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One of the most prestigious mills along the Copper Belt Railroad is the Blue Stone Mill which can be seen from the city of Mason Below in the Yerington Mining District. Such mills are true temples of their time and although not much remains of this small ghost town the mill is a monolithic wonder. I spent nearly five years dreaming of exploring upper old Mason because I had heard and seen photos numerous times of its mill. With that being said the town overlooks Mason Valley below and resides in the beautiful Singatse Mountains.  Out of all the mines found within the district the Bluestone is the oldest as copper deposit discoveries began in or around the 1880's while I heard in the 1860's attempts to mine copper were made nobody knew at the time how to process it. For those that are not familiar with mining; copper sulfate was often called bluestone based on the hue of the ore brought up from the mines here out west. Once the copper was smelted and processed it would lose its bluish color. Many other mining camps and ghost towns still exist near Mason Nevada all of them I have done research at because truly they all are sister towns of one another.

While many miners filed claims in the area more serious mining began when a Captain J.R. DeLamar owned the Bluestone Mining & Smelter Company. DeLamar operated mines in mills of another famous ghost town named after him in Delamar Nevada often referred to as the widow maker. It was a travesty because nearly all the miners in that town who worked in the mines or even lived near his mill inhaled small glass like dust particles which led to silicosis and eventually death. Some say DeLamar was very inconsiderate towards labor safety despite this factor he was a very wealthy man because he built one of the largest cyanide gold processing mills in the west when he owned mines in the Mercur and Cripple Creek districts. When he operated mills and mines in Delamar Nevada he conducted barrel chlorination processing but soon gave it up for grinding and cyanide methodology. While Delamar mainly took an interest in gold towards the end of the 1800's and early 1900's he had gotten into copper mining when the blue ore was discovered in Bingham Canyon Utah and eventually he funded a copper smelter in the Shasta California Copper District. 
When he sold his mines in Delamar he used that profit to stake claims, build mills and mine in the Yerington District. His Bluestone Mine along with about 20 other claims did connect with the nearby Mason Valley Mine which today is still in operation believe it or not making it one of the largest copper mining operations in the world!

Today not much remains of this massive copper operation as in 1916 a magnetic concentrating plant was built and the furnace was enlarged to sustain 100 tons of copper ore at a time. It was said that about 600 tons of copper ore per day could be smelted and processed on site. By 1917 that number had increased to 1000 tons. While milling and mining transpired in the hills above Mason below in the valley others were involved in ranching as the land was very fertile. The ranchers could raise livestock and grow crops for the miners above the town. Mason also served as the terminus of the Nevada Copper Belt Railroad which also made stops at Wabuska, Yerington, Ludwig, Hudson, Wilson Canyon, Nordyke and Thompson Smelter Nevada. I have hot linked these locations so our viewers can enjoy other sister ghost towns nearby that we have done extensive research with along this historic railroad line. The line was completed in 1911 mainly used to haul freight from Ludwig Nevada where the Nevada-Douglas Consolidated Copper Company was located to the smelter at Thompson which was on the main line of the track about 19 miles North of Nordyke.  The trains regular route would go from Wabuska to Yerington stopping at Mason then down to Nordyke and Wilson Canyon where it went around the Singatse Range northbound to Hudson, Colony and eventually Ludwig Nevada.  I even read that some of the children who attended school use to use the railroad to travel to school.

While some ranchers took advantage of the railroad to transport their crops to these camps miners would just use it to hitch a ride up to the various mining camps. If you were really brave you could hike right over the Singatse Mountains as Ludwig was just on the other side of the range from Mason's Mining operation just a 1.3 mile journey on foot. In 1941 the company that operated the railroad reorganized and in 1942 9 miles of track from Hudson to Ludwig were removed along with 2.5 miles from Wabuska to Thompson. In 1945 passenger service was terminated and the entire line was abandoned in 1947. I can imagine this led to the demise of many of the towns that still were clinging on to hope that one day another boom would transpire. Some towns survived the closing of the railroad others simply faded away. I have driving around the range trying to visit these old mining camps and ghost towns its hard to believe so much is lost.

Mason really was not a large town but by 1914 it had many blocks of houses, shops and stores. It had an estimated population of about 350 people as well but on more then one occasion the town nearly became abandoned. So many of the miners here moved around camp to camp as their were quite a few copper mining operations in the area.  The Bluestone Mining operation was actually quite technical for its time. Many of the mines surrounding the main mill had electrical ore cart trains which would carry the ore to a set of bins along a narrow gauge set of railroad tracks.  Those tracks actually descended right into the heart of Mason Valley where ore could be loaded onto the Copper Belt Railroad and transported to Thompson Smelter.  You can see the ruins of the transformer building that still stand today which controlled the tram cars that connected with the shortline railroad which climbed the hills from Mason City all the way to the mines above the town. The train that ran up to Mason was a 49 ton Heisler Locomotive and when it was decommissioned it was used as a spare switcher for the Blake Brothers Quarry in Richmond California.

The tramway was approximately 6,250' in length in turn six to twelve ore carts carried by electrical locomotives ran to all the mine surrounding the Bluestone. The locomotives would haul the ore to the upper tramway for conveying where 100 tons ore could be moved per hour as it would be loaded onto the trams 48 kegs or as some refer to them as giant buckets. The buckets would carry the ore to the railroad line to ore chutes where they would drop it into the bin thus loading it onto the railroad cars which would descend into Mason Valley where the Copper Belt Railroad would transport it up to Thompson Smelter for processing.  During its hey day this was quite the marvel that Leschen had built sadly very little traces are left of the tram or even the shoreline railroad. Just like the Copper Belt everything had been torn up, removed and sold as scrap. It took nine men to operate the tram two loads and two brakemen at each terminal and one foreman to oversee the operation. The tram had four terminals and it was a very efficient means to haul the copper ore out of the Bluestone Mine along with other claims in the area saving on labor costs. Sadly the tram along with the short railroad line would cease operations in 1929 although the one thing that never changed is copper mining as it still continues even today.  

While the Bluestone Mine stayed in operation well after 1924 when it was taken over by the Mason Valley Mines Company prior to that the Nevada Douglas Company bought them in 1907. So the Bluestone Mines and many of the claims that surround the abandoned mill did have multiple owners. This was a deep mine over 600' in depth with three levels of tunnel systems. The reason why most of the ore was shipped off to other smelters mined here locally is due to the fact that the Bluestone Mill only operated for a mere seven months plus its smelter was not as large as others constructed in the region. Even by looking at photos of the mill one must wonder why someone would invest so much money to build such a great mill only to abandon it. But the truth is other towns had larger smelters therefore production could be increased greatly and their was simply not a need for the Bluestone Mill. The Bluestone Mine actually resides quite closely to the abandoned mill and it had three levels its miners over the years must had watched its deterioration over time. Today if you were to explore the main mine you can only get so far back as the tunnel is collapsed even if you climb over the cave-in eventually it comes to abrupt end. But its massive entrance tells a story about how rich of a copper mine this truly was and all that it entailed. Quite a few mines actually connected with it found throughout the hills below therefore when you look at our photos one can only imagine how vast the subterranean tunnel systems are below your feet.

If it were not for William Boyce Thompson's Mason Valley Mining Company operations in the region the town of Mason may not have been founded in 1908. Prior to that not allot of miners knew how to smelt copper that is why its more common in Nevada in many boom towns to see gold and silver mining operations. But the Singatse Mountains are very rich in copper which led to the growth of area and many boom towns that rose up in the early 1900's. When you go through Mason today you can see the Mason Mining Company operated this massive copper pit mine its so big it has a lake within the pit some folks try to boat on. Not much has changed in Mason their are quite a few ranches more so then mines in operation but remnants of the past can be found throughout the hillsides high above the town and some of them our viewers will get to see on our website along with some beautiful scenic shots of the city below.  I want my viewers to cherish this addition its more of a historical exploration and journey rather then a paranormal one. That does not mean that men did not die in these hills these were dangerous mining operations therefore some unseen energies such as the dearly departed could be present. For us Mason closes a chapter in our book as we had taken a journey along what once was the Old Nevada Copper Belt Railroad although long gone such camps, boom and ghost towns are reminders of what once was

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Lord Rick aka AngelOfThyNight
PGS Founder
Author, Producer, Talk Show Host & Paranormal Investigator

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