How I Spent My Summer Vacation

A Visit To The W.M. Keck Museum at the Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno

by Dave Hennessey, MSDC President

In late July, after a year and a half without seeing our five grandkids, my wife and I rented a large home and met my daughter and her family for a week in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. They were able to drive over from their home in Oakland, CA, and we flew into Reno.  At the last minute, it looked like we were going to be diverted to Sacramento because of smoke from the Tamarack fire, but it turned out we were able to land after all.  We had a great week, but boy let me tell you, the water in Lake Tahoe is cold.

For one of the days we were there I arranged with Garrett Barmore, the curator of the Keck Museum at the Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno, to come for a visit.

The museum has been closed because of COVID concerns for some time, but we traded emails and he agreed to a visit that included my wife and I and my two oldest grandsons. He kindly took us around the museum displays and geared his presentation to my grandsons. In normal times the museum hosts lots of school field trip visits, so this was right up his alley. He asked the kids leading and probing questions about items on display to keep them engaged, challenge their reasoning, and expand their knowledge. They had a blast as we enjoyed viewing the large worldwide collection of minerals, a number of exhibit cases focused specifically on Nevada minerals and fossils, and equipment/memorabilia from the early days of  mining in Nevada.

The museum is located inside the Mackay School of Mines Building, which is named after and is a memorial to Comstock silver baron, John Mackay, one of America’s foremost 19th century mining entrepreneurs and capitalists. The museum itself is named in honor of the W.M.Keck Foundation, which funded the building’s renovation in 1988.

Mineral Cases at the W.M. Keck Museum in Reno, NV

In addition to the minerals and fossils, the museum houses an interesting collection of mining-related relics. There is a special emphasis on early Nevada mining history with ore samples from famous mineral districts such as the Comstock Lode, Tonopah, and Goldfield. The museum is also home to numerous pieces of the spectacular Mackay Silver Collection, created by Tiffany & Company for John Mackay and completed in 1878. If you are ever in the area, I strongly recommend that you make the time to view this collection.

When I travel, I always enjoy perusing the local real estate magazines that show area homes for sale. The magazine I picked up in South Lake Tahoe included a gold mine for sale. For a mere $40 million, the Bonanza King Mine, in Lovelock, Nevada, can be yours. All 20.28 acres. From the listing “Originally discovered in 1868, the Bonanza King Mine is the only lode mine in the Humboldt Range and consists of a two-compartment shaft descending to a depth of 300 feet, with 25 feet between levels. The Bonanza King is a patented claim with extended subsurface guaranteed entitlements.”  If that’s too expensive for you, another listing was for the Little Jupiter Mine, a “past producing lode mine near Winnemucca, Nevada.”  This offering consists of 35 unpatented BLM mining claims on 700 acres.  The mine has 4 adits and the vein is composed of quartz and is about 3 feet to 8 feet thick. “With very little additional equipment you can be in the mining business.” This one costs only $10 million. Let me know if you want the contact information.