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The Duplex Mine In Nevada
One common thread in most of these old towns and mines is how they were actually found. We know that most of the towns grew up around a prominant mine or maybe several small mines, but how the towns or mines got their names can always be a bit confusing with various conflicting stories. That's the case with Searchlight and the Duplex mine.
One of the stories how the town got its name is that a prospector named George Colton was looking for gold in the area in 1897, and it was said that he did smoke a pipe and would take searchlight brand matches with him everytime he went out to find gold ore there. However some don't agree with this story claiming that searchlight matches were not available until 1898.
Another story has it that it was named for a man named Lloyd Searchlight. This story seems to dead end because there is no historical record of aman named Lloyd Searchlight, but there was a company called the Lloyd-Searchlight Mining Company. Either way George Colton did find gold on top of a hill and eventually built a mine there calling it the Duplex mine because it ore zone was in two layers.
This gold find sparked a mining rush just like most other rushes back in their day. The small town grew fast and by 1901 the mine had produced about 7 million in gold and other precious metals. By 1908 there were over 300 mining claims active in the area however only a few were successful. The Duplex being the main one. Another mine owned by the Quartette Mining Company also became a mainstay of the Searchlight District, producing almost half of the total output of ore.
The town by this time was over 1500 residents. Several store and shops, a post office and some saloons. In March 1907 the 23 mile long Barnwell and Searchlight Railroad, connected to the Santa Fe Rail main line from Needles, Arizona to Mojave. By 1919, trains were operating over the "Barnwell and Searchlight" Rails two times a week. In it's day Searchlight was bigger than Las Vegas.
By 1917, Searchlight's mines were in decline and most were shut down as the ore ran out. Other mines like the Duplex stayed running as it was leased out and seemed to hold it own. The town itself however went into decline but in 1930 the Hoover dam was being built and the town saw a bit of a comeback with construction workers and a gold price that warranted exploration. This spurred interest in some to restart some of the old mines.
Today Searchlight is still on the map. A small desert town that is now seeing a comeback in growth from retired people looking at living in smaller centers. The old Duplex mine is still there, privately owned, waiting for a new owner.