Yellow Jacket Mine

The initial Yellow Jacket claim was located on May 1, 1859. Due to a lack of surface ore, the claim was staked on a large cropping of quartz. Meanwhile, the Union and Princess claims were located parallel and below. After ore was discovered in a tunnel at the latter claims, the Yellow Jacket claim was floated 300 feet down the hill to cover the findings. Litigation in June 1863 was found in favor of the Yellow Jacket. Following the 1863 suit, work was started on a new shaft and the Yellow Jacket was a decent producer through the 1860s.

The Yellow Jacket's greatest claim to fame is as the site of the worst accident in Nevada mining history. On the morning of April 7, 1869, a fire broke out in the 800-foot level of the Yellow Jacket Mine. Timbers smoldered and collapsed, flooding the Yellow Jacket and neighboring Kentuck and Crown Point mines with poisonous gas. Firefighters entered the mine, but were pushed back by smoke and flames. At least thirty-five miners were lost, though there may have been others that weren't recorded. Some were never recovered. Fortunately, the fire occured during a shift change or loss of life would likely have been much greater. The smoldering levels of the mine were sealed off, and remained hot for many years.

In 1876, John Mackay and his partners took control of the Yellow Jacket and began sinking the New Yellow Jacket (or East Yellow Jacket) Shaft. In November 1880, the shaft reached a depth of 3080 feet and encountered water reaching temperatures of 170°, and the water quickly overtook the pumps. By January 1881, the mines of Gold Hill were flooded above the 2300-foot level and deep mining was ceased. By the end of the year, the South Lateral of Sutro Tunnel reached the shaft, providing easier drainage and saving the pumps 1500 feet of lift, thus allowing deep mining to resume by early 1882. Unfortunately, on February 12, 1882 fast-moving, scalding water was once again encountered and again the lower levels of Gold Hill's mines were flooded. After conflicts arose as to who should pay for pumping the water out, the pumps were finally shut off and the deepest levels of the Gold Hill mines have been underwater since.

In 1920, the Yellow Jacket as well as neighboring properties were purchased by the United Comstock Mines Company, who in 1922 completed a $1.5 million cyanide mill at American Flat, which operated until 1927. Starting in 1935, the Yellow Jacket produced ore once again, this time for the neighboring Crown Point Mill, which operated until 1942. Today, a (reportedly haunted) miner's shack near the original mine is owned by and used as a part of the historic Gold Hill Hotel.

I Visited the Yellow Jacket Mine
4.2.2020, 4.29.2020, & 6.11.2020

Bibliography