Ingersoll Mine

During July and September of 2017 I made site visits to the Bald Hill Spring site.  I included the Ingersoll Mine (aka Ingersol) as part of that effort.  The mine is located in Dumm Canyon at 32.999916, -107.7222090.  The Ingersoll Mine is located on Bald Hill, west of Forest Road 157 and north of the North Fork of Percha Creek.  

This mine is referenced heavily in The Spell of the Black Range.  At page 10-11, the discussion of life at the Ingersoll begins:  “It was not very long before his" ...(Jay Barnes)…"wandering feet and love of prospecting took him to the headwaters of North Percha Creek, or rather, a tributary of that creek, high in the Black Range, some thirty-odd miles north and west from Lake Valley. Here he made a strike which stirred his wildest dreams to life. He named his mine the Ingersoll, for Robert Ingersoll, whose works he often quoted.  It is an extremely slow and difficult process for one man alone to dig much ore from a mountain, and soon Grandpa had a partner, an Austrian named Raubitzcheck. They built a sturdy one-room log cabin with a good fireplace and soon my grandmother returned from Ft. Wayne."

Igersoll Cabin 2

The cabin is shown above, Louise Sixbey Barnes is the woman to the left, Jay Barnes stands beside her, and “Ruby” Raubitschek is to the right.

"Meanwhile, Grandpa and “Ruby” as they always called him, dug into what they believed would be a fortune.  Grandma and Grandpa and Ruby shared the one room log cabin. Cooking was done in the fireplace with the aid of a good iron Dutch oven. The bunks, as was usual in miner’s cabins, were made of saplings and anchored to the wall, with supporting legs on the side away from the wall. Curtains hung in front of the bunks to give a measure of privacy. I once heard my grandmother remark that Ruby was always very considerate and a perfect gentleman. I do not know just when or why Ruby left, but am under the impression some family matter called him back to the Old Country.

Grandpa was working an exceptionally rich vein. The ore, after being sacked, had to be carried some miles by burro back into an area where a road of sorts made it possible for freight wagons to pick it up for the long haul to Lake Valley — about thirty miles — and from there it went by rail to the smelter. Fairly rich ore was needed to make a profit with these transportation problems.

The vein Grandpa was working on sloped upward through the side of the mountain, and eventually came out under blue sky, which was the end of that particular bonanza. However, there were a number of promising veins seaming the mountain. He had cleared about a thousand dollars on the one rich vein, and on the strength of the very rich ore he had shipped, Mining Capital — I believe with headquarters in Colorado — made an offer for the mine. Grandpa loved the mine too much to sell it outright, but eventually the bidder organized a company in which Grandpa would hold about half the stock and the company would work and develop the mine. Grandpa thought he was getting 51% of the stock, but it somehow turned out that he had only 49%, which proved a great disadvantage later on….(pg 14) My grandfather became very unhappy with the management of the mine as time went by, but his 49% of the stock allowed him no decisive voice in the planning. There were many well-mineralized outcroppings scattered over Ingersol Mountain. I have heard him say that apparently the company thought the whole mountain was made of silver, and instead of following some promising vein as is almost universal practice, they first dug one deep shaft, were disappointed in the results, then tunneled blindly straight into the mountain for a long distance, then decided on an incline, going down at an angle from the end of the tunnel, and finally sank another shaft at the end of the incline! They were taking out considerable ore of a fair grade, but even getting it to the surface was expensive, and with the high cost of transportation — burro back, freight wagon, railway — they were making little or nothing above the cost — perhaps less.  Finally the decision was made at Colorado headquarters to drop the whole operation.  Grandpa’s hands were effectively tied, but his burning faith in the mine and his determination to hang on never wavered.

The company did ask him to do the assessment work necessary to hold title to the mine — a hundred dollars worth of work each year. This he did. The first year the company paid him, and I believe also the second year, about the only cash they had coming in, as they had very few steers old enough to sell at this time.  After that they did not pay him, and did not answer any of his letters. He decided to get the mine back into his own hands.  It was illegal to “jump” a claim one owned, or had an interest in, so after allowing the assessment work to go undone for a year, he arranged for a friend to locate the mine and deed it back to him. So my grandparents stayed on at the Ingersol, with the garden, the chickens, and the milk cows furnishing a good part of their food. Times were very hard everywhere after 1893.

In October of 1897, when I was two years and nine months old, my mother brought me to the Ingersol for what was to be an extended visit. It turned out that this was to be my home until I was sixteen.

The image below is from page 15 of “The Spell of the Black Range” and shows the mine in the late 1880’s.  

Ingersoll Mine - late 1880's


Silver was the primary mineral/element extracted at this site.  Lead was also extracted in sufficient quanities to affect the business case of the mine. The following material was also extracted from the mine; Acanthite, Chalcocite, Chalcopyrite, Chlorargyrite, Galena, Polybasite, and Sphalerite.

In “Geologic Map of the Hillsboro Quadrangle, Sierra and Grant Counties, New Mexico” D. C. Hedlund states that "To the north of Kingston, the Virginia and Ingersoll mines are located along large faults and fissures within Precambrian granitic rocks. At both mines there is extensive sericitization of the granite near the fissure veins and the ores are highly pyritic. The fissure vein at the Ingersoll mine is along N. 80° E.- and N. 85° W.-striking fractures that are locally offset by north-striking faults. The fissure vein at the Ingersoll is about 1,500 ft (457 m) long and 10-20 em thick; the average grade of the ore is about 17.7 ounces per ton (0.55 kg/t). The veins at the Virginia and Ingersoll mines contain sphalerite, galena, chalcopyrite, argentite, polybasite, cerargyrite, and chalcocite. The galena contains as much as 700 ppm silver, and some of the sulfide concentrates from the Ingersoll mine contain 17,800 ppm silver.” (pp. 17-18)

The February 15, 1884 edition of the Black Range newspaper has this to say about the Ingersoll: "J. M. Smith exhibits some handsome specimens of argentiferous galena ore which is the product of some north Percha property recently purchased by him of Jay Barnes and others. There are four claims in the group, the chief one being the Ingersoll, which has a ten inch crevice of solid galena ore that runs forty per cent, lead and any where from twenty-five to fifty ounces silver per ton. Smithy considers that he has a valuable property here, and it certainly appears so.” and on May 30, 1884 it said: “J. M. Smith went down to the Percha this week.  From the best Information that the Range can get Smith's Ingersoll mine on the North Percha is an excellent property and one of the very best of that excellent country. The ore Is of good quality and there is an abundance of it.”

Emery Hale Jr., of Hillsboro/Truth or Consequences, is listed as owning the mine since 1971.

I took the following photographs on September 11, 2017.

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Ingersoll Mine Entrance

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Mine entrance is barred - sort of.

“Up the hill” a barred shaft leads to the adit.

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Ore chute.

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Debris

Ingersoll Mine Location

Location of the Ingersoll Mine north of North Percha Creek.


© Robert Barnes 2018