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Mining History: Desert Fever

Kern County:

Gold during the Tungsten and Silver Years

In 1905, when “heavy spar” was recognized as valuable tungsten ore and the rush to Atolia was on, Randsburg was still producing gold. The Yellow Aster had over 7 1/2 miles of underground workings. By 1912, miners had dug another 7 1/2 miles of workings, bringing the total to 15. In comparison, Randsburg's second biggest mine, the Butte, has a little over 2 miles of underground workings.

The Yellow Aster experienced a brief inactivity during World War I. When the mine reopened in 1921, only 50 of the 100 stamps in the big mill were crushing ore. It wasn't until 1933 that the mill once again operated at full capacity. During the 1920s, when the nationwide economic atmosphere was that of prosperity, the Yellow Aster was leased to various companies. Lessees produced during this time $850,000 from ore averaging $20 to $27 per ton.

In 1933, the Yellow Aster was leased to the Anglo American Mining Corporation. Its president, Henry W. Klipstein, is the same man who purchased the California Rand Silver Mine in 1929. Most of the ore mined from 1905 to 1933 came from a large glory hole, and in 1938 open-pit mining began on its walls until the mine was closed in 1939. Although the Anglo American Mining Corporation was contemplating shutting down operations due to a diminishing profit, the immediate reason for the closure of the Yellow Aster in December, 1939, was an employee strike. With the price of gold pegged at $35 an ounce and a wartime inflationary economy driving up prices and wages, gold mining simply became unprofitable. Employees could work in aircraft and automobile factories and make much more money. It was not shut down due to any lack of ore. In 1940 the glory hole of the Yellow Aster was estimated to still contain several million tons of rock with an average value of .02 ounce of gold per ton. 53

Limitation Order L-208 wasn't needed at all to close the Yellow Aster. Economic and political conditions immediately prior to World War II had already knocked the wind out of Randsburg, and a half-century tradition of continuous mining in this district came to an abrupt end. The Yellow Aster has proved itself to be the principal source of gold in Kern County. Its production of over $12,000,000 is one-fourth of the entire amount of gold production in Kern County from 1880 to 1957. The entire Rand District produced over $20,000,000 in gold. It's ten biggest producing gold mines and their production figures (in dollars) are: Yellow Aster,$12,000,000; Butte, $2,000,000; Sunshine, $1,060,000; Blackhawk, $700,000; Operator Divide, $600,000; Big Gold, $500,000; Buckboard, $500,000; King Solomon, $500,000; Little Butte, $400,000; Santa Ana Group, $400,000.54

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