Union Mining District
Located on the western side of the Shoshoe Range, the first mining activity in the area happen around May 1963, when a small group of mining prospectors discovered silver in the Union Canyon. The small mining camp of Union was settled in the canyon. The next year the Union Mining District was formed that included the towns of Union, Ione, Grantsville and Berlin.
Berlin was founded in 1897 in the Berlin Canyon. The Berlin Mine was established a year earlier but the silver production was less than spectacular. The mine only produced about 1 million dollars during operations. The mine and the mill attracted a small population of 250 people at its peak, of whom 200 were miners. A flash flood destroyed the mine, finally cease operations and closing the mine for good. Many of the original building still remain in arrested decay, achieved over the years of abandonment. The ghost town includes a mine supervisor’s house, machine shop, assay office and 30-stamp mill. The 30-stamp mill is one of the best persevered buildings of its kind.
The American Flag flown above the State Park’s office has 45 stars that coincided exactly with the Hey-Day of Berlin commencing in 1896 the same year Utah was granted statehood. It is the only Nevada ghost town to have been declared a state park but not because of the buildings that remained.
The Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park was first established in 1957 and include the ghost town of Berlin in 1970. Originally, the state park was created to protect and preserve the largest know collection of Ichthyosaur fossils. Later the park would preserve the turn of the century mining town of Berlin. Within the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, park rangers give tours of the Diana Mine that is preserved as a mining museum. The Diana Mine connects to the collapsed Berlin Mine at the fourth level.
In 1970, the State of Nevada claimed and purchase the Berlin town as part of the new Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. At the time, Berlin only had one resident. Ray L. Tiefel was that person and was famous for his patent in 1938 for a ski binding. Later he and a business partner purchase mining claims in the old Union Mining District. He lived in Berlin until 1970. To this day, one of the remaining building in Berlin still has some of his belongs and his name written on the front door.
The largest known collection of Ichthyosaur fossils is located in the middle of Nevada. Ichthyosaurs were prehistoric aquatic reptiles that differ dramatically from other reptiles while living 225 million years ago. Ranging in size from two to 60 feet in length and swam in the ancient Lake Lahontan that covered a large portion of northern Nevada. Dr. Siemon Muller discovered the fossilized reptile in 1928 but excavations didn’t happen until 1954. Under the direction of Dr. Charles Camp and Dr. Samuel Welles from the University of California, Berkeley, Ichthyosaurs fossils were unearthed from the canyon floor. The excavations produced the largest specimens known. 40 Ichthyosaurs were discovered in various locations throughout the park. Ichthyosaur Fossil Shelter alone houses 9 specimens along with another just outside the shelter.
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GPS Coordinates: 38.87198 N, -117.59360 W