High on a western escarpment of the Nopah Range, part of a large lead-silver orebody underlying these mountains breaks the surface.
Sometime during the 1870's prospectors exploring the Death Valley and Amargosa Valley areas discovered this vein.
Lead and Silver
Hard to see from below because of a shelf protecting the exposure, once near the vein the contrast of colors against the drab of the land grabs the visitor's immediate attention.
As the Gunsight Mine was worked in stages over many years, dividing the mine into "Levels" may give a clearer picture of the happenings.
Level 1 comprises the original strike point and descends downwards for some 50 feet as the vein was first explored. The arrowhead is at the discovery area.
Level 2 is the access or "Sutro" tunnel started by Jonas Osborne which enabled the easier removal of the ores. Here the arrow points to the top of the tramway used to lower the ores. The pathway to the tunnel runs off to the left.
Level 3 resulted from the explorations of the Tecopa Consolidated Mining Company. This expanded the areas worked by Osborne and continued following the vein deeper into the mountain. Again, a tunnel (at the arrowhead) was bored into the rock to enable better access to the ores.
Level 4 is the final access tunnel into the mine from a wash to the south of the main workings. This is at or near the bottom of the previously worked ore body and around the mountain to the right of the image. Within Level 4 is a shaft leading to a deeper, unexplored section of the Mine.
At the strike point, the vein appears to have been about 3 feet in height. Mining was begun by simply following the ores, bracing the roof wherever it was thought necessary. These posts are mostly debarked trees, unshaped and driven into place. These are most likely the pre-1876 diggings.
Original Entrance (?)
As the diggings expanded, nearby outcroppings were worked with sawn post bracing and longitudinal supports. This section is probably from the early workings of the Los Angeles Mining and Smelting Company. That company was formed when Jonas Osborne acquired many of the claims in the area in late 1875.
An overview of the middle section of the workings at the top of the Gunsight Mine.
Note the rockwork used to provide a working area on the slope of the mountain.
These two images show the center portion in detail and then looking into the largest opening.
That the bracing was minimal at best can be seen by the rubble at the mid-bottom of this image. This is a part of the diggings in which the roof has collapsed. In the wall at lower right, there is a downwards shaft which has been filled by the collapse.
A second shaft enters the shadowed area in mid-right of the image. This too is filled in by debris.
The shadows at left are openings from the diggings. Tailings from these efforts were dumped over the hillside below.
Collapsed portion of
From the backside of the mound shown at left in the previous image, an exit of the orebody gives a view through the mountain to the 'original' entrance.
Looking back up the tailings dumped over the hillside from the original workings.
The collapsed section is in the notch at upper left of the skyline.
The large rockworks at the bottom of the image provided another working area for loading the ores from the (then) lowest parts of the mine.
The trail down began at the far right of the fill.
Access to the workings above was gained by driving a small adit into the hillside. Down shafts carried the ores to drop points within the tunnel.
Note the timbering necessary for the roof and the now weakened condition of the supports and crossbeams.
This shot was taken from the entrance as deeper exploration was judged unsafe.
Level 1's Adit