Ruby Hill

In 1869, an Indian led Owen Farrel, M.G. Clough, and Alonzo Monroe to a rich strike, and the men subsequently located two mines: the Buckeye and the Champion. With the rush to Eureka in the early 1870s, the camp of Ruby Hill developed near the mines. In 1871, the Eureka Consolidated mine was organized, with the original discoveries at its core; the Richmond Mining Co. was founded about the same time. By 1873, several businesses and mining companies operated in town and that year the post office was opened. In 1875, the Ruby Hill Railroad was completed to the smelters in Eureka; dubbed the "3x3" due to its three-foot gauge and three mile length.

Ruby Hill reached its peak in 1878, when its population reached 2500. The town had an array of stores and shops, schools, a theater, Miners' Union, brewery, and Methodist, Episcopal, and Catholic churches. Within the next two years, two newspapers were in publication: the Ruby Hill Mining Report and Mining News. In 1880, the population was still recorded at over 2000, but by the mid-1880s, mining slowed and Ruby Hill began to decline. In 1885, the population was down to only 700. Activity slowed until the turn of the century, and in 1901 the post office finally closed.

Ruby Hill was quiet for the next few years, but in 1905 a revival began with the merger of the Eureka Consolidated and Richmond companies to form the Richmond-Eureka Consolidated Mining Company (controlled by the U.S. Smelting, Refining, and Mining Co.) A large, $200,000 smelter was completed the next year. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm in 1910 washed out the railroad, all but brought that revival to an end.

There was some work in subsequent years, most notably by the Eureka Corporation, Ltd. In 1937, that corporation took a lease out on the Richmond-Eureka property. They started to sink the new Fad shaft in the beginning in 1941. Following a 1944 fire that destroyed much of their complex, new buildings and a steel headframe were erected. Reaching a depth of 2500 feet by 1949, the Fad was plagued by flooding at lower levels. Nevertheless, work has continued sporadically into recent years, with a large pit operation now located just to the north. Exploratory drilling was underway at Ruby Hill during my 2022 visit, making the site's future uncertain.

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