Difference between revisions of "Hardin City"

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Hardin City, located near [[Double Hot Spring]], was the site of a boom town that never produced silver.
Hardin City, located near [[Double Hot Spring]], was the site of a boom town that never produced silver.


* http://www.southwestblend.com/cowchippoetry/black_rock_silver_lode.htm -- Tale of the Lost Black Rock Silver Lode, by Ed Keenan
In 1849, James Allen Hardin traveled the Lassen Trail.  While north of the Black Rock, he picked up a rock that he thought was lead.  He smelted a portion of the rock down to a button that was thought to be silver.  The button was lost in a San Francisco fire.  Hardin settled in Petaluma, California and then in 1858, an expedition was launched to find the mine.  As with many stories of a lost mine, nothing was found, though there was a rush and the town of Hardin City was created.
   
 
 
== External Resources ==
* Nell Murbarger, [http://blackrockdesert.org/friends/desert-magazine/april-1955-lost-hardin-silver Lost Hardin Silver, Mystery or Hoax?] (Desert Magazine, April 1955)
* [http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=gnispq:3:::NO::P3_FID:856475 GNIS Hardin City]
* Idah Meacham Strobridge, "In Miner's Mirage-Land," p. [http://books.google.com/books?id=UXVCAAAAIAAJ&lpg=PA72&ots=of5gOjQOZf&dq=%22Ladue%20Vary%22&pg=PA70#v=onepage&q=Hardin%20City&f=false 70], Chapter "The rise and fall of Hardin City," (1904).  Full text available from [http://archive.org/details/inminersmiragel00cogoog archive.org].
* Douglas McDonald, "[http://nsla.nevadaculture.org/statepubs/epubs/210777-1972-1Spring.pdf Lost Hardin Silver]," pp. 21-26, Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Spring, 1972.
* Ed Keenan [http://www.southwestblend.com/cowchippoetry/black_rock_silver_lode.htm Tale of the Lost Black Rock Silver Lode]
* James Allen Hardin
** [http://www.wendtroot.com/cockrill/d0010/I1321.html Wendtroot.com] b. about 1814 (Jefferson Co., KY), d. 25 Nov 1886, Occupation: Carpenter (constructed the Vallejo Home in Santa Rosa, CA).  Resided in Petaluma, CA.
 
== Historical Resources ==
* San Francisco Chronicle, "The find of the Marvellous Hardin Silver," July 8, 1900, p. 30.
* Ida Meacham Strobridge, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Rise and Fall of Hardin City," July 21, 1900, p. 31.  A long article about Hardin City that includes pictures.
* Ida Meacham Strobridge, San Francisco Chronicle, "Forman's Find," October 28, 1900, p. 26.  More about Hardin City
* San Francisco Chronicle, "Mining Notes on the Coast: A New Lassen County District," September 6, 1902, p. 6. Discussion of Hardin City and the [[Donnelly District]].
* Robert O'Brien, "Riptides: The Lost Black Rock Mine," March 9, 1949, San Francisco Chronicle.
* Robert O'Brien, "Riptides: Postscript to "Lost Black Rock Mine," April 6, 1949, San Francisco Chronicle.
 
== Excerpts ==
 
* http://cotati.sjsu.edu/cockrill/d0010/d0010notes/LostBlackRockMine.html  
* http://cotati.sjsu.edu/cockrill/d0010/d0010notes/LostBlackRockMine.html  


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From the History of the State of Nevada, by Thompson & West (1881):
From the History of the State of Nevada, by Thompson & West (1881):


The Black Rock Prospectors. In the summer of 1849, Allen Harding and two other parties, whose names are not known, at daylight one morning, left the emigrant road to hunt for game, being short of provisions. They were on their way from the States to California at the time, and had arrived, almost destitute, at a point between Black Rock and Mud Meadows, in what is now Humboldt County. The emigrant road in that country runs to the northwest in the direction of California, and these three men, in seeking game, for food, had passed into the mountains, to the northeast of it. It was a barren, desolate, burned region of black igneous rocks, and volcanic ashes, where they had gone, and the hunters found no game. On their return to camp about noon, they brought with them, however, a chunk of bright metal that weighed about twenty-five pounds, and pronouncing it silver, tried to get a man who was short of sufficient oxen to haul his own property, to take it to California for them. The party in question politely informed them that he would not pack it even though it were pure gold, and they were forced to leave it beside the road. Before going, however, they took a piece and melting it down, made a button by molding it in the sand. The button Allen Harding took with him to California, intending to raise a company, and go back to work his mine of native, or pure silver. When he arrived in the country about Mount Shasta he showed his specimen, and related the manner in which he had become possessed of it, and his narration was confirmed by the other two parties. He said that after becoming discouraged in their hunt for game they had started back down the mountain towards camp, and in doing so passed along the margin of a shallow gulch that had been cut by water, a little to the right. As they were going along some bright metallic substance lying in its bottom, and for a short distance up the banks, attracted their attention, and they went down to take a closer look. At first they supposed it was lead, but finally concluded the substance must be native silver; and there it lay scattered along the head of the wash, and sticking out from the sides of the gulch in chunks, from the size of a bean to thirty, forty, and fifty pounds. It was there by the wagon-load; an Aladdin's cave uncovered; and "there was millions in it," The gold miners of Shasta informed Mr. Harding it was gold they wanted; that they would not take the Black Rock country as a gift if it was all silver, and he soon came to think much in the same way himself. A great many people saw the button and pronounced it silver; when finally he sent it, in 1850, to San Francisco to be tested, and it was lost in the great fire that swept over the city that year. Eventually turning his attention to farming, he settled in Petaluma Valley, Sonoma County, California; and a little later a man named Frederick Alberding, coming form the Rogue River country, also located there, and became Harding's neighbor. One day the last comer chanced to hear the story of Harding's native silver mine, and he at once pronounced a decided belief in its being a genuine find, stating that the same story had been told him in the Rogue River country by a party who said he was one of the original discoverers. The result of all this was the organization of a company in Petaluma to go and locate it. The members of the company were M. S. Thompson, now a State Senator in Nevada; Allen Harding, A. B. Jamison, Fred. Alberding, H. Whiteside, Charles Humphries, Major James Pingley, Holt Fine, P. McGuire, and ---- Oman, and they all arrived at Black Rock in quest of this Silverado, on the eighth of July, 1858. For three years Thompson, Harding and Jamison searched for this treasure-house of the mountain-gnomes with parties numbering sometimes as high as seventy members, but the invisible wand had been waved over the spot. Its lurking-place became an ignisfatuus--tantalizing the brain, and luring the prospector to his death among the rocks at the hands of prowling bands of savages, that were never at peace with the whites in that locality. It was never found, and the search was futile, but Mr. Thompson still believes that Harding told the truth. He believes that the mineral had recently been sluiced out by a water-spout, and thus exposed to view when seen in 1849, and that the storms of the years that intervened, before the place was sought again, had caved the banks and covered up the deposit and washings from the country around. At the time of the battle with the Pah-Utes, when they defeated Major Ormsby, in 1860, M. S. Thompson, with a party of about seventy men, was out in the Black Rock country searching for the lost mine, when he received news by a pony express that the Indians were laying waste the whole country, and also a call for him to come in and help protect the settlers in Honey Lake Valley. The request was promptly complied with, and none of the original Black Rock prospectors ever went back to that country again in search of the lost treasure-house of the gnomes.
The Black Rock Prospectors. In the summer of 1849, Allen Harding and two other parties, whose names are not known, at daylight one morning, left the emigrant road to hunt for game, being short of provisions. They were on their way from the States to California at the time, and had arrived, almost destitute, at a point between Black Rock and Mud Meadows, in what is now Humboldt County. The emigrant road in that country runs to the northwest in the direction of California, and these three men, in seeking game, for food, had passed into the mountains, to the northeast of it. It was a barren, desolate, burned region of black igneous rocks, and volcanic ashes, where they had gone, and the hunters found no game. On their return to camp about noon, they brought with them, however, a chunk of bright metal that weighed about twenty-five pounds, and pronouncing it silver, tried to get a man who was short of sufficient oxen to haul his own property, to take it to California for them. The party in question politely informed them that he would not pack it even though it were pure gold, and they were forced to leave it beside the road. Before going, however, they took a piece and melting it down, made a button by molding it in the sand. The button Allen Harding took with him to California, intending to raise a company, and go back to work his mine of native, or pure silver. When he arrived in the country about Mount Shasta he showed his specimen, and related the manner in which he had become possessed of it, and his narration was confirmed by the other two parties. He said that after becoming discouraged in their hunt for game they had started back down the mountain towards camp, and in doing so passed along the margin of a shallow gulch that had been cut by water, a little to the right. As they were going along some bright metallic substance lying in its bottom, and for a short distance up the banks, attracted their attention, and they went down to take a closer look. At first they supposed it was lead, but finally concluded the substance must be native silver; and there it lay scattered along the head of the wash, and sticking out from the sides of the gulch in chunks, from the size of a bean to thirty, forty, and fifty pounds. It was there by the wagon-load; an Aladdin's cave uncovered; and "there was millions in it," The gold miners of Shasta informed Mr. Harding it was gold they wanted; that they would not take the Black Rock country as a gift if it was all silver, and he soon came to think much in the same way himself. A great many people saw the button and pronounced it silver; when finally he sent it, in 1850, to San Francisco to be tested, and it was lost in the great fire that swept over the city that year. Eventually turning his attention to farming, he settled in Petaluma Valley, Sonoma County, California; and a little later a man named Frederick Alberding, coming form the Rogue River country, also located there, and became Harding's neighbor. One day the last comer chanced to hear the story of Harding's native silver mine, and he at once pronounced a decided belief in its being a genuine find, stating that the same story had been told him in the Rogue River country by a party who said he was one of the original discoverers. The result of all this was the organization of a company in Petaluma to go and locate it. The members of the company were M. S. Thompson, now a State Senator in Nevada; Allen Harding, A. B. Jamison, Fred. Alberding, H. Whiteside, Charles Humphries, Major James Pingley, Holt Fine, P. McGuire, and ---- Oman, and they all arrived at Black Rock in quest of this Silverado, on the eighth of July, 1858. For three years Thompson, Harding and Jamison searched for this treasure-house of the mountain-gnomes with parties numbering sometimes as high as seventy members, but the invisible wand had been waved over the spot. Its lurking-place became an [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will-o%27-the-wisp Ignis Fatuus]--tantalizing the brain, and luring the prospector to his death among the rocks at the hands of prowling bands of savages, that were never at peace with the whites in that locality. It was never found, and the search was futile, but Mr. Thompson still believes that Harding told the truth. He believes that the mineral had recently been sluiced out by a water-spout, and thus exposed to view when seen in 1849, and that the storms of the years that intervened, before the place was sought again, had caved the banks and covered up the deposit and washings from the country around. At the time of the battle with the Pah-Utes, when they defeated Major Ormsby, in 1860, M. S. Thompson, with a party of about seventy men, was out in the Black Rock country searching for the lost mine, when he received news by a pony express that the Indians were laying waste the whole country, and also a call for him to come in and help protect the settlers in Honey Lake Valley. The request was promptly complied with, and none of the original Black Rock prospectors ever went back to that country again in search of the lost treasure-house of the gnomes.


   
   


From the History of Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming 1540-1888, Bancroft's Works Volume 25, by Hubert Howe Bancroft (San Francisco, The History Company, 1890), pp 102-104:
* From the History of Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming 1540-1888, Bancroft's Works Volume 25, by Hubert Howe Bancroft (San Francisco, The History Company, 1890), pp 102-104:




...As early as 1849 an immigrant named Hardin, while hunting with two other men, discovered silver in the Black Rock range, in the Humboldt country, one and a half miles from Hardinville...
...As early as 1849 an immigrant named Hardin, while hunting with two other men, discovered silver in the Black Rock range, in the Humboldt country, one and a half miles from Hardinville...
Footnote 21. Hardin brought specimens to Cal.; but the Indians being troublesome, nothing could be done until 1858, when he revisited that region with Albert E. Jamison and others. They failed to find the spot, and on the following year he repeated the search with like result. In 1860 several hundred prospectors were looking for the lost mine, but their search was interrupted by Indian hostilities. Late in 1865, however, Jamison discovered rich prospects, and in 1866 Hardinville was settled. S. F. Alta, March 1862 [articles about Indian problems in the area], and Sept. 6, 1866. Mining in Humboldt county became profitable about 1869.
Footnote 21. Hardin brought specimens to Cal.; but the Indians being troublesome, nothing could be done until 1858, when he revisited that region with Albert E. Jamison and others. They failed to find the spot, and on the following year he repeated the search with like result. In 1860 several hundred prospectors were looking for the lost mine, but their search was interrupted by Indian hostilities. Late in 1865, however, Jamison discovered rich prospects, and in 1866 Hardinville was settled. S. F. Alta, March 1862 [articles about Indian problems in the area], and Sept. 6, 1866. Mining in Humboldt county became profitable about 1869.


   
   


San Francisco Alta, Vol XVII, No. 6022, Tuesday Morning, Sept. 6, 1866:
* San Francisco Alta, Vol XVII, No. 6022, Tuesday Morning, Sept. 6, 1866:




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We give below some interesting extracts from a letter, written by Col. A. G. Brackett, to his brother in this city, concerning the "Black Rock silver mines." His letter is dated at [[Camp McGarry]], Summit Lake, Nevada, August 25th, 1866:
We give below some interesting extracts from a letter, written by Col. A. G. Brackett, to his brother in this city, concerning the "Black Rock silver mines." His letter is dated at [[Camp McGarry]], Summit Lake, Nevada, August 25th, 1866:
The silver region at Black Rock, Nevada, was discovered by a Mr. Hardin and two other gentlemen, in September, 1849. Hardin was an emigrant from Illinois, and was on his way to California. He was out hunting in the Black Rock range, and while descending the mountains about a mile and a half back of the place where the town of Hardinville is now located, he discovered virgin silver, some of which he carried into the valley of the Great Mud Lake Plains, and subsequently took it to California. At that time he tried to induce some emigrants to join him and return to the mountain, but could not prevail upon any of them to do so. The Indians were hostile; the teams had given out; they were disheartened, and all of them wished to get to the more valuable gold fields of California. From this time for several years, little or nothing was thought about Black Rock. In 1858, Hardin, with Mr. Albert E. Jamison and two others, went from Petaluma, California, to the range, to find it possible the ledge which hardin discovered in 1849. They could not succeed in finding it, and returned home. In 1859, they tried again with no better success, and in 1860 again, when there were at least two hundred prospectors in the country, many of whom were driven off by the Indians.
The silver region at Black Rock, Nevada, was discovered by a Mr. Hardin and two other gentlemen, in September, 1849. Hardin was an emigrant from Illinois, and was on his way to California. He was out hunting in the Black Rock range, and while descending the mountains about a mile and a half back of the place where the town of Hardinville is now located, he discovered virgin silver, some of which he carried into the valley of the Great Mud Lake Plains, and subsequently took it to California. At that time he tried to induce some emigrants to join him and return to the mountain, but could not prevail upon any of them to do so. The Indians were hostile; the teams had given out; they were disheartened, and all of them wished to get to the more valuable gold fields of California. From this time for several years, little or nothing was thought about Black Rock. In 1858, Hardin, with Mr. Albert E. Jamison and two others, went from Petaluma, California, to the range, to find it possible the ledge which hardin discovered in 1849. They could not succeed in finding it, and returned home. In 1859, they tried again with no better success, and in 1860 again, when there were at least two hundred prospectors in the country, many of whom were driven off by the Indians.
Nothing of any interest happened until the autumn of 1865, although various parties had been through the range in many directions, and late in the fall of 1865 Mr. Jamison discovered on the Foreman location some ore, which proved to be "born silver," from assays made by Mr. Isenbeck. On the 1st of January, 1866, several miners arrived at the range, among whom were Jamison, Harvey, O'Donnell and others. The first house was erected by Mr. Harvey, in March, 1866. Previous to this and on the 6th of January, 1866, the "Snow Storm Ledge" was found by Charles Wright and Dick Nichols. Since that time new discoveries are being made every day, and the settlers are sanguine that they have the richest mines in the world. As to the future, time alone can determine. There are now two settlements in the range, one at Double Springs, where there are half a dozen houses: the other at Ram's Horn, so called from a pair of mountain sheep's horns found on that ground. This place is now known as Hardinville, in honor of the discoverer, and here there are fifteen well-built houses. A restaurant has been started, and the first white woman has made her appearance. The village contains a good stable, though as yet no hotel has been started. The settlers are very hospitable, sharing everything with strangers, and appearing anxious that their mines may be seen and examined by everyone. They are all well armed, and thus far they have had no trouble with Indians. The length of the range is claimed to be thirty-two miles, and work which amounts to anything, has been done on only four claims.
Nothing of any interest happened until the autumn of 1865, although various parties had been through the range in many directions, and late in the fall of 1865 Mr. Jamison discovered on the Foreman location some ore, which proved to be "born silver," from assays made by Mr. Isenbeck. On the 1st of January, 1866, several miners arrived at the range, among whom were Jamison, Harvey, O'Donnell and others. The first house was erected by Mr. Harvey, in March, 1866. Previous to this and on the 6th of January, 1866, the "Snow Storm Ledge" was found by Charles Wright and Dick Nichols. Since that time new discoveries are being made every day, and the settlers are sanguine that they have the richest mines in the world. As to the future, time alone can determine. There are now two settlements in the range, one at Double Springs, where there are half a dozen houses: the other at Ram's Horn, so called from a pair of mountain sheep's horns found on that ground. This place is now known as Hardinville, in honor of the discoverer, and here there are fifteen well-built houses. A restaurant has been started, and the first white woman has made her appearance. The village contains a good stable, though as yet no hotel has been started. The settlers are very hospitable, sharing everything with strangers, and appearing anxious that their mines may be seen and examined by everyone. They are all well armed, and thus far they have had no trouble with Indians. The length of the range is claimed to be thirty-two miles, and work which amounts to anything, has been done on only four claims.
The appearance of the country is as forbidding as can be imagined. The immense Mud Lake Plains, like the Valley of the Dead Sea, stretch out in the distance, and near the mountains themselves there is but a dwarf growth of sage-brush. The springs at Hardinville are hot and slightly impregnated with sulphur. In fact there is nothing cheering about the whole region to a stranger; but the settlers themselves, most of them experienced miners, are cheered with the belief which has taken hold upon their minds, that this is the richest mineral region on earth, and if what they show you is really and truly silver ore the world has not seen its equal.
The appearance of the country is as forbidding as can be imagined. The immense Mud Lake Plains, like the Valley of the Dead Sea, stretch out in the distance, and near the mountains themselves there is but a dwarf growth of sage-brush. The springs at Hardinville are hot and slightly impregnated with sulphur. In fact there is nothing cheering about the whole region to a stranger; but the settlers themselves, most of them experienced miners, are cheered with the belief which has taken hold upon their minds, that this is the richest mineral region on earth, and if what they show you is really and truly silver ore the world has not seen its equal.
A five-stamp mill has been purchased by a company, which is said to be on its way up to the mines. Until then, nothing can truly be known about them. Many loads of ore have been sent off and worked, some with good success, and some quite the reverse. One thing only is certain, which is, either these mines are the finest yet discovered, or the grandest humbug of the age. A person is prepared beforehand to see something out of the common way, but when one is piloted up a ravine some half a mile, and shown a ledge of rocks nearly eighty feet high, and some two miles wide which is claimed to be silver ore, one is taken "all aback." People go there believing something in the mines, and come away believing nothing in them, or not knowing what to believe. It has been called the mysterious silver region, and such it is, for no man as yet knows anything about it.
A five-stamp mill has been purchased by a company, which is said to be on its way up to the mines. Until then, nothing can truly be known about them. Many loads of ore have been sent off and worked, some with good success, and some quite the reverse. One thing only is certain, which is, either these mines are the finest yet discovered, or the grandest humbug of the age. A person is prepared beforehand to see something out of the common way, but when one is piloted up a ravine some half a mile, and shown a ledge of rocks nearly eighty feet high, and some two miles wide which is claimed to be silver ore, one is taken "all aback." People go there believing something in the mines, and come away believing nothing in them, or not knowing what to believe. It has been called the mysterious silver region, and such it is, for no man as yet knows anything about it.
Thus I have given you a brief account of the Black Rock region, which you may rely upon as true in every particular. I have exaggerated in no respect, but, on the contrary, given you the darkest side of the picture. One year hence will tell the story, and I would not be at all surprised if the town of Hardinville were then as Virginia City is now. The miners of Black Rock will die by their claims. Not one of them wishes to sell out.
Thus I have given you a brief account of the Black Rock region, which you may rely upon as true in every particular. I have exaggerated in no respect, but, on the contrary, given you the darkest side of the picture. One year hence will tell the story, and I would not be at all surprised if the town of Hardinville were then as Virginia City is now. The miners of Black Rock will die by their claims. Not one of them wishes to sell out.
From the San Francisco Chronicle, 9 Mar 1949
"RIPTIDES: The Lost Black Rock Mine,"
by Robert O'Brien:
In 1849, a wagon train of emigrants moved slowly over the Applegate, or Lassen trail. Ultimately, it reached the Queen's river desert in Northwestern Nevada, and a volcanic range of mountains. This desolate ridge was called the Black Rock mountains, because it terminated in a great dark peak that shouldered high above the surrounding wasteland.
By this time, food was running low. And the day the migrants camped on the desert trail beneath the Black Rock foothills, James Allen Hardin set off through the greasewood brush with his rifle in hope of getting a deer, or a few rabbits, for supper.
Three or four miles from a desert hot spring (beside which [[John C. Fremont | Fremont]] had camped four years before). Hardin reached a small ravine. He noticed a curious brightness to its earth. Investigating, he saw that the floor of the ravine was strewn with a metal, a wagonload or more of it. He hefted some in his hand, "Lead, I guess," he said to himself. When he returned to camp that evening, he had no game: but he did bring back 30 or 40 pounds of the metal.
They melted it down and molded it into bullets -- all but a small fragment, which Hardin saved as a souvenir. The train proceeded on its journey to California. Hardin settled in Petaluma, where he made a living as a carpenter.
Nine years passed. One day, idly, Hardin told a friend about the strange earth of the Black Rock ravine and showed him the souvenir. "Don't know what it is, but it made damned fine bullets," he said. The friend examined it closely. "Ever have it assayed?" he asked. No, said Hardin, he had never gone to that much trouble about it.
"Do you mind if I have it tested?"
Hardin shrugged, "Sure, go ahead," he laughed.
Not long after that, the friend returned. He was very excited. "We've got to go there!" he exclaimed, "We've got to leave now!"
"Where? What for?" asked the perplexed carpenter.
"To the ravine! This almost pure silver!"
In the summer of that year, a dozen Petalumans guided by Hardin crossed the Sierra in quest of the Black Rock mine. But when Hardin reached the place where the wagon train had camped and the hot spring it seemed to him that the land, the contours of the locality, had shifted. Nothing about it looked familiar. For three months he and his companions searched in vain for the ravine and the ledge of silver.
In time, news of the search for the Hardin ledge spread. Lassen county prospectors headed pellmell for the Black Rock mountains, and more came up from the Comstock mines to the south. One of them freighted 500 pounds of Black Rock ore to the Dall mill in the Washoe valley, that had been working ore from the Comstock's fabulous Ophir mine. In the test, it yielded silver at the rate of $306 a ton. Other specimens, taken from other mills in the Comstock area, produced silver at rates as high as $2700 to the ton.
By 1866, the run to Black Rock was on in earnest. A small desert community appeared beside the claims -- the Black Prince, the Snow Storm, the Emerald, the Merrimac, the Monadnock, the Black Wax. "The Evans boys of Long valley," reported a Washoe City newspaper in July, 1866, "are about building a mill at Hardin City, a city of 15 houses and 15,000 rats, and expect to have it in running order by October 1. The people of Black Rock think they have enough treasure there to build a railroad from Chico to Vallejo with silver rails..."
But ton after ton of ore was run through the Evans mill and through the mill erected there by Atchinson & Company of San Francisco without yielding the faintest trace of silver. They tried one reduction process, and then another, but each one failed. After spending $17,000 on their mill and mining operations, the Evans brothers set out half a barrel of whisky, got drunk with the rest of the camp and abandoned the venture. The Atchinson mill moved. By 1869, Hardin City was a ghost town, inhabited only by the rats, and the ledges were left to the desert sun.
What was the answer to this strange riddle? Why was the ore so rich in the tests, and yet worthless when crushed by the mills of Hardin City? Silver men believed that the Black Rock ore crushed in the Dall mill and others near the Comstock had picked up the silver left in their batteries and pans from the crushing of the rich Comstock ore. Other believed that the Evans brothers' assayist had falsely reported large quantities of silver in the Black Rock ore to insure the construction of the mill and the permanence of his job.
But there were prospectors who had faith in the silver ledges, and went on searching for them. Desert storms, they said, had filled Hardin's ravine with sand and covered the bright earth. the day would come they said, when the desert storms would again lay it bare...
Until this happens, the silver Hardin found in `49 lies in a lost mine that, like the Lost Cabin, the Lost Waterfall, the Lost Pegleg and the others, seems a mirage of long ago, and exists now only in the legends of the West.
(Copy from Kit Fuller)
From the San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Apr 1949
"RIPTIDES: Postscript to "Lost Black Rock Mine,"
by Robert O'Brien:
Material supplied by William Aston of 2455 Twenty-sixth avenue has helped to add a detail or two to the story of the Lost Black Rock Mine that was related here a month ago.
Briefly to recall the column, a ravine floored with metal that was almost pure silver was discovered in the Black Rock mountains, a desolate range bordering the Queens river desert of north western Nevada. The discoverer was James Allen Hardin, a hunter for an emigrant train that in 1849 was headed west for California along the Lassen trail.
In 1858, Hardin and others returned to the Black Rock mountains to look for the silver. They never found it. The next year, Peter Lassen, one of the great California pioneers, was shot to death while seeking the Black Rock mine, and the identity of his assassin remains today one of the desert mysteries of the West.
A few years later, there was a minor rush to the Black Rock country. The tiny boom town of Hardin City sprang up in the barren foothills by the desert and then was abandoned as the claims proved worthless. The fabulous ledges seen by Hardin had vanished.
Aston read this story and sent me a faded clipping from a newspaper. The clipping was not dated. Advertisements on the reverse side would lead one to believe it came from a paper published in Stockton, although they, of course, would be conclusive evidence to that effect.
The headline of the clipping reads, "Legend of Fabulous Wealth Lures Men Into Wilds," and the wilderness it refers to is the same Black Rock mountain region where the wagon train camped for the night, and where Hardin went on a hunting trip and stumbled onto the ravine.
The story I wrote ended with the late 1860's and told of the quest for Black Rock silver. The story told in the clipping says that 40 years after that, in 1909, a man prospecting in the Black Rock mountains discovered three hill phenomenally rich, not in silver but in gold.
He was a Doctor Gould manage of a gypsum plant near Reno. From the three hills, he took samples that assayed $800 to $80,000 a ton. He carefully marked the veins and the scene of the discovery and returned to Reno to make arrangements for the development of the deposit. But as it had been with Hardin's ravine, so it was with the gold mine of Doctor Gould. When he and his party went back to the mountains, they found no trace of the veins or the markers he had left. Even the three hills had vanished.
"The canyon and the mesa were there, but the golden lure had dissolved like a desert mirage. For days the search vainly continued. Other parties went out from Reno, Winnemucca, Seven Troughs and other towns. The region was thoroughly searched. And only the ore samples and assay certificates remained to prove Doctor Gould had not been the victim of a mirage."
For a number of years after that, prospectors and their burros plodded over the Queens river desert and the Black Rock foothills, seeking among the shifting dunes the treasure they knew lay there, somewhere. One day, they knew, someone would find it, when the searing winds again uncovered the earth in a certain place and once more bared the glittering metallic streaks. But it never happened this way for them, and so riches enough to make any man as wealthy as a king, both in silver and gold, are still out there, hidden in the drifting desert wastes.
It is said that one other white man has seen the golden treasure veins that Gould discovered and lost nearly half a century ago. When they go into the desert towns and sit over their drinks, the old prospectors still wag their dusty beards over his strange ironic fate.
This man, like themselves, was a prospector. Somehow he discovered that the Indians of a particular tribe knew of the Black Rock gold. He cultivated the acquaintance of a maiden of the tribe. She fell in love with him. Cleverly, he made her believe that he returned her affection. She trusted him so thoroughly that at last she yielded the tribal secret and led him to the mine. It was rich beyond his fondest dreams.
Now, with a great fortune in his grasp, he roughly cast the Indian girl aside, laughed at her grief, and prepared to journey to the nearest white settlement to file his claim. But before he could leave, the maiden avenged her betrayal. Drugging him, she dragged him to the mine, and chained him to the gleaming golden ledge, and left him there to die in the desert sun.
(Copy from Kit Fuller)
== External Resources ==
* Nell Murbarger, [http://blackrockdesert.org/friends/desert-magazine/april-1955-lost-hardin-silver Lost Hardin Silver, Mystery or Hoax?] (Desert Magazine, April 1955)
* [http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=gnispq:3:::NO::P3_FID:856475 GNIS Hardin City]
* Idah Meacham Strobridge, "In Miner's Mirage-Land," p. [http://books.google.com/books?id=UXVCAAAAIAAJ&lpg=PA72&ots=of5gOjQOZf&dq=%22Ladue%20Vary%22&pg=PA70#v=onepage&q=Hardin%20City&f=false 70], Chapter "The rise and fall of Hardin City," (1904).  Full text available from [http://archive.org/details/inminersmiragel00cogoog archive.org].
* Douglas McDonald, "[http://nsla.nevadaculture.org/statepubs/epubs/210777-1972-1Spring.pdf Lost Hardin Silver]," pp. 21-26, Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Spring, 1972.
== Historical Resources ==
* San Francisco Chronicle, "The find of the Marvellous Hardin Silver," July 8, 1900, p. 30.
* Ida Meacham Strobridge, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Rise and Fall of Hardin City," July 21, 1900, p. 31.  A long article about Hardin City that includes pictures.
* Ida Meacham Strobridge, San Francisco Chronicle, "Forman's Find," October 28, 1900, p. 26.  More about Hardin City
* San Francisco Chronicle, "Mining Notes on the Coast: A New Lassen County District," September 6, 1902, p. 6.  Discussion of Hardin City and the [[Donnelly District]].

Revision as of 07:26, 21 July 2013

Hardin City, located near Double Hot Spring, was the site of a boom town that never produced silver.

In 1849, James Allen Hardin traveled the Lassen Trail. While north of the Black Rock, he picked up a rock that he thought was lead. He smelted a portion of the rock down to a button that was thought to be silver. The button was lost in a San Francisco fire. Hardin settled in Petaluma, California and then in 1858, an expedition was launched to find the mine. As with many stories of a lost mine, nothing was found, though there was a rush and the town of Hardin City was created.


External Resources

Historical Resources

  • San Francisco Chronicle, "The find of the Marvellous Hardin Silver," July 8, 1900, p. 30.
  • Ida Meacham Strobridge, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Rise and Fall of Hardin City," July 21, 1900, p. 31. A long article about Hardin City that includes pictures.
  • Ida Meacham Strobridge, San Francisco Chronicle, "Forman's Find," October 28, 1900, p. 26. More about Hardin City
  • San Francisco Chronicle, "Mining Notes on the Coast: A New Lassen County District," September 6, 1902, p. 6. Discussion of Hardin City and the Donnelly District.
  • Robert O'Brien, "Riptides: The Lost Black Rock Mine," March 9, 1949, San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Robert O'Brien, "Riptides: Postscript to "Lost Black Rock Mine," April 6, 1949, San Francisco Chronicle.

Excerpts

The Lost Black Rock Silver Mine

From the History of the State of Nevada, by Thompson & West (1881):

The Black Rock Prospectors. In the summer of 1849, Allen Harding and two other parties, whose names are not known, at daylight one morning, left the emigrant road to hunt for game, being short of provisions. They were on their way from the States to California at the time, and had arrived, almost destitute, at a point between Black Rock and Mud Meadows, in what is now Humboldt County. The emigrant road in that country runs to the northwest in the direction of California, and these three men, in seeking game, for food, had passed into the mountains, to the northeast of it. It was a barren, desolate, burned region of black igneous rocks, and volcanic ashes, where they had gone, and the hunters found no game. On their return to camp about noon, they brought with them, however, a chunk of bright metal that weighed about twenty-five pounds, and pronouncing it silver, tried to get a man who was short of sufficient oxen to haul his own property, to take it to California for them. The party in question politely informed them that he would not pack it even though it were pure gold, and they were forced to leave it beside the road. Before going, however, they took a piece and melting it down, made a button by molding it in the sand. The button Allen Harding took with him to California, intending to raise a company, and go back to work his mine of native, or pure silver. When he arrived in the country about Mount Shasta he showed his specimen, and related the manner in which he had become possessed of it, and his narration was confirmed by the other two parties. He said that after becoming discouraged in their hunt for game they had started back down the mountain towards camp, and in doing so passed along the margin of a shallow gulch that had been cut by water, a little to the right. As they were going along some bright metallic substance lying in its bottom, and for a short distance up the banks, attracted their attention, and they went down to take a closer look. At first they supposed it was lead, but finally concluded the substance must be native silver; and there it lay scattered along the head of the wash, and sticking out from the sides of the gulch in chunks, from the size of a bean to thirty, forty, and fifty pounds. It was there by the wagon-load; an Aladdin's cave uncovered; and "there was millions in it," The gold miners of Shasta informed Mr. Harding it was gold they wanted; that they would not take the Black Rock country as a gift if it was all silver, and he soon came to think much in the same way himself. A great many people saw the button and pronounced it silver; when finally he sent it, in 1850, to San Francisco to be tested, and it was lost in the great fire that swept over the city that year. Eventually turning his attention to farming, he settled in Petaluma Valley, Sonoma County, California; and a little later a man named Frederick Alberding, coming form the Rogue River country, also located there, and became Harding's neighbor. One day the last comer chanced to hear the story of Harding's native silver mine, and he at once pronounced a decided belief in its being a genuine find, stating that the same story had been told him in the Rogue River country by a party who said he was one of the original discoverers. The result of all this was the organization of a company in Petaluma to go and locate it. The members of the company were M. S. Thompson, now a State Senator in Nevada; Allen Harding, A. B. Jamison, Fred. Alberding, H. Whiteside, Charles Humphries, Major James Pingley, Holt Fine, P. McGuire, and ---- Oman, and they all arrived at Black Rock in quest of this Silverado, on the eighth of July, 1858. For three years Thompson, Harding and Jamison searched for this treasure-house of the mountain-gnomes with parties numbering sometimes as high as seventy members, but the invisible wand had been waved over the spot. Its lurking-place became an Ignis Fatuus--tantalizing the brain, and luring the prospector to his death among the rocks at the hands of prowling bands of savages, that were never at peace with the whites in that locality. It was never found, and the search was futile, but Mr. Thompson still believes that Harding told the truth. He believes that the mineral had recently been sluiced out by a water-spout, and thus exposed to view when seen in 1849, and that the storms of the years that intervened, before the place was sought again, had caved the banks and covered up the deposit and washings from the country around. At the time of the battle with the Pah-Utes, when they defeated Major Ormsby, in 1860, M. S. Thompson, with a party of about seventy men, was out in the Black Rock country searching for the lost mine, when he received news by a pony express that the Indians were laying waste the whole country, and also a call for him to come in and help protect the settlers in Honey Lake Valley. The request was promptly complied with, and none of the original Black Rock prospectors ever went back to that country again in search of the lost treasure-house of the gnomes.


  • From the History of Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming 1540-1888, Bancroft's Works Volume 25, by Hubert Howe Bancroft (San Francisco, The History Company, 1890), pp 102-104:


...As early as 1849 an immigrant named Hardin, while hunting with two other men, discovered silver in the Black Rock range, in the Humboldt country, one and a half miles from Hardinville...

Footnote 21. Hardin brought specimens to Cal.; but the Indians being troublesome, nothing could be done until 1858, when he revisited that region with Albert E. Jamison and others. They failed to find the spot, and on the following year he repeated the search with like result. In 1860 several hundred prospectors were looking for the lost mine, but their search was interrupted by Indian hostilities. Late in 1865, however, Jamison discovered rich prospects, and in 1866 Hardinville was settled. S. F. Alta, March 1862 [articles about Indian problems in the area], and Sept. 6, 1866. Mining in Humboldt county became profitable about 1869.


  • San Francisco Alta, Vol XVII, No. 6022, Tuesday Morning, Sept. 6, 1866:


THE BLACK ROCK SILVER MINES.

We give below some interesting extracts from a letter, written by Col. A. G. Brackett, to his brother in this city, concerning the "Black Rock silver mines." His letter is dated at Camp McGarry, Summit Lake, Nevada, August 25th, 1866:

The silver region at Black Rock, Nevada, was discovered by a Mr. Hardin and two other gentlemen, in September, 1849. Hardin was an emigrant from Illinois, and was on his way to California. He was out hunting in the Black Rock range, and while descending the mountains about a mile and a half back of the place where the town of Hardinville is now located, he discovered virgin silver, some of which he carried into the valley of the Great Mud Lake Plains, and subsequently took it to California. At that time he tried to induce some emigrants to join him and return to the mountain, but could not prevail upon any of them to do so. The Indians were hostile; the teams had given out; they were disheartened, and all of them wished to get to the more valuable gold fields of California. From this time for several years, little or nothing was thought about Black Rock. In 1858, Hardin, with Mr. Albert E. Jamison and two others, went from Petaluma, California, to the range, to find it possible the ledge which hardin discovered in 1849. They could not succeed in finding it, and returned home. In 1859, they tried again with no better success, and in 1860 again, when there were at least two hundred prospectors in the country, many of whom were driven off by the Indians. Nothing of any interest happened until the autumn of 1865, although various parties had been through the range in many directions, and late in the fall of 1865 Mr. Jamison discovered on the Foreman location some ore, which proved to be "born silver," from assays made by Mr. Isenbeck. On the 1st of January, 1866, several miners arrived at the range, among whom were Jamison, Harvey, O'Donnell and others. The first house was erected by Mr. Harvey, in March, 1866. Previous to this and on the 6th of January, 1866, the "Snow Storm Ledge" was found by Charles Wright and Dick Nichols. Since that time new discoveries are being made every day, and the settlers are sanguine that they have the richest mines in the world. As to the future, time alone can determine. There are now two settlements in the range, one at Double Springs, where there are half a dozen houses: the other at Ram's Horn, so called from a pair of mountain sheep's horns found on that ground. This place is now known as Hardinville, in honor of the discoverer, and here there are fifteen well-built houses. A restaurant has been started, and the first white woman has made her appearance. The village contains a good stable, though as yet no hotel has been started. The settlers are very hospitable, sharing everything with strangers, and appearing anxious that their mines may be seen and examined by everyone. They are all well armed, and thus far they have had no trouble with Indians. The length of the range is claimed to be thirty-two miles, and work which amounts to anything, has been done on only four claims.

The appearance of the country is as forbidding as can be imagined. The immense Mud Lake Plains, like the Valley of the Dead Sea, stretch out in the distance, and near the mountains themselves there is but a dwarf growth of sage-brush. The springs at Hardinville are hot and slightly impregnated with sulphur. In fact there is nothing cheering about the whole region to a stranger; but the settlers themselves, most of them experienced miners, are cheered with the belief which has taken hold upon their minds, that this is the richest mineral region on earth, and if what they show you is really and truly silver ore the world has not seen its equal.

A five-stamp mill has been purchased by a company, which is said to be on its way up to the mines. Until then, nothing can truly be known about them. Many loads of ore have been sent off and worked, some with good success, and some quite the reverse. One thing only is certain, which is, either these mines are the finest yet discovered, or the grandest humbug of the age. A person is prepared beforehand to see something out of the common way, but when one is piloted up a ravine some half a mile, and shown a ledge of rocks nearly eighty feet high, and some two miles wide which is claimed to be silver ore, one is taken "all aback." People go there believing something in the mines, and come away believing nothing in them, or not knowing what to believe. It has been called the mysterious silver region, and such it is, for no man as yet knows anything about it.

Thus I have given you a brief account of the Black Rock region, which you may rely upon as true in every particular. I have exaggerated in no respect, but, on the contrary, given you the darkest side of the picture. One year hence will tell the story, and I would not be at all surprised if the town of Hardinville were then as Virginia City is now. The miners of Black Rock will die by their claims. Not one of them wishes to sell out.