The Valley's Gold History

The Imperial Valley is known by geologists as one of the most geologically diverse areas of the Southwestern United States. It is also home "to the earliest recorded mining activity in the State of California."[1] According to legend, a group of boys returned to their camp laden with gold ore. This led the La Sierra de San Pablo mountain range to be renamed as the "Cargo Muchacho Mountains" inspired by the "muchachos cargados" or "loaded boys."[2]

The Free Gold cyanide plant, c. 1900

The Chocolate Mountain range in Imperial Valley has recorded gold mining as far back as 1780. Other mines in the area also date back to the 1780s, some of which operated continuously to the late 1800s.

Mining Towns like Hedges, Ogilby, and Tumco all played significant roles in leading the way to new mines in the area, such as the Picacho Mine, Gold Cross, Guadalupe, and American Girl Mine, which brought in major investors like former California Governor Henry Markham.

Mining continues in Imperial County today at the Mesquite Mine, roughly 10 miles north of Imperial Gold’s planned site.

Hedges, East Neighborhood, c. 1900

Although most mining began in Imperial with the pursuit of gold and silver, more than 25 other minerals were produced in the area between the 1870s and 1960. Imperial County made significant contributions to the military during World War I, producing tungsten[3], and World War II, providing celestite used in flares and tracer ammunition. The wide desert plains of Imperial County also served as a training ground for General Patton and his troops.

The region has also seen the development of other minerals, including manganese, nickel, platinum, clay, marble, zinc, and many others.

There are significant geothermal assets in Imperial County. In the depression era, the Niland gas field area supplied Southern California with ice and was an important economic asset for the county. The area still holds promise for alternative and renewable energy in the future.

Hedges, West Neighborhood, c. 1900

All of this is only some of the long and fascinating history of mining in Imperial County. You can read more here:

At Imperial Gold, we seek to uphold the history of the Imperial Valley as a resource-producing area while using modern mining techniques, minimizing environmental impact and respecting the surrounding communities.