Large steel headframe still standing, although it looks like some yahoo thought about removing it since one of the legs shows someone started in on it with a cutting torch. Roads are good but you might want a 4WD to get to the buildings. An old boiler sits down the canyon from the headframe. Nice drive up SR 789 (be careful of the train tracks) past the Humboldt River and historic Preble where the road crosses the tracks. Take a cruise through Golconda, too, lots of interesting albeit dilapidated buildings.

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