The most complete guide to Southern Nevada's mining history.
October 11, 2015.
Field Trip To Ivanpah, California.
This tour was supposed to end with the previous Evening Star Mine, but with most of our events, many wanted to stay just a little longer. One more stop at the Valley Wells Cemetery turned into one more stop at the Valley Wells Smelter. I've found this location also called the Ivanpah, Miwok and Cocopah Smelter, but most seem to refer to this as the Copper World or Valley Wells Smelter.
The large black piles towards the bottom of the gallery that look like wet asphalt is actually waste material from the smelters. During the smelting and refining process, the ore is heated to the desired melting point. The target metals then separate from the waste material known as slag.
A few pieces I sampled contained a large amount of refined copper which I found odd considering many called this the Copper World Smelter. It made no sense to find good quality copper in a slag pile. A USGS search of this process facility does not even list copper as a tertiary byproduct. According to the USGS, this was primarily a gold smelter.
Throughout the wash, apartment homes were carved below slabs of naturally cemented caliche. Most were simple structures, but a lot of thought and effort was put into some with windows, separate rooms and shelving carved into the rock faces. With few exceptions, most are still structurally sound and quite comfortable and cooling.
That was the last stop of a very full day. From there, some chose to take the Interstate back to town. A few others chose to take the long way home following offroad trails to the South end of Sandy Valley. We knew of that trail, but that was our first time following it all the way through which already had us thinking of our next trip possibilities.
Thanks again to all who joined and helped make this trip yet another success. We hope to see you all again soon.
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