Below the Silver King Mine the town of Calico grew slowly. In the spring of 1882 there were only 100 people living there. In July, 1882, the Silver King Mine was sold to San Francisco interests for $300,000. This, along with the consolidation of many individual claims led to more efficient mining. There were no less than 46 mines of note near Calico with the most important being the Waterloo, Bismarck, Oriental, Garfield and Burning Moscow.
In 1887 the Oro Grande Company began building a mill next to their mill at Daggett (which had been enlarged in 1884 to fifteen stamps). Just before completion, the mill burned to the ground, but work was resumed at once. To reduce transportation costs, as narrow gauge railroad was constructed in 1888 to bring ore from the Waterloo and Silver King mines to the mill. The falling price of silver shut down these mines in 1892. By 1896, the Silver King Mining Company also shut down. The mines of Calico produced between $13,000,000 and $20,000,000 worth of silver.
Around 1917 cyanide was used to recover silver from the Silver King mine dumps, and during the early 1930s there was a small operation, the Zenda Gold Mining Company, which mined silver. Gold was mined from the Total Wreck (Burcham) Mine from the 1930s until 1941. There is a strong possibility that the enormous quantities of low grade silver ore present at Calico will one day be mined.
As a town, Calico, with its one street perched on an inclined mesa, had a turbulent existence. It burned to the ground in the fall of 1883, and was rebuilt. After it was vacated in the 1930s, the remains of Calico sat derelict until 1950, when Walter Knott, owner of Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, converted the ghost town into a tourist attraction.
Three miles east of Calico, the town of Borate was formed near borax deposits mine since 1884 by “Borax” Smith. A railroad named the Borate & Daggett was laid into Mule Canyon in 1898. The borax mines were abandoned in 1907 after yielding nine million dollars worth of borax minerals.
California, as the outpost of manifest destiny, is known for its mining ghost towns. By the time the silver rush ended in 1904, Calico was deemed useless and was all but abandoned -- lock, stock and barrel. This former silver-mining town in Southern California peaked in the 1880s, but started declining when the price of silver dropped in the 1890s. It was a ghost town by 1907.