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Tuscarora Independence Mill

Elko County

AKA: Independence-Navajo Mill; Navajo-Independence Mill; Navajo Mill

I went to the newspaper archives for this one and it took a while. The Eureka Daily Sentinel first reported on October 17, 1877 that the Independence Mill had ten stamps and would be completed within weeks. At the end of November, the Silver State reported that "Mr. Chapin" who formerly worked at the Leonard had been named superintendent. They also stated that the mill was running at full capacity processing ore from the Navajo Mine. A man named T.F. Heay began construction on a Howell rotary furnace at the mill in December. The Grand Prize Mine was a heavy producer during this period. Plans were made for the Grand Prize to begin utilizing the Independence for some of its ore abundance as soon as the furnace was completed. On January 13, 1878, the Elko Independent reported that both the Independence Mill and Mine were up and running. By March of 1878, Seitz and Hornback began transporting ore from the Falcon Mine to the Independence. The Young America Mine also received four gold bars worth $2,000 from ore that they had processed at the Independence. Newspaper reports continued to print small articles about these mines using the Independence to process ore. By September of 1878, it appears that the Independence had more work than it could handle. The Grand Prize was producing more ore than it knew what to do with and wanted to utilize the Independence. However, the Navajo seems to have had first billing and had 500 tons of ore to be processed. During this same period of time, the Independence was conducting thorough repairs. They ran a test on some ore from the Falcon Mine to make sure that everything was running smoothly for the arrival of the Navajo ore. The Independence seemed to run into a lot of small problems. On two more occasions in January of 1879, the mill had to close for minor repairs. After these issues were worked out, the mill began processing ore from the Independence Mine. It continued to produce ore from this mine throughout 1879. It also closed down a couple more times for repairs. They also had a closure based on lack of water. That problem seemed to be eradicated when the Grand Prize Mine began filling up with water. The plans were to pump this mine and provide the water to the Independence to alleviate their problem. In June of 1880, the Young America South Mine shipped four bars totaling over $10,000 that had been processed at the Independence. By July of 1880, newspapers began reporting the name of the mill as the Independence-Navajo or the Navajo-Independence. Although on occasion, newspapers would still refer to it simply as the Independence Mill. It began processing ore from the Belle Isle Mine at this same time. By December of 1880, the Eureka Daily Standard reported the following in its entirety: "The Independence mill will run but a few days longer." The Independence shipped bullion shortly after this. After this point, there was a long gap between newspaper articles. By late 1881, it was reported that the mines in the area were suffering a major slowdown. The Independence was the only mill running and that was on a day-to-day basis. The Elko Independent reported, "the Superintendent being instructed to close down the moment the mill failed to pay expenses." It appears to have made it through the rough times as reports continued to state that they were processing ore. Hard times returned in June of 1883 when the mill closed. The Silver State reported that the mill had processed $818,866 worth of ore between July of 1882 and June of 1883. Articles stated that for a ten-stamp mill, this was probably a Nevada record. The mill didn't conduct any major or consistent work for well over a year. In February of 1885, the mill began processing ore from the Young America and North Belle Isle mines. However, financial and labor troubles arose. The mill attempted to cut the wages of the workers by $1.00 a day. The mill planned another shut down after the North Belle Isle ore was finished being processed. The Navajo Mine also laid off 30 men at the same time. Labor and management agreed that the men would finish processing the North Belle Isle ore at their current rate of pay. After that ore was processed, the mill did close. I wasn't able to find another article until October of 1886. That article stated that the mill was being overhauled for an expected reopening. They were expecting another run of ore from the North Belle Isle. I do not believe that this ever happened. I again went almost a year before finding another article. The September 23, 1887 article stated that the North Belle Isle was the most productive mine in the district. It also stated that the Independence was being repaired with plans of reopening. Articles from several newspapers in October of 1887 stated that the mill had been closed for two years. They also stated that the mill had reopened and was processing ore from the North Belle Isle, Belle Isle and Navajo mines. From this date forward, the articles were few and far between. I found two from 1888 that spoke about more repairs and processing. The only other article that I found was from the Elko Independent on August 24, 1891. The article was simply a published tax assessment for the "Navajo-Independence Mill Co." Although 1890 was a good year financially for Tuscarora, it was also the beginning of a huge decline. Several of the mines that processed their ore through the Independence shut down. The massive Grand Prize Mine and the Young America Mine both shut down in 1890. The North Belle Isle shut down in 1891. According to Shawn Hall, the only mill operating consistently after this was the Defrees Mill in Taylor Canyon. All of the mines were experiencing huge financial trouble. By September of 1892, only the Commonwealth was still financially sound. Sinking silver prices had an effect and production was horrible for the next several years. In 1897, under the name of the "Navajo Mill", it processed ore from the Nevada Queen Mine. The ore that they were processing was so low-grade, that they didn't know if it would even be profitable. On December 23, 1898, the Elko Independent reported that ore from the Eira dump was being moved in. A new foundation was also being installed. The article stated, "The music of the stamps will be heard before many days." The mill processed ore from the Eira dump at least through December. After that, the newspaper articles completely disappeared.

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