In 1853 or 1854 one Leonardo Serrano, a native Californian, applied to the Board of Land Commissioners, then in session in California, claiming a Mexican grant of five leagues of land, including that tract known as the Rancho de Temescal. After a careful investigation, his claim was rejected, and the land, like other Government land, lay open to settlement until 1859. Then tin was discovered near Serrano’s home, be having died in the meantime. On the announcement of this valuable discovery, Abel Stearns, of Los Angeles, purchased from Serrano’s widow her interest in the property. Litigation was now necessary to secure a good title to the land. Stearns appealed from the decision of the Land Commissioners to the United States District Court, from which, after much delay, he obtained a decree entitling him to five leagues of land. Pending this decision, other miners had ” located ” the land according to the milling laws, and these parties now appealed to the Supreme Court at Washington. That august body, in 1857, reversed the finding of the lower court, thus making the mines and the giant claimed public lands. In 1880 a company began to exploit these tin mines, placing a large force of workmen there; but these would-be developers also were driven out by the ceaseless litigation. In these mines, the only locality in the United States where tin has been found in paying quantities, ore is found containing 60 per cent of tin. Yet, owing to the framing of our laws they are lying idle, yielding up naught of a potential rich income from them. In a recent issue of the American Artisan appears the following: The Temescal Tin District, limited, has been registered in London, with a capital of £350,000 in 348,000 ordinary shares of £1 and 200 founders’ shares of £10 each, to acquire for any interest therein, and to explore, work and turn to account in tin, gold, silver, copper or other mines, mining and other rights, and other land and property in California and elsewhere, and in particular to acquire the mineral and the mining and the water rights of the San Jacinto estate, situate in San Bernardino County, South-ern California, and for that purpose to carry into effect a contract purporting to be made between the San Jacinto Tin Company of California and the Temescal Tin District, limited.
The Amargosa and Death Valley borax deposits, controlled by San Francisco capitalists, are claimed by able authorities to be the largest in the world. There is a large deposit of borate of lime seven miles from Daggett, east of Calico, sixty miles east and north of Silver Valley are found two of the largest mountains of salt in the United States, on the line of the Atlantic & Pacific railway and one on the proposed line of the Utah Southern Railroad. There are also salt works at Salton, east of Indio, owned by the Southern Pacific Railway, which has run a branch road there.
Two mines at Black Hawk recently sold for $350,000. There is here an enormous body of ore, probably 200,000 tons in sight, of low grade but easy to work. A 10-stamp mill is building, with more in prospect if the result is satisfactory.
The Ord district contains, besides its gold, some very rich copper ledges. The Lava bed district, at the southeastern end of Silver valley, is very rich in chlorides, silver and lead predominating.
A 10-stamp mill is soon to be built at Oro Grande, which camp is considered to have assured a great future. At Twenty-nine Palms a 5-stamp mill is running, with fifteen stamps soon to be added.
Near Daggett Station, which is the base of supplies for Calico, Death valley, and the surrounding country, are found immense deposits of specular iron, pronounced by experts the best in the United States. From Daggett to the Colorado river, north of the mountains, is that territory known as ” the desert,” rich in gold, silver, copper, lead and antimony. In fact it may be said that almost every known variety of mineral is found in this district. Limestone is superabundant. Near the Colorado River are deposits many miles long, of iron. Garnets are found in some districts. Borax is found in great quantities. Asbestos, gypsum, and niter beds are here. Salt is found, also, at Armagosa. Marble, granite and limestone are in abundance, to be mentioned by districts hereafter. From Victor, forty miles from San Bernardino, on the California Southern, is shipped white marble, the finest for building purposes. Some 1,500 men are employed in the quarries at this point. Granite forms a great industry on the Mohave, where 150 men are constantly quarrying this stone for shipment to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Negotiations are pending for large quarries of working marble in Holcomb valley. At Mentone, in Mill creek canon, eighteen miles from San Bernardino, is quarried a fine brown sandstone, extensively used in building the new hall of records at the county seat, and of which large orders are sent to San Francisco. Within fourteen miles of San Bernardino there are other large deposits of black, white and variegated marble, which have been examined by Eastern capitalists, who will probably purchase and work them. But by far the most important development of this industry in the county, is the quarry plant and works on Stover mountain, where the California Marble Company on March 1, 1887, established itself for the exploiting of this element, employing about forty-five workmen, and using the latest improved machinery to the value of many thousands of dollars. There are three quarries, yielding different kinds of marble, one of which is used principally for the production of lime, to burn which there are on the ground large kilns of the latest patent; these, however, are not running at the time of the present writing, owing to the light demand for lime (March, 1890). The waste rock is converted into crushed marble, and shipped in immense quantities to Los Angeles, San Francisco and the other cities, for street grading. The marble quarries at these works is graded ac-cording to its various beautiful colors, as follows: fine white, found in abundant quantities; light variegated, also abundant; dark variegated, plentiful, used for mantel-shelves, table-tops, columns, etc.; light gray or drab, very abundant; crystal white, very plentiful; sea green, in ample quantities, being used for shelves, table, slabs, tiling, etc.; brown, such as is used in jewelry settings, etc., the which is rated as rare, although of late there has been unearthed here a large deposit, in which are found blocks two feet square; light blue, which is also rare; and black, which is here found in abundance, although it is known to exist in only three other quarries in the world, they being in Mexico, in Russia and in Egypt. The California stone carries a trace of silver, and it is deemed superior in luster and in finish to those of Russia or Egypt. The uses of such stone are very numerous, and that from Colton is manufactured into all kinds of face work for building, wainscoting, tiling, mantels, hearthstones, panels, columns, cemetery work, top slabs for furniture, etc., fonts, altars, imposing stones, vases, etc., etc. The staircases, columns, paneling and wainscoting to the value of $30,000, of the new Academy of Sciences in San Francisco will be constructed of the marble from these quarries, where many of the pieces, already completed, are ready for shipment, being of exceptional beauty. The supply of this valuable stone is practically inexhaustible, Stone mountain being 400 feet high, and of 160 to 200 acres base area. The existence of this marble has been known since the period of American occupation but its working, safe for lime, is of very recent date. The durability of this marble is one of its strongest features. It is unfading in color, as it contains no iron, its coloration being due entirely to the presence of graphite. Professor Jackson makes it the least absorbent of stones he has tested. Its crushing strength is 17,095 pounds to the square inch, as compared to about 8,000 pounds strength in ordinary granite, while Quincy granite crushes under something over 11,000 pounds to the square inch. This deposit is denuded, and is worked from above by drifting, whereas most quarries are worked from below. This advantage is obvious. Some of the slabs cut here are of great size. One section of stone as cut measures 60 x 18 x 12 feet. The quarry is situated at the junction of two trans-continental railways, and its great importance has caused it to be completely encircled by the tracks of both, the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific, which mutually concede the right of way.
Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California: embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of lower California.