Ashford Mill in Death Valley, located in California, has a fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century. It was named after the Ashford brothers, who were prospectors in the area.
- Discovery of Gold: The story of Ashford Mill begins with the discovery of gold in the Black Mountains of Death Valley. In 1907, two brothers, Harold and Erwin Ashford, staked claims in a canyon known as Golden Canyon.
- Operation of the Mill: The Ashford brothers lacked the experience and resources to develop the mine, so they leased it to a businessman, B.W. McCausland. McCausland recognized the need for a mill to process ore and built the Ashford Mill in 1914. The mill was constructed to process gold ore from the Golden Treasure Mine, located about five miles away in the Black Mountains.
- Technological Features: The mill was a typical representation of the ore-processing technology of its time. It included structures for crushing, mixing with chemicals, and separating gold from the ore.
- Short-Lived Success: Despite the investment in the mill and the initial enthusiasm, the operation was short-lived. The ore from the Golden Treasure Mine was of lower quality than expected, making the operation unprofitable.
- Abandonment: By 1915, just a year after its construction, the mill was abandoned as the dreams of profitable gold mining faded. The harsh conditions of Death Valley and the lack of substantial gold findings made it impractical to continue.
- Today: The ruins of Ashford Mill stand as a reminder of the brief gold rush in Death Valley. The site is preserved within Death Valley National Park. Visitors can see the remnants of the mill’s foundation and some of the walls, offering a glimpse into the early mining history of the region.
The history of Ashford Mill is a typical example of the boom-and-bust cycle that characterized many mining ventures in the American West during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It reflects the optimism, hardships, and eventual disappointment those seeking fortune face in this harsh and unforgiving landscape.