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Preferred Structure Name:
Keane Wonder Mine Lower Tramway Terminal
Structure Number:
Other Structure Name(s):
Other Structure Name(s)
No records.
Death Valley National Park
Historic District:
Historic District
Keane Wonder Mine Historic District
Structure State:
Structure County:
Pacific West
Pacific Great Basin
Administrative Unit:
Death Valley National Park
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Determined Eligible - SHPO
National Register Date:
National Historic Landmark?:
Significance Level:
Short Significance Description:
The Keane Wonder Mine Historic District is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under criteria A and C. The period of significance is 1903 to 1912.
Long Significance Description:
Tramway carried ore from mine to mill, and supplies to mine. The Keane Wonder Mine, one of the two largest mining operations in Death Valley, produced gold steadily from 1907 to 1912 and sporadically until 1942. Tramway was refurbished in 1940.

The Keane Wonder Mine Historic District is located on the west slope of the Funeral Mountains in the Amargosa Range, on the east side of Death Valley. The ghost town of Rhyolite is located roughly 10 miles from the mine. Mining related appurtenances occur in two clusters, one associated with the main mine development level and one associated with the mill. The two clusters are linked by the remains of a mile-long aerial tramway once used to transport ore from the mine entry, located at about 2500 feet above sea level, to the mill site roughly 1200 feet below. Although most of the buildings and structures historically associated with the mine have been removed, the results of mining-related activities are still visible in landscape features such as mine entries, rock dumps and tailings, terraced areas, and archaeological deposits.

The Keane Wonder Mine Historic District is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under criteria A and C. Under criterion A, areas of significance include exploration and settlement, industry and commerce; the mine represents the initial discovery in what eventually was known as the Bullfrog Mining District. Prospectors flooding into the area in response to the news of the Keane Wonder discovery were responsible for the great Bullfrog boom. The Keane Wonder went on to become one of the two most productive gold mines in the region (the other being the Skidoo) and the longest running gold mine of the entire Bullfrog boom region. With a production of over $1,000,000, the Keane Wonder was important to the economies of both Nye County, Nevada, and Inyo County, California, during the early 19010s. Under criterion C (engineering area of significance) the Keane Wonder Mine and Mill had several unique features, including its mile-long aerial tram that linked the development/extraction levels of the mine with the mill site and a cyanidation plant incorporated in its milling process. The latter facilitated the more complete recovery of gold, thus raising profits. The period of significance is 1903 to 1912.
Construction Period:

Construction Period:
Physical Event
Begin Year
Begin Year CE/BCE
End Year
End Year CE/BCE
Designer Occupation

Keane Wonder Co.

Leonard & Schriber
Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Extractive Facility (Mining)
Primary Current Use:
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
Other Functions or Uses:
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
No records.
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Square Feet:
Structural Component(s)
Short Physical Description:
Heavy timber framing, cable, rock-filled counterweights, some metal framework. Adjacent rock/concrete foundation structure with frame structure atop, with ore chute. Approx. 25'x70' with curved top, connected by cables to upper terminal.
Long Physical Description:
The lower terminal is a multi‐level structure, approximately 31 feet wide, 80 feet long, and 40 feet high. The upper level consists of a framework of wooden columns and girts for suspending the overhead track that is supported on a wooden deck. Columns on the upper level are located at the terminal perimeter and along two longitudinal rows near the center of the deck. Columns are typically 8 inches by 8 inches. Transverse girts consist of paired 4‐inch by 8‐inch or 6–inch by 10‐inch timbers fastened to either side of each column. Longitudinal support timbers for overhead rails are 8 inches by 8 inches and bolted below the girts. Diagonal or sway braces are typically 4 inches by 8 inches, let into housings cut in columns. Connections are typically fastened with 5/8‐inch bolts and ogee washers.

Lower level framing includes a series of braced columns that follow the contour of the site. Columns are supported on a combination of wooden bearing blocks, concrete piers, and concrete foundation walls or grade beams. Columns on the lower level are a mixture of 8–inch by 8‐inch, 8–inch by 10‐inch, and 10–inch by 10‐inch timbers. The tall columns on the east side of bays 6 and 7 are made up of paired 5‐ inch by 10‐inch timbers fastened with bolts, presumably to allow the builders to stagger splices in the long column runs. Several of these tallest columns are unbraced, and in some cases it is clear that historic braces have been removed. In the four bays to the north, columns support 10–inch by 10‐inch transverse girts laid on top of them. In the three southern bays, transverse girts consist of 5–inch by 10‐inch timbers bolted on either side of notched columns. Transverse girts support a deck of floor girts and joists of varying sizes, covered with plank flooring. The ore chute at the south end of the terminal is framed on 8–inch by 8‐inch columns and girts, and features an inclined deck framed on 8‐inch by 8‐inch girts and 4‐inch by 8‐inch struts. The plank enclosure is installed on 4‐inch by 8‐inch studs. Connections are typically fastened with 5/8‐inch bolts and ogee washers.