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DMSFTR
01-05-2008, 08:51 AM
Guys,

I don't think I've ever posted here before, but I'm writing a novel and I'm looking for some verisimilitude.

If a miner was brewing coffee in Joshua Tree in 1925, how would he have gone about it? Would he have pre-ground coffee? Would beans have been cheaper if he had a grinder? Did they have percolators or did they just chuck the grounds into the pot and let it simmer? Were there any tricks to a better cup of Joe? Did they have names for it?

While I’m asking arcane questions:

Does anyone know anything about moonshiners in this region, Joshua Tree, during this time in Prohibition?

Also, you see these big cyanide tanks at some of the old mining sites, and I remember there was a guy back in the 1990s with this giant rig that looked like a spider from a bad monster movie from the '50's that he'd set up and re-work old tailings. Just how did the old-timers use these cyanide tanks? I got the part about cyanide dissolving gold, and I read somewhere that presently sand-sized zinc is infused into the gold-laden cyanide bath to force the gold out, but what was the process the Ryans would have used at the Lost Horse Mine back in the '30's? I can't help but think it had to be simple to be practical.

I've posted a very rough first chapter to this novel at:

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewwork.asp?AuthorID=3199

Bob
01-05-2008, 07:40 PM
Not a Coffee Drinker so never paid attention but thinking back to the old prospectors I knew both of them drank Tea not Coffee and I think it was Lipton’s in a box. Miners would have got their ground beans from a store, prospectors who had to carry their would more likely carry beans, grind em as needed and put in a pot (no percolation involved) like cowboys on the range did. Just my guess as having the ability to grind stuff is useful when deciding if some rocks have enough promise to haul back to an assayer. I’m sure the used whiskey, tobacco and other handy sustenance items to “improve” the flavor much as a miner would use chicory.

Don’t know much about Prohibition in Joshua Tree but the read lots of tales of the 18th Amendment happenings in Nevada.

Cyanide leeching is a more modern technique for extraction gold from low grade ore ore where a few ounces per ton is enough for profit. The use of cyanide in a mill process involved higher grade ore and I suspect those large vats are associated with mills. This goes back over hundred years and slowly replaced the use of mercury for extraction. Stories about pulling up planks of flooring and find a treasure trove of gold laded mercury about, how much fact and how much exaggerated story telling I’m not to say. The stories I heard as a youth were told be with straight talk and assurances. Stories like they hired my friend to strip an old mill for wood and he salvaged enough gold he found to buy a new LaSalle which at the government mandated $35 an ounce was a couple pounds were told me as gospel.


Didn’t have any answers but this is a good thread, these hope others chime in.

DMSFTR
01-06-2008, 06:05 AM
I imagine most desert moonshiners in Nevada faced the same issues as in Joshua Tree, so feel free to share. All my moonshine making stories come from down south where family had/has been making shine long before and long after Prohibition, who grew their own corn and had strict do's and don't's and recipes passed down from father to son. I have to imagine the hooch made in places more transient had to be a whole lot different, especially if the Law was hunting you.

The cyanide angle is that I read somewhere that the Ryan Brothers, who owned the Lost Horse Mine claim, came back to it in the 1930's and worked their old tailings with cyanide. The cyanide process was developed in Engliand in like 1880, but for some reason it did not catch on in the States until well into the 20th Century.

Can someone describe, or point me in the right direction, for details on how the mercury amalgam process worked.

Can someone tell me how much gold a mine got out of a ton of ore. I was under the impression that an ounce per ton was about average. Its these details that, in my opinion, make a story readable.

Bob
01-06-2008, 10:36 AM
Today’s operations using Cyanide leeching can show profit with a couple of ounces per ton and if all the set up is in place from previous operations can extract a profit with lower grade ore but I assure you older day mining was interested in much higher grade ore. I suspect with the price of gold in the current economy, we will see more gold mining. I’ve been on three tours of Gold Mining operations. Round Mountain Gold in Big Smokey Valley Nevada, The later day Barrick Bullfrog outside Rhyolite and the Viceroy Gold Mining operation near Hart in the Castle Mountain. They process there high grade ore in a different manner than there low grade ore which they crush and use cyanide leeching. The high grade operation at Round Mountain has the really interesting three story facility with a giant shaker and you can see the gold flakes and nuggets being separated. Our viewing area was a discrete distance so there was no opportunity to collect any souvenirs. Most large scale on-going operations are very keen on public relations and offer such tours several times a year. The tours I was on were limited to members of the BLM Resource Advisory Council and may have included a little more information than the general public tours. Round Mountain was seeking BLM permission to expand, Barrick Bullfrog was in the process of shutting down and negotiating to exchange their extensive holdings in town of Rhyolite (including the depot) for the land below their mine where the tailings had been cyanide leeched as they have an obligation to test for off-sight leakage of hazardous materials, and Viceroy Gold was feeling pressure from talk of creating a Mojave National Park. I’m happy to say, Round Mountain got to expand, the public got the private land including the depot in Rhyolite and Barrick the land they have to continue to monitor and the boundary of the Mohave Nature Perserve excluded the Castle Mountain Mining area near Hart with a benefit to desert tortoise in Nevada I might add.

You are correct that if you have the ability to move large amounts of earth, cyanide leeching can be profitable with an ounce a ton but that wasn’t the case in the old days which were labor intensive and even cheep labor expected a few dollars a day and the Government mandated that gold be sold to them for $35 and ounce. This is a great thread to conmtinue, hopefully some of our more knowledgeable contributers will join in. David Wright, are you out there :)

Bob
01-06-2008, 11:07 AM
Haven’t got time to detail some of the stories I heard as a youth on prohibition moonshining but many cases local law looked the other way and the when the feds were about, the word got out. I found the remains of a still about a mile from our ranch in the desert. It was back in a wood braced tunnel like a mine that was just kid size, an adult would have had to stope to get in and the entrance was covered with vegation so it was not apparent from the outside. I later determined that the operation was by a neighbor we called “old man Bond” For those who want to know where that was, Bond Road is now called Tropicana Avenue, and the still was a bout a half mile south of Bond Road where today’s US-95 Freeway runs in the heart of the Las Vegas Valley.

A source of great anecdotal tales is Howard Hickson on Elko, Nevada http://www.outbacknevada.us/howh/ and a couple of Howard’s writings come to mind: Hey, Bartender! Gimme a Lemon Extract and Moonshine Monkeyshines.

LauraA
01-06-2008, 12:37 PM
I
Can someone describe, or point me in the right direction, for details on how the mercury amalgam process worked.

GO340 Mining Gold by Andy Glass (http://www.emporia.edu/earthsci/amber/go340/students/glass/#process)
...and this one from the USGS for more specifics Gold (http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/prospect1/goldgip.html)

Oregon Doug
01-06-2008, 12:51 PM
David, It's an interesting story line so far (I'll try not to put my editor's cap on.)

My "in progress" novel - I See You Tomorrow (historical fiction)- is set in 1923-24, so I understand some of your era based research problems. I was going to play up the phrobition issue too, but it really didn't seem to have much influence in the southwest.

I'm happy to share what I have - just PM your e-mail address to me.

Oregon Doug

DMSFTR
01-07-2008, 05:47 AM
I will now demonstrate my ignorance, Oregon Doug. What is PM? I'll post it here, if you like. Seems like a nice bunch, after all. Go ahead and put on your editor's cap. Its a rough draft with many re-writes ahead of it. All help greatly appreciated.

Most of what I know about my subject is from readings about the Ryan family and Bill Keys, both pioneers in the lower Joshua Tree area and the Dell Mining District. One of the things Keys did to make his fortune was run a small two-stamp mill at his Desert Queen Ranch. During the Depression, people would come out to the area, having bought a claim from some prospector ,and hand-work the mine. They'd haul their ore down to Keys' ranch, have it crushed, using the amalgam method, and be appalled at how little gold they walked away with. Generally Keys bought it from them with a ten per cent cut for the service, and maybe an offer to take that claim off their hands.

Oregon Doug
01-08-2008, 12:21 PM
I don't have much of a handle on the Joshua Tree area, Dell district or the actual mining processes but I have assembled quite a bit of information on prohibition, rail travel in the '20s and the political influence of the KKK after WW I. It certainly was an interesting era!

Tell me more about your novel - it looks like an action-adventure western from the little I saw. (Mine is historical fiction having to do with the KKK's political influence and anamosity towards an Irish Catholic immigrant.

Oregon Doug

Bob
01-08-2008, 01:30 PM
... KKK's political influence and anamosity towards an Irish Catholic immigrant.
Oregon Doug


Hey Doug

One of the mysteries I’ve come across in my research is a single line noting that the Caliente (Nevada) KKK disbanded after “the unfortunate Italian Incident!” This was about I believe about 1923. I really would like to know what happened? Papists, Japanese and Chinese appeared to be the main target of their (the KKK’s) bigotry in Nevada. Wonder if you ever came across anything about that in your research?

old judge
01-08-2008, 02:31 PM
Sorry... Saw the Coffee, Hooch thing and thought I'd found my site...I'll just sign off...Sorry

Gravelrash
01-08-2008, 03:19 PM
I don't have anything to add to this thread, but I just wanted to let you participants know it is really interesting and informative. I'd love to know what the "Italian incident" was, too!

Gravelrash
01-08-2008, 03:22 PM
Hey, Old Judge. I've been meaning to ask. for a long while....why is Oklahoma called the "Sooner" state?

old judge
01-08-2008, 04:04 PM
In a nutshell, pardner, and keeping in mind this is not on point viv-a-vis ghost towns, etc....In 1889, a decision was made to open the unassigned (to Indian tribes) land in the Territory to settlement by LAND RUN.. On the appointed day (4-22-1889) at the appointed time (noon), a gun was fired and hundreds, nay, thousands of (probably) ne'er-do-wells from God knows where, on horseback, afoot, in wagons, etc. ran like **** to claim 160 acres of land. Them as snuck in early, and hid out in the brush and ravines, only to pop out at 12:01 p.m. on that date to stake an early claim, were called SOONERS. They were also called criminals, SOBs, and worse. I, being of sound and considerate mind, just consider them ethically challenged. Some are my ancestors, God rest their eager souls....OJ

High Desert Drifter
01-08-2008, 11:17 PM
I will now demonstrate my ignorance, Oregon Doug. What is PM? I'll post it here, if you like. Seems like a nice bunch, after all. Go ahead and put on your editor's cap. Its a rough draft with many re-writes ahead of it. All help greatly appreciated.

Most of what I know about my subject is from readings about the Ryan family and Bill Keys, both pioneers in the lower Joshua Tree area and the Dell Mining District. One of the things Keys did to make his fortune was run a small two-stamp mill at his Desert Queen Ranch. During the Depression, people would come out to the area, having bought a claim from some prospector ,and hand-work the mine. They'd haul their ore down to Keys' ranch, have it crushed, using the amalgam method, and be appalled at how little gold they walked away with. Generally Keys bought it from them with a ten per cent cut for the service, and maybe an offer to take that claim off their hands.

DMSFTR,
to answer your question; PM is short for Private Message. you can send that person a pm by clicking on their user name in the post and then following the instructions to send them a message without everyone else having to read it.... Sorry for the interruption boys... please proceed!

DMSFTR
01-09-2008, 12:35 PM
I figured out the PM thing. Duh. Something I'm trying to figure out. I remember reading somewhere that at one point, Los Angeles City Police were on the Arizona, California border turning peope back, sometime after the Dust Bowl got the Okies coming into the Golden State. Then I thought I read somewhere that LA County once stretched to the Arizona Border, just like San Diego County did until Imperial County was formed. Anybody know anything about that?

Bob
01-09-2008, 01:40 PM
I don't know whom was turning people back but it is sorta mentioned in the Woody Guthrie Tune: Do Re Mi


Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day,
Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line.
'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl,
They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl, but here's what they find
Now, the police at the port of entry say,
"You're number fourteen thousand for today."

Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacation by the mountains or sea.
Don't swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
Better take this little tip from me.
'Cause I look through the want ads every day
But the headlines on the papers always say:

If you ain't got the do re mi, boys, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath might be another good source!

This would have occurred at the Fruit Inspection Stations and at a time, things were pretty cantankerous between Arizona and California Agricultural Departments. The Arizona Port Inspection Stations and the California Border Protection Stations could make life miserable for “undesirables.”

Gravelrash
01-09-2008, 02:01 PM
......... I, being of sound and considerate mind, just consider them ethically challenged. Some are my ancestors, God rest their eager souls....OJ

Appreciate the point, Old Judge, and I beg your indulgence for asking a non-GT question. The explanation was worth any possible demerit points!:o

DMSFTR
01-09-2008, 04:43 PM
It could very well be a reference from the "Grapes of Wrath", either the book or the movie. The thing that caught my attention was someone pointing out that the lawmen turning people back at the border were L.A. City police, whose jurisdiction was a hundred some-odd miles west of where they were.

DMSFTR
01-10-2008, 04:36 PM
Well, for those who need to know: What we call the Joshua Tree Monument lies in both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Both counties were formed from other counties in the 1850's. Joshua Tree, the town, appears to be in San Bernardino County, but I can't tell from the maps on-line from the governments which county the Desert Queen Ranch or the Ryan Ranch lie in. Any incident where refugees were turned back at the California border would have been further north along the Mother Highway, Route 66.

old judge
01-12-2008, 01:36 PM
For what it's worth, based on the movie, and not the book, the Okie family was stopped at the desert by the guys lookin' for fruit smugglers. They hid out Grandma's dead body, and moved on, coming upon beautiful orchards. They buried Grandma; then moving on toward LA, they encountered, as I recall, Ward Bond, an LA police officer, or some kinda sheriff, and were run off to where the pickin' was takin' place. From thence, them, and others like them, populated southern California, so as today, anybody you meet there is the descendant of an Okie, a Mexican, a Texian, or a ne'er-do-well who just didn't stop in Indian Territory, Oklahoma Territory, or Texas, but, for whatever reason, fled on to CalifornIAAA.....OJ