Katherine's Landing takes its name from the old Katherine Mine that is located northeast of the current marina. The Katherine Mine lies dead and decaying. All that stands is an odd assortment of concrete pillars, arranged as if in some forgotten graveyard, and the foundation of the once impressive structure. Scattered about are the rusting remains of iron tanks and other equipment used in the mining operation. Deep beneath the surface, a labyrinth of passages is choked with water, rotten timbers and memories of long departed miners.
Mining activity began in the Katherine-Union Pass area in the mid-1860s with the discovery of gold. The Pyramid and Gold Cycle mines, both in the present-day South Telephone Cove area; the Homestake Mine, across the river in Nevada; and the Sheeptrails Mine in the Union Pass area, were the more primary mines established during this time. To process ore, the Sheeptrails Mine built a mill near the Colorado River, west of the Pyramid Mine.
The road used to haul ore from the Sheeptrails Mine to the mill passed by a solitary granite knob that protruded from a flat gravel plain. A teamster, S.C. Bagg, who was hauling ore to the mill, panned some samples from the outcropping. In September 1900, the outcrop was claimed by Bagg and became the Catherine Mine (original spelling).
S.C. Bagg wasted no time About 2000 tons of ore were mined from Catherine and then processed at the Sheeptrails Mill between 1900 and 1903. The mine was leased in 1903, and an unknown amount of ore was removed before the mine was closed in 1904. The mine was sold that same year to the Arizona Pyramid Mining Company which reopened it in 1907, operating it for two years.
In 1915, gold was discovered in the United Eastern Mine at Oatman. This discovery caused the "First Oatman Boom." Numerous claims were staked, and shafts sunk with little reason and even less chance of success. This boom soon reached the Union Pass-Catherine District where claims were staked adjoining the Catherine, Sheeptrails and other older existing mines.
Shafts in the new area were sunk with less justification and chance of success than they were at Oatman. Most of these "bloomers" adopted the name Catherine in their title: Catherine Extension, Catherine Treasure Vault and Catherine Midway. None of the new mines recorded any production, and all were shut down by the onset of the Great Depression in 1929.
With the boom came the promotion of the Catherine and Tri-state town sites. The Catherine town site was about two miles east of the Catherine Mine, and the Tri-state was across the river from the present day Katherine Landing. A post office was operated at the Catherine Town site from 1925 to 1929. Today, little remains of the Katherine site, the Tri-state site lies under the waters of Lake Mohave.
In 1919, Catherine Mine, now titled the Katherine Gold Mining Company, began to further develop the area. A new vertical shaft was sunk to 950 feet, and a shaft sunk from the 400 foot level opened the 500- and 600-foot levels. A cyanide mill that could process 75 tons of ore a day was completed in June 1925. It was later enlarged to process 250 tons per day.
The mill ran more or less continuously through 1927. The mine and mill operation slowed down in 1928, and in December of 1929, the Katherine Gold Mining Company declared bankruptcy. The mill operated for short periods of time, processing ore from some of the area mines between 1931 and 1932. This marked the separation of the Katherine Mill and Mine operations.
Between 1933 and 1934, the price of gold rose, and it became profitable to mine gold again. Many old mines were reopened. The Gold Standard Gold Mining Company acquired the Katherine Mill and Mine water rights, and began operating in September 1933. A fire severely damaged the structures in September of 1934. The mill was back in operation by November 1934, and processed ore from the local mines. The Gold Standard Gold Mining Company acquired title to the Katherine Mine in 1935. After rehabilitating the mine and repairing the fire damage, the Katherine Mine was in production from 1937 to 1940. The mill ran continuously until April 15, 1943, when it was closed by the War Production Board.
Katherine was a boom town that gained more from its reputation than from the ore that it produced. The Katherine Mine produced less than $2 million in gold and silver between 1900 and 1940. The mill, processing ore from area mines, excluding the Katherine Mine, produced $3.6 million in gold and silver between 1900 and 1943.
WARNING: Old mines can pose numerous threats to your safety. Do not climb on or around mine tailings as they are unstable and can collapse without warning. Stay on the designated trail. Stay away from all shaft openings and cliff edges and never crawl into any tunnels found in the tailings. Video on Katherine Landing
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