History

Due to the desolate nature of the Hot Springs Mountains, the history of the area has been dominated by a series of people passing through, or by people searching for and attempting to produce a wide variety of mineral resources. Although there is a lack of known archaeological sites and artifacts in the Hot Springs Mountains, Indians probably visited nearby Brady's Hot Springs regularly. Early explorers visited Brady's Hot Springs but rapidly moved on in search of more productive land.

The pioneers bypassed the Hot Springs Mountains by using the Carson River and Truckee River branches of the California Trail on the east and west, respectively. To pioneers on the Truckee River branch of the Califor nia Trail, Brady's Hot Springs, then known as Tenderfoot Station, were always a blessing and occasionally a curse. The springs were located near the middle of the dreaded Forty-Mile Desert and the water was potable when cooled. However, thirst-crazed oxen were commonly scalded when they rushed into the boiling water.

As early as 1849 prospectors, or more likely, immigrants travelling along the California Trail in search of water in the nearby hills discovered gold and silver mineralization at the site of the Desert Queen Mine (Vanderburg, 1940) at the northeastern margin of the Hot Springs Mountains. This would be the first lode mine worked in northern Nevada if it were discovered in 1849. In 1863 the first mill was built to recover gold and silver from the ores of the Desert Queen Mine. Over the years at least three mills were constructed, yet the total production probably has been less than $50,000. The Desert Queen Mine and the nearby Fallon Eagle Mine were last worked in the 1930's and 1940's. There has been no recorded production since 1951 according to U.S. Bureau of Mines Minerals Yearbooks (Willden and Speed, 1974).

In 1869 the extensive salt deposits of Eagle Marsh (informal name), located about 7 miles southwest of Desert Peak, were discovered by B. F. Leete. Between 1870 and 1915 Eagle Marsh probably produced over 500,000 tons of salt, primarily for use in milling silver ores in Virginia City and Humboldt County. The salt was collected by dessicating brines in vats 50 feet wide and 100 feet long. The brine was initially supplied by springs on the east side of the marsh (Russell, 1885). Later, brine was pumped from a depth of about 20 feet (Willden and Speed, 1974). During good weather 1 acre of vats produced 10 tons of salt per day. Exceptionally pure salt was recovered at White Plains, located on the flats northeast of the Hot Springs Mountains, by the Desert Crystal Salt Co. between 1870 and 1912. Production amounted only to about 200 tons a year (Paher, 1970).

Between 1869 and 1912 the Central Pacific Railroad had a station near Brady's Hot Springs known simply as the Hot Springs Station. During this time Brady's Hot Springs were referred to as Hot Springs or Boiling Springs. Russell (1885) visited the site and described the hot springs as follows: "At a number of orifices the waters of this spring issue in a state of active ebullition. When the openings become obstructed the steam escapes with a hissing and roaring sound." Russell also noted an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to recover boric acid from the thermal waters; Lincoln (1923) reported this attempt was made in 1871.

In contrast, Bishop (1970) noted that the hot springs were owned by a German company attempting to recover borax from a nearby mine. Bishop reports: "They were badly sold by sharpers who induced them to believe that borax in large quantities could be obtained here. . . . We believe some 60 boxes of the manufactured article was all that was ever turned out, and then the mine suddenly gave out, the production ceased, of course, and the company after an expenditure estimated at about a quarter million dollars, ceased operations, their property remaining idle."

Diatomite production from quarries along the northwest margin of the Hot Springs Mountains began prior

Quaternary sediments mafic Quaternary volcanic rocks

Tertiary sedimentary rocks siliceous Tertiary volcanic rocks f mafic Tertiary volcanic rocks pre-Tertiary sedimentary and volcanic rocks intrusive rocks faults, dashed where inferred

* Desert Peak geothermal field

FIGURE 2. Simplified regional geology map of Desert Peak geothermal field, Churchill County, Nevada (from Stewart and Carlson, 1978).

to 1940 and has continued intermittently. In the vicinity of the Desert Peak geothermal field there are numerous bulldozer cuts in outcrops of diatomaceous material but there has been no production. Substantial quantities of high-quality diatomite are apparently still available in the Hot Springs Mountains.

Brady's Hot Springs was the site of a resort and spa for many years. In the 1930's it was known as Springer's Hot Springs (Vanderburg, 1940). Later the Brady family purchased the resort and the name Brady's Hot Springs has been used since the 1940's. Prior to 1959 the resort consisted of a spa, campground, bar, restaurant, gas station, and cabins. When the springs dried up, apparently due to geothermal drilling in 1959, the spa lost its hot water supply and closed. The resort was abandoned a few years later when the interstate freeway was completed, and shortly thereafter the buildings were burned. All that remains is the swimming pool. The area remained vacant until 1978 when Geothermal Food Processors, Inc. began operating the world's first geothermal food processing plant, using one of the existing geothermal wells to provide hot water as a source of process heat and wash water.

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