Greenwater Canyon presented the shortest route from the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad siding at Amargosa Station to the copper camps known variously as Kunze, Furnace, Copperfield, and Greenwater. Vastly overrated mineral strikes were made in the early 1900's on the eastern side of the Black Mountains in what is known today as Death Valley National Park.
The townsite that resulted became known as "Greenwater" and lasted only long enough for the original speculators to reap huge fortunes leaving subsequent investors penniless when it was discovered that the values would not sustain prolonged operations. Within a year-and-a-half, Greenwater was but a memory with only a few piles of rubble and scattered mine shafts and tailings containing green-stained quartz to mark the spot.
Greenwater Canyon is a broad desert dry wash that begins in the upper Greenwater Valley and descends for eight miles to the Amargosa Valley near the Lila C borax mines. The road that traverses its length is still extant and would be driveable if it weren't within the California Desert Protection and Death Valley "Wilderness" systems. Inyo County has been protesting its closure, but for now, it is for foot and horse traffic only.
Early inhabitants of the region left numerous examples of petroglyphs for us to puzzle over. In addition, there are rare pictographs (painted symbols) in shelters and caves near natural water tanks or "tinajas." One such pictograph depicts a horse and rider which tentatively dates it to no earlier than the 1700's.
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