Delamar - The
When gold was discovered in 1889 in
Monkeywrench Wash by John Ferguson and Joseph Sharp, gold and silver
seekers rushed to the isolated and treeless region. Before long a
mining camp was born west of the Monkeywrench Mine and called Ferguson
after one of the original prospectors.
In April, 1894, Captain Joseph Rafael De Lamar
of Montana bought most of the important mines in the area and renamed the
Delamar. In the same year, a newspaper called the Delamar
Lode began publication and a post office was opened. Lamar built
a fifty-ton mill which commenced operation in May of 1895 and the camp
began to grow.
Soon, the new settlement boasted more than
1,500 residents, a hospital, an Opera House, a couple of churches, a
school, several businesses and the numerous inevitable saloons. Most buildings were built of native rock and though the camp has long
since been a ghost town, the ruins of these timeless buildings
continue to stand.
April, 2005, Kathy Weiser
By 1896 the
mill was handling up to 260 tons of ore daily. Water for the
camp was pumped in from a well at Meadow Valley Wash, some twelve
miles away. Supplies and materials traveled even further, by
mule teams over mountainous terrain from the railroad head at Milford,
150 miles from the remote camp. The precious ore was hauled out of the
settlement in the same arduous manner.
The gold in the
mines was unique in the fact that it was contained in quartzite. The process to remove the gold from the quartzite resulted in large
quantities of dust which contained particles of glass like rock. This hazardous dust, when breathed by the mine workers, as well as the
townsfolk, often resulted in a disease of the lungs called silicosis. Soon, the town earned the nickname "The Widow Maker” due to the
numerous premature deaths from the disease. At one time there
were over 400 widows living in
Delamar's two remaining cemeteries display the inscriptions on
tombstones of the many victims of the quartz dust.
After the turn of the
century, gold production slowed and by 1902 many of the town’s
residents had moved on to the new boom town of Tonopah.
More than $15 million
dollars worth of gold was produced from 1892 to 1909 when Captain John
dismantled the entire enterprise. Inevitably, the town died. However,
Delamar saw a revival in 1929 when production began once more. The post office and school were reopened but it was not to last. Production ended once more in 1934 and the town died for good.
Weather and vandals have taken a toll
on the remains of
Delamar. Only a few years ago several of the old stone buildings remained
standing, but according to an area resident, these buildings have
sadly been taken apart, stone by stone, by vandals hoping to find
something hidden in the walls. However, these crumbling ruins,
tailings, and old mine structures still entice
towners and photographers to its remote location.
Directions: From Las Vegas
take I-15 north to Great Basin National Park/Ely Cut-off – Highway 93. Just a few miles before you get to Caliente,
Road to the right. The drive to
about 16 miles on rugged gravel road. Four wheel drive is
Kathy Weiser/Legends of
America, updated April, 2017.
The quartzite dust at Delamar
interesting unnatural sculptures in the mining
April, 2005, Kathy Weiser.
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a cup of coffee and travel the historic paths of the
mining ruins, April, 2005, Kathy Weiser.