LOOKOUT!, this may have
been the last thing a drunken miner heard as he fell off the mountain top, or perhaps it's
what I should have done last time we visited Lookout when I smashed a lower control arm on
the way up the mountain.
In 1875 rich deposits of silver-lead ore were discovered in the Argus Range on top
of Lookout mountain. The discovery was named the Modoc, and was sold to a group of
investors which included George Hearst, the famed mining engineer, U.S. Senator, and
father of William Randolph Hearst. (He was also the great-great grandfather of Patty
Hearst, who went on to join the SLA terrorist group).
The Modoc Consolidated Mining Company was formed with the Modoc mine as the
principal mine. Together with the discovery of other nearby mines, which included the
Minnietta Belle below Lookout Mountain , these mines formed the basis for the Modoc
District with the townsite of Lookout located on top of Lookout Mountain. The town
of Lookout consisted of 2 general stores, 3 saloons, company offices, and as many as 30
other wood and stone structures.
By 1876 two 60 ton furnaces and a 10-stamp mill were running and production was
quoted as running 160 silver-lead bars per day. The bars averaged 90 lbs. each and assayed
around $400.00. By the end of 1876 Remi Nadeau's Cerro Gordo Freighting Company had hauled
10,000 bars worth some $400,000 over the Bullion Trail which was originally built for the
ore of Cerro Gordo. Remi Nadeau needed a faster route for his teams, so he constructed the
Nadeau "Shotgun" road across Panamint Valley and over the Slate Range to meet
the Bullion Trail south of China Lake.
To supply the furnaces with charcoal, 10 charcoal kilns were built in Wildrose
Canyon 25 miles away, and a steady stream of burros delivered charcoal in sacks to Lookout
City via a pack trail on the east side of Lookout Mountain.
The U.S. Bureau of Mines reported that total production during the period 1875
through 1890 amounted to $1,900,000 from the Modoc Mine alone.