The Amargosa Range, which also includes the Funeral Mountains in the north and the Black Mountains in the south, forms the eastern wall of Death Valley. The Funeral Mountains extend about 40 miles in a northwest-southeast direction from Boundary Canyon (in the north) to Death Valley Junction (in the south). The Black Mountains lie just south of the Funerals, and continue southward along the eastern edge of Death Valley. The Black Mountains extend about 50 miles in a northwest-southeast direction from Furnace Creek (in the north) to Buckwheat Wash (in the south). The Amargosa Range is extremely rugged, virtually treeless, and nearly waterless. The range was literally the last mining frontier of the Old West; not until the early 1900's was its mineral wealth truly revealed.
1902 was a pivotal year in the history of the Great Basin of California and Nevada. It was during that year that the Goldfield deposits of southwestern Nevada were discovered. One of the last gold rushes of the West followed the Goldfield strikes. And no wonder. The deposits were enormous! The Goldfield mines eventually produced over 4 million ounces of the yellow metal.
Another gold strike was made that year about a hundred miles south of Goldfield. In the desert wastelands of Death Valley, a prospector known as
"Alkali" Jones stumbled onto a ledge of gold-bearing quartz. In this case though, the vein still lies hidden somewhere along the eastern edge of the valley.
While crossing Death Valley on his way to Searchlight, Nevada, Jones was caught in one of the many sandstorms that sweep the valley. He was forced to take shelter on the leeward side on a small granite butte. When the storm passed, Jones started climbing the north face of the butte to get his bearings. On the way up, he stumbled onto a 3-foot wide vein of gold-bearing quartz! He erected a claim marker on the spot, calling it the "Golden Eagle" Mine. Jones collected some of the richest samples of ore and continued on his way. He climbed out of the valley onto the rugged flanks of the Amargosa Range. From his vantage point up on the mountain, Jones could look back and see the small granite butte and his new found bonanza. He continued across the mountains, eventually reaching Goodsprings, Nevada and then Searchlight. Here, he sold his ore samples and resupplied himself for the return journey to his mine. Jones set out for the mine loaded down with supplies, but no one knows if he ever made it. He was never seen again in any of the Mohave Desert mining camps.
The Amargosa Range, which includes the Funeral and Black Mountains, was prospected and developed late in California's mining history. For prospectors of the early 1900's, the Funerals and especially the Black Mountains represented the last frontiers left in the Old West. The Funeral Mountains are home to two small gold districts, the Lees Camp/Echo Canyon area and the Chloride Cliff District. Lees Camp and the Echo Canyon mines were founded on very small and narrow gold-bearing quartz veins discovered during the 1880's. Production didn't amount to much. The Chloride City District, on the other hand, produced over 60,000 ounces of gold during its heyday in the early 1900's. Located in the extreme northern portion of the Funeral Mountains, the Chloride City District is home to the famous Keane Wonder Mine. The area is abandoned now.