Saturday, December 05, 2009
The Fading Ruins of the Old Mining Town of Seven Troughs
The site of Seven Troughs is evidence of the temporary nature of mining camps. With only a few stone foundations and a rusting headframe to mark its location, it won’t be long before it is completely unmarked.
Seven Troughs is located about 30 miles northwest of Lovelock. To reach the site, head directly north of central Lovelock on State Route 398 (North Meridian Road), then turn west on SR 399. Continue for 27 miles, following the signs.
Gold was discovered in the Seven Troughs Canyon in 1905 (the surrounding mountain range is also named Seven Troughs). Within two years, the area experienced a boom, which attracted several hundred miners.
The mines were considered reasonably remarkable, producing more than $100,000 per ton (in turn-of-the-century dollars). By 1908, a town had developed that included a post office, saloons, cafes, hotels, a school district, a water company and various shops.
Regular freight wagons carried supplies to and from the railroad station at Lovelock. In 1911, the "Kindergarten Mill," a 50-ton cyanide processing plant, was built at the east end of the town.
Photos from that time (several are featured in Stanley Paher's excellent book, "Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps") depict a substantial community of more than a dozen wooden commercial buildings, lining the canyon, with a handful of homes on the surrounding hillside.
The town prospered for nearly a decade, then began a rapid decline after 1918, when the ore was depleted. By the 1920s, Seven Troughs was abandoned.
Today, visitors must travel a fairly lonely road to reach the remains of Seven Troughs. After first driving about 12 miles on a paved highway (399), you must turn right (there's a sign indicating the way to Seven Troughs) onto a maintained dirt road.
Continue for about 10 miles across the wide expanse of the appropriately named Sage Valley. At this point, you will see a small cluster of buildings under some mature green trees. This is the site of Mazuma, another early 20th century mining town.
The homes and buildings are on private property please so don't disturb the residents.
The dirt road to Seven Troughs continues northwest from here (you'll find another sign). These last few miles are more rugged and a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
You start passing some of the visible "trash" frequently found near these old mining camps, including an old safe, piles of rusted metal refuse and mounds of mineral tailings lining the canyon walls.
About two miles from Mazuma you reach the stone foundations of an old mill site, adjacent to the road. Scattered throughout the area are other fragments, including old wood, tin sheets, brown rusted metal hoops and other materials.
On a hillside, across a deep gully in the center of the canyon, is a rusted headframe, which, upon closer scrutiny, appears to be of more recent vintage (it doesn't, however, look to have been used in at least a few decades).
Next to the headframe is an old metal shack that appears to still contain a generator with cables leading into a vertical mine shaft. Naturally, be very careful when exploring any site, like this, that contains open mine shafts.
Farther up the canyon are a couple of mounds of weathered wood, which, from studying the old photos, seem to be the collapsed ruins of two old miner's shacks.
From the look of the canyon, it was probably fortunate Seven Troughs didn't develop into much of a permanent community. The terrain shows indications of having been scarred by flashfloods that have swept through the area over the years.
For more information about Seven Troughs, contact the Lovelock/Pershing County Chamber of Commerce, Box 821, Lovelock, NV 89419, 775-273-7213.