LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In this era of air conditioning, cell phones and electric cars, it’s a shock to see how people had to scratch out a living in the early 1900s.
Historic mills in Death Valley National Park tell the stories of the people who worked in a harsh environment, and $1.6 million from the Inflation Reduction Act will help restore the structures, preserving them for visitors in the future.
The Skidoo Mill is the most significant remaining structure from a thriving boomtown of 700 people in the early 1900s. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the funding will allow work that will stabilize the 116-year-old mill. In its heydey, the mill used 15 stamps to crush ore. Mercury amalgamation and cyanide leaching completed the process of extracting gold from the ore, according to a National Park Service (NPS) news release.
The Skidoo Historic District is about three hours from Las Vegas, past Stovepipe Wells on CA190.
The Gem Mill operated in Jail Canyon, built in the 1930s as part of a small gold mining operation. It combines a headframe to haul ore up a mine shaft with ore processing equipment, according to NPS. The mill is “an example of Depression-era frugality.” Las Vegas was a town of just over 5,000 people in those days.
The $1.6 million project will cover the two mill projects, with some left for surveying and documentation for work at more sites in the coming years. The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns are among the sites NPS identified for future restoration.
“Part of the reason Death Valley National Park was established was to preserve and share mining history,” Superintendent Mike Reynolds said. “This funding allows us to stabilize some of the park’s special historic places so the public can continue to enjoy visiting them.”
In fiscal year 2023, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act will provide $52 million to fund more than 100 NPS projects throughout the country related to ecosystem resilience, restoration and environmental planning needs.