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The Keane Wonder Mine

It was in the late 1890's that two prospectors Jack Keane and his partner Domingo Etcharren, were out in an area known as the chloride cliffs. These cliffs are located in the funeral range mountains of eastern california right close to the border of Nevada. The two men were in an area that had all the potential for silver deposit when Jack happen to notice an quartz vein right close to surface. Inspecting this vein a bit further, Jack noticed there was some gold and so he and his partner staked the claim and named it the Keane Wonder.

Like most prospectors back then, the two men of course had no money so they would need to raise some money in order to get this mine up and running. It wasn't long before they sold an option on th claim to a New York investor named Joseph DeLamar. With this money the two men set about getting things put together so mining could begin, but soon found out that there were a lot of challenges. Being so far away from civilization, there were shortage of materials and the costs of those materials were sky high. The nearest town was Ballarat and that was 70 miles away.

Of course news of this strike and a New York investor, caused a brief staking rush and a few more deposits were located a bit further north. With limited infastructure, Keane and his men could only mine the ore tht was close to surface and Joseph the investor was getting upset at the slow progress, that he gave up and forfeited his option on the mine. A second investor came along and also ended up walking away also because of slow progress.

Then in 1906 a couple of investors John Campbell and Homer Wilson, happen to come along and turned the Keane deposit into a major mine. Homer Wilson was a well versed miner from the Mother Lode mines of California and knew his stuff. With Wilson's cash they built a stamp mill and installed a tram line because the ore deposit was high on a mountain ledge. By 1907 the mine was turning a profit which was an amazing feat back in those days. Both Keane and his partner Domingo, sold their shares out to the new owners. Domingo used his share to purchase a store, while Keane was later involved in a couple of shootings and was imprisoned in Ireland for murder.

There was no town for this mine but they ended up building two different camps. One camp for the mill workers down on the desert floor and another camp up by the mine portal for the miners. The lower camp had sleeping quarters, a store and even a post office that ran for a couple of year. The upper camp located almost a mile away up the mountian was a boarding house for the miners. The mine became a such a money maker that a railroad was briefly built in the area to connect with the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. In afct it was one of the few mines that stayed working during the Panic of 1907 and short recession that followed.

Then in 1912 the mine got itself caught up some some financial issues involving the failed State Bank and Trust Company of Nevada and then in 1912 the deposit was mostly mined out and the the mine was then sold but never did go back into operation.

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