Below the ruins of an old mill site outside of Mason, Nevada, a unique landscape has formed. The natural looking formations were actually created by the sediment runoff from the processed ore that was mined here from 1890-1930.
I spent the better part of two hours driving through the hills northwest of Mason searching for the Bluestone Mine. Confusing and challenging 4WD trails wind through the scenic hills of the Singatse Range and like most of my solo adventures, I would often find myself in hairy situations.
Finally, after rounding the corner of yet another steep and narrow section of the trail, I came across the first building. Near the front of the building where the road forked there was a “No Trespassing” sign. The way it was placed, I couldn’t tell if the sign was for the building, the road leading to the mine, or the entire area. After spending the last two hours trying to find the damn place I wasn’t about to abandon my opportunity to photograph it. I figured if I kept my distance from the actual buildings and ruins I would probably be okay. I was later told by a local I passed while trying to find another nearby mine that it was okay to ignore the signs so use your own judgement if you plan on visiting the area yourself.
As I headed south the dirt trail quickly turned to sand, so I backed up my 2wd Jeep Cherokee and preceded to head to a more suitable area that looked like a good place to park.
Just as I was about to head out on my hike to explore, I noticed a shit load of nails surrounding the area of where I parked and was certain my tires had probably picked up a few of them along the way. After confirming that wasn’t the case, I headed out to take a closer look at the crazy formations that were created by the sediment runoff from the processed ore.
Claims that became the Bluestone Mine properties were some of the oldest in the Yerington Mining District.
Records show that in the early 1900s, Captain J. K. Delamar owned the Bluestone Mining and Smelting Company which encompassed the Bluestone Mine and a cluster of twenty other claims that adjoined the nearby Mason Valley Mine.
The district did not yield much copper until after 1912. Prior to that, the most important of the early activities appears to have been the mining of ‘bluestone’ from the Bluestone Mine.
By 1916, the copper veins were sufficiently profitable enough to constitute construction of a magnetic concentrating plant and furnace with a 100-ton capacity.
Production at the time was estimated to be around 600 tons of copper per day, increasing up to 1,000 tons per day the following year. From 1917-1920, total production is believed to have been approximately 0.4 million tons, grading 1.5% – 3.5% Cu.
The formations are pretty incredible to see up close.
In the distance, the ruins of the heavily vandalized, burned out, and spray painted foundations of the old mill sit against the hillside.
It sits at an elevation of about 5,300 feet.
The mine is supposedly opened on three levels, approximately 100, 200, and 275 feet below the surface…
…however, since there was a sign nearby that said “Smile, you’re on camera” I didn’t want to risk going any further, regardless of if I really believed the sign or not.
The thought of climbing over that pile of tailings also didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.
So I made my way back to my vehicle…
…taking one last look at the unnatural formations and the very natural snow capped mountains that sat behind them.
On my way back I decided to head towards the other building I had seen earlier that sat behind the mill ruins.
This was supposedly the main transformer building that helped power the mine and mill when it was in operation.
As I got closer to the building the road continued to get worse and more signs warning drivers to stay away from the area were seen along the sides of the trail. Satisfied with what I had seen and knowing what I had left to see for the remainder of the day, I turned around and said one last goodbye to this unique place. I have a feeling I’ll be back though, next time I’ll make sure I have a 4WD.