Southern Nevada’s Gold – A Mining Boom in Searchlight
Millions of dollars in gold were mined from the hills around Searchlight
Searchlight is about an hours drive from Las Vegas. The town is not exactly a ghost town, but it is definitely a shadow of its former self. Mining started in Searchlight as a result of the beginning of mining in the neighborhood area leading to mining activities in the Duplex Mines.
Major gold sources were discovered in the hills southwest of Searchlight in 1897, and the following year mining started in earnest and obtained the status of “Searchlight Mining District.”
The first mining site in Searchlight was known as Duplex mines, and that was the beginning of the major mining activities here. The name of the town was borrowed from the words of one of the earliest prospectors who after prospecting diligently for many days remarked that it would take a searchlight to discover gold in the area if there were any.
Later prospectors adopted the name because they could not remember the name of the prospector who said the words.
Gold was actually discovered in the region in the mid-1840s although the initial discovery was not of economic importance to cause a gold rush. The ores here were complex and required advance techniques to remove the gold from the ores.
The Quarttet Mining Company
The first company to set foot for the first mining process was known as the Quarttet Company Limited and it started production in the area. In 1900, just six months into its operations, the company had produced half the output of the area in terms of gold.
After two years of production, the company built a rail tunnel running down the hills for ease of the transportation of the people working and also the materials for the continued production of gold through the narrow gauge rail.
The Quarttet had employed almost 1600 workers, thus being the highest employer in the region. In 1903, Searchlight was the biggest and most populated town in the region.
More Mining in Southern Nevada
It was also home to several more mining claims and mining sites. Major mines continued to produce, but new claims and smaller prospects continued to be discovered throughout the Southern Nevada desert during this time.
The mining activity in the town has been recognized as the catalyst that led to to the development of the regions and the surrounding of the Searchlight area, the roads became good, due to the transportation of materials from the mining areas to the milling site and also business thrived as time went by. Business was booming in this area.
However, the quality and quantity of gold ore started declining around 1907.
Also Read: Gold Prospecting in Nevada
The Decline of Gold Ore in Searchlight and it Production Records
In 1907, mining in the Searchlight area was on its peak season or stage, there were active mines, several businesses, and a telephone by the time, there were 44 mines in the area, and the community was provided with employment of up to 5000 people working in different mines.
However, mining was eventually chocked by a drop in the quality of the ore that came out of the mine. This called for additional capital, for deep mining and to improve the quality of ore processing in the mine. The increased cost of production and the falling prices of gold at the time led to the closure of the mine.
Another factor that drastically affected the activities of mining in Searchlight was when the flash floods washed away rail and tracks, that was in 1923, since then the rail transport was never restored, and that was the close of the business, rendering searchlight to be categories as a ghost town.
People started to leave Searchlight, and it was left with a population of fifty people, in 1927, a mill was built and started working, but it did not last for a year due to lack of ore, and it closed down.
The total production of Gold in searchlight during the time it was active, and ore was of great value and estimated to be about $45 million in ore. Mining was on and off in the town for several years until 1954 when the last mill was shut down.