Ghost Towns and Mines



This is a cluster of small mines in the Silver Peak Range of western Nevada. There are signs indicating mining activity here began in 1930 and the camp was occupied into the 1990’s. Apparently it still sees occasional activity. The primary occupant of the site was Duke Cleland, and the site is maintained and protected by the Cleland family.

I wish I could have met Duke Cleland. Judging from all the whimsical personal touches he left behind, he must have been a real “character”! There are signs on everything, made of stamped aluminum or welded steel. Some indicate the purpose of the object or when it was made, some just have his name, and some have humorous lines of verse about mining. There are windmills and whirligigs everywhere, made from various bits of recycled junk. Hundreds of glass bottles adorn odd sculptures, a building, and even a hillside. And of course there are the many practical devices assembled from scrap, typical of the ingenuity and determination seen in many small mining camps.

This site can be divided into three distinct sections. The first is the lower camp, consisting of a picturesque one-room cabin and not much else. The second is the main camp. Here there is a cabin with multiple rooms and a large deck or porch. This cabin is sealed and I haven’t entered it. Next to it is a smaller cabin, apparently filled with junk and debris. There are also several sheds, outhouses and other small structures, and a mine tunnel which appears to be collapsed. The third section is where the most significant mines are, along with a three-sided building that must have housed tools and equipment.

My first visit to this site was in July, 2011. At that time I didn’t see the mine area, which is located around the hill from the main camp. I returned in August 2014 and documented the mines. A small trailer has been added to the main camp sometime after my first visit.

Because there is so much to see at this site, I’ve decided to provide a separate page for each area of interest. Below you’ll see a few photos of each feature. Clicking on any of these will take you to that structure’s page, where you will be able to see many more photos showing all details of the structure and its surroundings.

Updated May 21, 2016.

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North Star Mines:  Duke Cleland

New! See Dave Wahl’s photos of miner Duke Cleland, owner of the North Star Mines.

North Star Mines:  The Lower Camp

(Click the title or any photo to see more pics of this structure and its surroundings.)

Here is a classic miner’s cabin, covered on all four sides with flattened cans. Corrugated metal covers the roof. The interior is accessible and full of interesting artifacts -- please do not remove or destroy anything! Unfortunately the cabin has been invaded by mice and rats, so you wouldn’t want to camp inside it.

I photographed this part of the site in 2011.

Right: An odd sculpture or monument along the trail into the camp.

North Star Mines:  Main Camp

In addition to the two large cabins, there are several small structures here and a collapsed mine. The entrance of the mine is surrounded by welded metal signs.

The camp is also home to lots of junk, old equipment, scrap metal, and piles of debris.

Most of my photographs of this area were taken during my first visit, in 2011. I’ve added some new shots from my 2014 trip.

A narrow track for ore cars leads from the camp area, to the major mines on the other side of the hill.

North Star Mines:  The Mines

Follow the tracks around the hill and discover the mines and work shed. The large, three-sided shed is decorated with large glass jugs and of course a windmill. There are various pieces of old equipment and junk lying around, as well as compressed air tanks, water barrels, and rusty cans.

The track extends out of the nearest mine adit (tunnel). A second track branches off to the mine dump, where waste rock from the mine was disposed of.

A third track comes from another adit up the canyon, crosses over the first track, and runs past the back of the shed to another dump for waste rock.

Left: Interior of one of the mines.

Right: A welded inscription on an old compressed air tank:

Cleland Brothers Gold Mining

Palmetto Nev.

1946 - 1966

It’s a rough go

For short dough

The rock is hard

And the pay is low