Saturday, April 8, 2017

Mojave’s Lost River of Gold - Kokoweef Mountain

In 1933, a number of newspaper articles appeared across Southern California extolling the grandeur and beauty of recently discovered massive limestone caves within the Mojave’s Providence Mountains near the old Bonanza King Mine. Known today as Mitchell Caverns.
Legend has it that miners first learned of a vast hidden treasure from three Indian brothers -- Oliver, Buck and George Peysert. Inspired by tribal lore, the Peysert brothers had set off sometime between 1903-05 in search of riches, said to be centered around the 6,037-foot Kokoweef Mountain.
Kokoweef is situated three miles south of Mountain Pass in California and about 19 miles west of the Nevada state line on Interstate 15.

Photograph of the Mitchell Caverns on October 17, 1934
Within six weeks of their arrival the Peysert brothers had gained access to a subterranean cave system via Kokoweef’s Crystal Cave -- one of three solution cavities inside the peak that developed along fault contacts. After exploring miles of serpentine labyrinth interspersed with deep vertical karst and vast limestone ledges, an enormous underground river materialized. The black sand was rich in placer gold.
With as much gold-laden sand as they could carry, the three began their ascent out of the cavern -- but tragedy struck when brother George plunged into the river to his death. The two brothers made their way back to civilization, then allegedly deposited more than $57,000.
The legend further suggests that the brothers never revisited Kokoweef again, as a tribal curse forbade them from entering the cave after a death. The area has a rich diversity of mineral wealth. Standard Mines Company shipped thousands of tons of copper ore rich in gold and silver at the turn of the century, and signs of early Spanish mines can be discerned on ledges and rock outcrops throughout the area.

In 1935 Herman Wallace and some other investors formed the Crystal Cave Mining Corporation. By 1939 they began tunneling an adit to connect with Crystal Cave -- this was unsuccessful. Undeterred, they attempted another adit from Kokoweef Cave, but in the process discovered something else -- high-grade zinc ore. The 1942 ban on the extraction of non-strategic metals during wartime brought the operation to a standstill.
By 1972, a new group under the auspices of Concave Mining Company leased the patented Kokoweef claim and were soon looking for the River of Gold. To offset expenses, they conducted public tours for $2.50 per person and hawked mineral specimens by the truckload. In 1974, after investors revolted over embezzlement allegations, a new company formed, Legendary Kokoweef Caverns, Inc., which proceeded to issue new unregistered stock and interest bearing notes. A horizontal 750-foot tunnel under Crystal Cave, along with a 150-foot inclined raise sited upward, were completed allowing them to vigorously clean out debris from the bottom of the cave network. However they too abandoned their lease after going broke.
By the mid-1980s, a North Las Vegas military surplus store owner named Larry Hahn had taken the helm as head of Explorations Inc. of Nevada, which reorganized in 2006 as Kokoweef, Inc., with Hahn appointing himself as president/treasurer along with a 51-percent stockowner share in the corporation.

Today day-to-day operations are run by a small group of amateur investor volunteers. The River of Gold remains undiscovered.