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Preferred Structure Name:
Keane Wonder Mine Upper Tramway Terminal/Ore Bin
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.
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
University of Vermont/NPS
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:
Structural Component(s)
Short Physical Description:
3 sections: tram terminus is heavy timber approx 30'x60' w/iron track, gearing, cables etc.; ore bin is square, heavy timber with thick plank walls, metal-lined interior with open top; ore chute is a diagonal trestle which fed the bin.
Long Physical Description:
The upper terminal complex includes the loading bin and the main terminal structure where tram carriers were filled. The main terminal structure is approximately 20 feet by 55.5 feet and consists of six timber bents divided into two bays each. The bays corresponded to travel routes for loaded and empty carriers. At the north end, the structure is a single story tall, with perimeter columns supported on bearing blocks at or below grade. Center columns are supported on continuous timber sills. At the south end, the structure consists of two levels to accommodate a change in grade. Timber bents in the upper story, as well as the wood deck, are supported on timber piers that follow the contour of the descending slope. The bent at the south end of the structure includes a center column and timber struts that supported the track cables, which are anchored below the structure. Framing of the terminal is fairly typical of the other tram structures, and includes 8‐ inch by 8‐inch columns on the structure perimeter and near the center of each bay. Transverse girts consist of a pair of 4‐inch by 8‐inch timbers fastened to either side of each column. Longitudinal support timbers for overhead rails are 8‐inches by 8‐ inches bolted below the girts. Wall or sway braces are typically 4‐inch by 8‐inches let into housings cut in columns. Longitudinal floor timbers supporting center columns are 8‐inches by 8‐inches, installed at grade; splices in these timbers are made with dimensioned lumber sisters. Floor girts at the south end of the structure are 8‐inches by 8‐inches, supported on 4‐inch by 8‐inch and 8‐inch by 8‐inch columns with 4‐inch by 8‐inch braces. Floor joists are 3‐inches by 8‐inches, supported on perimeter girts. Connections are typically fastened with 5/8‐inch bolts and ogee washers.

The ore bin, west of and adjacent to the larger terminal structure, measures approximately 11.5 by 11.5 by 24 feet and has a capacity of 100 tons. The bin itself is framed on top of a series of timber piers that follow the sloping contour of the site; piers and bearing blocks or plates are buried in tailings and soil that have washed down the slope. Framing consists of timber posts evenly spaced on perimeter floor girts, with horizontal girts oriented in the transverse and longitudinal directions at the top of the structure. Nearly all of the structural members are 8 inches by 8 inches. The bin is enclosed by heavy horizontal planks set inside the framework, forming the walls and floor.