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The Yellow Aster Mine

It was in the late fall of 1894, that two prospectors, Frederic Mooers and William Langdon were out prospecting in the Rand Mountain in the Mojave when they came across some traces of fine gold. Being late in the year they waited till the spring of the following year and went back to have another look. In the spring of the following year Moores went back out along with another couple men prospectors, John Singleton and Charles Burcham. It was on this prospecting trip they discovered a gold vein came to surface ontop of Rand Mountain.

Once the three men got back they decided to start the Yellow Aster Mining and Milling Company and proceeded to start mining this gold vein out. Of course word got out about these three men mining and it wasn't long before more miners and prospectors were in the area.

At the time there was no real town here so miners just lived in tents but by the end of 1896 there was over 1500 people living in the valley beside Rand Mountain. This small tent town became known as Randsburg and it serviced the many small mines around. Soon surveyours laid out a government town site, and lots are selling on the main street as high as $500. As the lots continue to advance in price, and with the influx of people, there were “Lot Jumpers” who tried to steal town lots. By 1899, the town had over 3,500 residents

During the year of 1897, over $600,000 dollars worth of gold had been mined out of this area with most of that gold coming from the Yellow Aster. There were rumors at the time that Charles Lane who was the the wealthiest miner on all the pacific coast came to Randsburg and offered the three miners, Mooers Burcham and Singleton $ 650,000 for a fourth interest in their property.

When mining first started, the gold ore was loaded on mule trains and shipped out to Garlock or Barstow which was quite a ways. Then in 1898 a 28 mile railway was built and ore was shipped out by train. This helped in processing the ore but the cost of milling and transport added up so in 1899, the company built a 30 stamp mill close to the mine. This stamp mill proved to be a money make for the mine so in 1901 the company built a new 100 stamp mill. By this time the mine was producing over $120,000 worth of gold a month. That sum would be about 4 million dollars today in 2022.

There was no water in Randsburg so Water was hauled in by wagon and cost 1 cent a gallon. The mine of course needed water for the milling so a water was drawn from wells but these wells were often over 300 feet deep. One of the mines in the Rand mining district owned by the Olympus Mining company, sunk a well 100 feet deep and got a two inch flow, so it ended up piping water into Randsburg, a distance of ten miles.

In September 1902 there were about 200 men working the Yellow Aster mine and close to 1000 miners working between the other mines in the Rand district. The miners voted to strike for higher wages and all miners in all the mines walked off the jobs. The Yellow Aster mine did not want to give the muckers a raise from $2.50 a day to $3.00 and decided to close the mine. Other mines in the area closed as well. A few months later the mine brought in non union miners and commenced mining again but the mill was still shuttered. By October the following year the mine and mill were running full capacity and old miners who were on strike started to return. The mine was now aying union wages but without the union involved.

All the mining was done by hand and carts of ore were loaded and pushed down narrow guage rails inside the mine. By 1905 the mine had about 15 miles of underground and surface narrow gauge rail track. The mine also found itself in postion where it had to increase tonnage because the ore was becoming lower grade. It was a few years later that the mine purchased a 15hp gasoline locomotive. This would be the first gasoline powered locomotives ever used in a mine in California. This small train could haul 30 tons at a time and travel up to 6 miles per hour and with a 100 stamp mill running, 580 to 600 tons of ore were being milled daily.

Over time the mine converted to electric and newer crushers and processing equipment was installed. Between 1895 and 1939, more than 3,400,000 tons of ore was milled, and about 500,000 ounces of gold was recovered, nearly all by amalgamation. In addition, 1,700,000 tons of mill tailings was treated and yielded 41,000 ounces of gold."

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