Death Valley in Inyo County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Keane Wonder Mine
About 1903, Jack Keane, prospector, discovered gold in this area of the Funeral Mountains. The ore was of such high quality the mine sold for $150,000 before any development had started. In late 1907, the Keane Wonder Mining Company completed construction on an aerial tramway and mill. (This photograph represents how the mill and lower portion of the tramway looked in 1907).
The tramway, consisting of eleven wooden towers, transported ore from the mine to the mill, a distance of 1 mile (1,6 km) and a drop of 1,300 feet (396 m). The ore, carried in large buckets, moved by gravity down the tramway on cables which also provided mechanical power to operate the crusher up near the mine.
At the mill, gold and silver were separated from the rock by a stamp milling process. This operation can be compared to a nut (ore) being struck by a hammer (the stamp) whose blow separates the valueless shell (the quartz rock) from the valuable kernel (the gold and silver). The pulverized ore mixed with water flowed over silver-coated copper plates, an amalgamation, process which arrested the valuable particles and allowed the rest of the material
The gold, silver and some lead harvested from the mine and processed in the mill was hauled by wagon to Rhyolite, Nevada, the closet railhead. Even the famous steam tractor "Old Dinah" made a couple of trips pulling precious loads before breaking down on top of Daylight Pass.
During the peak years, 1909 through 1911, 73,989 tons of ore were processed yielding $682,209.69 - and average of $9.22 per ton. The mine was reported to have ceased operation in 1916, when "...the developed ore bodies were worked out." Reliable estimates have put the total production figure of the Keane Wonder Mine at $750,000.
Each piece of rusty mining machinery and every bit of timber represents a part of Keane Wonder's intriguing past. Please do no remove or disturb anything. Leave it for others to discover and enjoy.
NOTICE: There are many hazards associated with old mining areas. Use caution when walking around.
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 36° 40.162′ N, 116° 54.556′ W. Marker is in Death Valley, California, in Inyo County. Marker can be reached Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Death Valley CA 92328, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wagon Wheel History (approx. 8.8 miles away); Old Stovepipe Wells (approx. 9˝ miles away); White Gold (approx. 13.2 miles away); Borax (approx. 13.2 miles away); Old Harmony Borax Works (approx. 13.3 miles away); Stephen Tyng Mather (approx. 14 miles away).
More about this marker. When we revisited Death Valley National Park in March 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) had closed the Keane Wonder Mine and surrounding area to public access. NPS cited several hazards including unstable ground, toxic waste and collapsing structures.
In 2017 the mine area reopened after safety improvements were completed.
Also see . . . Keane Wonder Mine. Death Valley National Park website, with mine history, safety, and visit information. (Submitted on April 4, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Man-Made Features •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 14, 2019. This page originally submitted on April 7, 2016, by Alvis Hendley of San Francisco, California. This page has been viewed 210 times since then and 3 times this year. Last updated on April 4, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. Photos: 1. submitted on April 7, 2016, by Alvis Hendley of San Francisco, California. 2. submitted on April 4, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. 3. submitted on May 1, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on April 7, 2016, by Alvis Hendley of San Francisco, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.