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CALIFORNIA

The Lost Ramy Ledge

THE TALE

The Last Chance Range stretches for nearly 40 miles along the eastern border of California, in the upper portion of Death Valley country. The range is bounded on the east by Death Valley itself and on the west by Eureka Valley, which narrows to the south as the nearby Saline Range closes in from the west. Immediately west of the small Saline Range lies the beautiful Inyo mountain chain. Over 80 miles long, the Inyo Mountains form the eastern boundary of the famous Owens Valley. The range trends roughly north-south and for the prospector traveling west from the Last Chance Range, it is the last obstacle before one enters the Owens Valley. From the southern slopes of the Last Chance Range, the Inyo Mountains rise up 10 miles to the west, on the other side of the Saline Valley. The southern portion of the Last Chance Range merges with the Panamint Range, which marches away to the south.

The Last Chance Range is extremely rugged and nearly waterless. It is dangerous country to prospect in. But the rewards may outweigh the hazards. It seems that the southern portion of the range may harbor one of the richest veins of gold-bearing ore in all of southern California.

In 1904, a prospector named Alec Ramy was wandering the southern slopes of the Last Chance Range, near the edge of the Saline Valley. Water is scarce in this part of the country and Ramy found himself running short. One evening, Ramy discovered that his situation had considerably changed for the worse. His precious mules had broken free of their pickets and stampeded across the Saline Valley toward the Inyo Mountains. Ramy knew he was in trouble now. He struck out southward along the foothills of the Last Chance Range in search of water but found none that first day. Now desperate, Ramy continued southward. During the nightmare that followed, he stumbled on an incredibly rich ledge of gold-bearing quartz. His excitement was tempered by an awareness of his situation. He gathered some ore samples and continued on. Fortune was with him. A band of Indians saved his life and Ramy eventually made his way back to civilization. When he showed his ore samples around, people's eyes bulged out. Some of the samples were nearly half gold! Ramy returned to the Death Valley country to search for the ledge but never found it. It remains hidden today.

MINING HISTORY

The rugged mountains just south of the Last Chance Range are home to a small mineralized zone known as the Ubehebe District. Centered on the linear chain of mountains separating Racetrack Valley from Saline Valley, the Ubehebe District was primarily a base-metal operation. Some silver was produced mainly as a by-product.

Grapevine Canyon cuts through the rugged mountains south of Ubehebe Peak. Home of Scotty's Castle, the canyon separates the northwest-southeast trending Nelson Range from the Ubehebe "chain" mentioned above. The canyon has yielded miniscule amounts of gold.

The nearest major mining district lies nearly 30 miles southeast of the area of interest. Discovered in 1906, the massive gold and silver deposits at Skidoo produced nearly $3 million worth of metal. Named for the popular aphorism "23-Skidoo", the mining camp quickly acquired a bad reputation. Of all the mining camps in Death Valley, only one witnessed a hanging. In 1908, a saloonkeeper named Joe Simpson was hung by a mob of "Skidoovians" for killing the local bank manager.