This is the story about the town and mine of Skidoo California. In the late 1890's, prospector Jack Keane discovered the Keane Wonder mine in the mountains of Mojave, bordering California and Nevada. This discovery started a small gold rush and during this time, further north in the Panamint Range. It was here that two prospectors, John “One Eye” Thompson and John Ramsey discovered a gold deposit that would later become known as Skidoo.
Within a few short months, there were other hopeful prospectors and miners coming into this area. The two Johns were pretty sharp operators and knew that this place had good potential for gold, so they formed a small group called the Gold Eagle Group and then ended up staking a large chunk of the surrounding area. This caught the attention of a very successful businessamn named Ernest A. “Bob” Montgomery who ended up buying the Gold Eagle Group. Of course other people who knew Bob Montgomery and his success were eager to buy in and invest.
By 1907 the Skidoo mine was being built. This was a very rich deposit but it was out in the middle of nowhere. First thing Bob Montgomery did was run a water pipeline from Telescope Peak to the minesite. This water line was 20 miles long. This would have been a huge task back in the day with no supporting infastructure. Then the ore needed to be processed so the mine built a mill and had a fifteen-stamp amalgamation and cyanide mill installed. By this time there was a hundred men working at the mine and helping with construction of the mill and townsite. Montgomery had spent over 300 hundred thousand dollars by this time.
By September the following year, it was reported that gold bricks valued at $10,000 each from the Skidoo mines had arrived in Rhyolite Nevada and were on their way to the mint. This gold was only a 15 day run worth of milling and gold grades only seemed to increase after that time. By this time the town was coming right along as more people moved into the area. Soon there were almost 700 people living in the town of skidoo. The town had a store, a blacksmith shop, a couple of saloons and a post office. There was regular freight service running over to Rhyolite a few times a week.
Of course all these old towns had their share of sketchy people who were up to no good. In April of 1908, saloon owner and gambler, Joe Simpson decided to rob the local bank. Now in this town, the bank was located in the store and when he attempted to rob the cashier, he ended up shooting and killing, James Arnold, a popular local butcher. Skidoo never had a jail so he was held under guard in a building until a sheriff or marshal could arrive. However later that night a mob came along and demanded he be released so the person who was on guard let him out. This mob then took him out and hung by his neck from a nearby pole where he died.
By 1912, the deposit at the skidoo mine started seeing lower grades of ore. This was very concerning because up until that time, this mine was a real money maker. The population started to decline and soon both the school and post office were closed. The mine kept chugging away on for a few more years and there were still a small number of stubborn residents that refused to leave town. However, by 1917, the mine closed for good and there was no one left in town.
Over the ten odd years this mine ran, it produced over 75,000 ounces of gold which was worth more than $1.5 million at that time. You can still drive up to the old mine site of skidoo today. The old ore bins and mill frame are still there along with the old stamp mill framing. It is said that you can still see where the old water line once ran. There is very little of the old townsite though. Just a few bit of debris.