Evening Star Mine Trip
By Ken Hemkin
I joined a small group of adventurers, September 8, 2018 to explore various parts of the Mojave National Preserve. The sites to see there are as numerous as the vast expanse of land in the preserve. One of my favorites was the Evening Star Mine.
For me, part of the joy of exploring the desert is the history. I am amazed by what folks back then did with limited resources. The Evening Star Mine is one of the best preserved mines in the MNP with the head frame and rock crushers still in place. The main shaft as well as some of the side shafts are now sealed.
It began life in 1935 as a copper prospect by John Riley Bembry. He was a World War I veteran, a medic in the US Army and also taught soldiers how to use explosives. This skill was put to good use upon arriving in the Ivanpah Mountain Range in the late 1920s. By 1930 Mr. Bembry had nine claims in the area and by the time of his death in 1984, he had placed 56 claims. Mr. Bembry’s contribution to the history of the area is amazing and well deserves its own article.
Early on Bremby had sold the Evening Star claim. It was traded various times until, in 1943, the mine was leased by Carl F. Wendrick, Jr.’s Steel Sales and Service Company of Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Wendrick secured a government loan, employed eight men, built the larger headframe, and constructed a mill at Valley wells.
Over 400 tons of ore were processed. Several tons of tin concentrates were sold to the government stockpile in Jean, Nevada which contained 35.96 percent tin.1
Located in the Mescal Mining District, the Evening Star mine site has an impressive sixty foot head frame which is built upon three towers of different heights and supply ore to an ore bin and crusher at the top.2
The EveningStar Mine was the only producer of tin ore cassiterite (tin oxide) in the eastern Mojave Desert. The cassiterite was found with the minerals pyrite, scheelite, chrysocolla, and wollastonite.3
The mine was in production between 1939 and 1944. The tall head frame was built to hoist ore from underground workings. When the ore reached the top it was dumped through a series of four-cylinder engine-powered crushers and screens that classified the ore into marketable concentrate that could be separated from unwanted gangue minerals. The amount of imported timber and the crushing equipment (now missing) indicates how serious the miners were in their fight against gravity. After the headframe and crushers were installed the concentrated/classified ore was hauled by truck to Windmill Station on Highway 466 (south of Valley Wells) for cleaning and concentration. The Windmill Station mill was constructed by Steel Service and Sales Company (Chicago, Illinois), now owners of the Bernice (Evening Star) group.4
To my surprise, our small group was joined by a fleet of white Suburbans from the University of Southern California, School of Earth Sciences, geology class led by Dr. Doug Hammond, Ph.D. Dr. Doug was interested in a small outcrop of wollastonite (mentioned above). As this was Sunday morning, I was interested to know what happened with USC vs Stanford game on Saturday. The young folks sadly shared USC 3, Stanford 17. Oh well! On down the trail! ~ Ken
3 Aubury, 1908; Wright et al, 1953;