Rich silver ore was discovered in December 1872 at the head of Surprise
Canyon 12 miles northeast of here. The United States senators for Nevada,
John P. Jones and William Morris Stewart, invested in and promoted the camp
which drew a peak population of 2000 to the steep, mile-high canyon.
Wells Fargo refused to serve the lawless camp, and bullion was shipped
out in 400-pound cubes to deter thieves. To connect his Santa Monica
property with the mines Jones built a half-mile pier and began a
railroad, which reached only as far as Los Angeles. Jones and Stewart
floated 15 stocks on the San Francisco Mining Exchange with a face value
of over $61 million. On July 4, 1876 the camp celebrated a new 30-stamp
mill, and strings of ore cars moved at full speed. The celebration ended
20 days later when hours of heavy rain flooded the Panamint peaks and sent
a wall of water down Surprise Canyon's Main Street, wiping out cabins, stores
& saloons to end the boom. One of the departing miners, Isadore Daunet,
crossed the summit and discovered Cottonball Borax at Furnace Creek.