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GOLD BASIN CEMETERY

a.k.a. Basin Cemetery, Burnt Mill Ranch Cemetery

 

By Kathy Block

APCRP Historian

 

The lure of gold brought prospectors, land along the Colorado River brought ranchers and settlers, and shipping of people and goods up the Colorado brought ferries on the River to the remote Gold Basin area of Mohave County, Arizona.  Modern prospectors continue to seek deposits of gold, and there are many active claims, worked by individuals and groups. Ed and I have made many trips to Mohave Prospectors Association claims in an area off Gregg’s Hideout Road.

 

                                            Ed Block - Present day dry washing    -    Results from dry washing 4 large buckets of screened material

 

Then, researching Gold Basin I came across a web site, “One Day Trips in the Meadview Area” by Mike Kelly of Meadview RV Park. The word “cemetery” caught my attention.

 

“GOLD BASIN MINES. (List of mines). Gold Basin Cemetery is located off Gregg's Hideout Road on right. What remains of the mill is on the left.”

 

Various maps located Burnt Mill easily and “cem” was shown across Gregg's Hideout Road from the mill ruins. Kay Ellermann, librarian at Mohave Museum of History and Arts in Kingman, supplied location information for the mining camp of Gold Basin, across from the cemetery. We subsequently were able to find the cemetery and the remains of the mining camp, after some searching.

 

Research about the Gold Basin area offers clues about who lived and worked in this area, some of whom are buried in the small, derelict cemetery.

 

Gold Basin is in the eastern part of the White Hills west of Hualapai Wash, (also spelled Wallapai) 60 miles north of Kingman.

 

White Hills themselves have cemeteries, researched by Kevin Hart. (Click APCRP White Hills).

 

Geologically, Gold Basin contains gold-bearing veins from Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary eras.  These veins fill fissures and in places have been traced for 0.25 km (820’) by surface and underground workings. The greatest concentrations of veins are in the southern part of the Gold Basin District. Most veins crop out individually and have northerly strikes, although a few have east-west strikes.  Free gold is also present in some fluorite bearing veins. The ore deposits are in veins in Precambrian granite and schist. The gold is associated with lead or copper ores that contain pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, molybdenite, and wolframite. The oxidized parts of the veins contain limonite, malachite, cerussite, and vanadinite.  Gold that has eroded out of source veins is distributed downward from the nearby White Hills into the alluvial fans.

 

 Gold-bearing veins were discovered in the early 1870s, but mining was inhibited by the remoteness of the area and scarcity of fuel and water. Early records show that before 1900 there was recorded gold ore worth between $50,000 and $100,000 (in that era's prices), most of which came from the Eldorado Mine. (Not all gold recovered was ever reported!)

 

The Eldorado Mine was the closest to Gold Basin mining camp and the Burnt Mill. It was about 2 miles west of Hualapai Wash, at an altitude of 4,000 feet; it was discovered during the late 1870s and was the first producer in the Gold Basin area. In 1904 it was owned by the Arizona-Minnesota Gold Mining Company. The total production was reported to be $65,000 worth of bullion. Most of the ore was treated in the Basin or OK Mill (Burnt Mill) located 4 miles from the mine. (More later on Burnt Mill.) After the mill burned down in 1906, the company never quite recovered from the catastrophe. Stock certificates issued in 1907 referred to the “Eldorado Mining Company”, incorporated in 1907, suggesting a change of ownership,

 

Another productive gold lode mine was the O.K. Mine, located about ¼ mile south of the Eldorado. It was located in the early 1880s. In 1886 a Kansas City company bought the mine, and built the first mill on the site of Burnt Mill, known then as the O.K. Mill. The mine was eventually bought by the owner of the Eldorado Mine. This mine included underground workings of about 1600 feet of adit drifts, winzes, and stopes on four levels.

 

There was production on a small scale in Gold Basin until 1920, followed by a period of inactivity; and then a few mines reopened from 1932 to 1942 (when the government shut down the mines during WWII). There was little activity from 1942 to 1959. Total historic lode mine gold production was estimated at 15,000 ounces. There was also some secondary copper mined.

 

Placer Gold Deposits were discovered in Gold Basin in May, 1932 by W.E. Dunlop.  By August 100 men were working the basin area using dry washers, leaving behind throw out piles. By June, 1933, the number of men working these placers dwindled to 43. A large-scale dry treatment plant was set up by S. Searles consisting of a grizzly, a trommel, screens, and a battery of 12 large dry-washers with a capacity of 20 tons per hour.

 

One story about Dunlop's find is that Mrs. Tap Duncan (of the ranch by Patterson's Well), was riding the range after cattle and picked up a piece of quartz heavy with gold. The ledge could not be relocated despite the efforts of her husband and sons. Mr. Duncan told geologist W.E. Dunlop about the find and made him an offer regarding prospecting for it. Dunlop prospected from the Diamond Bar Ranch, then the home of the Duncan’s, and found placer gold at what became the King Tut Placers.

 

A news item from the Miner, June 7, 1935, offers some information on gold found: “William Dunlop and Max Outwater have been working on their placer properties in Gold Basin a few miles northwest of the old burned mill in the north end of Wallapai Valley. In five days with a dry washer they saved two and one-half ounces of nuggets and finer gold. One nugget weighs a half ounce and is entirely free from quartz. Another nugget weighing nearly the same shows a little quartz. These are some of the largest gold nuggets ever found in Mohave County placers.  Mr. Dunlap has been interested in the Gold Basin area for some years, finding gold generally disseminated throughout the gravel deposits but in the more recent work he has saved through a new process of screening the coarser gold which he has heretofore been unable to save in the machine. Mr. Dunlap was in town yesterday, but is returning to the digging.” (Courtesy Mohave Museum of History and Arts.)

 

A Death Certificate was found for William Dunlop, but not his partner. Dunlop was born Nov. 10, 1874, in Sigourney, Iowa. He died at home on Jan. 26, 1937, at the age of 62 years, 8 months, 16 days! Cause of death was “cardio-vascular-Renal disease.” The widower had lived in Kingman for 29 years and was buried in Kingman. 

 

                                      Old claim stake. Modern stakes are PVC pipe               Old loading dock for mine with Pit below

 

A personal account by Cal and Jo Callender, “History of Calevan Uno Mine As We Knew It”, c.1981, touches on the process of mine development at Gold Basin.  Briefly, a USGS geologist named Dr. Phil Blacet had found an old mine about 1970, probably the “Old Harmonica Mine” first prospected in the 1870s by Woody Harmon. The geologist had descended a shaft 50 feet where he found two large ore buckets and “associated dead rattlesnakes, rabbits, owls, etc.” He returned to the surface and tied a rope to his vehicle bumper and descended a 75 foot shaft, returning with an old bucket. The Callenders filed a claim on the old mine, which had brown, pencil-shaped vanadinite crystals on tunnel walls. They eventually found records of a claim filed on Feb.22, 1881 by E.P. and J.B.  Crooker and Thomas Burke, showing much interest in this mine. By 1903 this mine was owned by R.G. Patterson, owner of Patterson's Well. Others owned the mine in the 1930s. The new mine owners, the Callenders, found evidence of an early arrastra in the creek bed below the mine site, possibly before Patterson began working the mine.

 

Here's a map showing the location of the Burnt Mill, Gold Basin Cemetery, and Gold Basin Mining Camp. Notes for each number on the map tell more details about each site, plus Patterson well.

 

                                                     Map of Gold Basin Cemetery, Gold Basin Camp Site, Burnt Mill, Patterson Well. 

 

#1. Burnt Mill. The ruins of Burnt Mill are located on the left- hand side of Gregg's Hideout Road, about 3.5 miles north on Gregg's Hideout Road,  from Pierce Ferry Road, about 100 yards before the main road makes a 90 degree left turn, and a sign with an arrow “To Gregg's Hideout” can be seen.

 

Burnt Mill was first called the OK Mill (processing ore from the OK Mine described earlier), then the Gold Basin Mill. It burned down twice, once in 1892, then again in 1906. It had opened as a five-stamp mill to process the ore from the Eldorado, OK, and other Gold Basin mines. One source states it had ten stamps and a cyanide plant until 1906. It was not rebuilt after the second fire. It operated on water piped from springs in the Grand Wash Cliffs, 7 miles farther NE. Apparently, according to the history by the Callenders, Robert G. Patterson, who operated Patterson's Well, and had a mine near the mill, would have passed Burnt Mill on the way to his own arrastra. He provided water to Burnt Mill for $3.00 a barrel while the mill was in operation. He may have been involved with building Burnt Mill originally in 1886. He may have found it cheaper to process his own ore, using an arrastra, and his own water.

 

A history written in the l930's by Mohave County Historian Mamie Musser stated: “On Hualapai Wash about 60 miles from Kingman is the wreck of the old O.K. Mill, which burned down. In years gone by the ores from the O.K. Mine and several gold bearing ledges were run through this mill. Since its burning, no mining worthy of mention has been done in this district. Word has come that the mill will be rebuilt, which causes rejoicing among the prospectors.” (It wasn't rebuilt after the second fire in 1906.) (Courtesy Mohave Museum of History and Arts.)

 

The ruins of Burnt Mill still stand, and below are remains of cyanide tanks, and a wash filled with pieces of tin roofing (possibly from a later date). Although there was supposed to be an arrastra there, we did not find evidence of one.

 

Historic mill at Scanlon Springs at Wallapai Wash.

(Note this wash is also spelled Hualapai.)

It's similar to Burnt Mill. (Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History and Arts.)

 

                                                                                                Ruins of Burnt Mill now

 

#2. Gold Basin Cemetery, a.k.a. Basin Cemetery, Burnt Mill Ranch Cemetery. This forlorn, abandoned cemetery consists of 4 single wooden crosses and one burial of a man and woman in a grave enclosed by a wooden picket fence. At one time a group, the Mohave Pioneer Women, may have painted the crosses and fence as a project, but no record exists, and at present the wood on the crosses and fence has almost no white paint remaining. Weeds grow freely and cattle trails traverse the area. To visit this cemetery, cross Gregg's Hideout Road directly across from Burnt Mill. Follow the dirt track to the left of the old corral a short distance to a leftward spur. Take the spur about 100 feet to the cemetery.

 

I was unable to find any decisive records of burials in Gold Basin Cemetery. One of the incomplete Death Certificates, recopied in the 1930s from earlier records, was for James Crawford, who lived at Gold Basin.  He died Aug.28, 1905, at age 66 years, 4 months, 25 days. He was a single white male from Girvan, Scotland. However, in an obituary he was one of the “old time miners” and was brought in from Gold Basin suffering from pneumonia. He died during the night and was buried the following day in the Pioneer Cemetery in Kingman. His obituary stated that “Deceased was well known and liked by the people of Kingman and his death is regretted by everybody.”

 

                                                                                           Sketch of Gold Basin Cemetery

 

                                   Two in this grave, male on left, female on right                          Four crosses, female to right

 

                                                                        Dirt road to cemetery – Some grave markers are visible

 

#3 .Gold Basin (Basin) Mining Camp Site ruins. These ruins, which consist of stone foundations, steps to nowhere, and concrete slabs, are located across the road from which the cemetery is reached. Go thru a gate opening in the abandoned corral to your right. They adjoin the corral along its eastern edge.

 

Gold Basin (Basin) was established in the 1870s in the mining area east of White Hills. Conditions were harsh. There were no close sources of water, timber, or supplies. The area never developed to the level envisioned by the promoters and was abandoned in the late 1890s. A post office operated there from Sept. 20, 1890 to Jan.4, 1894. The area was re-established as “Basin” in 1903. The post office reopened on March 17, 1904, and finally closed on June 15, 1907. According to Suzann Newell, who wrote a booklet on the Meadview area history, “Gold Basin was a small grouping of shanties and tents for the miners and mill workers of the area. Mike Scanlon, owner-operator of the Scanlon Ferry opened the post office in Gold Basin in Sept. 1890.” (E-mail from Suzann Newell.) (More on Scanlon later.)

 

There were many mines in the area around Gold Basin, but none that were really big producers. Since Gold Basin was 30 miles from the nearest water and shipping lines, fuel for the mill and water were scarce. Eventually, the mines could not support Gold Basin any longer and the town disappeared.

 

Here are some of the ruins of Gold Basin. The numbers refer to the map (Insert 5) of Gold Basin (Basin) Camp Site.

 

Figure 3. Water tank, Note ruins in foreground

Figure 4. Concrete square inside abandoned corral

Figure5. Concrete circle, possibly base of water tank

Figure 6. Broken gates of corral with poles lashed together

Figure 7.  Steps to nowhere now resting under a tree

Figure 8. Square stone foundation

Figure 9. Stone foundation with steps

 

 

There are several other stone foundations not shown in these photos.

 

A question about the Burnt Mill Ranch was partly answered by looking at the ruins. Maps, such as a 1960 USGS Garnet Mtn. Quad. map, show Burnt Mill Ranch at the site of Gold Basin (which isn't mentioned).The fact that some of the corral is built over the concrete circle and encloses some of the foundation ruins, suggests the Burnt Mill Ranch was built after the decline or disappearance of Gold Basin. I could find no information on this ranch. The corral, bullet-riddled water tank, and a few tumble down buildings near the ruins suggest the ranch itself is abandoned. Though there are fresh cattle tracks and droppings in the area near the cemetery, Burnt Mill, and the general area of the stone foundations, cattle could come from other ranches. We have seen cattle at a man-made reservoir about 2 miles east towards Pierce Ferry Road, and one instance of riders on horses rounding up cattle there.

 

#10. Spring Above Patterson Well.

 

This photo shows the probable source of water for historic Patterson Well.  It is about ¼ mile east or above the present site identified as Patterson Well. Water comes from the nearby Garnet Mountains, emerging out of the volcanic strata. A system of old rusted iron pipes led from the spring down to the tank at Patterson Well, paralleled by a second, more modern PVC pipe. We were able to follow the pipes to the spring, as they were visible beside the rough access track. Note the water spouting out from the pipe. There's a dry round water tank below this that was probably once used to water cattle.

 

                                                                                                            Spring above Patterson Well

 

                                                                                                  Reference 11. Patterson Well

 

There's a cattle watering tank inside a corral, with goldfish in it to eat algae and mosquitoes. It is probably filled by water carried in pipes from the spring above. Historically there was said to be an arrastra at Patterson Well that Patterson used to grind ore from his own mine. We were unable to definitely locate the arrastra, though we found stacked flat stones below the water tank, and a large cleared area.   

 

The area map shows a road, now a 4x4 track, from Burnt Mill, across Pierce Ferry Road, to Patterson Well, a distance of approximately 7 miles.  It was probably the route he used to haul water and ore back and forth. To reach the Well, drive towards Meadview on Pierce Ferry Road. About 10 miles south of town, take the well-labeled Diamond Bar Road that goes to the Skywalk. Just before mile post 1, turn right onto a graded dirt road. Continue on this road about .8 miles. You will see the corral on your right, which surrounds the water tank. We were trying to decide if this tank is the well when a rancher stopped. When asked where Patterson Well is, he decisively pointed to the tank, saying it was fed by a spring ¼ mile above.

 

Patterson well, on a summit between Wallapai Wash and historic Tap Duncan's ranch, was the site in the early days (1860-61) of a Pony Express a station. It consisted of a saloon, post office, and the Pony Express station. Here the riders changed horses. The end of the route was Pierce's Ferry to the north, where the mail was exchanged and from there the riders returned to Patterson's Well, and then on to the railroad and Prescott.

 

Patterson Well was on the Grass Springs Ranch (Diamond Bar Ranch) owned by rancher and miner Robert G. Patterson. He started a mill there to process ore from his many mines, including copper ore found at the head of nearby Grape Vine Springs. He had ownership or part ownership of the OK mine, the Excelsior, the Golden Rule and the Cyclopic. 

 

Robert G. Patterson appears in the 1880 U.S. Census. He was born in 1832 in Vermont and was 48 years old at the time. He was listed as being a single miner, living at “Mountain Springs Station.” A “widow” named Julia C. Sanders, also age 48, born in 1832, from Maryland, lived in the household as “other” and was “keeping house” as an occupation. Was she a relative who came to live with him after her husband died?  A Dec. 5, 1903 news article noted that he “came in from San Diego, California, and will leave in a few days for Gold Basin, where he is interested in mining property. He is looking hale and hearty and states that he is in better health than for years past.” Patterson made regular trips from San Diego, where he'd moved, and probably died in San Diego.

 

Historic Scanlon Ferry and Gregg's Hideout Cove.

(Arrow upper left corner of Gold Basin Area map.)

 

Ten miles past the site of Gold Basin mining camp, following Gregg's Hideout Road to a cove on the present day Lake Mead, was Scanlon's Ferry, (Somehow the name “Scanlan” became “Scanlon”). It was an important ferry service to bring people and goods across the Colorado at a point where the mouth of the Wallapai (Hualapai) Wash entered the river. Gold Basin camp and Burnt Mill are above this wash, which veers slightly NW and leads down to the Colorado River.  According to the Mohave County Miner, Jan.21, 1883, Mike Scanlon and A.J. Longstreet were working on fixing up their ferry across the Colorado. Then, in 1888, an assessment of $375 was paid to Mohave County for one ferry boat, one horse, tools, etc. On Dec. 5, 1891, Tom Gregg took over this ferry and renamed it for himself. Some sources suggest Gregg was hiding out from the law; hence the cove where the ferry was docked became “Gregg's Hideout”. There is some historical controversy over whether Scanlan took over an early ferry located two miles north of Scanlon Ferry and moved it to Hualapai Wash. Nothing remains of the site, which is buried under Lake Mead.

 

Mike Scanlan died January 31, 1912, at age 63. He was born in 1849 in Ireland, and died in Chloride, though he lived in Kingman. The funeral was held in Chloride because that's where the Elk's Lodge that paid for the funeral was located at the time.  He was buried in the Old Pioneer Cemetery in Kingman and later transferred to Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman.

 

There is no record of the death of Tom Gregg (also spelled Grigg). Some of the family is buried, though, in Hackberry Cemetery.

 

Historic Gregg's Ferry, 1923

Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History and Arts, Kingman, AZ

Meteorites.

 

Gold Basin is famous for valuable meteorites as well as gold. The unique Gold Basin meteorite exploded over more than 130 square kilometers of Mohave County in northwest Arizona at the end of the last ice age, when an asteroid, probably from a body that orbited between Mars and Jupiter, for about 4.56 billion years, hit Earth's upper atmosphere with energy of between 10 to 1,000 tons of TNT!  The field was first discovered in 1995 by a retired civil engineering professor. He was prospecting for gold and he and members of a gold prospecting club gathered about 140 pieces of the meteorite! He said that collecting fragments of meteorites that fell to Earth 20,000 years ago “is every bit as exciting as searching for gold.” The fragments range in size from a peanut to a 3 pound softball, and are found in an area roughly 10 miles long and 5 miles wide. A collector has to be careful not to metal detect within the boundaries of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. People have had equipment and vehicles confiscated and received heavy fines. These fragments are classified as chondrites, with some having unique fresh-appearing almost complete black fusion crusts. The Gold Basin meteorites bring the number of officially approved types in Arizona to 31! We have searched some, but have not found any yet.

 

In conclusion, Gold Basin has a long history of gold prospecting, an early mining camp, a cemetery, a mill, ranches, and wells. At present, prospecting for gold and meteorites continues.

 

The author wishes to thank Kay Ellermann of Mohave Museum of History and Arts in Kingman for her continuing support and interest in this write-up. She supplied many invaluable maps, photos, and news articles from the important historical library in Kingman.  Kudos to Neal Du Shane for reviewing and revising the maps and for his useful comments and suggestions. Finally, Ed, my husband, carefully edited this write-up. Any errors of interpretation of materials are my own.

All Color Photographs courtesy Ed and Kathy Block.

 

Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

Internet Presentation

Version 033011

 

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