Take it easy
  Sylvania District (Esmeralda Co.)

Pigeon Spring 37.420703° -117.667786°
Palmetto 37.444375° -117.694811°
Sylvania 37.397595° -117.724459°

VISITED July 22, 2018
Our breakfast: Eggs at Jerry's in Fallon
Our dinner: BBQ & Beer at Tonopah Brewing Company
Our motel: The Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah
Our breakfast: Pittman Cafe at the Hotel Mizpah
Our lunch: Old Nevada Pizza at Hawthorne
DIRECTIONS From Goldfield: Head south on U.S. 95 for 15.1 miles to Lida Junction and SR 266; Head west on SR 266 past Lida for 31 miles to Palmetto. You're in the neighborhood.


Active off and on-- mostly off-- from the 1860's through the 1970's and maybe even beyond.

The company [Sylvania Silver-Lead Mining Company] has its own road from the camp via Lida to Cuprite, the shipping point where shipment can be made over the Tonopah and Tide Water Railroad, a branch of the Southern pacific, and also over the Goldfield and Las Vegas Railroad to Salt Lake. The Company has on this property a spacious superintendent's dwelling, as well as office buildings, bunk houses, large kitchen and dining room, blacksmith shop, garage, and other necessary buildings found in a camp; and at least $50,000 worth of ore already mined and on the dumps ready to be concentrated. Access to the various surrounding towns can be easily and quickly had by automobile, as the road from the camp to Goldfield is an excellent one with easy travel.
-Report, 1910

Who was Turner? How did he die? How did it affect the operation of the mine? Questions, questions!

It is but natural to ask why the mines which are now considered as good as the sylvania group have been worked in the past in so desultory a manner, and have been allowed to remain entirely idle for the last fifteen years? Answering the last part of this query first, I would say that the bankrupt and disorganized condition of the Company owning the Sylvania Group after the violent death of the man Turner, made it impossible to operate the mines.
Report, E.T. Clymer July 16, 1910

Litigation which has for the past two years or more tied up the Sylvania Mining company, which has a gold-silver-lead property from fourteen miles west of LIda, has been ended by the company and conflicting titles claimed by John Buser and J.L. Bray, and the company will proceed at once to construct the 100-ton reduction plants that was planned and financed some time ago. Extensive work on the property will at once be commenced. The Sylvania property is now owned by easterners. It was first located and some work done on it in 1872, and several sets of owners have done some work on it. Along in the '80's a small open hearth smelter was erected on the property, but proved a failure in handling the ores, and several attempts to handle the property without adequate milling facilities have been made. The present company, however, has the milling process fully figured out and a mill designed by Walter Trent has been contracted for, part of the machinery being en route at the present time.
-Reno Evening Gazette, February 17, 1911

The mine was discovered in the [eighteen] sixties or seventies, and passed through various hands until it was acquired by the present company in 1904. Several attempts have been made to smelt the richer ore in crude furnaces erected on the ground, but apparently without success. In 1907 or 1908 a leasing company hauled ore for a short time to the 10-stamp concentrating mill at Pigeon Springs, and shipped concentrate to a smelter. This was the last attempt to work the property.
-F. Bradshaw, October 1913.

Zabriskie Will Restore Noted Sylvania Mine
The Perseverance lead silver mine, formerly known as the Bullion in its early history, was sold this month to C.M. Zabriskie of Salt Lake City, the Beatty Bulletin reports. The Perseverance and the Sylvania mining district were discovered in 1870 by Kincaid and was organized in 1872 under the name Green Mountain district, and in 1873 changed to Sylvania. The Perseverance was worked as early as 1860 by Spaniards, old rock cabins being still on the property and piles of charcoal and chunks of pure lead and silver being found in places where smelting was conducted. In 1904 W.D. Clair bought the Perseverance , known then as the Bullion, and built a large camp and a 30-ton mill.
-Reno Evening Gazette, November 29, 1947

Pigeon Spring

A 1905 USGS map already shows a stamp mill located here. This area once had a saloon, store and roadhouse. A post office was applied for in 1899, but did not open.

Del Bondido Camp

One might assume this camp in Tule Canyon developed to work the nearby Log Springs mine or placers. Named for Charles Del Bondido. Can't find much on ol' Chuck, but apparently he was a lawyer from New Orleans, born 12 Jan 1873. Census shows he lived in Pioneer in Nye county in 1910, and was widowed. By 1920 it appears he had moved to Taft, California, still practicing as a lawyer.

Nuggets and Coarse Gold Being Washed Out and Nice Saving of Yellow Metal Made
Charles Benton, formerly a deputy sheriff under Shariff Bradlye, is in from Tule Canyon, where he has been doing some work on his placers near Log Springs. He says that quite a number of people are doing assessment and development work in the district, and some are making very favorable showings. One party below Log Springs is washing out nuggets and coarse gold, and making a nice saving of the yellow metal. Thsi district is one of the historic old placer diggings of the state, having been worked by Chinamen, Mexicans, and white men in the early days and the output is estimated at several million dollars. During the most active period of the camp the Wells Fargo Express comapny maintained an office in the canyon for transporting the gold out to the mints.
-Nevada State Journal August 11, 1911

A contract for placer machinery capable of handling 100 cubic yards a day with a drag line and a three-quarter yard Northwest Shovel, trommels, classifier, and jigs, is held by Carpenter and Lewis, mining engineers of Los Angeles. The machinery is being installed at the Log Springs proeprty, 45 miles southwest of Goldfield. Carpenter and Lewis are under contract to manage and control the property, as well as design and install all necessary machinery. Camp has been established and water brought in.
-Nevada State Jouranl, December 17, 1934


Palmetto had its ups and downs,mostly as a mill site for nearby mines.

The first recorded activity in the Palmetto District was in 1866; a stamp mill was constructed that year to work prospects in the vicinity of what later was known as the Palmetto mine. The Palmetto and adjacent mines were very large, with extensive dumps, and obviously were major operations in their day. Deposits in the Palmetto district are largely of silver, gold, and lead.

Thinking that local Joshua trees were related to palm trees, the 1866 prospectors named the mining camp Palmetto. Although a local 12-stamp mill worked the silver ore, the town died for lack of profitable material. New discoveries in the late 1860's brought Palmetto back to life, but once again meager deposits caused its demise. New prospecting in 1903 caused Palmetto to grow to a town of 200 tents on a platted town site. At its peak in 1906, the commercial street contained all the necessary mining camp businesses. Local miners drifted away in Autumn, 1906. Mining, on a lease basis, has been minimal since that time. An important talc deposit lies nearby.
-Nevada State Historical Marker #145

Be prepared.

A Candelaria dispatch of the 10th inst. says: Harry O'Hale left Silver Peak last Thursday morning for Palmetto. Not arriving there, a searching party went out and found him dead on the desert, his water canteen empty.
-Reno Evening Gazette, August 12, 1886

The "rush" begins

Ore Bears 30 Per Cent Copper and Carries Values in Gold.
To a Gazette reporter this afternoon, H. W. Knickerbocker said that the recent strike in the Palmetto district is one of the richest that has been made in the State of Nevada.
-Reno Evening Gazette, September 7, 1904

Hills Dotted With Tents of Prospectors
Two weeks ago there were half a dozen tents on the mountainside. Today there are between three hundred and five hundred miners at the place, the hills being dotted with huts and the entire country thereabouts is being staked.
-Reno Evening Gazette, February 11, 1906

The whistle now blows daily at the Palmetto mill, is the word just received by E. R. Rodgers of the Palmetto and Death Valley Company. In a letter received from Engineer Chas. Kaeding, who has been superintending operations at that end, he says the whole district is now a daily scene of greater activity than at any time during his stay in that section. Burros, mules, and teams are now employed in hauling ores from different properties to the mill and the company is now shipping in reality from two of the several leases on the property. -- Goldfield Review
-Reno Evening Gazette, June 25, 1906

And then, the inevitable downturn

Palmetto, which looked so promising a few short months ago, is almost a thing of the past. There are very few people remaining in the place and many of those are only waiting a chance to leave. There are a few brave souls remaining, and these are doing their utmost to recover some of the money put into the district, and with a fair show of success.
-Reno Evening Gazette, July 30, 1906

The substation was actually about 8 miles NW of the townsite of Palmetto, on the Oasis Divide Rd

Expected That THe Line Will Be Completed Within Sixty Days-- Will Also Supply Tonopah
Goldfield, Jan. 18-- Within sixty days the Nevada California Power company will have completed its parallel power line from Bishop to Goldfield, thus insuring to this city and Tonopha a continuity of light and power. The electric current will be cut off only through an accident affecting both lines which is very remote. Forty men are at work on the line continuously, and work is being pushed to speedy completion. The company expects to tie up the line from Bishop to the switchhouse at Palmetto in Sunday, thus completing fifty-one miles of the parallel system.
-Reno Evening Gazette, January 18, 1908

But they didn't stop looking

Coarse Gold Produced From Souther Property
Tonopha Bonanza: The Palmetto property, which has been attracting attention of mining men for the past 60 days, lies half a mile north of the Palmetto power station, on the road from Silver PEak to Oasis, and is owned by R. W. Grigsby and Harry Grigsby, his son.
-Reno Evening Gazette, July 22, 1914

Midway Mining Plant

Couldn't find much on this place. Most likely a mill built to service mines up the canyon.

Midway Mining Co. Plant. Families living on site, plant appears to be in working order. Cuts & trenches in gravel, lots of new claim posts, small washing plant. Camp consists of cabins, trailers, old cans, etc. Does not have the appearance of a legitimate operation. No ground appears to have been treated. Talked with young person, fatigue-clad with high-powered rifle- his main interest was in target practice. Did not closely examine area!
-J.V. Tingley, 8/18/1982


POST OFFICE Palmetto - April 24, 1888 - June 7, 1894; December 16, 1905 - December 31, 1907
Pigeon Spring - July 1, 1899 - December 8, 1899 [Rescinded]

Some interesting things about Esmeralda County. It's the lowest populated county in Nevada- less than 1,000 people. It's population density is the second lowest in the United States, at about 0.27 people per square mile. It has no high school, instead shipping students off to Tonopah. Esmeralda county has had land "borrowed" from it twice-- once in 1864 when Nye County was formed, and again in 1911 when Mineral County was formed.

The first Nevada Territorial Legislature established nine counties on November 25, 1861, including Churchill, Douglas, Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lyon, Ormsby, Storey, Washoe and Lake. Only Humboldt County, which existed as a county within the Utah Territory, was retained and established as a county within both the Nevada Territory and, subsequently, the State of Nevada. The largest territorial county was Esmeralda which, along with Churchill and Humboldt, comprised four-fifths of the Nevada Territory. Lake County was renamed Roop County on December 5, 1862 and then consolidated with Washoe County in 1889 because of its very small population. Two more counties, Lander and Nye, were organized when Nevada was a territory, so that the total number of counties in Nevada when it became a state was 11.
- THE NEVADA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES, https://www.nvnaco.org/about/county-history/

The county seat of Goldfield, however, was once the largest city in Nevada, with 20,000 people living there. I see some people saying 30,000, but the historical marker says twenty and that's what we're going with for now. Now, the population is less than 300. It, um, might be time to fold it back into Nye County, but I'm sure the mere mention of anything that radical would annoy at least 300 people, so forget I said anything.

The infamous Von Schmidt Line runs right through Sylvania camp. In nearby Aurora, things were so confused that they elected both Nevada and California officials, retiring the California officials when it was discovered Aurora was three miles within Nevada's "new" borders.

Von Schmidt was provided with a $40,750.32 [roughly $847,071 in 2017 money] government contract for the boundary survey. Von Schmidt also arranged to erect cast iron and stone markers along the line, hopefully one mile apart. The markers were five foot tall obelisks engraved with the date of the survey and other useful information. Throughout 1872, Von Schmidt and his surveyors marked the northern boundary from Oregon, and, in 1873, ran the line southeast from Lake Tahoe. Upon reaching Arizona and the Colorado River, Allexey von Schmidt found that his new boundary line and marker was off by several miles. This was not an unusual occurrence for 19th century surveys and the practice of retracing and correcting the line was standard operating procedure. However, Von Schmidt had spent all of the contract funds. He resolved to start his corrections and petition the government for more money. He had completed only about a third of his revisions on the line north to Lake Tahoe, when von Schmidt learned that his request for more funding was denied. He quit at that point and announced that the survey was completed. The end result was a “straight line boundary” that had a pronounced kink in the middle. No one corrected the new boundary and its markers for twenty years. When, from 1893 to 1899, the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey resurveyed the area, Von Schmidt's kink was found. It was also discovered that quite a few of the cast iron and stone markers were in the wrong spots as well. The state boundary was corrected … again … and serves as the present borderline.
-Sierra College, https://www.sierracollege.edu/ejournals/jsnhb/v2n2/1872.html

Anyhow, back to Sylvania. Nice flat roads for the most part. Access to the Silver Star Mine is blocked by a locked gate. Sure would be nice if these fools put a sign at the start of the road saying "locked gate ahead." Four Aces mine is blocked by boulders, although there may be another way to get to it. At any rate, plenty to see and lots of things we didn't hit due to time and gas-- you are, officially, in the middle of nowwhere, although there was plenty of traffic on SR 266 going to and from California, which isn't too far away. Not sure of the gas situation in Dyer- they probably have pumps but don't know the hours-- no services in Goldfield, so gas up in Tonopah.

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