MONKEY WRENCH MINE

Survey number:      Owner:      Date of discovery:

January 10, 1897: “W. H SHINN, who has lately established a law office at Randsburg, in speaking of the remarkable mines of that district said yesterday. “I recently bought for $19,000 the Monkey Wrench, Big Wedge, and J. I. C. claims which lie over the mother lode.  The Kenyon people are working within fifty feet of the boundary ring of the J. I C. and the Little Wedge within seventy feet”  – Los Angeles Times.

MONKEY WRENCH DISCOVERY, 1897. Hordes of spectators crowd the discovery site. A man at lower right holds a 'One Stamp Mill', (Mortar & Pestle) used to pulverize ore. The man at lower left uses a horn spoon to wash a sample in a wash basin, a 'Golden Gate' (Lard?) pail (presumably) for water. At the right edge, in the background, what might be a horse, tent and road. -- Kern County Museum Collection

February 14, 1897: “SEVENTY-TWO CENTS FROM THREE OUNCES OF ROCK or nearly $8000 per ton. This, from the new strike on the Monkey Wrench, made two days ago by the Osborne boys, Oren and J. L.  Yesterday when it became known, everybody in town talked of it and a constant stream of men went back and forth all day to the mine.  At least 500 men visited the mine and the rush was so great that the boys quit work, and anybody that wished went into the hole and handled the pick, in the wild scramble to secure specimens.  At night not a scrap of ore around the mine could be found.  All had been carried off by the visitors.

The Times correspondent was there but failed to secure enough quartz to fill a thimble.  At that time there were at least fifty men standing close around the hole in the ground, where a brawny miner was vigorously plying the pick to get at the quartz.

MONKEY WRENCH DISCOVERY, THEN (1897) & NOW (2011). The Discovery photo came into our collection without a caption. It's the only one we have of a discovery in-progress, or the crowds discribed in the news accounts. Curiously, the shaft present at the location is but 20 feet deep, and not enlarged laterally, despite stringers of ore visible at either side. It is situated on the crest of the hill, overlooking Fiddler Gulch and the El Paso Mtns to the North and West, Staley Ave. visible at the foot of the hill, unchanged but for the pavement, addition of a house and RV campsite. The work later discribed may have taken place lower down the hill to the North, where other shafts may have sought to cut the same ledge. -- William J. Warren © 2011

Every little bit, as it was thrown out, was pounced upon and carried away by the good natured miners, and when the sun sunk beneath the western hills the crowd reluctantly left the spot to return to the camp.

The new strike is on a location made nearly a year ago by the Osborne boys and Louis Maynard.  They thought it a good claim all the time, but had not done much work on it, nor had they ever found much float on the surface.  Wednesday of this week the Osborne boys were in the office of James P. McCarthy, and were about negotiating a bond on the J.I.C., Big Wedge, and Monkey Wrench.  The principal value was thought to attach to the two former, and the Monkey Wrench was simply thrown in to complete the group.  While waiting for the papers to be made out, J. L. Osborne, the younger of the two boys, took a stroll across to the mines, which lie on the hill north of the town and on the slope facing it.  In going up the hill he found a piece of rock weighing perhaps two pounds, with gold visible all over it. He then traced up the hill some three hundred feet and found the ledge almost on top of the ridge and rather facing Garlock and the valley below.

The vein only shows about four inches on the surface, but widens to double that width at a depth of three feet, which is the greatest depth attained.  The ore is immensely rich and shows very course gold, the coarsest, in fact of anything yet found here.

A bond for fifteen days was given on these properties some time ago, and they were reported sold by Attorney Shinn but the sale was never consummated.  At the time of this strike John Crawford held a written agreement to sell them at a stipulated price but he generously released the boys from the agreement at once. Mr. Crawford did however buy Maynard’s one-fourth interest in the Monkey Wrench and Big Wedge for $1000 on the same evening the strike was made.

The Osborne boys are quiet, hardworking, and self-respecting miners, neither of them over 25 years of age, to judge from their appearance.  They have been prospecting around this desert for the past four years, coming to Randsburg about a year ago”  — Los Angeles Daily Times

February 16, 1897: “THE OSBORNE BOYS who were the lucky finders of the rich rock on the Monkey Wrench have been prospecting the ledge lower down and toward the Big Wedge and J.I.C.  Yesterday they took four shovels of the decomposed ore found at the latter place and, after mixing it thoroughly had an assay made of it with the result of $117.85 per ton.”  — Los Angeles Daily Times

March 4, 1897: “THE OSBORNE BOYS,  the lucky owners of the rich strike reported a few days ago are at work developing their property and have a shaft twelve feet in depth.  In a talk with them today the both declare they consider the indications better than anticipated, and that every shot put in indicates more definitely the presence of a good mine.” — Los Angeles Daily Times

May 1897: THE CALIFORNIA RAND.  Listed in the Overland as one of the producing mines of the Rand District in March of 1897.  It was discovered April 3, 1896.  The shaft was 40 feet deep. Owners were listed as Osborne Bros. Mrs. Lindsey, and J. M. Crawford”  — Overland Magazine

August 25, 1897:  “E. Lee Allen, manager of the Little Butte, has purchased the Little Butte extension and Monkey Wrench mines.  He will commerce development work on them shortly. ” – The Herald

September 20, 1897: “THE MONKEY WRENCH mine formerly owned by the Osborne boys and John Crawford, where the rich strike was made last winter, has not passed entirely into the hands of E. Lee Allen, he paying the Osborne boys and their mother $7500 for three-fourths of it, and $1000 to John Crawford for his interest.  This property lies just west of and in line with the Little Butte, Kenyon, Wedge, and Butte, and prospects well almost anywhere.  There are at least five separate ledges inside the boundaries of the mine, all showing excellent surface prospects of very coarse gold.” – Los Angeles Daily Times

October 11, 1897:  “On Monday a contract was let to G. W. Campbell to sink a 100-foot shaft on the Monkey Wrench mine near Randsburg. ” – The Herald

October 18, 1897: “IN THE PROSPECT SHAFT being sunk on the Monkey Wrench a ledge was uncovered, a day or two ago at a depth of 24 feet which will run about $60 per ton. – The Herald

December 7, 1897: “G. W. CAMPBELL  has taken the contract to sink the shaft on the Monkey Wrench seventy-five feet deeper.  The shaft is already down one hundred feet. A whim is being put in position and will be ready for use the first of next week.:  – The Daily Californian

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