INTRODUCTION and BACKGROUND

Survey number:      Owner:      Date of discovery:

January 21, 1914: “Washington, D. C, Jan. 21 Tungsten ores were produced during 1913 in six of the western states Colorado, California, Idaho, Arizona, South Dakota, and Nevada. According to preliminary figures collected by Frank Hess, of the United States Geological Survey, the production showed an increase over that of each of the two preceding years. The output for 1913 was equivalent to 1,525 tons of ore carrying 60 per cent of tungsten trioxide (W03), and was valued at about $640,500. The production in the three preceding years was 1,830 tons, valued at $502,158, in 1912; 1,139 tons
worth $407,985, in 1911, and 1,821 tons, worth $882,992, in 1910.

As heretofore, the Boulder county field, Colorado, was the largest producer -with an estimated output of 953 tons of ferberite in 1913, against 812 tons in 1912

The Atolia district, California, was the second largest producer.

In Arizona scheelite was produced in the Old Hat district, 40 miles north of Tucson. Other than the Atolia district, this is the only district in the United States from which a production of scheelite is made.

Some hubnerite was produced in the Arivaca region, near the Mexican boundary line, south of Tucson, and at Dragoon, east of Tucson. A little hubernite was also produced at Round Mountain, Nev, and in the Blue Wing district, Patterson, Idaho

Prices were better during the year than in 1912 and ranged from $6 to $7.50 per unit of 20 pounds of tungsten trioxide somewhat higher. Under the stimulus of these high prices productions not only in this country but in the world at large, has been at the highest point ever known.  At first the sudden demand created by the orders for war steel were far ahead of the instant productive power of the country.  The rapid increase of prices, starting last fall as a time when tungsten mining was at a low ebb and culminating in the undreamed maximum mentioned, caused prospecting and consequent discoveries of new deposits, increase of development of known deposits, the operation at high tension of old mill, and the hasty building of new mills.

As a result, the production increased faster than the consumption somewhat higher than the consumption and soon overran the demand that would assorb the output at the extremely high price prevailing, so that a drop in prices was ineviatable.  June closed the price around $25 a unit , and was still much higher than any price known before this year.  The highest price previously reported to the geological survey was $15 a unit paid in 1907.  The normal price has been $6 to $7.

During the six months under consideration 40 mills of various types and sizes were in operation part or all of the time on tungsten ores, and  at the end of June  14 were under construction

In Nevada a mill was constructed and operated near Troy, Humboldt County, and four or more  mills were constructed in the Snake range, in which tungsted deposits were found through a length of 50 or more miles.  The United States Tungsten corporation operated the mill built a number of  years ago by former oweners of the property at Tungsten, 12 miles south  of  Osceola, and a small mill was operated on the east side  of the range.  Most of the deposits  of the Snake Range are said to be of low grade.  A mill was also operated at Round Mountain.”—El Paso Herald

1915 –The Atolia district in the Mojave Desert is the largest sheelite producer in the world.  The “tungsten boom” in the fall of the year was one of the liveliest the State has encountered for years; “Claims for miles in all directions from Atolia were vigourously prospected and large shipments of ore and concentrates were made.  Several rich strikes were reported, including the discovery of a new field extending to within a few miles of Randsburg, Kern County.  In the main Atolia district, discoveries of high-grade scheelite were made on the Osdick, Sheelite  and other properties.  The population of Atolia was 50 in January and 500 in December.  The Atolia Mining Co., the chief producer, erected a new concentrating plant of 100-ton capacity.  To accommodate the large influx of miners and laborers the company erected a “tent-city.”  The rate of production of the Atolia Co. increased from 8 to nearly 100 tons per day toward the close  of the year.  Atkins, Kroll & Co. of San Francisco are managers of the Atolia properties.  About 300 men were employed in the Atolia mill by December, 1915.  The company has developed new veins and pockets on the Papoose, Paradox, Pinte, Churchill, and Spanish Lease.  One of the shafts of the Churchill mine was sunk to over 100 ft.  The section known as the “Potatoe Patch” near Atolia, employs 50 men whom the Atolia pays as much as $3 per 8-hr. day.  The daily production in December was 300 lb. of high-grade scheelite besides a ton of low grade.  The Potato Patch has been a wonderful producer; pieces of scheelite weighing over 100 lb. have been found.  The ore is  found in alluvial deposits on top of bedrock.  The mineral was  discovered in the Atolia district in 1910.”—The Mineral Industry

November 15, 1915:  “TUNGSTEN BRINGING NEW ACTIVITY TO ATOLIA — Discovery of Scheelite and Advance in Price Quadruples Population.  – Atolia Oct. 26 – There is unusual activity in this section of the desert which bids fair to rival that other early excitement that developed Randsburg and her now famous Yellow Aster group of gold producing mines

Eight years ago, an old desert miner discovered in the concentrates of his “dry washing” operations near hear many particles of heavy quartz, which were mistakenly called barium by nearly all the prospectors of this section.  Closer investigation and acid tests revealed these concentrates to be scheelite, a valuable ore of tungsten. Probably less than $300 per ton was its value at that time.  Regular shipments and more recent exploitation in  manufacture of steel, soon made known its peculiar hardening and toughening  quality in producing high-grade tool steel, big guns, steel rails and machinery, where extra hard ware and service is expected of metal.

Five years ago market quotations for tungsten producing ore (scheelite) was $310 per ton for better than 60 per cent grades A year ago almost the total United States product, which was derived from the Atolia mines,   could have been bought for $600 per ton of highest grade—about 74 per cent   Today it is worth $30 to $35 per unit, or $1500 per ton, of same quality.

Scheelite has some resemblance to calcite, or white lime rock, but is much harder and twice as heavy, and will fuse only at extremely high temperature.  The tungstic acid extracted by heat process imparts to steel that almost indestructible quality desired by machinists.

Some Varieties of scheelite are cream colored, yellow, brown, and light red.  The Atolia product is usually a lustrous cream color, having the appearance of heavy spar, its distinguishing characteristic, however it its great lead-like gravity.” – The Bakersfield Californian.

April 15, 1916:  “MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF TUNGSTEN FROM ATOLIA IN WEEK –Atolia, Cal… April 15. – One hundred tons of high grade tungsten ore valued around one million dollars was shipped from Atolia this week.  The Atolia Company shipped two cars containing about seventy tons and the ore buyers shipped one car of about 30 tons.  Company ore is figured around $5 per pound, while ore buyers, buying as cheap as possible pay around $3.  Besides this amount there has been a large amount of concentrates and high grade that is stored here and in Randsburg and Johannesburg.

The output for one month from this district will exceed the output in value for the entire United States in 1913, which was about 1500 short tons, valued at $672,000.   Besides the tungsten the production of gold will show a large increase over the production of the past few years, as each tungsten producer is taking out a certain amount of gold, in many instances paying expenses with the gold. ” – The Bakersfield Californian

May 23, 1916: TUNGSTEN MARKET VERY UNCERTAIN; MINES MAY CLOSE—Taft, May 23.-JUDGE C. C. Noble has returned from Atolia, the great tungsten camp in San Bernardino county, where he had a lease and succeeded in disposing of it.  There is not so much activity visible as there has been, caused, primarily by the withdrawal of buyers, some of whom had contracted for its purchase and then notified the owners that they did not want it at the $45 per unit as agreed upon, and would not take it at any price.  This condition has worked a hardship on hundreds of people who have been digging for some time and struck ore in quantity and salable quality.  Many have thrown up the sponge on this account and gone away, while the majority are hanging on in the hope that the market will pick up and they will be enabled to dispose of their ore.” Bakersfied Clifornian

June 9, 1916:  “ARMOR PLANT PLAN PLEASES MINERS –See Good Times In Sight as Result of New Federal Move.—Atolia, June 8. –The new $1,000,000 armor plant for which congress appropriated that amount on May 31, has had a good effect on the tungsten producers of this district and there is renewed energy shown in development of that mineral.  Every leaser and miner of Atolia is jubilant over the outlook, coming as suddenly upon the depression of two weeks ago.  It effect has  been electrical,  for the miners  know than  Uncle Sam will either have to go into the open market  for his  tungsten supplies wherewith to make armor plate or he will have  to withdraw  a few thousand acres of the Atolia tungsten belt and develop his supply  by leasers under the bonus  system.  This has been the policy of the government when it found that the big manufacturers of powder, steel, etc., combined to boost the prices.

But  the real pay of the “spud diggers” is over the  fact that Uncle Sam has already in the field several investigators who  are  looking  over the  granite  formation of this section which show tungsten  possibilities, because, in  case of the taking up ,or withdrawal  of such lands  he must  develop  them ,same as the Atolia Mining Company has acquired its large holdings, by leasing  the ground  to miners under a contract system, contingent upon a good round price for the  product.  Such a system again inaugurated in Atolia means a $4 day wage to the miners and a market for every pound of tungsten ore produced. With the government as a competitor of the Bethlehem Steel company, owned by Schwab  interests,  who are said to have lately acquired the  Atolia Mining  Company hundred or more claims here, the outlook for  competition in  market prices of  tungsten  is one of the happiest  of combinations in San Bernardino county and for the  permanency of Atolia district.  The spurt of enthusiasm has affected even the Atolia and Randsburg storekeepers and such signs as “cash for highgrade,” meal tickets for highgrade” or “groceries for highgrade” are exhibited along the townsite are exhibited along the townsite.

Buyers of the outside production of ore are again on the ground and it is not uncommon to see two or three shipments by autos    to Los Angeles, where it is sampled and old on a basis of $1 to $1.35 per pound.  Several tons have been picked up this week at prices varying from $45 to $50 per unit.  Shippers of the product contend that not a pound of this output is going to the Schwab interests.”  San Bernardino County Sun

June 12, 1916: “Atolia will continue to boom as people with money come in and people broke go out.  It is assured that big quantities or ore at a smaller price, rather than smaller quantities as a high price will make Atolia the queen city of the Mojave Desert.”—Bakersfield Californian

June 20, 1916: “Atolia, Cal., June 26 –TUNGSTEN BUYERS – Tungsten buyers invaded camp Friday and yesterday and today were busy looking for ore.  Low grade and high grade both are in demand at prices ranging up to $1 per pound for the higher grades.  Car loads lots, ten pound lots and all other amounts changed hands yesterday.   It is reported that several tons of ore was sold and that orders have been received for ore that will take several days to secure.

Weigmore and Sons of Los Angeles are buying, as well as C. P. Harrison and  others.  With the advent of ore buyers tungsten producers are more given to smiling and will still hold ore for higher prices but with more hopes. ” – The Bakersfield Californian

June 12, 1916:  “TUNGSTEN PRODUCERS FORM SALE AGENCY – Tungsten producers of the now famous Atolia and Randsburg mining camps, near here, have just completed an organization to handle the total output of tungsten from all the producers in these districts.  P. J. Osdick has been made chairman and Allen Fawcette secretary.  Practically every leaser and operator in the field has joined the associated.  Tungsten is now selling at about $1.50 per pound for 70 per cent ore in the field.”—Bakersfield Californian

June 12, 1916: “Atolia will continue to boom as people with money come in and people broke go out.  It is assured that big quantities or ore at a smaller price, rather than smaller quantities as a high price will make Atolia the queen city of the Mojave Desert.”—Bakersfield Californian

June 23, 1916: “ATOLIA MINER IS VISITING AT TAFT—John Clark, a pioneer mining man, returned last night from Atolia, where he has interest and where he has been for a couple of months.  A short time ago Clark went to Bishop in response to the reported discovery of high grade tungsten.  He did not remain there very long, returning to Atolia and resuming his operations.

According to Clark the camp is getting down to business and regulating itself to meet the conditions.  Through the organizing of owners and leasers for self-protection against sharks who have been controlling the prices for tungsten, producers enjoy a more secure and certain feeling than heretofore.”—Bakersfield Californian

August 23, 1916: “TUNGSTEN MIGHT BE USED FOR BREECH BLOCKS ON WAR APPARATUS—Atolia Miners May Profit From Military Plans Being Formulated—The great war in Europe which already has both aided and injured the tungsten mining industry in California probably will again stimulate it should experiments looking to the use of the metal in the manufacture of monster gun breaches prove successful.  In this event the price is expected to soar to a hitherto unheard of point and bring added wealth to those engaged in delving it from the earth near Atolia, California.

The chief use for tungsten is in tempering high speed tools and the manufacture of filaments for incandescent electric lamps.  Because of its tempering qualities military experts of several warring nations believe its use in the manufacture of breech blocks of the monster guns will greatly increase their efficiency.  Experiments are now being made to find the proper composition.

California held second place in the production of tungsten, according to the report of the United States Bureau of Geological Survey.  This, the report declares was the result of a “Boom” which led to an over-production and the collapse of the market.  The metal dropped in price from $1.05 to 20 cents per pound within the first six months of this year.  Tungsten is described as essentially a “war baby” commodity.

The government report shows that the record of production for the first six months of 1916 was higher than ever attained in an entire year.  The state produced 3,920 tons, valued at $9,000,000 of the concentrated ore.

California’s richest tungsten fields are in the vicinity of Atolia, near Randsburg, according to official data.  The discovery of these deposits resulted in the sudden elevation to wealth of several scores of prospectors.  Atolia was famed as a “poor man’s camp” and many miners who went there without tools or equipment of any kind succeeded in wrestling from the earth snug fortunes in ore.

Engineers declared the metal often was found in thin, knife blade like pieces, near the surface of the ground.  This makes it possible to dig with the crudest of equipment.  The greatest part of the Atolia product, however, was put on the market through the operations of a big mining concern.”—Bakersfield Californian

December 15, 1916: “DEPENDS ON U. S. PROGRAM—The future of the valuable tungsten mines at Atolia  in San Bernardino county depends greatly on the ultimate decision of the  United States as to preparedness, in the  opinion of A. A. Moore, a local, man, who is here from Atolia for a short visit.  That the big tungsten deposits are again being worked to almost capacity is the statement of Moore.  The miners are flocking back into Atolia and the big mill is in operation.   It has been closed down for several months.

“A year ago at this time tungsten was selling for $90 a unit.  When the mine closed the price was down to about $25 a unit,” said Moore.  “The price now is about $17 a unit and money can be made at that figure by the interests that control the big ledges but there does not seem to be a fortune for the fellows who do not have the big ledges.

“The future of the industry depends much on what the United States intends to do in the way of armament and munitions and, naturally, there is not a demand for tungsten only for such as the United States will necessarily need for its own munitions.  Should this country undertake a campaign of preparedness then there will be a big demand for tungsten?” –San Bernardino News

July 17, 1917: “RANDSBURG NEWS – Randsburg, July 17, — Tungsten has taken another slight raise and is quoted at $23 a ton for 60 per cent concentrates.”  Bakersfield Californian

November 20, 1917:  “Scheelite at $16 a unit is an attraction which brings many prospectors and investors to the district.  The field of operation is spreading in all directions and a general feeling of optimism prevails.”—Bakersfield Californian

November 20, 1917:  “THE FLAT AT ATOLIA is producing high-grade placer tungsten to the extent of one car-load a month,” — Bakersfield Californian

September 30, 1919: “TUNGSTEN PRICE WILL INCREASE –Increase of tariff of tungsten by $10 per unit the first of the year will result in the reopening of Atolia, near Randsburg, the former center of the tungsten boom a few years ago, according to mining men of that district.  As yet the families have not moved in but it was stated that a number are expected as the metal will be worth so much more.” –Bakersfield Morning Echo

November 18, 1922:  ‘TARIFF RAISES TUNGSTEN PRICE-DOMESTIC MINES STILL IDLE. –Due in part to natural economic pressure, but largely to imposition of a tariff rate equivalent to $7.14 per unit, the price of tungsten has risen in the United States from quotations of $1.85 to $2 per unit as late as last March to around $8 per unit.  Even at the increased price, domestic production ceased after 1920, when the average price dropped to $7.86 per unit, from the $18.02 average of 1919, which latter was then lower than for some years.

Despite the fact that reports to the Geological Survey indicate that there is two to three years’ supply of tungsten in this country, there appears to be little prospect of a break in the market, as the supply held in strong hands, willing to sell only at favorable prices.  Some steel makers are reported to have only a short supply remaining, indicating that demand will be stimulated before long.

These factors favoring a price increase are offset, however, so far as domestic mining is concerned, by a study of figures compiled  by Frank L. Hess, in charge of rare minerals section of the Geological Survey, in a report covering 1921; they show that United States production of tungsten in 1918 was 5,061 tons, with an average price of $23.24 per unit, and dwindled to 327 tons in 1919 with an average price of $18.02; 216 tons in 1920, with an average price of $7.86; and disappeared entirely after that year, with further and drastic price declines.  In 1915 the average price per unit was $29.30; in 1916, $33.98; in 1917, $18.40.  Comparing the production table with the price table, it would appear that domestic mines do not find it profitable to produce tungsten when the price is below $20 per unit—and it is a long climb from the present range of $8 to $20.”—Engineering and Mining Journal

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