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The Lost Mine of Buckskin Mountain


The beautiful Santa Rosa Range rises up from the sagebrush-filled deserts and valleys of north-central Nevada, just below the Oregon border, in Humboldt County. The range stretches 50 miles from Paradise Well northward to the Oregon border. It climbs to nearly 10,000 feet along its crest. The Santa Rosa Range is bounded by Quinn River Valley to the west and Paradise Valley and the Owyhee Desert to the east. The range increases in elevation from north to south.

Humboldt County has always been a land steeped in mystery and legend. It is a country filled with ghost towns, mining camps, and fabulous lost mines. The earliest tales of lost treasure extend back to the times of the early Spaniards. It was said that a wandering Spanish padre discovered a rich vein of gold along the western slope of the Santa Rosa Range, near Buffalo Creek.

In 1849, one of the legendary silver lodes of the West was discovered in a little ravine north of Black Rock Point by James A. Hardin. Hardin's lost silver mine was a magnet for prospectors for over 30 years. In 1859, it lured Henry Comstock northward into the Black Rock Range. According to some accounts, Comstock discovered a rich ledge of silver while searching for Hardin's lost mine.

In 1910, a rich ledge of gold-bearing ore was discovered in the eastern part of the county, near Kelly Creek. A wandering cowboy stumbled onto the vein somewhere along the eastern flank of the Osgood Range. He died before he was able to return.

And then there's the fabulous lost ledge on Buckskin Mountain. First discovered in the 1890's by two Idaho prospectors, the Lost Mine of Buckskin Mountain has been sought after for over a hundred years. Most accounts of the story place the discovery somewhere on the southern slopes of the mountain, near a small spring. While traveling eastward through the Santa Rosa Range, the two prospectors stumbled across an outcrop of curious, "strange-looking" ore. The prospectors were not impressed with their discovery, but they took some samples anyway. Eventually they reached their destination and almost as an afterthought, had the ore samples analyzed. The ore turned out to be exceedingly rich. The prospectors scampered back to Buckskin Mountain but were unable to find the right spring or the ledge! They never did.


Nevada has always been mining country. The state has been blessed with an extraordinary number of rich mineral deposits. Its history has been dictated and shaped by successive mineral strikes that began in 1859.

Three world-shaking mining booms have occurred in Nevada's history. The first began in 1859 with the discovery of the fabulous Comstock Lode. In the decade following the Comstock strike, a number of rich silver districts were located. These included Aurora and Unionville in 1861, Reese River in 1862, Candelaria and Ione in 1863, Pioche and Eureka in 1864, Belmont in 1865, and White Pine in 1868.

The second major boom began in 1900 with the discovery of the incredible silver and gold deposits at Tonopah. The Tonopah strike was followed by a number of staggering gold discoveries that occurred at two year intervals. These included Goldfield in 1902, Bullfrog in 1904, Manhattan in 1906, and Round Mountain later that same year.

The third boom in Nevada's mining history began in 1962 with the discovery of the immense disseminated gold deposits at Carlin. Carlin has proven to be the great repository of gold in the state of Nevada. The total amount of gold still in the ground taxes the imagination. Some geologists estimate total reserves of 40 million ounces of gold!

The history of mining in the Santa Rosa Range probably began in 1868 with the discovery of rich silver and gold-bearing veins 8 miles north of present-day Paradise Valley. Known variously as the Paradise Valley District and the Mount Rose District, the area produced around 70,000 ounces of gold before the veins were exhausted in 1890.

During the 1870's, lode and placer deposits of gold were discovered along the western flank of the Santa Rosas, in both Willow Creek and Rebel Creek. The deep gravels along the creek bottoms were rich in coarse gold. Eventually, rich placer deposits were discovered further north in Pole Creek and Canyon Creek. Pole Creek in particular was loaded with gold-bearing float.

By the 1890's, the mining industry of Nevada was in a slump. This state of affairs lasted until 1900 and then all hell broke loose. The Tonopah strike sent a horde of prospectors scurrying into the mountains and deserts of Nevada. In 1906, the same year as the Manhattan and Round Mountain discoveries, two prospectors from Winnemucca stumbled upon an outcrop of gold-bearing ore on the northeastern slope of Buckskin Mountain. The following year, some of the richest gold ore ever mined in Nevada was discovered 4 miles north of Buckskin Mountain. The ore was a true bonanza. The boom town that sprang up near the mine became known as National. Named after the extraordinary gold vein, the town of National only lasted about 10 years. Nevertheless, nearly 7 million dollars worth of ore was taken from the National lode.