Death Valley, GPS

Confidence Mine and Dugout

Recently, I hiked out to some mines in the Upper Confidence Wash of Death Valley, but I still hadn’t been to the Confidence Mine itself. I needed to fix that.

The mine is one of the oldest in Death Valley, being first worked in 1895. One story goes that a Paiute Indian named Bob Black found gold float in Confidence Wash and tracked down the hillside where it came from. He sold it to Frank Cole and Jimmy Ashdown for $4,000, who in turn sold it to George Montgomery for $36,000. A small fortune in those days.

The lack of resources proved too much of a barrier for the mine to be profitable though. Even as soon as the next year, 1896, the Inyo Register called it one of the "most difficult and expensive mines to work in the country owing to the scarcity of fuel and water principally but freighting from Daggett [is] equally as arduous a task."

It certainly is a remote place even today. Imagine trying to work this mine and ship ore to Daggett over a hundred miles away by mule and wagon. Good luck. It was, however, worked again briefly by foolishly optimistic souls in 1909, 1915, and 1934 in false hopes of getting some gold out of this mountain.

I didn’t visit it on this trip but down where Confidence Wash eventually empties out on to the floor of Death Valley is the old site of the failed Confidence Mill. It is getting trickier to find these days. Perhaps, I will go pay it a visit.

Not far from the mine is the Confidence Wash Dugout. I don’t know its origin, but I suspect it was some early prospector that dug it out. Some folks put work into fixing it up a few years back. I’m sure they did a good job cleaning it up, but the mice have since moved back in and made a big mess of the place. It is not worth staying in currently.

The dugout contains a spring bed, stove, canteen, and a few other sundry historical items. Leave everything you find here. An emergency cache of water and food is located inside a wire mesh box.

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About Guy Starbuck

Exploring the American West.
  • Nevada
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