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    [California Gold Mining] Randsburg Looking Northeast Rebuilding After the Fire June 1898 - Glass Plate Negative. 8.5" x 6.25". A really great photo from the historians view, this photo shows all the mines on Gold Hill, starting from the left the Monkey Wrench, the Little Butte, the Kinyon, the Wedge, the J.I.C., the Excelsior and the Big Butte (Butte Lode). Below on Butte Avenue may be seen construction of buildings to replace some of those lost in the May 1898 fire. A few buildings are shown on Rand Street that have been moved in or rebuilt. On the east side of Broadway are shown the buildings that survived the May fire only to be lost in the heretofore unknown fire of November 1898. This fire has not been mentioned in the history books written to date. A report on the November fire has been found in the November 8, 1898 edition of the San Francisco Call: "RANDSBURG BARELY ESCAPES DESTRUCTION. Block of Buildings Razed by a Conflagration in the Desert Mining Town. RANDSBURG, Nov. 7. - Randsburg had a narrow escape from another disastrous conflagration to-night. At 8:20 fire started in Callahan's old saloon at the corner of Rand Avenue and Broadway, and soon was raging east on Broadway in the direction of the main part of town. A gale was blowing, and the flames soon communicated to the adjacent buildings, rapidly consuming the Klondike restaurant and a barber shop, the Mojave and Randsburg Stage Company's office, Fry's butcher shop, the new Steam Bakery, the Broadway lodging house and the New York lodging house, where the fire was got under control by the volunteer fire company. The cause of the fire is unknown. The loss will be in the neighborhood of $6,000, and it is said there is no insurance. This was the third fire this town has suffered within the past year. Tonight's blaze consumed the only portion of the town that was left by the other fires. The efficiency of the new water system and the organized Fire Department was severely tested tonight, and that the rest of the town was saved is due to the valiant efforts of its members." Fine condition.

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    Clarence W. Tucker Photograph Collection

    Randsburg, California - Mojave Desert, Circa 1896 - 1898


    Simply spectacular! This collection consists of twenty-seven studio-mounted photographs and ten glass plate negatives taken by pioneer California photographer Clarence W. Tucker (1874-1964). The archive represents the most important and rare grouping of mining camp images to come to market in many years. The photos were found at the bottom of a mine in the Mojave Desert in the 1950s by amateur prospector William Young as documented by a series of articles in Westways Magazine in 1971 and 1972. Not a great deal is known about C. W. Tucker's early days in photography. He was born in Indiana on September 22, 1874 and in 1893 he became a photographer's apprentice in Warsaw, Indiana. In 1895 he came to San Jose, California to visit a cousin and ended up staying in California and working as a photographer until his death in 1964. Tucker settled in the rough mining camp of Randsburg around 1896 and remained there until about 1898. During that time he met and married Grace Doughty and she worked as his assistant from thereafter. In the early 1900s the Tuckers moved to Covina, California where they ran a photography studio until 1950. Tucker could not have avoided being affected by the raw energy of the mining camp at Randsburg and his keen photographer's eye fortunately chronicled its rise from a tent city to a small but booming mining town. His images are possibly the only photographic record extant of Randsburg's glory days as an Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) search shows no images by Tucker taken during his time in Randsburg in institutional holdings.


    Randsburg's decade-long boom began in 1895 with the discovery of rich gold and mineral deposits in the El Paso mountains in the northwestern Mojave Desert. John Singleton, a hard-rock miner, in a last attempt at striking it rich, got lucky with the discovery of rich gold deposits which would become the famous Yellow Aster mine. The claim was named the "Rand" giving a nod to the rich mines of South Africa and the early mining camp was called "Rand Camp". The discovery touched off the inevitable flood of prospectors and a crude tent camp was hastily established. By the end of 1895 there were thirteen buildings, most of them canvas but by the next year the population had swollen to 1,500 and more permanent wooden structures began to appear. The town suffered a series of devastating fires and as mining played out in the area, the town effectively reverted to ghost town status.

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    Auction Dates
    Nov-Dec, 2011
    30th-1st Wednesday-Thursday
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