ORO BELLE MINING CO
The Hart or Castle Mountain mining district is located in northeastern San Bernardino County, California near the Nevada border. Gold was discovered in this region in November 1907, and the area flourished for a many years. For a time it was served by the Santa Fe Railroad and had its own newspaper, the Enterprise.
“…I decided to branch out for myself and bought an assay outfit and went to Hart. I had been down here for the company (Goldfield Consolidated Mining Co.) and there was quite a boom on here. There were probably 800 people at this camp prospecting and mining. Had all the work I could handle. Everyone one was pretty much excited with the showing of free gold, and trading was tough. We had everything that went with a new mining boom. In the spring of 1908, I optioned the best properties owned by Hart & Hitt, borrowed $1500.00 on my assay outfit and returned to Duluth and Houghton (Michigan) to promote same and organize a mining company.” From the diary of Worth B. Andrews
In the spring of 1909, the Oro Belle Mines Co. was established under the laws of the State of Arizona, with Worth B. Andrews as president and Calvert Wilson secretary. The mine was first purchased on option for $100,000 from the original gold rush prospectors Jim Hart and brothers, Bert and Clark Hitt. The company was formed with capital stock of 1,000,000 shares valued at $1.00 each. Together with the remaining directors (Robert J. Andrews, Thomas Merritt, and Professor A. E. Seaman (Michigan School of Mines), Andrews and Wilson were able to raise $75,000 in initial capital. Later the company was reorganized under the laws of Nevada with head offices located in Las Vegas. The company was then known as the Oro Belle Consolidated Mines Co.
“I hired J. C. Hartness, my friend at Tombstone, Arizona as superintendent and he met me in Los Angeles and we commenced purchasing equipment, hoist, tools and timber, etc. and started operations. Thus I was started on my first mining venture."
The Oro Belle Mine as described later by Worth B. Andrews in his 1946 Diary, “When operations were suspended in 1918 there was a vertical shaft 815 ft deep with probably 3500 ft of lateral development. Had the No. 1 vein exposed in a tunnel about 190 ft west of the shaft and the Woodward vein just east of the shaft. The vein on the 100 ft level was 150 ft wide and mineralized all the way across. It carried free gold ore with no silver and was highly oxidized. The No. 1 vein was about 10 ft wide and picked up on the 100 ft level west of the shaft and cut by the vertical shaft at 565 ft depth and carried values averaging around $8.00 per ton gold. The ore was all free milling and sulphides were encountered on the 700 ft level but the veins were not developed in the sulphide zone. It is my opinion, a good mining prospect.”
A pumping well was constructed by Andrews in 1911 after the devastating fire of 1910 destroyed down most of city.
THE GHOST TOWN OF HART, CALIFORNIA
Today Hart, California is a ghost town located along the historic 138.8 mile Mojave Road in California's Mojave National Preserve. These days finding Hart can be an adventurous 2- or 3-day excursion, best made with a group of well-equipped off-roaders or ghost town enthusiast. The indisputable authority on a trip to this area can be found in the book Mojave Road Guide, written by Dennis Casebier. He has spent decades traveling the Mojave trail and has an insatiable appetite for both history and geology. One of the only remaining remnants of Hart’s existence today is the chimney of the old Andrews’ residence and one collapsed stone building a quarter mile south.
Spring 1909, I started building a home just on the west edge of town. The house ground plan was about 38 ft square with a living room running across the entire length of the front being 16 ft wide, with fireplace and living room at one end and dining room at the other.
Had two bedrooms and kitchen. We were very proud of the home and had many visitors including the folks that summer. Stella (wife) was a good house keeper and good cook and we were very happy, in our work. We both enjoyed the desert country.” He continues, “Hart was located on the west slope of the Piute Mt. range and our home there overlooked the broad valley to the south.”
The Andrews family continued to live in Hart until November 1917, and carried the property until 1941 when it was sold to Mr. Hartman, manufacturer of mining machinery in Los Angeles.