My Darwin History Part I

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Posted by Cecile on December 03, 2003 at 20:19:55:

In Reply to: darwin mining activity posted by ron deichman on December 02, 2003 at 16:08:14:

Somewhere between Lone Pine and Death Valley, in a hot dusty, remote and desolate area, lies the mere shadow of a town called Darwin. The first white travelers to pass through the area were the Death Valley 49'ers coming from Salt Lake City to the California goldfields. In 1850, Dr. Erasmus Darwin French came through on a search for the Lost Gunsight Mine, which was believed to be in the Panamint Valley. In 1861 silver ore was discovered ten miles southeast of Darwin and the Coso Mining District was formed. October 1870, William Egan, J.C. Watt, and Paul W. Bennett, discovered pure galena near the springs of Darwin Canyon. By the 24th of that same month, James Brady (famous for the steamers he ran across Owens Lake) joined the three men to organize the Granite Mountain Mining District. The discoveries went virtually unnoticed at the time. In the fall of 1874, discoveries made by the Brown Brothers, William and Robert, were announced in the Inyo Independent newspaper. Miners and entrepeneurs flocked to the site. The new Coso Mining District was formed at this time, as well as the town of Darwin. Erasmus Darwin French, more than likely never visited the town that grew around the area he had traveled through so many years before.

Typical of mining towns of the era, Darwin became a rough and tumble town with rich producing mines, claim battles, gunfights, robberies, etc. It quickly grew from flimsy canvas hovels to substantial buildings with flourishing businesses. By February1875, Darwin boasted a hotel, three restaurants, two butcher shops, a livery stable, two stores, seven saloons, a drug store, as well as a doctor's and a lawyer's office. Soon there were two baseball teams, the Inyos and the Independents. The Wells Fargo office and post office followed. Victor Beaudry, also of Cerro Gordo fame, piped in much needed water. In May of 1876, the Inyo Independent declared Darwin "the most important mining district and largest town" of Inyo county. Colonel Sherman Stevens began building a tramway from Darwin to the shore of Owens Lake to transport the massive bullion production. The town population soared to 3,500 people
by 1877. More than 226,672 ounces of silver and 1,920,261 pounds of lead were recovered from the mines.

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