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Mining History: Desert Fever

Kern County:

Atolia after the Silver Boom

The California Rand Silver Mine had stolen the show in April, 1919, while Atolia apparently breathed its last breath. While 1921 was the California Rand Silver Mine's biggest year, with silver production for the whole county over $3,000,000, the Atolia Mining Company shipped no tungsten ore whatsoever during 1920,1921, or 1922. However, tungsten was still to play a supporting role in keeping Atolia alive. Between 1923 and 1939, the Atolia Mining Company sold over $3,000,000 worth of ore. Atolia had not died at all.

When tungsten prices collapsed after the war, the Atolia mines experienced a brief inactivity. The Union Mine, the chief producer in the district, was reopened in 1924, and production increased substantially in 1925 to nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of ore. In 1926 production surpassed a quarter of a million dollars, and in 1927 and 1928, production was slightly under $200,000 for each year. By 1929, Atolia was again on the decline, plummeting from a production of $100,000 that year to a low of less than $15,000 in 1932.

While production increased slightly in 1933 (to $78,000), it wasn't until 1934 that things really started up again. Since 1915, the Flatiron, Spanish, and Par mines were considered exhausted and lay in a state of abandonment. In 1934, they were reopened by lessees, new ore bodies were located, and $1,000,000 worth of tungsten came out of these “worked-out” mines between 1934 and 1940. The Atolia tungsten district is an extremely rich zone. A U. S. Geological Survey report declared that “the tungsten-bearing fissure veins at Atolia contain the largest bodies of high grade scheelite discovered in the United States, and possibly the world.” The ore processed by the Atolia Mining Company averaged 4.14 percent W0 3. 48

The Atolia District in 1940 consisted of over 61,000 feet of underground workings with 71 shafts. Of the 56 claims owned by the Atolia Mining Company, the most productive mines in the group have been (in order) the Union, Papoose, Amity, Par, Spanish, and the Flatiron. The Union Mine by 1940 was the deepest Atolia mine, at 1,021 feet, with close to 5 miles of underground workings. The Papoose was 361 feet deep that year with less than a mile of underground workings. The Amity ore was very rich, averaging 11.62 percent W03. The Paradox Number 3, a mine developed since 1936, was found in 1940 to be the most complex mine structurally in the district due to its having a thick high grade ore body broken by many small faults. 49

While the Atolia Mining Company produced 95 percent of the tungsten from this district, a Mr. P. J. Osdick owned 7 claims east of the AMC properties and reportedly produced nearly a quarter of a million dollars from his Skylark Mine during the boom of 1916-1918. J. C. Raynor, N. H. Myers, and G. T. Ingram jointly owned the Federal mine group which lies south of the Atolia Mining Company property.50

In 1937 over 250 men were employed in Atolia, many of them working for one of the more than 50 lessees who were operating various parts of the Atolia Mining Company properties. The company usually operated only a few of its mines, dedicating themselves instead to milling all the district's ore. In 1938 and 1939, lower prices drove some of the lessees away, but in 1940 there were still 27 of them operating. By 1940 the price per unit of tungsten had once again reached the $20 level, as the metal was once again needed for the war effort. By the end of 1941, the United States Government had put tungsten ore on the list of minerals to be stockpiled. In 1942 the Atolia Mining Company, along with five other producers accounted for 92 percent of the state's tungsten production and helped make California the leading tungsten producer in the

Atolia, Ca.


Randsburg, Ca

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