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Cortez Mining LTD

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:56 pm
by Randy Hees
Does anyone have anything on Cortez Mines LTD and its railroad? The locomotive (Porter, 0-4-0t, c/n1196, July 1890) is privately owned, stored serviceable in the Bay Area… and can be seen in operation over Labor Day at Ardenwood Farm.

The railroad, a bit south east of Battle Mountain was a mining tramway. Porter reports the Locomotive was built to a gauge of 29 ¾” close enough to 30” to be called 30”… (the locomotive was re-gauged to 36” when restored)

Myrick mentions the railroad and includes the locomotive in his roster in Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California. Ferrell includes a photo of the locomotive in operation on the railroad (the only one I am aware of) in his Nevada Central Book.

The current owner of the locomotive has two 30” gauge cars, one said to be one of the original cars. He understands that the cars were purchased with the locomotive from Porter. Ferrell says the cars came from a Denver area equipment company… Ferrell says there were half a dozen cars and a flat car. The current owner says there were 10 cars. there are no markings on the surviving car to suggest who built it. The second car, also 30' gauge appears to be of a style identified with a Denver mining supply company.

The locomotive is known to have been built in 1890… the mines were reported to be shut down before 1895… then sat until the loco and some cars were acquired by Nevada legend Dobie Doc, eventually displayed first in Last Frontier Hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas, later at a casino in Bolder…

Between a 1980’s BLM archeological study and Google Earth Andrew believes he can map the line…

More information will be welcome…


Re: Cortez Mining LTD

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:34 pm
by David Johnson
Myrick refers to the Cortez mines as being near Tenabo instead of on the southwest slope of Tenabo Mountain. Tenabo was a separate mining camp about 12 miles to the north northwest of Cortez. The mill and smelter that shows in photos was to the north and above the town. "Romancing Nevada's Past" by Shawn Hall has a couple of pages on Cortez and the mining activities, but does not mention the tramway. There is a photo that is credited to the Nevada Historical Society, that shows the mill and smelter from the north or up the mountain side. The tramway trestle is to the east end of the mill and smelter and appears to be entering into the top of the ore bin. Hall says that leaseholders operated the mines with impressive production from 1895 to 1919. From 1919 to 1929 the mines were consolidated and worked on a large scale and processed ore in a 1923 built, 150 ton cyanide mill. I think, based on photos, that this mill was on the same site as the earlier mill and smelter. The tramway may have operated later than 1895, since apparently the mill was working much of the time up to 1919. I'd also like to know more about the railroad and mine operation

Re: Cortez Mining LTD

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:42 pm
by David Johnson
On Google Earth, the photo labeled 1890 gold mine is a picture of the remains of the mill and smelter site. The photo called Cortez adobe is somewhat close to the old town site. These are a mile or two southeast of the present day Cortez gold mine. From a southerly angle, there is a curved ravine or change in color which may correspond to the trackage path curving from the east end of the ore bins to a northerly upgrade route. Did it then cross the new mine road and go around the knob on the west side and then into the narrow valley/canyon between the knob and the mountain or up the ravine/canyon cut into the mountain? Looking at the mill site from a northeasterly view(same angle as the 1900 photo), you can see much of the same road and trail system in the valley below. Much of the old tailings pile is gone, perhaps reworked in the 1919 to 1929 period, with the new cyanide mill.