“Mining began in Alpine Country over fifty years ago, and during the first twenty years a large amount of ore was taken out. Long and expensive tunnels were run which never paid for themselves, and the ore that was obtained could not be successfully treated at the mine, although much money was expended in mills, roasting and amalgamating plants. The mines were for the most part abandoned as unprofitable and towns of several thousand inhabitants completely disappeared so that not a vestige of them remains. Alpine County at the last census contained but 300 inhabitants and it has but one town - Markleeville - which is the county seat. The abandonment of the mines of the county was not due to exhaustion of the ore, of which there is an abundance, but rather to the fact that the average value was low.For a long period of time there has been no mineral returns from the county, and the only mining that has been done has been in the line of development work and proving up the value of the properties.”
General Features (of Alpine County)
“Practically the entire area of the county is occupied by mountain ridges and peaks. It is crossed by the great granite mass of the Sierras and flanking the granites on the east are flows and eruptions of Tertiary volcanics, largely andesites. The ridges and peaks of granite and of andesite attain an elevation between 7000 and 8000 feet, while some of the peaks rise to the height of over 10,000 feet. Deep cañons dissect the ridges, breaking up the country into hills and crags. There are a few valleys, mostly above 5000 feet in elevation, and as the county is well watered these valleys serve as grazing land for stock. Little agricultural work is done, but wheat and alfalfa can be grown. The summer season is naturally short with liability to heavy frosts at any time, so general produce raising is not undertaken and all supplies have to be brought into the county....”
“Area: 776 square miles.
Population: 243 (1920 census).
“Alpine has in the past shown a small production of gold and silver, but dropped out of the list of producing counties in 1914-1918. For 1919, crushed rock of $100 in value was reported.
“This county lies just south of Lake Tahoe, in the High Sierra Nevada range of mountains. Transportation is by wagon or mule back, and facilities in general are lacking to promote development work of any kind.
“The mineral resources of this section are varied and the country has not yet been thoroughly prospected. Occurrences of barium, copper, gold, gypsum, lead, limestone, pyrite, rose quartz, silver, tourmaline, and zinc have been noted here.”
"Alpine County is so thinly populated (323 people in 1940), and so remote from population centers that ordinary limestone within its boundaries would have slight value. The exposed geologic formations are principally the granitic rock of the Sierra Nevada batholith, and later effusive volcanic material, which is mostly andesite."
(* Please note this list does not include sand or gravel quarries.)
Mine name: Merrill Barrow Pit; Operator: Merrill, Stuart P.; Address & County: 40 Monroe Ranch Rd., Markleeville, CA 96120-9501; Phone: (916) 694-2912; Latitude: 38.61, Longitude: -119.70, and Mine location number: Map No. 11; Mineral commodity: Stone.
"Grovers Hot Springs Deposit. These springs are 4.2 miles by road west of Markleeville, close to a north-striking fault that has been traced into Nevada. Two groups of springs having temperatures a few years ago ranging from 128° F. to 146° F. issue from a terrace on the edge of a meadow 200 to 300 yards south of Markleeville Creek. In 1920 the combined flow from 12 springs was about 12 miner's inches, and part of it has been used for bathing. The accumulation of calcareous tufa, is still going on.."
"In a discussion of deposits of calcium carbonate from springs of this character, Waring (15, p. 154)* theorizes that where there is considerable carbon dioxide, sodium, and magnesium, with a smaller amount of calcium present in the water, the deposition of the calcium carbonate is caused by the sodium and magnesium depriving the calcium of bicarbonate. While he mentions lava nearby as a possible source at this and similar springs elsewhere, the marked fault mentioned above must also be considered in this case."
(* "Monterey County," by Clarence A. Waring and W. W. Bradley, California Mining Bureau Report 15, 1919, pp. 595-615.)