The Monte Cristo Gold Mine In Nevada and Map

Another Nevada Lost Gold Mine Story

Their are some great accounts of this story one great one by Harold Weight,

here are some of the eairler storys and a map

in the Monte Cristo Mountains, There is a lonely and almost forgotten Mine now. Few modern maps even admit that it exists. But at the beginning of this century it played an important role in the history of southern Nevada. When Jim Butler made his spectacular silver strike at Tonopah Springs in 1900, the Carson & Colorado was the only railroad anywhere in that part of the country. Old Sodaville, on the C&C 60 miles northwest of Butler’s discovery, became the gateway to the Tonopah boom and remained so until completion of a narrow-gauge to the silver camp in July, 1904.

The Crow Springs dinner stop and change station for the Concord stages, half-way camp for the freighters, on the newly created Sodaville-Tonopah road was packed day and night through those years. But, though the freight road was new, the trail past Crow Springs was not. It was an ancient Indian way, and the springs had long been a camping spot for-white travelers between Pahranagat Valley and the old silver camp of Candelaria, a dozen miles south of Sodaville.

One of the most frequent travelers along that earlier trail was Charles Lampson, who lived in Pahranagat and whose sister and brother-in-law Owen, Owen lived in Candelaria. And in June of 1896, somewhere near Crow Springs and somewhere near the old trail, Lampson discovered gold ore that assayed $86,000 to the ton. A dozen tons of that fabulous rock and he would be a millionaire! But there was a catch. The ore he found was float. There was less than a dozen pounds of it. He was never able to locate its source, the ledge from which it had eroded. Nor has anyone since, among all the hundreds who have sought it.

MONTE CRISTO GOLD

I learned the story of Lampson’s gold from Fred and Logan Gilbert, now of Luning, Nevada. The Gilbert brothers know that Lampson’s gold exists. Fred saw it, 65 years ago. The Gilberts know ore, too. And mining. Their strike in the Monte Cristos in 1924 precipitated Nevada’s last substantial gold rush and the short-lived camp of Gilbert.

Born in a prospect hole, they have been prospectors and miners all their lives. Environment may have been to blame. Their father, John Benton Gilbert, crossed the plains in 1865 and spent the rest of his life prospecting and mining. And wherever he followed the booms or labored at isolated mines, his family went with him. He took $30,000 out of Spruce Mountain, Fred says. He was a pioneer at Tintic, Utah. He mined silver at Pioche.

He made three fortunes in lead-silver and lost them all. But my mother always encouraged him. You’ll strike it again, she said. In the middle 1890s, Gilbert was mining lead-silver on Mt. Irish at Pahranagat. His partner was Homer P. Thompson, and the Gilbert family lived on Thompson’s ranch in Pahranagat Valley. Charles Lampson also lived in Pahranagat at that time. After the Gilberts came he was sweet on Fred’s 17-year-old sister, Flora Iola, and the family got to know him well. Fred remembers Lampson as a sort of free-lancer, a tramp fellow who
played the fiddle at all the valley dances.

But restless John Gilbert did not remain in Pahranagat long. To the north and west of the valley (about 60 miles due east of present Tonopah) was an old silver camp, Reveille, first discovered in 1866. One of the original finders was M. D. Fairchild of the family then owning and operating Austin’s famed newspaper, the Reese River Reveille. (Hence the camp’s name.) By the end of the ’60s, Reveille had two stores, a blacksmith shop, post office, boarding house and a population of 150, with 50 mines under development.

By 1880 no mines were operating and the population was down to 30. There was another explosive boom in the early 1900s. Between times, the camp roller-coasted up and down. It was on an upswing in 1896 when Gilbert took his family there. Reveille was on the route Charles Lampson followed when he visited his relatives at Candelaria. With the Gilberts there, it became part of his schedule to stop, coming and going, to see Flora and, incidentally, the rest of the family. He stayed with the Gilberts overnight on one such trip in 1896 probably late in May. When he continued toward Candelaria he told them he would be back within two weeks.

But he did not return for more than a month, and then he was a disturbed and obviously disappointed man. Well, I have found gold, he told the elder Gilbert. “But I’ve had to give it up. I can’t find where it came from.” He showed them the ore he had discovered. Fred was only six at the time, but he has never forgotten that rock. “It looked like head cheese,” he says. It weighed about eight or nine pounds — clear quartz crowded with gold nuggets strung together with golden threads. Then Lampson told them his story. But as it would seem there were some confusions in his mind even then, the exact and correct details of his strike can never be known.

Lampson traveled alone on his trips, and prospected along the way. This time, near Crow Springs, he found promising mineral showings. His brother - in - law, Owen Owens, came back to the springs with him to investigate them. These discoveries were copper and lead, and while there were a number of veins, they proved to be be small and unlikely to pay off. But in re-prospecting around the springs, Lampson stumbled upon that chunk of incredibly gold-rich head cheese rock. Everything else was forgotten for two weeks while he and Owens searched and hammered and panned. But no more of the precious rock could they find. Owens gave up and returned to Candelaria. Lampson reluctantly headed back for Pahranagat. “You are my friends,” he told Gilbert. “I’d rather have you find it than anyone else. You go to San An tone station. Old Man Bell at San Antone will point out Crow Springs to you. It’s about 30 miles away, due west. When you get to Crow Springs, go to that little hill about 3Vi miles southeast. I picked up this ore right on the saddle on that hill. But I couldn’t find any more. I’ve panned all around it and couldn’t find a color.” Lampson then went on from Reveille to Pahranagat.

The Gilberts did not see him again for many years. But John Gilbert and his partner, Thompson, headed for Crow Springs as soon as they could get outfitted. Gilbert took his portable assay outfit along. They had no trouble finding the hill Lampson had described. But the best rock they located on it ran only $7 to the ton—and in silver, not gold.

They camped at Crow Springs and searched the country around in widening circles. There was no sign of Lampson’s gold, or any gold. But about eight miles to the southwest, in the Monte Cristos, they found traces of old workings. Searching further they discovered the silverlead outcrop which became the Carrie Mine. Later, Gilbert learned that during the Candelaria boom, “Spaniards” with pack trains of silver ore came to that camp from the direction of the Monte Cristos. Gilbert moved his family from Reveille to the Monte Cristos, arriving at the Carrie outcrop on August 20, 1897. From then on he worked at developing the Carrie.

But he never gave up on Lampson’s gold— that was one reason he moved to the Monte Cristos and from time to time would camp at Crow Springs and hunt the elusive ledge. The Gilberts were still living at the Carrie when Butler discovered silver. They moved to Tonopah in 1901 as the big rush got under way. Crow Springs and the Monte Cristos changed astoundingly as Tonopah grew. In the beginning there was no direct road from Sodaville station to Tonopah Springs.

The Lost Gold Mine Story filtered through Nevada, as lost gold stories always do, more and more of the prospectors and boomers along the Crow Springs road paused for at least a few days to hunt the phantom ledge. And more and more of those who heard the story in Tonopah turned back to try their luck. Lampson himself came back at least once to look for it. He walked in from Miller’s, almost starved to death, and again found nothing. In 1918, when the Gilbert brothers were in Tonopah with time on their hands, they and a friend decided to take another look for the lost gold. This time, just about a mile from Crow Springs on a little reddish-pink quart/ hill with twin peaks, Fred noticed two old location monuments. Curious, he investigated, and in a rusted old baking powder can in one he found a location notice. It was dated June 6, 1896, and signed by Charles Lampson and Owen Owens. But that was all they found.

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