Odd History: My Prize Rawhide Bottle,A Different Lost Mine Story, Ten Mile Mine,




My Prize Rawhide Bottle
     It was a beauty  as   it came out of the bottle hole.  I, and  the other collectors I eventually showed it to, were 
convinced that I had found a  real wooden molded bottle.
     It had lovely vertical lines that definitely looked like wood grain and even whittle marks around the neck.  In addition to this, it was a rarity.  During my time at Rawhide, it was the only bottle we found that exhibited these characteristics.  Not even a chip from an equal candidate surfaced.  
     After a little debate, and some beer, my bottle digging buddies decided I had a rare pre 1850 blown into a wooden mold booze bottle.
     Part of all that is true.  It was blown into a mold, a metal mold, probably in Holland, where the majority of these bottles were made.  The distinctive marks were a result of the mold's fabrication and the manufacturing process.  They were sold around the world and were used by distillers who didn't want to pay to have their names etched in the glass. They are a common form and were used to bottle gin between 1890 and 1910.  So common that they are used to date dumps and townsites.
     Rawhide, founded in 1906, fits right into this time frame.  The bottle makes a good representative of the town.  A town built more on pitch and promotion than substance.  The bottle looks better than it turned out to be.  Long aged brandy never touched its glass!  Cheap gin was the best it would have had.  Still, it is a pretty thing when it's turned in the light!


(The bottle is on its way to the Mineral County Museum to join the rest of the Dorothy and Barbara Powell Rawhide collection.)




A Different Lost Mine Story

    This one starts about 1900, when all of the 
West blossomed with hundreds of mining camps, some large,some small.
 And there were even more prospectors out in the 
big empty looking for their own fortunes. One  of these made  enough of a strike that he thought it time to look for a wife.       
     Too many years alone had made him not very social.  He was a very quiet man, almost frozen in his demeanor. The local women of any age just weren't interested.  So, in desperation, he contacted a marriage brokering agency and sent for a bride.
    There were a few letters between them.  And she sent a photo to him.  A photo showing a pretty woman, not young, not old with beautiful blonde hair.  He mostly kept that photo to himself only showing it to his closest friends.  It inspired him.  He started to clean up his mining cabin.  He shook out enough gold from his hardscrabble claim to buy his intended some lovely furniture including a parlor reed organ.  Carefully, he got his bride's measurements, went to San Francisco and had beautiful, and expensive, clothing made for 
her.
    The day arrived.  The train pulled into the small Nevada town closest to his claim.  (It wasn't close!  He lived more than a hundred miles from town.)  And he met the love of his life.  She was just as pretty as her photo.  Some claimed she looked startled when she met him.  But, if she did, she kept it hidden.  She had a firm chin and it came up.  Rumor was she was a widow and had been thrown out by her husband's family. She'd made the decision to marry and marry she would.
    The local women may not have been interested in marrying him, but they were neighborly, they got together, made a regular feast out at his mine site, and fetched a preacher from town.  They made sure the marriage got off to a proper start.  The celebration was a grand one.  Everybody had a great time.  Then they went home leaving the two newly weds to their honeymoon.
    That was the problem.  They were alone.  Almost strangers.  And the poor old miner had almost forgotten how to talk.  She chattered at him her words spilling into the room and vanishing.  She kept trying.  Through the first week, then the second.  She made him meals and cleaned the little cabin til it was spotless.  And the desert closed in on her.  She wanted green.  She wanted flowers.  She wanted trees.  Not the endless wind and the long horizon of the Black Rock.  She did try.  Finally, she became almost as silent as her new husband.   No more chattering.  No more trying to engage him. 
     One day he left to go into town.  He didn't think to take her being used to going in alone.  He left her alone. Too alone.  She took part of his stash of gold, the other horse, and rode into one of the other towns along the railroad line.  She took the horse to the stable, paid for its keep, and bought a ticket for San Francisco.  
    The miner, when he came home, looked about for her.  But, when he saw the other horse was gone, he knew.  He went into a frenzy.  He started with just cleaning out all of the clothing he'd had made for her.  (She'd taken very little of it.)  Once it was stacked outside he couldn't just throw it around the hill where he hauled his trash.  He didn't want to ever see anything that reminded him of her.  He hauled it back to a tunnel he'd driven into the mountain.  A tunnel that hadn't even paid for the effort of drilling it.  He pulled all of the clothing and finery into the back of that tunnel and stood for just a moment. He knew what he had to do next.  
     One after another he brought out the dresser with its mirror and beautiful carved frame, the rocker, and finally, the heaviest and hardest to wrestle into the tunnel, the reed organ.  Once everything was stashed in the back, he 
built a bulk head.  Slowly, and very carefully, he walled everything up.  He set a light shot off at the mouth of the tunnel and caved it closed.  
He never mentioned her again.  Nor did he ever clear out that tunnel.  It is still there, somewhere in the Jacksons.  Though I suspect by now that if the mountain hasn't caved over it, the packrats will have found it and nested there.  Still...
    This place is typical of the mining cabins of the time.  The old timer's cabin is long gone.  But this gives an idea of what the bride found for her honeymoon.  And, how isolated she was.
Ten Mile Mine


     There isn't much left of the old head frame.  Its bones have been picked by generations of timber thieves.  They only stopped when self preservation overrode their greed.   Pull many more timbers and the whole thing could collapse sending you on a one way ride to the bottom!  That shaft, as I recall  my father saying, is approximately four hundred feet deep!
     It amazes me that so much was taken over the years.  Taken, and to my knowledge, nobody fell down that shaft! 
     Ten mile was primarily a gold mine though they also shipped silver,  During WWII the mine produced something much more common, quartz!
     Clear, as perfect as a natural crystal could get, quartz.  At the time, Ten Mile produced significant amounts of these crystals.  Some were used in radios.  (When slices of crystals are coupled with vacuum tubes, their constant frequency can be changed into a radio signal.)  I suspect most of the crystals were used for this purpose.  That was the reason given for harvesting so many crystals.
     I hope some of them made it into a much more secret application, the Norden bombsight.  The very best quartz was used for the bombsight's optics.  This one piece of tech is credited with giving the Allies distinct advantage in the war.  Maybe some of that advantage started at a gold mine in Humboldt County!
     On the home front it required a lot of work to fill those orders.  Getting good quality quartz was so important to the mine (And the war effort!) that miners were assigned to spend time each day sorting through crystals.
     It was a boring, time consuming job.  They were instructed to discard any that had even the tiniest flaw.  And there were a lot to go through.  They didn't complain.  They felt they were doing something special for all their friends and family who were already called up.
     I'd like to find their discard pile.  Father remembered the failures being thrown into a gully on the mine property.  He took me out there and we looked.  No luck.  He couldn't remember exactly where.  Not too surprising!  In just a little bit he was called up and went to war himself.  Memories of Ten Mile dropped away swallowed up by his service to his country.
     Until one day I placed a crystal I had found in his hand.  He turned it over and shook his head. "It's pretty but it'd never make the cut"  He spoke with the authority of an expert.  Then he explained where he'd learned to judge crystals, and how Ten Mile, and its miners, did their bit for the war effort.





The Great Auk's Head

The desert sands toss up the most amazing things.  This one is almost a whimsey.  Not important, not a great archaeological find but unusual.
    This bottle traveled a long distance to be cast up in the alkali and gravel of Rawhide Canyon.  Research on the web indicates that it was probably a ginger wine bottle.  Imported ginger wine at that.  This bottle came from England.
    There were two
companies using the Great Auk's Head trademark.  One a form of Guiness stout produced by a Ross.  The other, ginger wine, made by another Ross.   I've never seen a beer bottle with lots of little stars in the glass so I'm betting on the ginger wine.

    A partial solution to a long standing mystery.  My mother found the bottle and to quote her, "I don't know if they drank it, rubbed it on their tummy, or brushed it into their hair!"  Odds are that they drank it.
    Not a fine vintage wine either.  The stuff was made of fermented raisins and ginger.  Not a combination you'd serve at a fancy dinner!  Chances are the ancestors didn't serve it that way either.  It would have been used as a medicinal.  The ginger good for settling stomach problems and the concoction having enough alcohol in it to take the edge off of any other problems they might have had.
    Thinking of the trip it made, from its manufacturing site, to the shippers, onto a freighter, across the Atlantic, landfall, (Probably New York), then across most of a continent, finally Rawhide.  There someone with an iron palate consumed it and the bottle was tossed.
    There it stayed.  Out in the elements for decades, ignored until my mother found it.  Amazing that such a fragile item survived.
    It survived better than Rawhide.  Time has not treated the told town well.  It dwindled down. Its citizens left.  At the time we lived there only two families lived in the canyon.   Now there are none.  Rawhide canyon is an open pit gold mine.
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