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Death Valley Ghost Towns - Page
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William T. Coleman's, Lila C Mine, purchased in the early 1880’s, it was named for
never developed the mine and lost it to Francis
Smith, when his finances collapsed in the late 1880’s. Smith incorporated
it into the
Pacific Coast Borax
Company, but did not immediately work the mine
as he was focused on the mine in Borate. However, when those ores were
nearly exhausted, the company turned its attention to the Lila C, which
would soon prove to be one of the richest in
Development began in 1903 and they soon discovered
three beds of colemanite 6-18 feet wide and at least 2500 feet long. Steam
traction engines hauled ore to Manvel, 100 miles away, until 1907, when
the Tonopah & and Tidewater Railroad reached the area. A spur from the
railroad was then built to the Lila C, allowing for much cheaper
Ruins of the Lila C Mine in 1943.
At that time, the
camp’s name was changed to Ryan, in honor of John Ryan, a borax
company executive. That same year a post office opened.
The camp of Ryan peaked at about 200 people The opening of the Lila C.
Mine caused the price of borax to drop 2 cents a pound to between
4 ˝ to 5 ˝ cents, causing a shutdown of the mine at Borate, as well as mines in
Saline Valley and on Frazier Mountain.
Through 1914, the mine would produce over $8 million in borax. With
the mine playing out, the company town as well as its post office was
moved to a site then called Devair and/or Colemanite.
It too was called Ryan and the old Lila C, was then referred to as
“Old Ryan.” The Lila C totally stopped production in January, 1915. It
is located 6.25 miles southwest of
Death Valley Junction. There is
nothing left today except tailings.
Little Lake, California - Still inhabited up until just
the last few decades, Little Lake got its start as a rest stop for
travelers long ago. Once called Little Owens Lake, it was first a
seasonal marsh until it was dammed in 1905 as a part of
the Los Angeles Aqueduct system. While building the aqueduct, the Southern
Pacific Railroad built the "Jawbone Branch" from Mojave to Lone Pine,
which was completed in 1911. Standing in stark contrast to the
black basalt lava formations surrounding
it, the lake soon beckoned entrepreneurs who built a gas station,
store, restaurant, and hotel at the south end of the lake. A post
office was first opened in 1909, operating for two years, before being
moved to Narka. In 1913, it was transferred back. In 1923, the Little
Lake Hotel was opened doing a brisk business for tourists and sportsmen heading north to the eastern
Sierras, or south towards urban Southern
California. Old Highway 6/395
once passed right through the town, which thrived in the 1940's-50's.
However in the mid 1960's the highway was rerouted to the east behind the town, causing fewer
visitors to stop. In 1982, the railroad discontinued
its line through the community, causing farther decline. In 1989 a fire ravaged the upper floor of
the hotel, and it was closed. The post office closed its doors for the
last time in 1997 and the following year the railroad tracks were torn
up. In the summer of 1998, two flash floods wiped out what little was
left to the town. Since then, the ruins have been removed and the old
town is nothing but a flat place in the desert today. It was located
38 miles south of Keeler on U.S. Route 395.
California in its heydays.