Roberta's Las Vegas Real Estate Blog: Las Vegas Real Estate - Techatticup a Real Gold Mine, take a Tour!

Las Vegas Real Estate - Techatticup a Real Gold Mine, take a Tour!

Working in Las Vegas Real Estate I'm sure everyone hopes for a real Gold Mine, and Techatticup is one to take a tour. Of course as a real estate agent I've toured and shown some amazing Las Vegas luxury properties, including a home owned by a gold mine owner, but this is a bit different.
Luxurious...well... not so much. But a priceless surprise, yes, you could say that. This is more of a fixer-upper, and not for a quick flip. It's become a labor of love for a property so in gold and precious metals, rich in history, and rich in it's unique visual beauty that captures the days of the wild west.
Techatticup Mine Tours Nelson, NV near Las Vegas

Now just imagine you're Tony and Bobbie Werly, in 1995 purchasing a 51 acre parcel of land roughly 45 miles southeast of the center of the Las Vegas Valley, expecting their investment to possibly open as an RV park.  That all drastically changed when they uncovered an 80 year old entrance to what had been the oldest and richest mine in Southern Nevada. The Techatticup Mine In Nelson, NV in the Eldorado Canyon. This mine began in 1861 and operated until abandoned during WWII. During it's years of operation it produced millions in Gold, plus Silver, Zinc, and Lead.

Now the mine itself wasn't a surprise, as the Eldorado Valley was home to several of them. Tony was also familiar with the area and this site as he drove past the Techatticup Mill for years. For decades he operated canoe and wave runner trips on the Colorado River from Boulder City below Hoover Dam. What had once been Nelson's Landing, a steamship port and town, then later as a marina and campsite, was a takeout point for those tours.


Rich in Gold and Precious Metals


After the mine began it's operations in 1861, there was a report that the ore was as rich as the Comstock Lode's ore. In these early years, that ore had to be hauled in wagons down to Nelson's Landing, and the 5.5 mile wagon trip would have been be rough, with no roads as we know them today. From there the ore was loaded onto steamboats, for a long trip to Los Angeles, then on to San Francisco to be processed. As years went by the stamp mill and cyanide tanks were added to process on site.

Yes, there's still gold in them there hills, and in the mine and you can see the white quartz veins that the miners were chasing and traces of the precious metals visible in the rock walls. Unfortunately, Tony feels that for $1 million in gold it would take about $2 million to extract it, so obviously not worth the effort.
Still, there's been an interesting turn, not in the mine, but outside of it. You'll see in the photos, and this wikimapia satellite view, all the white powdery soil left from the crushed ore, and also the many mines in this area. Those white mounds are the remnants of processing the gold ore, and called tailings. New technology has been developed to reprocess those tailings and reclaim any gold left behind. As the price of gold remains high, a company will be hauling it off to get to any fine gold remaining in what was once considered waste.
Rich in History

When purchasing the property, the only open mine shaft was 100' up the mountain, so mine tours weren't in the plans. Everything changed when a powder tunnel, buried under 80 years of dirt and debris, was uncovered near ground level. Once inside there were all sorts of artifacts, tools, ore carts and more, apparently just dropped when the miners abandoned the mine, when word reached them that WWII had begun. This discovery is when all the research began, looking deeper into the history of the mine and the canyon.

Originally the search for gold in the area was attempted in the beginning of the 1700's, and named El Dorado Canyon by the Spanish after the fabled lost city of gold. They were run off by native Indians, the same fate as a group of Mexicans who tried the same a century later. Then in 1861, the 'white men' arrived, but this time the local tribe led them to a 5' wide white quartz vein. News of the rich find spread quickly and it wasn't long until the population swelled into the hundreds, far exceeding that of what the Spanish called 'The Meadows' to the north, a tiny supply village called Las Vegas.

This gold strike was in a very desolate area, and these new residents were tough and lawless with many said to be deserters of the raging Civil War. Fights, theft, and claim jumping were common. With the closest Sheriff 200 miles away in Pioche, NV., disputes were often settled by who was left standing after the last trace of smoke oozed from a gun barrel.

Life was difficult to say the least. Water had to be brought up from the Colorado. No power, so whether working in the mine or at night in the shacks or cabins, only the dim glow of a candle or a lantern would etch a small hole in the inky blackness. Even the burros lowered into the mine to pull ore carts were said to go blind from the darkness in 6 months. The mining all done by hand with hand drills and sledge hammers, picks and shovels, and performed with the looming dangers of dynamite and cave-ins. The only relief of working in this maze of black is that the tunnels with their steady cool 70 degree temperatures were an escape from summer heat. Maps from the early 1900's showed 3 miles of tunnels, all dug, blasted, and moved with this back breaking labor.


Techatticup Gold Mine tunnel Nelson, NV near Las Vegas

Tony and Bobbie wanted to capture the true era of the mine, not create a Disneyland style simulation. Yes, electric lanterns now light the mine for visitor safety, but you'll experience the pitch black when they briefly turn them off, or show what it was like to work with just a candle. The buildings outside include some originals, plus those jacked up and moved from the Wall Street Mine. Other were rebuilt with original timbers once used for parts of the mill. The ghost town feel is generated from the machinery, vehicles, and so much more found all over the property. That is complimented with so many antiques, including period product signage and household items that would be a field day for History Channel's American Pickers or American Restoration. It's an area you can explore for hours, and even when retracing your steps, you can discover something you missed.

Inside the store there are so many more items on display, along with souvenirs for purchase. Now don't expect the high pressure tactics of a tourist trap, you can look without being disturbed. But should you strike up a conversation with Bobbie, Tony, or any of their family or guides, expect some friendly and informative conversation. You'll learn so much more when you do, and they're more than happy to fill in so many stories hidden in the artifacts there and all around the property. Like the who and why there is a collection of salvage T-28 aircraft just to the east of the mine. The Hell Hounds legend of Eldorado Canyon, or the tragic and freak flood in 1974, that wiped out the Nelson Landing marina, campsite, and lives of nine people, with a 40' wall of water and debris. Or in that same wash you'll see unusual rock monoliths, grey free standing pillars capped with a cone of golden rock. You might even learn about the special display in the freezer, but I won't spoil that surprise. 
Rich in Unique Visual Beauty - Models, Rock Stars & Movie Set

The mine and the Eldorado Valley has become a one of a kind canvas and you may have already seen a glimpse of it without even knowing. It captures the past through it's Ghost Town, the rugged beauty of the mountains, the unique rock colors and eroded shapes, and the serene Colorado Rover as it snakes through the wilderness. They have had countless model, magazine, and other photo shoots, including album shots for Journey and the men from Thunder From Down Under calendar, just to name a few. TV shows and commercials, even the video game Battlefield 3, have used this area for a backdrop, most recently for BMW. Movies have been shot here, including 2 Kurt Russell Films, 'Breakdown' with Kathleen Quinlan and '3000 Miles to Graceland" with Kevin Costner, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, and Christian Slater. You'll see some of the props from the movies that were left behind, like the plane blown up at the Lucky Strike gas station in '3000 Miles to Graceland'. Even with all this in the canyon, there could be more in it's future with the new Nevada Movie Tax Credits beginning this year, passed with the help of a Vegas local and Oscar winning actor.

He may be known for 'Leaving Las Vegas', but Nicolas Cage has now left his mark on the city by relocating his family and becoming a part of our community. My better half, who has became known in Las Vegas as 'Sparky', worked with his staff to produce a video for a local charity event. Nicolas did this from a movie set, when he was unfortunately unable to attend due to his shooting schedule. It was the effort he made and time taken from his movie to film and produce a quality clip for this charity, that caused us to recognized his compassion. We also had the opportunity to take a private tour of the art of the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay with Nic and his lovely and charming wife, Alice. It was during this tour that he shared his amazing knowledge of art, and his pure passion of his own art form. In conversation with our guide, Foundation Room Director Steve Hart, Nicolas mentioned some movie projects he would love to make. You could just feel his emotion from his words, and no wonder his later address to the Nevada Legislature would convince them to adopt these movie incentives for Nevada. Who knows, maybe Nicolas Cage will bring the next movie shoot to the Techatticup Mine and the Eldorado Valley. After all, it's also a fairly quick commute from home and an interesting place for his son to explore.

While there's so much more to this special location, I'll pause for you to enjoy this slide show tour. You'll see this time capsule of the wild west, just a short drive from the glamour and lights of Las Vegas. 


I just have to take one last moment to add this last interesting side story to the legend of Eldorado Canyon. Queho was said to be a renegade Indian who was accused of at least 23 murders. A 20th century outlaw of the west.
Queho accused murderer and his hidden gold mine near Las Vegas


It's unclear if he committed them all or was simply a scapegoat. The story has it that he was a 'half breed' and not accepted by any tribe. He also had a club foot and a rough demeanor that made him an outcast even at the mines. Several posses were formed and growing rewards offered, but Queho eluded capture for about 30 years, only to have his mummified remains discovered in a cave above a wash north of Nelson's Landing and south of Willow Beach. Besides the somewhat bizarre ending and display of his remains, there was another report during his years on the run.

Shopkeepers said that he paid for supplies with gold nuggets, thought to be from another strike he discovered during his years on the run. His 'lost mine' hidden somewhere in the mountainous terrain and it's location taken with him to the grave. A TV show from 1958 followed his trail to see if they could uncover his 'Treasure'. It includes scenes from Las Vegas 1958, the Vegas Strip, Downtown and the Fabulous Flamingo Casino, and the show itself reflects the early age of TV, and how much both have evolved over the years.  You might find it a bit humorous to see the drama, acting, and flubs of TV in it's infancy, while telling this fairly recent tale of the wild west.



While the Techatticup is open for tours 7 days a week, from 9:15 AM to 2:15 PM, there is a minimum of 4 persons needed. Reservations are recommended and you can be grouped with others to make up the minimum. Prices are currently $12.50 per person. Kayak and Canoe rentals are also available 7 days a week, from 9 AM to 5 PM. For more information:
Reservations: 702-291-0026 (Note: Effective May 3 2014, the recent area code overlay of 725 will require dialing the area code for all local numbers) 
Thanks to Tony and Bobbie Werly, the Techatticp Mine and Eldorado Canyon provide us with a snapshot of early western life. It's a reminder of the struggles of early settlers, and how we may take our modern conveniences for granted. It also adds yet another unique experience to make Las Vegas a great place to call home.
I hope you've enjoyed discovering another of our Las Vegas area hidden treasures. If you're interested in relocating, buying or listing your home in the Las Vegas Valley, please just get in touch. I can be reached by email at or give me a call at 702-354-8988.  I look forward to hear from you!

Roberta LaRocca REALTOR Las Vegas Broker Salesperson
Roberta LaRocca Las Vegas Buyers Agent Listing Agent

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Comment balloon 0 commentsRoberta LaRocca • April 21 2014 03:02PM