Kennecott Nevada Mines Division
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This page last updated on July 20, 2018.
(This is a work in progress; research continues.)
Nevada Consolidated Copper Company was organized in November 1904, and in May 1906, that company was controlled by the Guggenheim family and their associates. The first mining claims were filed in White Pine County, Nevada, as early as 1867, and the first copper claim (the Ruth claim) was filed in the summer of 1900. Several mining engineers from San Francisco and Chicago were asked to examine the Ruth property west of Ely, in what was known as the Robinson Mining District. In autumn 1902, the Ruth property was sold to Mark Requa, the manager of the Eureka & Palisade Railroad. In 1903 Requa organized the White Pine Copper Company to further develop the White Pine property, which included the original Ruth claim, and several adjacent claims, a total of 19 claims on 304 acres. Together, the White Pine company became known as the Ruth Group of mines.
Adjacent to the Ruth claim was the Copper Flat group of claims, which was organized as the Copper Flat Mining Company. Later, after eastern capital investment became involved, the New York & Nevada Copper Company was organized to develop and operate the Copper Flat property. This company was later reorganized as the Boston & Nevada Copper Company after Boston investors became involved, and as investment capital became available, many more adjacent claims were purchased, and became known as the Copper Flat Group, with a total of seven claims on 133 acres.
The following comes from David Myrick's "Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Volume 1", pages 132-134:
Ever since full scale operations commenced in 1908, most of the tonnage handled over the railroad has been copper ore bound from the Eureka-Liberty Pit at Copper Flat to the concentrator at McGill. In earlier days steam shovels loaded the ore directly into gondolas which were then assembled into trains for the winding, 11-mile climb up and around the sides of the pit, then over the edge to the assembly yard at Copper Flat. At this point heavier power replaced the pit locomotives, and road crews took over the train operations for the balance of the journey to the McGill concentrator. On April 1, 1958, the procedure was altered. Pit trains were discontinued, and trucks and a skip hoist were instituted to lift the ore and deliver it to the waiting gondolas in the Copper Flat yards.
Starting in 1920, the Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. operated over the Nevada Northern with its own locomotives and crews from Copper Flat all the way to the concentrator at McGill, a practice which continued after the shift from steam to diesel power and greater locomotive utilization and change of name to Kennecott in 1943. Today , Kennecott Copper diesel units in pairs escort trainloads of 40 to 50 gondolas, each loaded with 80 tons of ore, to the yard near the McGill concentrator. Here a solitary electric locomotive switches the cars to the concentrator over approximately a mile of electrified trackage. Eight trains a day constitute normal operations for the line, thus feeding the McGill plant with some 300 to 350 carloads. To handle this traffic, Kennecott maintains a fleet of over 600 ore cars, distinctive with their metal serial numbers welded to the car sides in lieu of being painted in the customary manner.
In spite of the concentrator's voracious appetite (some 20,000 tons of ore daily), it disgorges a comparatively minuscule three carloads a day of blister copper which moves out on the three-mile line from McGill via McGill Junction. Three trains a week are sufficient to transport the tonnage to Cobre for forwarding to the refinery, as well as to pick up the return loads of inbound freight consisting of approximately 50 carloads of coal, 7 carloads of coke, and miscellaneous loads of machinery, lumber, gasoline and diesel fuel, weekly.
Various are the insigne of equipment which have traversed the lines of the Nevada Northern. The early Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. (NCCCo. ) joined hands with the Cumberland-Ely Co. at the instigation of the Guggenheim interests, and each owned a half-interest in the Nevada Northern. At the McGill smelter, the early steam locomotives bore the name of Steptoe Valley Mining & Smelting Co., another affiliated company. In 1909-10, the NCCCo purchased the C-ECo, and in turn itself became a subsidiary of the Utah Copper Co. The Kennecott Copper Corporation entered the picture in 1915 through an exchange of stock with the Guggenheim Exploration Co., acquiring full control of Utah Copper in 1923 and absorbing its assets in 1936. During this period, the Ray Consolidated Copper Company in 1926, including its subsidiary, the Ray & Gila Valley Railroad, both located in southern Arizona was merged with NCCCo. With acquisition of the assets of NCCCo in 1932, Kennecott formed the Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation to manage its properties in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, ultimately dissolving the entity on December 31, 1942, to group the properties at Ely, McGill and Copper Flat under the cognomen of the Nevada Mines Division of the Kennecott Copper Corporation. (David Myrick, Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Howell-North Books, 1962; University of Nevada 1990 reprint)
At the Nevada Mines Division the 100 class locomotives were used in pairs to power the ore trains from the mine at Ruth, 22 miles to the mill at McGill. Numbers 801 and 802 alternated as the McGill yard switcher. No. 310 was used for any small switching jobs around the McGill plant. Electrics 80 and 81 served as the car dumper locomotives at McGill with a GE 70 tonner on standby for that service. RSD-4 no. 201 was leased to the Nevada Northern Railway as an alternate and standby for their SD7 401. They were reported as working together when the tonnage warranted. The Nevada Northern is the Nevada Mines Division's link to the outside world. It runs from Ely north to Shafter on the Western Pacific and Cobre on the Southern Pacific on a one day up and one day back schedule. (see July 1961 Trains, p.33)
(Portions of this timeline are taken from research completed by Keith Albrandt)
November 7, 1904
The Nevada Consoldated Copper Company was organized to purchase the interests and assets of the White Pine Copper Company, and the Boston & Nevada Copper Company. Ownership transferred on January 5, 1905. (Parson, The Prophyry Coppers, 1933, page 120) (White Pine Copper Company was organized in 1902.)
November 17, 1904
Nevada Consolidated Copper Company was incorporated under the laws of Maine on November 17, 1904, as a consolidation of the New York & Nevada Copper Company and White Pine Copper Company. (Moody's Analysis Of Investments, Part II, Public Utilities and Industrials, 1917, page 1107)
May 25, 1906
"It was only a year ago that the New York and Nevada and the White Pine companies of the Ely camp were reorganized into the Nevada Consolidated company. The Guggenheims are now in control of the property, the local interests having largely retired with fortunes." The Cumberland-Ely property adjoins the Nevada Consolidated, and is also "owned" by the Guggenheims. (Deseret News, May 25, 1906)
July 26, 1906
Daniel Guggenheim and Simon Guggenheim, and three of their long time associates were voted in as directors of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, and Nevada Northern Railway. (Ogden Standard, July 27, 1906, "Guggenheims In Nevada")
December 14, 1906
Construction of the smelter and mill at McGill was under way. Three hundred men were employed in the work. Cottages for personnel of Nevada Consolidated had been completed, along with barracks for the contruction crews, and a dining hall and an electric lighting plant. (Deseret News, December 14, 1906)
January 30, 1907
The Cumberland-Ely Copper Company owned approximately 650 acres of mining land adjacent to Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. Cumberland-Ely owned one-half interest in Steptoe Valley Smelting & Mining Company; the other one-half interest was owned by Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. The Steptoe company was building a concentrating and smelting plant at McGill, 14 miles from Ely, with a projected start date of January 1, 1908. The two companies, Cumberland-Ely and Nevada Consolidated, also own equal half shares of the Nevada Northern Railway, already in operation from Cobre, 140 miles from Ely. (Salt Lake Mining Review, January 30, 1907)
April 13, 1908
The first train of ore was shipped from Nevada Consolidated at Copper Flat, to the Steptoe mill. On April 12th, the wheels of the mill began operating, with water being turned in to the tables and crushers to test operation of the mill. (Ogden Standard, April 29, 1908)
The concentrating mill of the Steptoe Valley Smelting & Mining Company started operations on May 11, 1908. The Cumberland-Ely section was set to open during the first week of June 1908, with the arrival of experienced and skilled operators from Montana and other points. The Nevada Consolidated section began operations on May 16, 1908. The smelter section was projected to begin operations in the first week of July 1908. (Deseret News, May 8, 1908, "next Monday"; May 28, 1908, "commences this week")
By mid August 1908, Cumberland-Ely and Nevada Consolidated together had shipped 600,000 pounds of copper to eastern markets. (Deseret News, August 15, 1908)
October 16, 1909
The merger and consolidation of Cumberland-Ely Copper Company and Nevada Consolidated Copper Company was announced by the Guggenheim interests on October 16, 1909. The exchange was to be one share of Nevada Consoldated for 3-1/4 shares of Cumberland-Ely. The proposal was to be put to the shareholders at the annual meeting on november 2, 1909. (New York Times, October 17, 1909, "yesterday")
December 17, 1909
The Guggenheims announced that their interest in Boston Consolidated Copper and Gold Mining Company, and Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, would be merged and consolidated with their interest in Utah Copper Company. The exchange was to be one share of Utah Copper for 2-1/2 shares of Boston Consolidated, and 2-1/4 shares of Nevada Consolidated. (New York Times, December 18, 1909, "yesterday")
The president and minority directors of Nevada Consolidated objected to the exchange, stating that the Nevada property had more value. The Nevada property was removed from the merger pending a determination of its value. After a meeting of the board of directors of Nevada Consolidated on February 1, 1910, in which the directors voted to agree to the proposed exchnage rate, the company president, James Phillips, remained convinced that the property was being undervalued. Utah Copper Company already had four seats, a majority, on the Nevada Consolidated's board. By February 5th, a total of 824,277 shares of Nevada Consolidated had been traded for shares in Utah Copper Company, including 379,416 by Guggenheim Exploration Co., and 263,683 by M. Guggenhein & Sons, the majority shareholders. (New York Times, December 19, 1909, December 22, 1909; January 15, 1910; February 1, 1910; February 2, 1910; February 5, 1910)
August 25, 1910
At a special meeting of stockholders of Cumberland-Ely Copper Company, the company was to be dissolved and the directors instructed to sell all remaining assets of the company. Nevada Consolidated owned 1,271,134 shares, and except for 28,866 shares outstanding, owned the entire stock of the Cumberland-Ely company. This included their equal and joint ownership of Nevada Northern Railway and Steptoe Valley Mining, Smelting & Refining Company, and would put Nevada Consolidated as the sole owner of the Ruth, Copper Flat, and Veteran mines. (Deseret News, August 24, 1910, "tomorrow")
August 30, 1910
All of the property of Cumberland Ely Copper Company was acquired by Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, together with that company's half interest in the Nevada Northern Railway and the Steptoe Valley Smelting & Mining Company. (Moody's Analysis Of Investments, Part II, Public Utilities and Industrials, 1917, page 1107; Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Thwenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 1238)
August 24, 1914
All of the stock of the Steptoe Valley Smelting & Mining Company, fully owned by Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, was sold to a new company by the name of The Steptoe Company, and on November 28, 1914, The Steptoe Company was dissolved. All smelting operations formerly done by Steptoe Valley were then done under the name of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. (Moody's Manual Of Railroads And Corporation Securities, Thwenty-Third Annual Number, Industrial Section, Volume II, K to Z, 1922, page 1238)
The 1920 issue of American Mining Manual shows Nevada Consolidated Copper Company in Nevada as having the following:
- Copper Flat and Ruth porphyry copper mines
- 10 steam shovels and 15 steam locomotives at Copper Flat pit
- 12 trolley locomotives at Ruth shaft mine
- 12 miles of standard gauge railroad at McGill smelter, with 10 steam locomotives
- 165 miles of Nevada Northern railroad, with 10 steam locomotives
- (American Mining Manual, 1920, page 260, Google Books)
September 1, 1920
Some Nevada Northern locomotives and rolling stock were sold to Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, to remove them from interstate commerce, and limit the railway company's net operating income to 6 per cent, the figure established by the federal Interstate Commerce Commission; any amount exceeding 6 per cent was to deposited into a nationwide revolving fund for the benefit of all of the nation's railroads. (Similar actions were taken in Utah on the Bingham & Garfiedl, and Utah Copper.)
On March 1, 1920, the United States Railway Administration had returned control of the nation's railroads, from government control due to World War I, back to the railroad companies. Included in the enabling Esch-Cummins Act was a provision to allow the ICC to control the railroads profits and rate of return for investments. (Esch-Cummins Act) (USRA)
Moody's Manual reported in its 1922 edition that Utah Copper Company owned 50 percent of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, and that the property consisted of the following:
- Copper Flat Group, 355 acres
- Ruth Group, 455 acres (underground mine)
- Liberty Group, 46 acres
- Veteran Group, 14 claims
- Jupiter group, 22 claims
July 9, 1922
The mill at McGill burned. (Salt Lake Mining Review, July 30, 1922)
September 24, 1922
Production resumed in the reconstructed mill at McGill at 3 p.m. on Saturday September 24, 1922, just 68 days after a large portion of the mill had been destroyed fire. (Salt Lake Mining Review, September 30, 1922)
October 20, 1925
Nevada Consolidated Copper Company has made an offer to combine with Ray Consolidated Copper Company, which already owned and controlled Consoldated Copper Company. Directors of both companies had approved the merger, and special meetings of stockholders of both companies were planned for November 10, 1925. Both companies were controlled by Hayden, Stone & Company, and their associates. (New York Times, October 20, 1925)
The New York Times reported on May 2, 1928, that Kennecott Copper Corporation owned 97-1/2 percent of Utah Copper Company, which in turn owned 43 percent of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. (New York Times, May 2, 1928)
May 3, 1932
Kennecott Copper Corporation, which owned 98 percent of Utah Copper Company, offered to acquire Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, at the rate of one share of Kennecott for two shares of Nevada Consolidated. At the time, Kennecott, through its Utah Copper subsidiary, owned 45 percent of Nevada Consolidated. (New York Times, May 4, 1932, "yesterday")
June 11, 1932
To allow for stockholders who were abroad, Kennecott's offer to exchange its stock for that of Nevada Consolidated was extended through July 15, 1932. By June 11, 1932, Kennecott, through its Utah Copper subsidiary, owned 75 to 80 percent of Nevada Consolidated. (New York Times, June 11, 1932)
February 3, 1933
Kennecott Copper Corporation owned 98-1/2 percent of Utah Copper Company. After the distribution of Nevada Consolidated Copper to Utah Copper stockholders (in other words, Kennecott) on or before February 14, 1933, Kennecott would own and control 87 percent of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. One year before, at the end of 1931, Utah Copper held 31 percent of Nevada Consolidated. (New York Times, February 5, 1933)
April 28, 1933
The board of directors of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company voted to accept Kennecott's offer to acquire all of the remaining shares of Nevada Consolidated, subject to a final vote by stockholders of Nevada Consolidated on June 1, 1933. (New York Times, April 29, 1933, "yesterday")
June 12, 1933
Kennecott Copper Corporation acquired full control of the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company and changed the name to Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation. (Keith Albrandt, Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County Timeline)
September 23, 1936
The Federal District Court in Reno, Nevada, awarded Consolidated Copper Mines Company $896,913 in its seven-year-old suit for encroachment against Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. (New York Times, September 24, 1936)
Consolidated Copper Mines was incorporated under Delaware laws on May 20, 1913, as a combination of Giroux Consolidated Mines Company, Coppermines Company, Chainman Consolidated Copper Company, Butte & Ely Copper Company, and New Ely Central Copper Company. (Moody's Analysis Of Investments, Part II, Public Utilities and Industrials, 1917, page 1301)
August 1, 1941
Regular passenger service on nevada Northern Railway between Ely and Cobre was discontinued. (Keith Albrandt, Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County Timeline)
December 31, 1942
"In the interest of simplifcation of corporate structure, the Nevada Consolidated Copper Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary, organized in 1933 to manage our copper properties in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, was dissolved on Dec. 31, 1942." (New York Times, March 14, 1943, citing Kennecott's 1942 annual report)
January 1, 1943
Nevada Consolidated became the Nevada Mines Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation. (Keith Albrandt, Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County Timeline)
August 6, 1949
The Ruth mine ceased production. (Russell Elliott, History Of Nevada Mines Division, Kennecott Copper Corporation, 1956, page 108)
Dieselization of ore trains began and most KCC steam engines were retired.
Nevada Northern Railway was dieselized with the purchase of EMD SD7 401, replacing steam locomotives 80 and 81 on the mainline.
January 31, 1958
KCC acquired the contiguous property of Consolidated Coppermines Corporation.
Last of the pit locomotives were retired from the Liberty Pit.
January 29, 1967
After 60 years of operation, Kennecott shut down operations at the Liberty pit. To make up the difference in production, operations were be resumed at the adjacent Tripp and Veteran mines. Employment was to remain at 1,200 men, and output was to remain at 22,000 tons of copper ore per day. Kennecott purchased the Tripp and Veteran mines in 1950. "For the past decade, only the Liberty Pit has been worked, hauling 25-ton capacity ore cars up a 1,234-foot incline from the bottom of the pit, where eight-yard shovels and 65-ton trucks were utilized to move the copper ore." Copper values in the Liberty Pit had dropped in six years from 2 percent to the then-current 0.7 percent. In recent months, while mine workers had been removing the last remaining ore reserves in the Liberty Pit, other mine workers had been removing waste rock from the old Tripp and Veteran mines, and connecting them with a single deepening pit that was one mile long and 500 feet deep. A total of 35 trucks ranging from 65-tons to 105-tons capacity were working in the new pit. A second furnace and a third converter were being placed in operation at the McGill smelter to handle the additional ores. (New York Times, January 29, 1967) (Keith Albrandt gives the date of abandonment as January 12, 1969)
Mining of Ruth Pit commenced; 60 million tons of overburden were removed before ore was reached in 1971.
The mines were closed and ore trains to McGill discontinued.
The following comes from the March 1979 issue of Pacific News:
Kennecott Copper's smelter at McGill and facilities at East Ely, Nevada have been idle since early 1978 due to pollution control restrictions placed on the firm by the federal government.
At this time, Kennecott reportedly is repairing and upgrading the affected facilities and could have them back in operation by the end of May. At that time, Kennecott's subsidiary Nevada Northern Railway would begin hauling concentrates into the smelter from Utah and will bring copper cakes out of McGill for delivery to Kennecott's Garfield, Utah and Baltimore, Maryland plants. Currently, there are three diesel locomotives assigned to the Nevada Northern: the road's own EMD SD7 401 and Alco RSD2's 105 and 109, both displaced from Kennecott ore haul service at the Ruth pit at Kimberly. The Alcos are used only as backup for the SD7. The rest of Kennecott's Nevada Mines diesel fleet has been transferred to the copper company's Utah operations (PACIFIC NEWS, November, 1978). The two electric locomotives at McGill smelter are idle, but await the possible service call in May.
Operations on the Nevada Northern are made on an as-needed basis and no particularschedule is being followed. When the train does operate, it usually leaves East Ely in the early morning and returns the next day. The crew ties up for the night at the Southern Pacific connection at Cobre. The majority of the railroad's traffic in recent months has been incoming powerhouse coal and bad order freight cars bound for the Nevada Northern shops. Recently the railroad began repairing freight cars for other railroads and shippers. If the work increases in volume, it will be moved to the railroad's East Ely shops. (Pacific News, March 1979, page 24, reported by Ken Meeker)
Last passenger excursion trains operated from Cobre to East Ely and East Ely to Copper Flat.
June 15, 1983
McGill smelter was shut down indefinitely, due to the smelter not being able to secure sufficient supplies of copper concentrates to keep the smelter in operation. (Deseret News, June 16, 1983; "Wednesday")
(During 1989-1993 the facilities were demolished and the site was reclaimed, including approximately 4,000 acres of tailings surface.)
June 20-21, 1983
Last Nevada Northern Railway freight operated from East Ely to Cobre and return using SD7 no. 401. Nevada Northern ceased operations.
A predecessor of Alta Gold Co. obtained a lease from Kennecott to mine gold in the Robinson district.
October 19, 1985
Kennecott Copper Corporation donated the East Ely depot, building including all furnishings and records, the transportation building, the wooden freight shed and 2,000 feet of track in front of the depot to the recently formed White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation, Inc.
May 24, 1986
Kennecott donated Baldwin 4-6-0 no. 40, four wooden coaches and the rip track building to the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation.
Gold mining was resumed in the Robinson district beginning at the Star Pointer deposit.
April 22, 1987
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power purchased the dormant Nevada Northern Railway from Cobre to McGill Junction (to preclude its abandonment) for proposed coal-fired power plant near Cherry Creek.
Kennecott donated the remainder of its assets including 32 miles of former Nevada Northern Railway trackage between McGill Junction and Keystone, the complete East Ely complex of machine shops, roundhouse, yards and rolling stock, the McGill Depot, and all historic buildings on the mainline between Cobre and Ely including the Cherry Creek Depot to the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation.
Alta Gold Co. entered into a joint venture with Magma Copper Co. to buy all mining rights from Kennecott, with the principal intent of resuming copper mining in the district.
Magma Copper Company purchased all mining rights and became the sole owner of the mining property.
After restoration to its 1907 appearance, the East Ely depot is opened to the public as the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum, a unit of the Nevada State Railroad Museum, and staffed with a full-time curator.
January 1, 1995
Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation began operations as a rail common carrier to operate the abandoned railroad properties of the former Nevada Northern Railway.
Pre-production mining began.
Magma Copper Company was acquired by multi-national BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary Co., Limited). Operation was organized as BHP Copper North America, Robinson Operations.
February 6, 1996
First shipment of concentrate arrives at Shafter interchange with the Union Pacidfic and subsequently railed 1,745 miles to the BHP smelter in San Manuel, Arizona.
June 7, 1996
BHP Nevada Railroad Company acquired freight operations of the Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation, which had operated the former Nevada Northern Railway since 1995.
June 25, 1999
BHP ceased Robinson mining operations. Facilities put on "care and maintenance" status.
July 9, 1999
Last BHP ore train left Riepetown and passed Ruth at 10:45am on its way to East Ely and finally the Union Pacific interchange at Shafter, Nevada.
Diesel and Electric Locomotives
Nevada Northern Private Car, Cyprus -- Information about the steel business car built in 1913 that served as D.C. Jackling's private car until it was sold in 1943.
Keith Albrandt's Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County -- Coverage includes Nevada Northern, and Kennecott's Nevada Mines Division and its predecessor companies.
Keith Albrandt's Timeline of Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County -- The basic events of the operations.
History Of Nevada Mines Division, Kennecott Copper Corporation by Russell R. Elliott (1912-1998), an unpublished manuscript completed in 1956, in the possession of Steve Swanson. (PDF, 193 pages; 1MB)
"Nevada Consolidated Copper Company" (in three parts) by Arthur B. Parsons, Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 122, Part 1 (History of the Enterprise) in March 5, 1921, pages 325-334; Part 2 (Steam Shovel Mining) in April 16, 1921, pages 525-534; Part 3 (Underground Mining) in May 21, 1921, pages 709-716 (link to Internet Archive)