Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County



Giroux Consolidated Mines Company Railroad and Consolidated Coppermines Company Railroad


Written by Keith Albrandt

Primary source research by Walter B. Johnson


In 1900 a syndicate led by Senator William A. Clark of Montana, who had made his fortune from the silver and copper mines in Butte, Montana, took up options on many mining claims in the Robinson district. These included some of the over thirty claims acquired by Samuel Paul and his sons Frank, George, Al, and Ernest, that included the Brooks, Bunker Hill, Emma Nevada, Veteran, Ora, Watson, Blair, Easter, and Pilot Knob claims.

In 1901 Senator Clark lost interest in the district and withdrew from the syndicate. However, other syndicate members retained their enthusiasm for the prospects of the district, including P. L. Kimberly, A. J. Snedaker, and brothers Eugene L. and Joseph Giroux. Together they formed the Pilot Knob Copper Mining Company in early 1901. In May of that year, they obtained interests in the Morris, Old Glory, and Richard claims, among others, from Richard Riepe, one of the original promoters of the mining district.

This partnership failed by mid-1902 and was reorganized. A new associate, financier Bryan E. Shear, joined in the July 1902 organization of the Fortuna Grande Copper Company, named for the Mexican mining company of that name owned by Joseph Giroux, who retained operating control of the new company.


Giroux Consolidated Mines Company  
The company operated under that name until May 1903 when dwindling cash reserves resulted in yet another reorganization to obtain additional financing. Thus was established the Giroux Consolidated Mines Company. By the continual acquisition of claims, their properties comprised nearly two-thirds of the area of the Robinson mining district and consisted of several million tons of high-grade ore. However, they lacked the milling, smelting, and transportation resources to market their product and realize profits.
During the years 1904-1905 they developed their properties which then numbered eleven shafts including the Alpha, Brooks, Bunker Hill, Morris, Old Glory, Pilot Knob, and Taylor. The town of Kimberly was developed beginning in July 1905 and plans for the construction of a smelter at Kimberly and a concentrating mill at Pilot Knob were announced. A 500-ton per day mill and 250-ton blast furnace were finally completed in 1907 and March 1908, respectively. The smelter was razed by fire in Dec 1908 before it was put into operation. It was never rebuilt and Giroux eventually (1912) entered into a contract with the Steptoe Valley Smelting and Mining Company for reduction of their ore at McGill.

Initial plans to build a narrow gauge railroad connecting with the Eureka and Palisade Railroad proved unnecessary, as the Nevada Northern Railway was organized in 1905. However, a less ambitious railway, ultimately encompassing approximately three miles of track, was constructed. In May 1907, the rails arrived for fabrication of the Giroux Consolidated Mines Company 36-inch narrow gauge railroad, to operate between the mill at Pilot Knob and the Alpha No. 1 shaft. By October, the basics had been completed for the first run of the new concentrator with the substratum transported in ore cars behind their newly acquired Porter locomotive Alpha.

Spencer, plate V

Giroux Consolidated Mines Co.




Jim Perkins Photo; Martin/Healy Collection
Used with permission.


Woman in cab is photographer Jim Perkins mother, Hazel Hackman Perkins. Photo proabably taken in late teens or early twenties, presumably at Alpha No. 2 shaft.

Letters on narrow gauge ore car are G. C. M. Co. (Giroux Consolidated Mines Company).



Apparently, the track arrangement near the mill was modified in 1908 when the Nevada Northern Railway reached its westernmost terminus at Veteran. Nevada Northern Railway file No. 9-C-12 dated 08 July 1908 depicts the track arrangement between the NN main line and the Giroux concentrator spur. Similarly, a USGS map revised in 1910 depicts an interchange between the main line of the narrow gauge Giroux Railroad and the Nevada Northern standard gauge line, just to the southeast of the concentrator spur and Veteran cut. It seems likely that some portion of the interchange was dual gauge; however, this is speculative as primary documentation is lacking.

Nevada Northern Railway ROW Plat
of Giroux Concentrator Spur

Courtesy of Walter B. Johnson and the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum

By September 1908 this narrow gauge line had been extended to the Bunker Hill Shaft, passing both the Brooks and Morris No. 2 shafts and connecting them with the mill. Interestingly, this extension, although mentioned in several references, is depicted neither on the USGS map partially revised in 1910 nor on a map of the Giroux narrow gauge line published in Myrick's classic Railroads of Nevada.

The figure to the right depicts the narrow gauge Giroux Conolidated Mines Co. Railroad and is based on a 1910 USGS map. The dashed lines represent the rails as described textually but not depicted on that map. The narrow gauge line running around to the north of Upper Camp Kimberly approached the Giroux concentrator on a trestle and can be seen in various photographs from the period. Apparently, the Giroux narrow gauge line to the concentrator crossed the Nevada Northern on a trestle over the Veteran cut.

Giroux narrow gauge Railroad
in 1910

Dashed lines represent approximate rail routes based on descriptive and/or photographic evidence.


Sinking of the Giroux (Alpha No. 2) shaft commenced in June 1909. By February 1910, work was in progress installing a standard gauge spur connection with the Nevada Northern Railway between the Veteran cut and the Alpha shaft. The standard gauge spur extended downhill to the Jupiter shaft and covered about half of the distance to the Alpha mines. However, the precise nature of the connection between the Giroux narrow gauge at the Alpha Shaft and this standard gauge spur remains unclear. As reported in the White Pine News, 26 February 1911, Giroux Consolidated had recently purchased a locomotive to work this connection, but additional documentation of this (presumably) standard gauge engine is also lacking. After the Veteran mine was abandoned in 1915, this track, as well as the town, was abandoned and dismantled.

The Giroux narrow gauge railroad was used to haul timbers and supplies to the Alpha mines. In addition, it was used to supply the Alpha No. 2 steam plant with coal shipped from Utah. The steam plant powered the hoisting machinery, air compressors, electric generators, and both shaft and surface water pumps.

A major accident involving the loss of life and the burning of the Alpha No. 2 Shaft occurred on 11 August 1911. Subsequently, Morris No. 2 was to become the main working shaft from which its own ore, as well as that from the Brooks and Bunker Hill mines would be hoisted. In November of 1911, work was reported on widening the narrow gauge railroad from the Morris No. 2 headframe to the concentrator. The narrow gauge track running eastwards from the Morris No. 2 shaft to Bunker Hill was subsequently abandoned.

The Ely Record (03 October 1913) reported that during 1913, Giroux Consolidated purchased two dinky engines in the never-realized anticipation of shovel mining the Tonopah ore deposit. Again, there is no additional documentation on these two locomotives at this time. Regardless, all the facts taken together support the finding that Giroux Consolidated Mines Company has the distinction of operating both a narrow gauge and standard gauge railroad during its existence.


Panoramic View from Old Glory Hill circa 1912
Left to right: Veteran headframe, Veteran townsite, Upper Camp Kimberly, Giroux concentrator.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Panoramic photographs.
DIGITAL ID: (intermediary roll film) pan 6a07623; VIDEO FRAME ID: LCPP006A-07623 06 images (from original);
CARD #: pan1993002143/PP



Consolidated Coppermines Company  
On 20 May 1913 the Giroux properties were consolidated with other West End companies into the Consolidated Coppermines Company (CCC), a combination of Giroux Consolidated Mines Company, Coppermines Company, Chainman Consolidated Copper Company, Butte & Ely Copper Company, and the New Ely Central Copper Company. The Board of Directors included: Thomas F. Cole, Amalgamated Copper Company; Mulford Martin, first president of the New York and Nevada Copper Company; James Phillips, Jr., former president of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company; William B. Thompson, Guggenheim associate and former Vice President of Cumberland-Ely Copper Company; W. Hinkle Smith, former Director of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company; and Edwin F. Gray, first superintendent of Nevada Consolidated Copper Company and superintendent of CCC. With Edwin Gray's extensive experience and knowledge of the local properties, he was able to obtain many additional valuable claims for CCC.

Two new standard gauge locomotives were purchased from Alco (Cooke Works) in 1916 and 1918. Interestingly, the Alco builder's records show the sale of shop number 55813, 0-4-0T No. 1 to "Giroux Consolidated Mines" in October 1916, some three years after the establishment of CCC. The second standard gauge locomotive, shop number 59889, 0-4-0T No. 2, was consigned to "Consolidated Coppermines" in March 1918. They were used to haul ore from Morris-Brooks mine to concentrator and for placing cars of concentrates and Alpha direct smelting ore on the main line of the Nevada Northern. A structure for housing these locomotives was built in 1918.

The mill was expanded and remodeled in 1916 to 1000-tons per day capacity. It was originally a gravity separation process similar to that employed at the McGill smelter, but converted to a flotation separation process yielding ~90% recovery of the copper. A new contract was implemented to treat the Coppermines concentrates at Nevada Consolidated Copper Company's McGill smelter. Their blister copper was shipped to the Raritan Refinery (Perth Amboy, New Jersey) of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company.

The original approach to the mill was a 300-foot long trestle using thirty-five pound rail to reach the top of the ore bins on the crest of Pilot Knob hill. Coppermines historian and Kimberly, Nevada native Walter Johnson recalls the rail bed that circled around the north side of Upper Camp Kimberly and then headed southeast towards the mill. The second approach to the concentrator was the standard gauge Nevada Northern spur installed in 1908 to a lower level below the trestle and upper ore bins.

Tracks serving the Giroux Concentrator
Giroux narrow gauge in green
Nevada Northern in orange


The trestle had disappeared after the mill remodeling in 1916-1917, but precisely when it was removed is not clear. It might have been as early as 1912 when the Giroux tracks were widened to standard gauge or as late as the 1916 remodeling. Myrick states that the tracks between the concentrator and the Nevada Northern right-of-way were abandoned in 1912. This seems plausible if the trestle was unable to handle the heavier weight of standard gauge equipment or if it could not be modified to accomodate the wider gauge. Regarless, the standard gauge spur from the Nevada Northern main line provided access to the mill.

Giroux Concentrator and Railroad Trestle circa 1912

Both photographs above: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Panoramic photographs. Enlarged by author from DIGITAL ID: (intermediary roll film) pan 6a07623; VIDEO FRAME ID: LCPP006A-07623 06 images (from original); CARD #: pan1993002143/PP.



Consolidated Coppermines Corporation  
Active production at the remodeled Giroux mill lasted only a few years. It was abandoned in 1919 and the mines were closed in 1920 due to the post-war depression. They reorganized and reopened in 1922 as the Consolidated Coppermines Corporation, and found it more economical to have their ores both concentrated and smelted at McGill; their mill on Pilot Knob was demolished.

The extent of CCC railroad operations after the 1922 mine reopening is not precisely validated. Mining commenced sporadically at the Richard, Minnesota and Butcher Boy mines, with leaching of the ore bodies at the Brooks and Morris. During 1923, while an underground drift was being advanced between the Morris No. 2 and the Richard shaft, some ore was hoisted at the Richard shaft. It was transported by mules in small ore cars over a 1400-foot, wooden trestleworked, 18" gauge tramway to the Alpha narrow gauge spur line, and presumably from there to the Nevada Northern interchange near the Veteran cut via the CCC railroad. Plans to reopen the Alphas again in 1924 included conversion to electrical power and abandonment of the steam plant. It's likely that the narrow gauge railroad was employed to haul supplies and machinery to the Alpha in 1924 and 1925 for this construction.

Mining of the Morris commenced in 1926, but by November 1927 (at the latest), the railroad connection to the Morris and Alpha No. 2 shafts was lost due to the subsidence of ground caused by the mining of the Morris ore body. As reactivation of Alpha No. 2 was anticipated, grading for a new Alpha railroad on the western slope and northwest of Old Glory hill was in progress by April 1928. A contract was signed on 06 September 1928 with the Nevada Northern Railway for installation of a standard gauge spur from the West End of the Veteran cut to the Giroux mine. This track was never used, as the anticipated activity at the Alpha never resumed. The CCC mines closed between 1932 and 1937 during the Great Depression. Afterwards, ore from Alpha No. 2 was transported through underground connections and hoisted at the Emma Nevada shaft. Two dinky engines were stored in the engine shed located on the Old Glory slope above the Nevada Northern Kimberly depot through the mid-1930's. The diminutive Porter locomotive Alpha could be found pushed off the tracks and abandoned near the Alpha No. 2 plant at that time. The new Alpha railroad spur connecting at Veteran was dismantled between 1938 and 1940.


Panoramic View from Old Glory Hill circa 1912
Left to right: Upper Camp Kimberly, Giroux concentrator, Lower Camp Kimberly, Old Glory shaft.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Panoramic photographs.
DIGITAL ID: (intermediary roll film) pan 6a07629; VIDEO FRAME ID: LCPP006A-07629 07 images (from original);
CARD #: pan1993002144/PP


Consolidated Coppermines produced about 80,000 tons of copper from inception through the 1920's. A portion of that product was from ore transported by their own railway, both narrow and standard gauge, running under the various monikers of Giroux Consolidated Mining Company, Consolidated Coppermines Company, and Consolidated Coppermines Corporation. From 1932 through 1955, CCC production was 342,000 tons of metallic copper; all of the substratum ore was hauled to the McGill concentrator and reduction works via the Nevada Northern Railway, subsidiary of their chief rival, Nevada Consolidated Copper (later Kennecott Copper Corporation, Nevada Mines Division).

By 1956, CCC ore accounted for 43% of the daily 21,000 tons supplied to the Nevada Mines Division smelter at McGill. During the 1958 recession, KCC purchased the neighboring CCC properties. Walter Johnson notes that at the time of the 1957/1958 slump in the copper market, Chester Tripp, president of CCC, foresaw the end of the ore reserves and decided it would be a good time to sell. The sale price was $8.5 million, almost the same amount as the original capitalization of Consolidated Coppermines Company some forty-five years previous.



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Johnson, Walter B. 2001. Giroux Consolidated Coppermines Company and Consolidated Coppermines Company Mine Railroads, Kimberly, Nevada 1907-1958. Letter to author, 18 April.

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Johnson, Walter B. 2001. Giroux/CCC Railways. Internet, e-mail to author, 27 April.

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Last modified 02 February, 2002 by Keith Albrandt