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The Wonder Mine Of Nevada

It was in 1906 that prospector Thomas Stroud went into these hill and located the Lost Claim and the Jack Pot claim. On his second trip in, he was followed by a few other curious prospectors and together these guys found a couple claims and within a few short months, it was discovered that all of these claims had large quanties of high grade ore and so mining commenced. Samples from the Wonder Mountain claim were assayed at $1,200 per ton.

It didn't take very long for things to get rolling. Infact within a few months time a town was being built and had 5 hotels, 6 general stores, 2 banks, a couple of lumber yards that could hardly keep up with demand, about a dozen saloons and almost every other business you can imagine. Population soon reached about 14 hundred residents. By then end of that first year there was also a post office and a stage service that ran to Fallon and nearby Fairview. Some prominent Tonopah mining men visit the mine and were astounded. It would not surprise me to learn that over 1,000 head of horses are on the road between Fallon and Wonder hauling freight and passengers and supplies each day. At it's peak of operations there were over 200 men working in the Wonder mine and several hundred more working at some of the smaller mines. Wages paid were top dollar of between $4 and $4.50 per day which was really good pay back in the day, however the cost of living in Wonder was very expensive. Meals are 50 cents each ($12.40) and beds cost $1 ($25.65) per night.

The gold and silver veins around Wonder deposit consist mostly of quartz which were deeply oxidized, and these factors made the Wonder veins more economical to mine. The Wonder mine had multiple drifts going off the main shaft down to a 700 foot level. Because of mining in an oxidized deposit, large 8 by 8 timbers were required to be used to timber the shaft. There was very little water around so they ran a water line for 10 miles north to a place called Bench Creek. This water line was very well engineered as it was installed with multiple connectors so sediment could be cleaned from the pipe. This waterline delivered 185,000 gallons of water every day to the mine and town. The water was held in a hundred thousand gallon water tank.

Mining was going good so in 1913 the mine was taken over by some big time investors who built a 200 stamp and cyanide mill. Of course this mill would need electricity and so a transmission powerline was built from Bishop California all the way to the minesite. This powerline was 180 miles long and at the time, was the longest line in the world. By now the mine and mill were completely equipped with the most modern, up-to-date electrical driven machinery available and production commenced, which eventually yielded over six million dollars worth of gold and silver bullion. Around the same time in 1913 there were mentions of high milling costs due to lack of a rail link so the area was being surveyed out for a rail line although there never was a train rail built to the town so ore was transported 80 miles to the nearest rail line and these cost were high.

The production of silver from the mine decreased gradually from 1915 to 1919 due to the depletion of the ore reserves and necessity for treating ore of a lower silver content. For some time the higher price of silver offset the increased production costs and permitted this lower grade ore to be worked at a profit, however by 1919 both the mine and mill closed. People left and by 1924 most of the building had been moved to other mining camps or were left to the elements.

Very little of Wonder remains today. You can drive out there and see the old concrete foundations where the mill once stood.

Grabbing Ore Samples