- Early Years
- Virginia City, Nevada
- Cerro de Pasco, Peru and Walkermine, California
- Anaconda Defense Chrome Operations, Montana
- United States Navy
- Olinghouse, Nevada
- United Park City Mines, Utah
- Jackson Mountain Mining Company, Nevada
- Glass Buttes, Oregon
- Pinson Mine, Nevada
- Cordex Exploration Company
- Preble and Sterling Mines, Nevada
- The Dee Mine, Nevada
- The DeLaMare Library
G. W. DeLaMare
by Carol Bruno, Maria Bruno, Mary Panelli
Grover Whitby (Dee) DeLaMare was born in Oakley, Idaho on June 26, 1912. He was the fourth of six children born to John Francis (Frank) and Primrose (Rose) Whitby DeLaMare. In 1916, the family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where he graduated from East High School.
DeLaMare's sister, Faye DeLaMare Lloyd, recalls that when the Great Depression hit, their father could no longer support the family by selling luxury cars. Frank DeLaMare had been interested in mining and had taken mining engineering courses by correspondence. He was hired to go to Alaska to look at some mines for a group of investors and then went out on his own, eventually moving his family to Reno, Nevada.
Virginia City, Nevada
In 1933, Frank DeLaMare and his sons, Dee and Rod, came to Virginia City to work on the Comstock. John Bennetts recalls that together with Bob Montgomery, they discovered the hanging wall orebody of the Keystone Mine, which was the last major discovery of gold ore on the Comstock. They formed the Comstock-Keystone Mining Company which they later sold to Dayton Consolidated. After the Keystone Mine, they worked on a new discovery called the Dixie Comstock on the east side of the Stillwater Range.
According to Bennetts, the DeLaMares were part of a handful of very good miners in the area who were able to consistently make money in the profession. They mined gold by a process called "resuing" or "chloriding", in which they drilled and blasted the wall rock first for access and then peeled off the narrow vein without any dilution.
University of Nevada, Reno
While working with his father, DeLaMare also enrolled in the University of Nevada, Reno to study mining engineering. During his university career, he played on the basketball team and was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. In 1938, he graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering.
Cerro de Pasco, Peru and Walkermine, California
DeLaMare began his professional career in January, 1939, as a shift boss in an underground copper mine for Cerro de Pasco Corporation in Morococha, Peru. He was there for a year, but because of the altitude, he developed a heart problem and had to leave. He returned to the United States in 1940 to work at Walkermine, an underground copper mine near Portola, California. He was employed as a junior engineer and shift boss.
On November 3, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Blum and they began their life together in Walkermine. A good friend of theirs, Helen Droubay, later described life in the mining camp in her monograph "Those Lively Old Mining Camp Days". "We had a good-sized store, a hospital, a Quonset hut where we had a picture show nearly every week and the center of the camp was flat enough for a ball park. The camp was protected by a circle of hills around it. The company paid for the equipment and the men put up a ski tow." Helen went on to explain that they converted an old laundry shed into a clubhouse and had different kinds of entertainment every weekend, such as a men's leg show, a hog calling contest, and a waltz contest, etc." During the winter, they were sometimes completely snowed in. They had no fresh groceries and no electricity, but they never lacked for fun.
In a letter to Bob and Dotti Fowler, written in 1987, DeLaMare talked about the experience: "Those were wonderful days at Walkermine. It was a unique setting in that it brought together a group of young engineers (many recently married) to one of the last large company mining towns in the United States that had a social hierarchy similar to the old British mining towns. It was the end of the Great Depression, and we were all thankful to have a job, especially at the salaries Walkermine was paying compared to the other mining camps. If I remember correctly, Bob, you told me beginning engineers in Grass Valley were making $75.00 a month. When I got a job as a shift boss, and you got the job as Diamond Drill Blast Hole Supervisor, we really got up in the financial world at $175.00 a month. A lot of money in those days! One of the things I remember well was the tour that I took with you through the diamond drill blast hole operations. I was really impressed with the operation, which at that time was a relatively new method of mining."
Anaconda Defense Chrome Operations, Montana
During the war, the United States was in dire need of chromium. According to an article published in the December 6, 1943, issue of Time magazine, the Japanese had stopped chromium shipments from the Philippines and Nazi submarines threatened the supply from South Africa. A large chromium deposit was found in Mouat, Montana and the United States government invested $15 million to mine it. The article notes, "the Metals Reserve Co. cleared away the hillside, honeycombed it with six levels of tunnels, and perched a mill twelve stories high in the canyon below." DeLaMare, who had been working for the Anaconda Copper Mining Corporation Defense Chrome Operations at the Benbow Mine since July 29, 1941, was transferred to Mouat. He began on June 1, 1942, as the Assistant Mine Superintendent in charge of operations. In a letter about DeLaMare, Mine Superintendent S. K. Droubay wrote, "Under his supervision, the mine was developed from a prospect with several hundred feet of development into a mine with a potential production capacity well over one thousand tons per day from sixty degree dipping veins with strong walls through shrinkage stopes. The mine worked twenty-four hours a day, seven days per week." It provided two-thirds of the chromium needed by the United States.
In addition to his duties as assistant Mine Superintendent, DeLaMare was also in charge of the town site, which included residences, a boarding house, and bunkhouses which provided shelter for over one thousand miners and their families. Nine hundred construction workers and mill hands crowded into five rows of new bungalows down by the mill.
Three months after production began, the mines at Mouat closed down. Allied victories in North Africa and Sicily enabled chromium to be shipped more cheaply than Mouat could mill it. Rather than stay on in charge of mine maintenance, DeLaMare requested a release to seek work elsewhere. In his letter of recommendation, Mine Superintendent, S. K. Droubay said "Mr. DeLaMare is an alert mine operator and has done an exceptionally good job assisting the Anaconda Copper Mining Company officials to complete an emergency war project in record time. I heartily recommend him to any company in need of a progressive mining engineer."
United States Navy
Because of a heart murmur, DeLaMare was exempt from military service, but he wanted to serve his country. He saw an ad in the paper about an officer training program with the Navy. In 1944, he went to San Francisco, applied, and was accepted. As a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, he served as captain of a LST (landing ship) during World War II.
After the war, DeLaMare came back to Nevada and resumed mining with his father, Frank DeLaMare. DeLaMare and his father worked during this time as leasers, leasing small gold and tungsten properties. According to John Livermore, under this arrangement, individuals could lease a property from a larger mining company, the company supplying the materials and the miners supplying the labor. Ore could be shipped to a number of mills in the region, among these a custom mill at Dayton, Nevada. DeLaMare and his father leased a gold mining property at Olinghouse located in a canyon west of Wadsworth. Production was a two-man operation. Together they blasted, removed the ore with picks, then pushed the ore carts out by hand. While at Olinghouse, the DeLaMare family grew with the birth of their daughter Carol on November 5th, 1946. On June 27, 1949, their second daughter, Mary was born.
United Park City Mines, Utah
In 1955, DeLaMare joined United Park City Mines Company as General Superintendent of Mines at their lead-silver mine located in Keetly, Utah. He and his family lived in a mining camp which consisted of nine houses perched on a hillside by the mine. The Droubays from Walkermine and Mouat, were also there. Helen describes Park City as "almost a ghost town when we moved there...but we found the usual friendly mining group and plenty of social activities."
Jackson Mountain Mining Company, Nevada
In 1959, DeLaMare moved his family to Winnemucca, Nevada to form a partnership with Wilfred G. Austin called Jackson Mountain Mining Company. Greg Austin of Saga Exploration explains that his father, W. G. Austin, "needed a good underground miner" to oversee underground operations at Jackson Mountain. According to Jim Connor, office manager for the company, Jackson Mountain Mining company operated an underground iron mine on the Iron King claims which was being developed as a sub-level stope type. "As far as I know," said Connor, "Jackson Mountain was the first underground mine in the state of Nevada to utilize diesel powered equipment. Dee adapted some of the equipment to meet the current criteria. We had a Northwest Model 25 shovel with a cut down boom to load dumptors. Dee also decided to take over the truck haul and that became a learning experience for everyone. Again he adapted and took the best of the current ideas to make the haul a much more economical one. The Jake' brake was new and really assisted in making the operation much more cost effective."
Connor also said that as the iron market in Japan was developing, W. G. Austin, Charles Rowe, and DeLaMare formed ARD Equipment Company to operate additional mines for themselves and Nevada-Barth Corporation. Barth properties were obtained from Southern Pacific at Barth, Nevada and the Lovelock area. An additional property, McCoy, was obtained from John Heizer south of Battle Mountain. Charles Rowe noted that these mines produced magnetite and hematite iron ores.
After W. G. Austin's death in the early 1960's, Greg Austin recalls that DeLaMare took over the operating of Jackson Mountain Mining Company, but also gave technical assistance to Austin's other mines at Lovelock and Barth, Nevada. At that time, Greg Austin says, DeLaMare "pretty much held the company together technically, all of the mines."
Glass Buttes, Oregon
Following the closure, in 1969, of the Jackson Mountain Mining Company, Greg Austin and DeLaMare became interested in a small mercury property near Fields, Oregon. They referred to the property as Glass Buttes. Pete Galli was also involved in the mine. According to Greg Austin, they "put in a 150-ton a day mill that Dee bought from Virginia City... it was one of the old mills in Virginia City and we moved it up to Glass Buttes and put mercury through it." Unfortunately, the price of mercury plummeted and they lost money on the venture. Austin recalled that, "A lot of times, when you have a business arrangement like that, everybody gets so mad that you can't see, but your dad (DeLaMare) was a prince of a man and he never let that happen....I learned that lesson from your dad and I never forgot it."
Pinson Mine, Nevada
In 1970, DeLaMare started his own exploration program. He spotted an area northeast of Winnemucca, Nevada that appeared to be a promising gold orebody. He and Greg Austin staked the land and did some bulldozing in the area. However, they did not go deep enough and did not come up with anything. DeLaMare passed his idea onto John Livermore and Pete Galli of Cordilleran Explorations. DeLaMare's intuition was correct, for the company hit gold and put into operation the Pinson Mine. While DeLaMare did not actually discover the orebody, he was the one who led them to the area.
Cordex Exploration Company
In 1972, at age 60, DeLaMare was hired as a prospector by Cordilleran Explorations, headed by John Livermore and Pete Galli. In 1973, Cordilleran Explorations became Cordex Exploration Co. under the direction of John Livermore alone. DeLaMare continued to work for him. They worked primarily in Nevada and the partnership was very successful. According to Livermore, part of their success was their timing. "When I came back to Nevada in 1970 nobody was prospecting at that time at all. So we had the whole state to ourselves."
While DeLaMare had a natural ability for exploration, it was his commitment to research and the endless hours he spent studying that brought him success. When he began prospecting in the 1970's, people were on the lookout for large, low-grade mines. While low-grade orebodies seem to be the primary source of minerals today, at that time, Greg Austin explains "the model for the large-tonnage, low grade mines was not well understood." DeLaMare took on this challenge and began doing intensive research on the characteristics of these types of ores. He made numerous trips to the University of Nevada, Reno to research state reports and study aerial photographs of the state. According to Greg Austin, DeLaMare "lived in the library".
The approach Cordex took to mining exploration also aided DeLaMare in his efforts to find gold deposits. As John Livermore explained, "these types of deposits don't lend themselves to geophysics or a lot of the more sophisticated methods." Our company "went back to just tramping the hills and taking lots of samples". DeLaMare played a key role in this approach because of his in depth knowledge and his field methods.
According to Pete Galli, "Dee was a prospector's prospector." He loved being in the field, but was also a master at evaluating aerial photographs. Galli explained that DeLaMare would look for structure ration patterns in varying colors, mark the maps with colored pencils, and then go into the field to find them. He used a large map of Nevada that hung in the Nevada Barth office in Winnemucca, Nevada. Greg Austin described it as a 5'X4' map made from a collage of the first aerial photographs flown of the state. DeLaMare observed that many low-grade ores occurred where faults intersected, so he would locate the faults on the map and then look for these areas in the field. As Greg Austin explains, "we used to sit there for hours and draw lines on this map....he probably had 6,000 lines on it." "Where they intersected" that is where he would look. Austin recalls that DeLaMare told him, " his favorite thing was to drive over, or fly over..and look for" what he called, "diced beets", or areas where the fault lines intersected.
DeLaMare also only collected samples that John Livermore describes as "good-looking rocks" or rock samples he thought could potentially yield gold. In other words, DeLaMare took a biased sample and his method proved to be very successful. He also had a meticulous method of marking potential rock samples and an uncanny ability to return to the sample he had selected. Galli explains, "if he (DeLaMare) was interested in a certain rock, he would tie an orange ribbon around the rock and put the assay number on a tag with a magic marker. He also marked the rock itself, then covered it up to protect the markings from the weather."
Preble and Sterling Mines, Nevada
Working for Cordilleran Explorations in 1972, one of DeLaMare's first jobs was to prospect his own claims. He returned to an area he had staked earlier and collected samples. John Livermore recalls that "just one assay out of about two or three hundred samples had a little bit of gold in it...but that looked very interesting because it appeared to be Carlin-type gold." DeLaMare's prospect led to the discovery of the Preble orebody.
In 1973 he returned to an area southeast of Beatty, Nevada, originally prospected by John Livermore. Greg Austin describes the area DeLaMare prospected as a thrust, with the thrust margins anomalous in gold. DeLaMare did some research on the area and found that the man who originally held the claims had died. He then staked it for Cordilleran and the property developed into the Sterling Mine.
The Dee Mine, Nevada
In 1980, DeLaMare became interested in an outcrop outside of Elko, Nevada in the Boulder Creek drainage area. Through his study of aerial photographs, he identified, as noted in the Dee Gold Mining Co. brochure, some " interesting structures trending in a northwesterly direction from a known gold deposit." DeLaMare took several samples from barite trenches established by Philip A. Davis, and these yielded gold values. Cordex leased the claims from Davis and began drilling in 1981. Two orebodies were soon discovered. In 1983 the Dee Gold Mining Co. (named by John Livermore after DeLaMare) was formed and the Dee Gold Mine went into production in 1984. Commenting on the discovery of the mine, John Livermore said, "It's an amazing piece of work because I don't know how many people wandered over this particular ridge."
The DeLaMare Library
Because of DeLaMare's great contribution to the mining industry in Nevada, John Livermore asked that the new (combined) mines and engineering library at the University of Nevada, Reno be named after him. "I just felt the most important part of his work was research. The fact that he used to spend a lot of time studying and researching in libraries and looking at maps and geological reports, it seemed like an appropriate memorial to him," Livermore said.