‘There’s gold in them thar hills,’ surrounding us

‘There’s gold in them thar hills,’ surrounding usBy LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

“There’s gold in them thar hills,” is as true today in our region as it was when Mark Twain proclaimed it in his 1892 novel, The American Claimant. Vincent DiMaio, owner of Mine Claims Services, tells us, “There is gold in all of the mountains that surround us.

Most of the desert regions south of Lone Pine: the Panamints by China Lake, the Paiute Mountains over by Red Rock off of Highway 14, Inyokern and Ridgecrest down to the Randsburg area, the El Paso Mountains where Garlock is. All these areas will have gold. Every wash, every hill will have some amount of the element gold.”

Even before the California Gold Rush, gold was found in the Garlock area by Native Americans, primarily Southern Paiute Indians. They had identified a black rock that they knew was heavy, but not sure what it was. They learned it was gold. “It was black because it had been oxidized from iron. Thus, one of the old adages that the miners used to use, ‘Gold wears an iron cap.’ They would look for the red deposits in the dirt, which is iron,” explains DiMaio. “The deposits in the Garlock area are small. Some are what they call a ‘hat deposit,’ just the size of a hat that somebody would wear.” The Garlock miners missed the opportunity to explore beyond their region. Around the hill was a huge deposit of gold.

Three men from the East purchased land and did some testing. “And lo and behold there was this huge vein, 75 feet wide. Massive. Even today there are still remnants of it. You can’t go in it today for a couple of reasons; it is privately held and there is contamination from previous mining.

Cyanide was the common chemical that was used to separate the gold once it was crushed. The other thing is natural arsenic. The dust in itself is very caustic and dangerous. That is primarily why it was shut down. The last time that the Yellow Aster in Randsburg operated was in 1959.” The Yellow Aster was extremely productive,”From 1895-1959, it produced 836,300 ounces of gold. It did between 9-10 million dollars in revenue. In today’s money that would be in the billions.”

Another inactive mine can be found in Indian Wells Canyon below the Five Fingers rocks. The Remi Nadeau Mine mined gold and tungsten. It is protected and preserved but people can drive there and look at the equipment surrounding it.

One can still pan for gold along the Kern River, but most of the river is claimed and it would be difficult to go there without knowing someone. DiMaio tells us, “The Golden Queen Mine in Mojave has been in the same family for over 100 years. It is sitting on over 10 billion dollars in gold. They mine actively every single day. They go through about 50 tons an hour. They are processing the gold that is left over in the mines that the people operating in the 1800s considered secondary and not worth it.”

Folks interested in prospecting will appreciate what DiMaio has to say about Garlock and his insights on how to find gold. “Garlock is a bigger and there is more open area that is available for prospecting. The last time I was there I had a client walking around with a medal detector, we were there for a couple of hours and the piece he found ended up being three grams, which is a nice little ‘picker.’

The way that the gold sits in Garlock is different than other areas. It is not concentrated. If we are going out to Garlock to prospect, we look for evidence. We look for signs someone else having been there. We go up to the hills where we can look at cuts in the hill and you can see layers. The layers tell us how water has traveled over time. That gives us something to look at. And we look for iron staining.

Quartz is another indicator because the gold has to have a vehicle to get where it is. If we look at that quartz vein that we might find in Garlock, that quartz vein will trap gold. Black sand, even in Ridgecrest, after it rains you might see black sand. Black sand is either magnetite or hematite. Both have a similar gravity, weight, to gold. Those are all clues. The better you are at reading the dirt the easier it is going to be to find.”

Well-known flash floods in Garlock can reap some benefits, “ If there was a flash flood, you would have two things that happened. Water that came down really fast and tears things up. It will move any of the loose soil off and if there is gold on that bedrock, it will be exposed. Also, when it tears up the walls of the canyon, new gold is generated. That was why miners in the day would go to places like Garlock. You had very sheer walls in the canyon that were very tight and twisty. A cloud burst, a thunderstorm or a flash flood, it moves through these canyons very quickly leaving deposits of gold on these turns. Gold will always be on the outside of the turn.”

DiMaio traveled through the region for over fifteen years before moving to Inyokern several years ago. He’s been offering adventure trips and sightseeing tours of mines for all of that time. It just might be that prospecting is in his DNA; his grandfather mined gold in Arizona with DiMaio’s uncle. Unfortunately, DiMaio learned about this from family photos and was too young to participate when his Grandfather was active.

“I can provide all the necessary equipment for anybody to prospect, whether for gold or for gems and minerals,” DiMaio says. “I provide the transportation as well as hospitality services for groups of two to twenty from single day events to multiple days. Every tour is custom based on what the client wants to do.”

To learn more: email surveyteam21@live.com, call 949-433-1984 or check the website https://Mineclaimservices.com.

Laura Austin photo: In a recent tour of the Remi Nadeau Mine in Indian Wells Canyon, Vincent DiMaio explains that this tunnel initially followed a vein then the structure was built most likely for storage or processing ore.

Story First Published: 2021-08-06