Atolia & The Scheelite Rush

Prospectors Scored and the Rush was on. That was then this is now. Only the Wind Still Plays Here

During a major miner's strike in Randsburg in 1903, two prospectors, Charles Taylor and Tom McCarthy, made a discovery of Tungsten Ore some miles South of the mining town of Red Mountain. Because the Tungsten Ore is a heavier mineral than most of the surrounding material, prospectors and miners were able to pan it from the white Scheelite sands. Also, they worked an area that became known as 'The Spudfield', so named for the potato like Scheelite chunks so commonly collected then and even occasionally found now.

The claims here were bought up in 1906 by a Mr Atkins and E. B. DeGolia. By 1907 the railroad had reached the camp. The town and mining district hence received its name from the contraction of the last names of these two men; Atkins, DeGolia, and has thereafter been known as Atolia.

Finding CaWO3, Calcium Tungstate with Short Wave Ultraviolet Lamps and Scheelite's legendary fluorescent response.

The largest mining operation was located just East of what is now US Highway 395 . Exploration of the site suggests that the Atolia Mill has had 4 incarnations. One can guess at this just from a perusal of the appearance and condition of the derelict facitlies. The original mill is represented by the mere massive concrete foundations which are all that remain of the first mill. Adjacent to that on the South side is the next mill which is rapidly being reclaimed by the merciless winds. The next structure to the South appears to be the third mill. Of the cluster of buildings, it appears to be the least damaged by neglect. Still the blank foundations hold a portent and a promise. The desert, as dry and lonely as it is, is relentless and will reclaim its own.

Set apart from the 3 oldest mill sites, is the last of the bunch. Even this mill, however, has been abandoned for ages. Of the buildings on the site, it is perhaps the stoutest, but eventually even it shall succumb.

Inside this building however are a number of interesting pieces of machinery, among which is the large Joshua Hendy Ball Mill shown to the right.

Not far from this last mill, is a moderately-sized building of a somewhat symmetrical shape. This is the assay laboratory of the Atolia Mill. It is not the only one ever at this mill, but it was the last of the lot. Inside are several exhaust hoods, steel bottles for such gases as Sulpher Dioxide and Oxygen and substantial volumes of unidentified chemicals spilled all over the floors of this structure.

Scattered about the Atolia District are myriad headframes, miner's shacks, hoisting houses and ladders descending into the unknown depths of the landscape.

The most impressive structure on the West side of Highway 395 is the huge and massive timber headframe of the Union Mine. The concrete collar is currenty covered with chain link welded into place as the steep incline of this large shaft is deep, perhaps as much as 700 feet. At one time, this was structured as a double compartment shaft, but now the timbering of that is long gone. Only the headframe towers now as a conspicuous landmark of the Union Mine.

Both East and West of the Union headframe are large quarried-out areas, some of which have tunnels burrowed into the Scheelite bearing rock beneath the windswept desert mesquite.

The landscape itself seems at times reminiscent of the battlefields of Verdun. Pocked with endless craters and mounds of relocated earth and rock. In certain portions of the Atolia Mining District, one can find gaping gashes in the earth. Quarried-out canyons where the miners hauled all of that substance out of the ground and ran it through the mills.

View Large Atolia Map

Atolia is located on US 395, just South of Red Mountain and North of Kramer Junction