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Determined to revisit the region, he secured his aforementioned partners, supplies and equipment to properly prospect the area located in the soon-to-be-named Rand Mountains. Once the word got out, all hell broke loose. A stampede ensued. People of all backgrounds and professions across the country stormed into the area.
By October , claims had been filed and by February of the number had exploded to 4, although only were officially recorded.
Ore was shipped and processed at the nearby Garlock mill until when most was then freighted to Barstow. Although lumber was scarce, more permanent wooden buildings soon followed. One enterprising hotel temporarily lodged its guests with no roof as it was being built. When the floor was laid, an unmovable boulder was simply blasted out in place—with no damage to the existing structure. Water was shipped twelve miles away from Garlock via private entrepreneurs.
End users paid dearly for this convenience. Rand, and later, Butte Avenues evolved into the central hubs of social life. By spring of , fifty buildings had been erected including an opera house and twenty-four saloons with the Elite, Oriole, White Fawn and the Steam Beer Club considered to be the most exclusive of the lot. Saloons and dance halls were required by law to be discreetly separated so ingenious proprietors built them as adjacent structures sometimes adding a walkway between them. Lou V. Half way down the hall a sodden-face boy saws away at a fiddle with the expression of a sleep-walker, and by his side a murderous-looking Mexican toys with a guitar.
If they make any sound it is audible only a few feet away, so great is the general hubbub.
At many of the tables professional gamblers, cool, calm and silent, handle the chips; and roulette, faro and every other known game of chance is in full swing. She comes down and moves among the men, drinking and exchanging ribald jests. The barkeeper, with his sleeves rolled up above his elbows, serves liquid refreshments, and day and night these places are never closed, although they are seen at their busiest from nightfall till daylight. After considerable strikes of silver and gold were discovered at the turn of the century across the state line in Nevada, the once robust population of The Rand quickly dwindled.
Between and , more than 3,, tons of ore had been milled here yielding , ounces of gold. Nearby, Osdick now named Red Mountain and Atolia would later spawn profitable mines of silver and tungsten, essential for steel manufacturing during the s, which kept the area actively mining over most of the twentieth century.
When Jim Butler discovered a spectacular strike on May 19, , in a remote central Nevada location that would soon become Tonopah—hordes of miners, prospectors, speculators, capitalists, shopkeepers and other opportunists hurriedly set off for the Silver State, launching a migratory event the West had not witnessed since the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Between and , Tonopah would mature into a modernized, electrified city boasting a population between 5, and 10, people—many hailing from diverse ethnic backgrounds and countries of origin including African Americans, Native Americans, Chinese, Cornish, Italians and Slavs.
Just as Tonopah began to prosper treasure seekers were busying themselves twenty-seven miles to the south where the Great Basin begins its transition into the northern Mojave Desert. At a dormant volcanic site punctuated with Joshua Trees largely ignored by earlier prospectors, news would begin to circulate about a monumental strike discovered here in December that would completely blindside Tonopah.
There were rumors that the two men had strong-armed Fisherman into submission but it is more likely that familial ties between Stimler and Fisherman aided them in obtaining access.
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It should be noted this tactic was practiced by many disingenuous white prospectors as well, the most infamous being Death Valley Scotty a. Walter E. Goldfield, like other antecedent gold strikes, would boom quickly yielding magnificent wealth. But, like a short-lived evanescent Fourth of July sparkler, Goldfield shined ever so briefly.
At its peak in , the town had attracted some 18, to 20, individuals to its golden gates but by , the head count would precipitously drop to 5, souls. During its brief run notable Western personalities would reside here, including Wyatt Earp and his doomed brother Virgil, who not long after arriving in , caught pneumonia and succumbed after six months at age 62, during one of the deadly influenza epidemics that raged through the city from through Bartenders of the Northern Saloon, one of forty-nine operating in , served up gallons of whiskey daily from their sixty-foot bar.
Greed would inflame discord as Goldfield Consolidated Mining Company bosses George Wingfield, a former gambler and faro dealer, and the soon-to-be U. As the high grading controversy intensified, labor tensions rose. Wingfield and Nixon would instigate a successful union breakup of the Western Federation of Miners and the Industrial Workers of the World through the support and intervention of federal troops when strikes broke out between and While remarkably rich, the deposit had proven to be limited. By , Goldfield was spent and folks were moving on. By the time the stampede had petered out, three weeks later, over 2, claims had been recorded within the newly organized, thirty-square-mile Bullfrog Mining District whose premier settlement was Rhyolite—named after the rosy-colored, silica-rich felsic extrusive rock of the region.
The three-story concrete, steel and glass John S. Bank building was richly appointed but, by far, the most unique structure in town was the bottle house built in February by miner Tom T. Kelley with 50, beer and liquor bottles—artifacts attesting to the frenzied rush that occurred just a few years earlier. Still, this celebrated mine would not shed a cent back to any of its stockholders besides Schwab.
When the fall Panic of hit, investors dropped like flies forcing many regional banks and businesses to close. By , the census taker listed only residents. The Cook bank building and other concrete and stone structures cracked and crumbled over time, allowing the desert to reclaim the plots where they had once stood, seemingly impervious to the desert elements.
Idealized ghost town tourism is alive and well today in the Mojave Desert at Disneyfied places like Calico, California and Oatman, Arizona, who equally boast reconstructions of mining boomtown life. Attractions include a restored main boardwalk with museums, shops, eateries, saloon plus a plethora of cheap souvenir shops.
Visitors can descend 1, feet into the old Maggie Mine, ride on the Calico Odessa Railroad or pan for gold. The ruins of Rhyolite photographed by Kim Stringfellow at dawn in August The Mojave Desert will be forever associated with the iconic image of the lone prospector treading alongside his scruffy burro through a desolate landscape. These roving, rugged prospectors traveled throughout the region between primitive camps and the eventual towns that quickly sprang up and just as swiftly fizzled out.
Other seekers, including many unnamed Chinese, Mexican, Spanish, African and Native American prospectors and miners, likely explored and worked claims within the larger Mojave Desert and beyond but are poorly represented within the historical record.
Spry, loquacious and diminutive, Shorty was the quintessential desert rat. He crisscrossed the country, eventually heading out west while hiding underneath a train, carrying President Ulysses S. This somewhat offset losses in lead and silver mining in the area, whose condition was stagnant due to the low market price of these particular metals. Despite this, it was concluded by mining officials in the county that "the mining industry in southern Inyo seems to be thriving at the present time.
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It has as always many difficulties to contend with, especially in the gold producing districts. The greatest need there is milling facilities closer to the properties. It should be borne in mind that the shortest mine to mill [route] established in the immediate vicinity, and] a program of more and better improved roads would be the greatest single factor toward increased prosperity of the miner and thereby of our whole county.
Overall, production levels reached now seemed to stabilize due to increased values in market prices, newer machinery, and improved roads and processes. The Panamint mines were leased in by the American Silver Corporation, which performed some work on them. The renewed interest was attributable to some price stability occurring as a result of the federal government's stockpile sales policy and to the absence of tungsten imports from mainland China. The mining districts west of Death Valley have played an important and productive role in Inyo County's economic and social history, and are worth further study on their own.
What is important, and what has hopefully been transmitted in this short chapter, is a realization of the extreme and lasting influences exerted by these early communities and their inhabitants on the later mining progress of southern Inyo County, including especially that of Death Valley. The amount of territory covered by Owens and Panamint valley prospectors, and by businessmen on the lookout for a promising investment, was phenomenal, especially in light of the dearth of transportation facilities available at the time.
These peregrinations were the primary means by which men in the Death Valley camps and in the Nevada fields further east were kept apprized of mining conditions in surrounding areas and the methods most successfully used in extracting ore. The exploitation of these western mining districts has been at times energetic, at times frenzied, and always sporadic.
By dint of much persistence and experimentation, however, the groundwork was laid here for the more systematic and technologically sound methods that ultimately produced such gratifying results in later mining operations in the southern Panamint, Wildrose, and Ubehebe sections of Death Valley during the next few years. Jacobs, W. Kennedy, and R. Stewart, who located eighty or ninety claims in the vicinity.