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The Lost Schofield Mine


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The Mohave Desert of southeastern California is home to some of the most forbidding country in North America. This nearly waterless expanse of mountains and deserts is also rumored to contain a number of fabulously-rich gold mines. In the Ivanpah Mountains, north of Cima, a legendary "river of gold" is said to flow beneath Kokoweef Peak. The Turtle Mountains, which rise up from the desert sands north of Rice, are thought to harbor an incredibly rich gold placer. Although most of the gold-bearing ores of the Mohave Desert tend to be lean, a few fabulously-rich bonanzas have actually been found. In 1915, an amazing pocket of high-grade ore was discovered in the Hidden Hill Mine, located on the southeastern slopes of the Providence Mountains. The ore from this pocket assayed out at $1.5 million per ton! Like most of the gold-bearing ores of the Mohave Desert, the Hidden Hill lode consisted of free-milling gold in quartz.

From the Hidden Hill Mine, the Clipper Mountains dominate the view to the southeast. Only 6 miles away, the Clipper Mountains loom up out of the sediment-filled basins that surround it. The Clippers also harbor a secret. Like many of the mountain

ranges in the Mohave Desert, the Clippers are said to contain a lost vein of rich gold-bearing ore.

The year was 1894. A railroad employee and part-time prospector named Tom Schofield was working in the Clipper Mountains, north of Danby. Schofield was searching for a source of water for the railroad. The Clipper Mountains, which contain several springs, was a likely choice for his search and Schofield managed to scour much of the range. One day he found an old trail that led him to a canyon and then up the side of a mountain to a small niche or cleft in the rock. Schofield followed the trail through the niche to an outcrop of heavy, black rock. Nearby was an old abandoned mine shaft containing a rich vein of gold! Schofield collected samples of the ore and returned to his camp. He traveled to Los Angeles in June of that year where he showed his gold ore to several people.

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Schofield tried to relocate the old mine shaft after his trip to Los Angeles, but was never able to find it. Since 1894, many Mohave Desert prospectors have searched for Schofield's lost mine, but all in vain.


The history of mining in the Clipper Mountains of southeastern California consists of a brief flurry of activity that started in 1915 and ended in the mid-1920's. Huge deposits of low-grade gold ore were discovered along the southern flanks of the Clipper Mountains in 1915. The Gold Reef District, as the area came to be called, contained extensive deposits of very low-grade gold ore. Several mines were developed on these deposits, including the Tom Reed, the Clipper, and the Gold Reef.

The famous Arrowhead District is located on the southeastern slopes of the Providence Mountains, only 8 miles from the Clippers. The incredibly rich surface deposits were discovered by Mexican prospectors during the 1880's. The Mexican miners extracted the gold using primitive arrastres. Large-scale mining operations were conducted by American companies during the early 1900's. In 1915, blasting in the Hidden Hill Mine revealed a fabulous pocket of nearly pure gold!