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By Pat Gracey
contributing writer 

What a lot to see

The Spirit of Tehachapi


June 25, 2022

Pat Gracey

I miss driving but being a passenger has its perks, also. For myself, on recent trips, I could really examine the panorama. Even leaving Tehachapi, I notice a lot of things that have changed or disappeared completely. At any rate, it certainly helps awaken old memories.

As one leaves the Tehachapi Mountains and gazes out on the Mojave Desert looking south, I see sights that are not new but still changed, forever. One change, sort of heartbreaking, is the loss of Mount Soledad to the strip miners.

Having grown up looking at that four-thousand-foot, mauve colored sentinel I feel such a loss. Coming from the east on Highway 58 and catching sight of old Soledad, one knows that home is near. Now, with its top shaved off, one knows that an earthquake couldn't move the mountain, but man will. It's okay, I guess, just one new way of mining. It's been some years back since Standard Hill, just east of Soledad, was strip mined.

As a child, I recall old Soledad, even then, was pock marked with mines. Still, its homely beauty was to be admired. It was visible to the whole town. During the early '30s the town was alive with strangers seeking a bonanza gold mine.

George Holmes and his two sons had been working at the dumps and doing random prospecting. On one afternoon he took some samples from a large boulder about a third of the way up Soledad. After having the samples assayed he found they ran one hundred dollars per ton, which was very good.

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He and his sons worked the mine themselves until a switch-back road could be made to use vehicles to carry the ore. Crews were hired and get the business underway.

Holmes named his mine The Silver Queen as silver ore was also in the mine. He had a red pickup with "Silver Queen" painted on the driver door. Holmes did not keep the mine long for people came with offers which he could not refuse. He sold to a South African company. I always heard he received 3.4 million dollars in 1933. I just read that another report says 3.17 million plus royalties. That is a good piece of change and would go a long way when you realize that coffee was a dime per cup.

By the way, the So. African Mining Company changed the name to the Golden Queen. I'm still sorry about the strip mining but time marches on.

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P.S. I was five when this happened and my father had a gold mine and everyone knew George Holmes. I grew up listening to my Dad telling about his mining experiences.

At that time one could still homestead property in California. My father had his mine and did not strike it rich. Oh well, I enjoyed the ride and stirring up old memories.


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