Staying Safe in Nevada: Understanding Abandoned Mines in Nevada
They scattered abandoned mines throughout Nevada, posing a severe threat to the public.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of these hidden hazards, and a lack of knowledge can cause severe injury or even death.
Therefore, educating yourself about abandoned mines in Nevada and the dangers lurking in the desert is essential.
- Discover Abandoned Mines in Nevada
- The Abandoned Mine Lands Program
- Assessing the Risk
- Securing Abandoned Mines in Nevada
- Discovering Abandoned Mines in Nevada
- A Glance at the Mining Industry in Nevada
- The Early Days of Mining in Nevada
- The Comstock Lode
- Mining in the 20th Century
- Mining Today in Nevada
Discover Abandoned Mines in Nevada
The Abandoned Mine Lands Program
Often on open public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S Forest Service, many of these mines have no claimant or property owner, making their security the responsibility of the Division of Minerals.
With many abandoned mines in Nevada being difficult to spot from a distance, unsuspecting four-wheelers, dirt bikes, and explorers have fallen victim to severe injuries or death.
To prevent further incidents, they Abandoned Mine Land Program’s motto is “Stay Out and Stay Alive,” which is featured in all educational materials.
Assessing the Risk
These abandoned mines in Nevada hazards include falls down inclined or vertical openings, decaying timbers, cave-ins, bad air, left-behind explosives, poisonous snakes and spiders, disease-carrying rodents, and rabies-carrying bats.
Since the recording of abandoned mines in Nevada injury incidents began in 1971, Clark County alone has experienced three deaths and seven injuries, while the entire state of Nevada has seen 27 and 15 deaths.
To prioritize the danger level of each abandoned mines in Nevada, the Division of Minerals assigns a point value based on the mine’s location and the type of hazard.
For example, a 200-foot deep shaft near towns, public roads, and occupied structures would warrant a higher point value than a 10-foot deep shaft located 10 miles from the nearest highway.
The higher the point value, the greater the potential risk to the public.
Securing Abandoned Mines in Nevada
To secure abandoned mines, the Division of Minerals employs various methods, such as constructing fences using metal t-posts and barbed wire, posting mine openings with warning signs, and backfilling, all of which adhere to guidelines established by the Abandoned Mines in Nevada program.
Often, volunteers from the community help secure “orphan” mine openings.
Discovering Abandoned Mines in Nevada
If you come across an unfenced or vandalized mine, here are some things to remember:
- DO NOT go exploring in the shaft! It might sound like fun, but it is hazardous.
- Please DO NOT throw rocks down the shaft or tamper with it. Animals like owls, bats, and tortoises often make their homes in orphaned mines, and we should leave them undisturbed.
- Leave the area immediately and tell your friends to avoid the site. The fewer people around these unmarked mines, the fewer statistics there will be.
- Call the Division of Minerals immediately to alert them of the mine. In Las Vegas, their office is at 2030 E. Flamingo Rd., Suite 220, and their phone number is (702) 486-4343. In Carson City, their office is 400 W. King St., Suite 106, and their phone number is (775) 684-7040.
With nearly 200,000 abandoned mines from historical mining activity, it is essential to stay safe and alert when exploring the state’s natural beauty.
If you encounter an abandoned mine, remember to stay away, alert others to the danger, and immediately contact the Division of Minerals to help secure the area.
Working together can help keep our communities safe and prevent accidents and injuries around abandoned mines.
A Glance at the Mining Industry in Nevada
They discovered gold in Gold Canyon near Dayton.
This discovery brought in prospectors from all over the world, and as they worked their way upstream, they found the source of the gold and discovered silver, which became known as the Comstock Lode.
Native Americans and Mexicans were already mining Nevada’s mountains; the Spanish were for minerals like obsidian, quartz, agate, opalite, and precious metals like gold and silver.
Vegas, by Mormon settlers, found lead deposits a few miles west of Las Vegas in 1856, which opened up another opportunity for mining in the state.
People can still see the large head frames and ore bins of these mines as historical artifacts.
Today, Nevada is the leading producer of gold in the United States and the fourth largest producer globally, behind South Africa, Australia, and China.
The state is also called the “Silver State” and produces significant amounts of copper, barite, gypsum, molybdenum, limestone, and aggregate.
Let’s delve deeper into the history and current state of mining in Nevada.
The Early Days of Mining in Nevada
In the early days, the mining methods were primitive, and miners used hand tools and basic machinery to extract gold and silver from the earth.
Many of these miners were immigrants worldwide, including from Ireland, China, Italy, and Germany.
They established mining camps and towns near the mines as the industry grew.
These settlements provided essential services to the miners, including housing, food, and supplies.
Some of these towns, such as Virginia City, a bustling mining town during the Comstock Lode era, still exist today.
The Comstock Lode
The Comstock Lode was one of the richest silver veins in the world, and it brought in a wave of prospectors looking to strike it rich.
The mining methods used in the Comstock Lode were much more advanced than those used in the early days of mining in Nevada.
Miners used steam-powered hoists and drills to extract the silver from the earth, and they built large mills to crush the ore.
The mining of the Comstock Lode also led to the development of the state’s infrastructure.
They built railroads to transport the ore to mills and smelters, and they installed telegraph lines to communicate between the mines and the outside world.
Here Are Some Abandoned Nevada Mines:
- Comstock Lode
- Tonopah Mining Park
- Goldfield Historic District
- Eureka Mining District
- Pioche Historic District
- Austin Historic District
- McGill Historic District
- Manhattan Mining District
- Tuscarora Mining District
- Jarbidge Mining District
Mining in the 20th Century
The early 20th century saw a decline in mining in Nevada as the industry struggled to compete with other sectors.
The automobile and the rise of tourism in the state meant that there were other ways to make money besides mining.
However, the industry saw a resurgence in the 1960s as new mining techniques allowed miners to extract minerals more efficiently.
This led to the discovery of new mineral deposits in the state, including copper, barite, gypsum, and molybdenum.
Mining Today in Nevada
For example, many mining companies are exploring using renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to power their operations.
In addition, they are investing in technologies to reduce water use and minimize their impact on local ecosystems.
In addition, as the demand for critical minerals and metals continues to grow, Nevada is well-positioned to continue to be a significant player in the global mining industry.
Abandoned Mines in Nevada Conclusion
Mining is an essential industry in Nevada, with a long history and a promising future.
While there are challenges associated with the industry, such as its environmental and social impacts, mining companies in Nevada are working to address these challenges and minimize their impact on local communities and the environment.
Nevada’s abundant reserves of gold, silver, copper, lithium, and rare earth elements, as well as its strategic location and supportive business environment, positions it to remain a leader in the global mining industry for years to come.
Bob and Diana
Robert Ratliff RE/MAX Reliance
Abandoned Mines in Nevada