Julia’s Unequivocal Nevada Klampout #38, Wonder, NV
S L Y
Clamper year 6022
Brought to you by
Julia C. Bulette Chapter 1864, E Clampus Vitus
Noble Grand Humbug Reid Slayden
Researched and interpreted by
Jeffrey D. Johnson XNGH, Clamphistorian at Chapter 1864
Rod Stock XSNGH, Jess Davis XNGH
Churchill County was established in 1861 and named after Fort Churchill (which is now in Lyon County), which was named after General Sylvester Churchill, a Mexican-American War hero who was Inspector General of the U.S. Army in 1861. Churchill County was not organized until 1864, and its county seats were Bucklands (1861–64) which is now in Lyon County, La Plata (1864–68), Stillwater (1868–1904) and Fallon (1904–present). In the 19th century there were several attempts to eliminate Churchill County because of its small population, but Assemblyman Lemuel Allen was able to stop it on all occasions including convincing the Governor to veto the bill after it had been passed by both houses in 1875.
The first Churchill County facility in Churchill County was in La Plata. The Mountain Well District, discovered in 1862, attained considerable prominence during the middle sixties, but there is little evidence to show that any appreciable amount of ore was produced. There was no water for milling and ore was hauled to Bernice or Black Knob for processing.
La Plata is the county seat of Churchill County. The climate is delightful, atmosphere pure, bracing, and wholesome, as, as our prospectus foreshadows, so healthful that epidemics are unknown. The situation is far preferable to Virginia [City, Nevada]. It is located in the shelter of a cañon, or rather, two, and with little expense can be made an eligible place for a large city. The town at present contains but a sparse population, although we have a court-house, two hotels, viz., Warren House and the La Plata Hotel and Pioneer Saloon, affording accommodations to all who may visit the place, provided the number is not too great, as I trust it may be in a short time to come. The buildings are not very capacious, and do not represent a remarkable appearance in an architectural point of view; nevertheless, the initiative has been taken, and ere long this city may perhaps be able to boast of as fine buildings as are present to be seen at Virginia or elsewhere. The water, although not very abundant yet, owing mainly to the fact that no particular effort has been made to procure it, yet within the limits of our place we have three springs, which will not only furnish water enough for a ten stamp mill, with an abundant supply left to accommodate not only the citizens of this place, but also a neighborhood for many miles distant. In fact, teams come here almost daily from a distance to procure water for remote places, and the Overland Stage Company is compelled to haul water from here to Fairview Station, a distance of 7 1/2 miles, for their use. It must be taken into consideration that the district is not thickly populated, but I entertain the opinion that water enough can be found here to supply many mills and a large population. A few young men are engaged in running a tunnel in the heart of this place, and informed me that they had found a large spring, which interfered materially with their operations. Nature provides for all these deficiencies. In this connection, I will add that salt, which is so necessary for beneficiating silver ores, is found in large bodies. A gentleman from Silver Hill, who was bred in my neighborhood in Pennsylvania, owns large bed 25 miles from this place, agreed to execute a lease by which he will bind himself to furnish the Silver Wave Company with salt, in all time to come, gratis, provided they first erect a mill here. Wood for steam and other purposes can be procured from our land in sufficient quantities to supply one hundred stamps for many years to come, although I do not wish to convey the idea that it can be used as timber in erecting the mill; it is principally mountain cedar, and well adapted for generating steam. It is adjacent to the mill and easily cut; the roads being in good condition, and down grade, the expense and labor for hauling will not be excessive. Building materials are found here in great abundance, such as stones, clay out of which good brick can be manufactured; lime can be procured, but clay is found here, which, by mixing with water, produces good mortar. Lime can be had within a limited distance, and although the experiment has not been made, I am inclined to think it can be manufactured here. The marble quarry is situated a short distance away from the Silver Wave ledge, and presents a very good appearance. It is easily quarried, and can be made available in the construction of the mill. Laborers can be procured without too much trouble. The price of ordinary laborers will be $4; but, in the opinion of most operators here, the tendency is downwards, and before the season fairly commences, they may be reduced to $3.
-Prospectus of the Nevada Silver Mining Company, Churchill County, Nevada, 1865, President James Ross Snowden
It’s [La Plata] courthouse was a dwelling acquired on October 15, 1864 for $700 from Anton Kaufman. By 1867 La Plata’s mining boom declined and support for moving the county seat gained momentum. In a special election held on October 22, 1867, the electorate cast thirty-three votes for re-locating the county government to Stillwater, only seventeen voted for a move to Big Adobe, a small way station west. When the Churchill Co. Seat moved to Stillwater in December 1868, officials dismantled the house-turned-courthouse in La Plata and reassembled it in the new location. Eventually, finding the one room wooden structure unsuitable, they finished construction on a more permanent two story courthouse in 1870.”
Historic Site Studies in Churchill County, Nevada, Dr. William C. Davis. PhD.
Prospectors from Fairview made discoveries in this area in May of 1906 and by August there was already a newspaper and a thriving camp. The financial panic of 1907 halted most of the operation in the district until 1911 when the Nevada Wonder Mining Co. constructed a 200- ton cyanide mill at its mine, which operated until 1919. The town had telephone service by November 1906, electric power in February 1911 and a school from 1907 to 1919.” The Wonder District is on the west slope of a a southern spur of the Alpine range, sometimes called the Augusta Mountains, in west Churchill County. It is 55 miles by road east of the town of Fallon, the nearest railroad point; 40 of the 55 miles are over paved Lincoln Highway and the remaining distance is over fair desert road with an easy grade from the highway to the camp, the rise being approximately 2,000 feet in 15 miles. The elevation of Wonder is 5,500 feet.
The first location in the Wonder District was made in April 1906 by T.J. Stroud on the Jackpot group of claims, and the Nevada Wonder mines was located shortly afterward by Murray Scott, William Mays, and others. The discovery of rich silver-gold ore started a stampede from Fairview that began in May in the same year, and in a few weeks over 1,000 locations were made. The discovery attracted considerable attention, and it was not long before a camp of several thousand people was established. In the first few years of the camp’ s history, a number of companies were organized, but the bulk of the metal yield was derived from the Nevada Wonder mines, incorporated in Delaware on September 19, 1906. Later this mine was taken over by a group of eastern capitalists, who began a systematic development campaign and in 1913 constructed a 200 ton cyanide mill at the mine. Electric power was brought in from bishop, Calif., and at the time this transmission line had the distinction of being the longest in the world. The Nevada Wonder Mining Co. controlled, by stock ownership, the claims of the Wonder Extension, reorganized North Star, and Hidden Treasure Mining Companies, totaling 401 acres, 328 of which were patented. In 1910 water was brought to the camp by a gravity pipe from Horse creek,a distance of ten miles. The company ceased operations in December 1919, after a very profitable history. The total amount of dividends paid was $1, 549,002. In 1924 the mine equipment was dismantled and most of it sold. In 1935 the mine and the equipment remaining was purchased by L.F. Curtis of Reno, Nev. In recent years, mining in the district has been by lessees, largely at the Nevada Wonder Mine.
–Nevada Bureau of Mines, Date Unknown (1938?)
Wonder, the scene of the latest mining excitement in Nevada, is situated about 22 miles northeast of Fairview, thus making it 80 miles from the nearest railroad point. It may be reached either direct from Fairview, or, as most prefer, by going to Westgate, 12 miles distant, where there is plenty of water, and thence to Wonder, 16 miles more. A stage leaves Fairview daily for the camp, and makes the trip in about six hours. The new camp is situated in the Silver mountains, about four miles from the head of an old river channel, and half way between Chalk Mountain and Horse Creek. It is flanked on either side by high rolling hills, which seem to be less broken than those surrounding Fairview. The tops are covered with a sparse growth of timber, which insures plenty of comparatively cheap fuel. There is enough mountain grass to feed burros. The camp was discovered during the early part of June, sensational surface ore having been obtained from the Wonder claim. The news immediately brought a rush of men from Fairview, nearly depopulating it temporarily, and all surrounding ground was staked off for miles. Several new strikes were made, but nothing approaching in richness the original location. The camp was discovered during the early part of June, sensational surface ore having been obtained from the Wonder claim. The news immediately brought a rush of men from Fairview, nearly depopulating it temporarily, and all surrounding ground was staked off for miles. Several new strikes were made, but nothing approaching in richness the original location. At present the camp consists of about 60 to 80 tents, no wooden buildings having yet been erected, though several are about to be. Beside work on the Wonder claim, there is much prospecting going on in the surrounding hills, and several rich finds are reported, especially near Horse Creek. Just now the camp is laboring under severe handicaps, the worst being lack of water. All water is hauled from Westgate, and has a ready sale at $6 ($160) per barrel. However, a new strike of water has been made three miles away, and there is every indication that a good supply will soon be secured. Prices of all commodities are high, but no higher that the conditions warrant. Meals of dubious quality may be had at 75¢ ($15.39). Town lots are closely held, prices ranging from $150 ($3,078.54) to $400 ($8,209.43) in the center of town. Wonder is emphatically not a “poor man’s camp.” All goods must be hauled in, and ore hauled out, to Hazen, and as the roads are in sandy soil, with frequent steep grades, freight rates are as high as 3 1/2 (17¢)cents to 5 ($1.03) cents per pound. But these difficulties can be overcome, and with an intelligent management of capital invested, Wonder should justify the good opinion already formed by conservative mining men who have visited the camp.
-Mining and Scientific Press July 14, 1906
NEW DISCOVERY AT WONDER
While doing some trenching work on the Atlanta group of claims in the Wonder district, Dick Lonergan uncovered a two foot ledge which assayed $185. The Atlanta is owned jointly by Dick Lonergan and the D’Arcy brothers of Hercules, and is considered one of the best properties in the canyon. The town of Wonder is growing daily by jumps and bounds and fully 150 people a week are now pouring in from every conceivable place. The stages come into town every night loaded down and go out in the morning empty. Over 100 people every day are waiting in Fallon, for a chance to get any kind of ride into the camp, and stage tickets are being sold for two weeks ahead of time. Several large real estate transactions have taken place during the last week, one lot selling for $4,000 ($102,619). One of the finest buildings in Nevada will be erected on the property. Good miners are in great demand in Wonder and many operators are send out for experienced hands. In fact all kinds of labor is scarce and carpenters are lucky to get off for meals, owing to the pressing demand for buildings. In sixty days Wonder will have five hotels, two banks and many other buildings and firms, as plans have all been drawn up for them. It will need all of these, and more, as the town will not be able to grow fast enough to keep ahead of the incoming population. Taking into consideration the fact that Wonder is sixty miles out in the desert, the prices of foodstuffs and all kinds of provisions are surprisingly low. Meals are 50 cents each ($12.40) and beds cost only $1 ($25.65) per night. Water will be running through the pipes into the town in a few weeks, and a site for a swimming tank has already been located.
-Salt Lake Mining Review, March 15, 1907
WONDER THE COMING GREAT MINING CENTER
Marvelous Activity Caused By Rich Discoveries– All Means of Transportation Taxed To the Utmost– People Arriving From Every Quarter of the Globe– Prominent Tonopah Mining Men Visit the Camp and Are Astounded
“It would not surprise to learn that over 1,000 head of horses are on the road between Fallon and Wonder hauling freight and passengers and supplies,” said W. W. Booth, proprietor of the Daily Bonanza. “Buildings, fie, permanent buildings, are going up on every side, and more would be in the process of construction if building material could be obtained. But in speaking of Wonder, Fairview must not be forgotten. This camp is in the same mineral belt as Wonder and will develop almost as rapidly and consistently as the Wonder camp. Why, in Fairview there is a body of ore so large that it cannot be worked out for the next fifty years. Mark my words.”
Tonopah Daily Bonanza April 14, 1907
HISTORY OF WONDER
It was in March 1906 that the redoubtable Tom Stroud first left Fairview and became attracted on a prospecting trip to the hills located to the north conspicuous from the entire surrounding country for their vivid mineralization, and made a location which he named the Lost claim, a part of which is now embraced in the Stray Horse group, and the remainder being included in the Horn Spoon holdings. After making this location, Stroud returned to Fairview and interested the D’arcy brothers in the rich samples he had brought back with him, and they equipped him with supplies for a second trip. This trip was destined to be the climax of his crowning achievement, for it was then that he located the now famous Jack Pot. The exact date of this location was April 7th, 1906. A few weeks later, Stroud made a third trip accompanied by R L D’arcy. They made several more locations and on their way out when they were met by another party consisting of Frank Shulty, R L Smith et al. These last named parties made several locations and were later joined by William Mays, L A Savage, and Murray Scott. While prospecting the hill now known as Wonder Mountain, Mays broke a piece of rock from the outcrop of a ledge. Though he had been prospecting but a few weeks, his unskilled eye detected the presence of mineral and upon showing the rock to Scott and Savage, his opinion was verified by their more experienced judgment. Greatly elated by their find, these men immediately began taking up the surrounding ground, locating the Last Chance and Hidden Treasure. Mays soon after this returned to Fairview and their hearts were all made glad by the returns from the assays from the samples of rock secured from their find, which showed values of $1200 in gold and silver. in some manner the news of the strike became public and saddle horses, burros, single rigs, double rigs, and every other means of transportation available were hastily brought into service and the stampede was on. Many who were unable to procure even a burro struck out on foot. Among those first upon the ground were C C Higgins, Harry Morris, Frank Lamb, Scott Groo, J B Cobb, and a number of others many of whom have disposed of their interests for handsome sums. It is stated that more fortunes have been acquired in a given time by the original locators in Wonder than in any other district in Nevada.
–Salt Lake Mining Review, May 15, 1907
The mill of the Nevada Wonder Mining company at Wonder Nevada as well as that of the Nevada Hills Mining company at Fairview has been idle since early in January and it will probably be the first of April before the plants are again in active operation. This enforced idleness was caused by the Hydro-Electric Power Company being unable to generate the necessary power at Lundy, California, the seat of activity of the latter concern. Extremely cold weather early in the year almost completely shut down the Lundy plant, only enough current being made at the present time to operate lights, hoists, and compressors. The Hydro-Electric Power Company, however, is rushing work with a large force of men in erecting a huge dam and will soon be able to furnish adequate power for all purposes. This dam should have been built last summer, but on account of the great avalanche of a year ago in which several men were killed and the then power plant destroyed, all energy was diverted to the reconstruction of the plant. Consequently, the reservoir plans were unavoidably postponed and, the vicinity experiencing the coldest weather in over ten years, the present deadlock has resulted. The temporary closing of the Nevada Wonder mill, however, has not interfered with the mine workings. The miners who had been busy stoping ore for the mill have been put on development work and much is being done now that could not be done when the mill was running. The Nevada Wonder shaft is a small single compartment shaft and its capacity was taxed on an output of eighty tons of ore daily, the mill being a one hundred ton affair. Many eastern stockholders not knowing the circumstances questioned the reason for not running the full one hundred tons per day. The present opportunity is being taken advantage of and the shaft is not only being lowered from the 500 foot level, its depth two months ago, but is being sent down as a two compartment shaft as well, from the 500 foot point. It is now past the 650 foot point and will be lowered to 700 feet or more. It is also the intention to carry the two compartment shaft from the 500 foot level to the surface, after which the mill will not only run at full capacity but extensive development work will be taken care of also. The mine is equipped with 2 -14 inch Sullivan drills and Waugh stopers, a Leyner hoist, a Laidlaw Dunn Gordon compressor, and a Sturtevant blower, all operated by electric power. The Leyner drill sharpener and automatic ore gates at the mine bins being operated by compressed air. The mill has given entire satisfaction, more than meeting the expectations of the management as a value saver during the period of its running. It treated an average of eighty tons daily, all the small shaft could furnish, and the percentage of extraction from the assay values of the ore ranged from a little over 90 per cent at the beginning of the run to 96 per cent at the time of closing down, and a further improvement in recovery is anticipated on resumption of milling, as several changes and additions are now being made. The concentrators, which were experimental, have been abandoned and another Dorr thickener is being added to the equipment, also one more classifier and a system of continuous agitation is being installed. With the additions and improvements as outlined, the capacity of the mill will be one hundred and twenty tons daily. The refinery is equipped with Faber du Faure tilting furnaces, the building is heated throughout by an elaborate steam system. The fuel used for this purpose being California oil. Water is supplied through a ten mile four-inch pipe line from Horse Creek, a large 100,000 gallon storage tank above the mill constantly overflowing.
– Salt Lake Mining Review, March 30, 1912
Things slowly petered out and finally stopped. The property was taken over by a group of stern capitalists and they began a thorough, systematic development campaign. An immense tonnage or ore was blocked out and in 1913 a 200-ton cyanide plants was installed. Electric power was brought in from Bishop, California, and at the time of its installation this hydroelectric power plant held the distinction of being the longest transmission line in the world. The mine and mill were completely equipped with the most modern, up-to-date electrically drive machinery obtainable, and production commenced which eventually yielded over six million dollars. In 1919 the mine and mill were suddenly closed down and the property remained idle until 1924, when the machinery was placed on the market. in 1933 the mine and what machinery remained were purchased by the present owner, who continued to sell off the equipment. In the meantime, with the closing of all operating mines in Rawhide, Nevada Hills (Fairview) and Wonder, the principle points of power consumption, the transmission line was removed and all mining operations ceased. But the Wonder mine holds the distinction of being the only mine in the west where company operations were not followed by lessees or tributers. Early in 1931 a lease on the property was granted to a well known Tonopah lessee and operator. He found a man’s size job confronting him, for during the long period of idleness the three compartment main working shaft that had been sunk to the 1300 foot level was found to be in bad repair and required considerable re-timbering. Having full faith in the property, the lessee set about the task of timbering the shaft and old workings, which work was completed only to the 200 foot level, when lack of funds prevented further activities along these lines.
– Report On the Nevada Wonder Mine, 1938
On the Dixie Valley side, over the hill from Wonder, there were at least four mines active in the area during the boom days, along with the usual boarding house and a saloon or two. Most of the inhabitants probably lived in tents.
Hercules is north of Wonder on the banks of an ancient stream that drained Badger Flat.
Salt, potash and borax brought miners to the valley in 1861. The natural artesian springs were exploited to raise cattle and alfalfa since the turn of the century. On the east side of Dixie Valley you can see the six foot vertical fault from the 1954 7.3 earthquake. This was the 12th largest earthquake in the contiguous United States. The Navy ran the ranchers out of the valley in the 1980’s with supersonic airpower.
Project Shoal was an underground nuclear test that took place on October 26, 1963 within the Sand Springs Range, approximately 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Fallon, Nevada, in a granite formation of the range. The site was selected because its earthquake activity afforded a basis for seismic signal comparisons. Project Shoal was part of the Vela Uniform program sponsored jointly by the U.S Department of Defense and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Vela Uniform was directed toward locating, detecting, and identifying underground detonations. The objective of Project Shoal was to detonate a nuclear device underground in an active seismic area so that seismic traces for the test and prior earthquakes could be compared and differentiated. The test was performed on October 26, 1963. It involved detonating a 12-kiloton nuclear device in granitic rock at a depth of approximately 1,211 feet (369 m) below ground surface.
WARNING- BORDERS NAVY BOMBING RANGE. NOW INACCESSIBLE.
This District is reached from Hazen on the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad, thence southeast sixty miles by team or automobile.. The town of Fairview is situated in the very low foothills, while the mines are located two and one half miles south in the higher foot hills. Fairfield is another town in the same district situated six miles east of Fairview. The mines are located in the Fairview Range, Churchill County, Nevada. The mining district is known as Fairview. Sand Springs Summit is the only summit crossed between Hazen and Fairview, and is about ten miles from the district. It is a very gradual summit, the automobiles being able to make it on high gear. A railroad line has been surveyed from Hazen to Fallon, and construction is said to have been authorized at once. The old “Pony Express” road between Fort Churchill and Austin passed within two miles of the present town site.
Very little work has yet been done, and even ground recently sold or leased has only just started work. There are as yet two incorporated companies in the district, viz. The Nevada Hills Mining Company and the Fairview Eagle Mining Company. The Nevada hills Company control the Weber vein, and the Fairview-Eagle Co. the Jarvin vein. 40′ was the greatest depth attained at the above date, and this was on the Fairview Eagle property owned by Wingfield and Associates. On the Nevada Hills property a shaft is being sunk and was about 5′ deep on the vein. A tunnel was also being run from the south side of the hill which would tap the vein at 100′ – 150′ in depth. This also was just started. The other work on the property was in cuts along the vein. On the Fairview Eagle property the shaft was down 40′ and still sinking. They followed down on a streak on the hanging wall, and the sheet was dipping west, also vein narrow. Leases have been let on this property. On the Ridge McLaughlin property or the Dromedary Hump vein, the development work consisted in several cuts along the vein, and a shaft just started. Harnon and Naughton have some very promising property but practically only surface work had been done, and both gentlemen were out of town, and I was unable to make an inspection of the work.
Wages are $4.50 and $5.00 per eight hour day. [$12.75 2005 dollars per hour] Wood and water are scarce. Wood is brought from adjacent hills, and water is hauled nine miles and sold at $3.00 per barrel. Prices are on a par with the other new camps of Nevada.
SUMMARY: The Weber vein seems to carry the best values, although those found in the other veins are very encouraging. The general geological conditions are, I think, very favorable. Natural conditions are not of the best, but can be improved greatly. There is a large and favorable area for prospecting and development, and on the whole I think the district a very favorable one.
GENERAL REPORT OF THE FAIRVIEW DISTRICT NEVADA BUREAU OF MINES AND GEOLOGY APRIL 20 1906
Fairview May Have Church, Catholics Asked to Form Congregation
Lot Offered Proposed Parish—
Camp has 800 Souls and is Rapidly Growing
If the camp continued its growth it will soon be a camp of several thousand people. At the present time the people are too busy locating claims and sacking gold to pay much attention to Sundays and worship but there is a large Catholic population in the camp and there are seriously considering the advisability of forming a parish.
-Reno Evening Gazette May 2th, 1906
|NEWS FROM MINING CAMPS|
Plenty of Water Struck At Fairview
The deep artesian well on the Hayes-Monnette property near the city has been completed and is now pouring out hundreds of gallons of water a day. The exact flow of the well has not been determined, but it is sufficient so supply the camp of Fairview with plenty of water. This water is cold and clear and will greatly reduce the price of water, which is now selling for 50 cents per barrel in Fairview.
-Reno Evening Gazette 1907 January 22RAILROAD WILL ENTER FAIRVIEW
Work On The Line Will Soon Be Started
Fairview shippers receive assurance from Southern Pacific that railroad will enter the camp. Fairview will get a railroad from Fallon just as a matter of course. Without any newspaper fuss, no promotion, no bonus. Was there ever another situation just like this one? The Southern pacific will connect this district with the present terminus at the hub city, and it will start the work at once, for the simple reason that the road is going to be builded [sic] and it is up to them to own the line, or not own it, just as they please. They have chosen very wisely to act, decisively and promptly. The information is absolutely authentic that the mine owners of this district sent a delegation to San Francisco and a consultation was held with the officials of the Harriman system. The Harriman people were requested to build this connecting line at once, at the same time they were given to understand that should they fail to act promptly the road would be constructed from the proceeds of the ore. It was no bluff. They had deliberately calculated that the saving on the freight haul of forty-two miles would soon pay for the railroad-Reno Evening Gazette 1907 May 15MINERS DOING ACTUAL WORK ON CLAIMS
Big Demand For Men In Fairview District
There are fewer idle en on the streets of Fairview than usual, owing to the pressing demand for surface workmen to complete the 1907 annual work on scores of claims outlying in the district. There is a call for more men than are available, and the demand will become more pressing this month. In order to comply with the law such annual work must be started before the expiration of the year.
–Reno Evening Gazette 1907 December 10
BIG MILL WILL BE BUILT BY OPERATORS OF MINES
Graffiti from 1911 on Road to Rawhide.
A social affair unique in it manner occurred here Thursday night. A party of 17 chartered an auto truck and went down to “The Frenchman’s” station, out in the middle of the desert, for a dance and a frolic. This station is situated just 12 miles from the nearest water and is maintained for the purpose of supplying teamsters with water, which is hauled from springs in the hills. There is a large pavilion here, with a good floor, and walled up with wire netting to afford a place for travelers to sleep during hot weather. The merrymakers had music along and danced until midnight, when Mr. Bermond, the proprietor, announced supper. The unique part of it is that away out on the big alkali flat a dinner was served with all the French fixings, wines, etc., about the same as would be had in a first-class restaurant in a city. About the last place in the world where one would expect to encounter a first -class French chef is out in the sand, so far from other human habitation.
Reno Evening Gazette 1913 May 20,
SHERIFF SEIZES LIQUOR
This afternoon Sheriff C. M. Way arrested Aime Bermon, the well-known proprietor of Frenchman’s Station, on the Wonder road, on a charge of unlawfully keeping and storing intoxicating liquor. The sheriff states that he found a 52 gallon barrel of liquor in process of fermentation and another about half full, a 20-gallon cask partly full of wine, a case of home brewed beer, besides 50 bottles of beer — Fallon Eagle
1920 June 28, Nevada State Journal
It is evident that the mine has been worked at irregular intervals of time for many years. The tenor of much of the ore extracted was high enough to permit it to be shipped to smelters, although freight costs were certainly very great. Some of the lower grade ore was hauled about 6 miles south down a narrow canyon to the edge of a large playa or dry lake bed, which is about 1500 feet lower than the mine. It was milled near the edge of the lake bed, where water is obtainable from shallow wells. Some small deposits of tailings remain but the mill has long since vanished. The nearest water to this mine is 1500 feet lower, and 5 miles distance, half of the way down a tortuous desert canyon, as previously described, to the edge of a large dry lake. It is hauled to the mine in a tank mounted on a truck.
EAGLEVILLE MINER CRUSHED BY FALL
(Mr. Bermond’s death certificate dates his death as April 16, 1926 by suicide.)
BARIUM DEPOSIT AT EAGLEVILLE IS SUBJECT OF DEAL
Named by Cpt. Simpson along the central Overland Route, Westgate was the water source for Wonder, Fairview and many other mines in the vicinity. A CCC Camp was here during the depression era. They had A swimming pool among many other diversions.
According to John Townley, from West Gate, the trail split into a northern and southern route. Pony riders used the southern route, which continued on a relatively straight course through Sand Springs, Carson Sink, Hooten Wells, Buckland’s, and Fort Churchill, until sometime between March and July 1861. After these months, the Overland Mail Company added a route ran northwest of the old Pony trail and included such new stations as Fairview, Mountain Well, Stillwater, Old River, Ragtown, and Desert Wells. Stagecoaches could travel more easily along the northern route, and riders may or may not have switched to the new trail during the waning months of the Pony Express. The two routes joined again near Miller’s or Reed’s Station. ”
The [Lincoln] highway continues through a broad valley to WESTGATE, 214 m. (4600 alt) now a CCC camp, whose members preserve water holes and do other range conservation work. On both sides of Westgate are mountains covered with sagebrush.
52 YEARS LATER, MEMORIES OF CCC ARE STILL PRECISE
Now, 52 years later, he recalls those days in the summer of 1938 with preciseness. The South Salt Laker says he spent the best six months of his life at age 17 getting to know more than 60 teenagers who became his best friends. He was bonded to Civilian Conservation Corps leaders and 60 other enrollees with friendship, brotherhood and love. “It was like one big family. We got to be wonderful friends.”
The CCC began in 1933 as one of the Depression recovery projects of President Roosevelt. “It was a lot like the Army but we didn’t have to drill,” he says. “Our job was to preserve nature and keep the guys working. We went in to have something to eat. It was Depression time and we were all facing difficult situations.” The government needed to create a program for the increasing number of teenagers who roamed the streets looking for jobs and food and money to bring to their families. Each CCC enrollee earned $30 a month, Bradford recalls. CCC officials sent $22 to the enrollee’s family and gave each enrollee $8. Money was used sparingly and carefully. They budgeted with detail and never wasted, he says.
Bradford joined the CCCs in July 1938 and was sent to Company 1915 at the Charles Sheldon Antelope Refuge in the northwest corner of Nevada, 28 miles from the Oregon border. It’s volcano country, where water comes out of the ground hot. The men stayed in the desert from July 14 to Oct. 19, then were put on open trucks to Winnemucca, where they caught a train to Fallon, Nev., about 46 miles west of Westgate, Nev., where 184 of them worked. The only thing at Westgate was a service station with slot machines that also sold sandwiches. “We were too young to play the slots but sometimes would sneak over and play anyway.”
Deseret News March 5 1990
“In February 1939, the Westgate Mining & Milling Co., owned by E. S. Montgomery of Fallon and associates, completed the erection of a 35-ton-daily-capacity cyanidation mill at Westgate, situated on the Lincoln Highway [present-day Highway 50] 46 miles southeasterly from Fallon, Nev. In April 1939 the mill was operating on custom ores, obtained chiefly from the Nevada Wonder mine with smaller tonnages from the Nevada Hills mine at Fairview, the Gold Ledge mine in the Eastgate district, and other properties within a radius of 50 miles. The mill is equipped with a 9- by 15-inch Blake-type crusher a set of 22- by 12-inch Denver rolls, three Snyder disk samplers, a 4- by 4-foot Eimco ball mill, a Simplex classifier, three 10- by 12-foot redwood airlift agitators, four 18- by 10-foot redwood thickeners, a 4- by 7-foot 20-leaf clarifier, a Merrill-Crowe zinc dust-precipitating unit, and auxiliary cyanidation apparatus. Other equipment includes an assay office, a melting furnace, and camp accommodations for a crew of 10 men. Power for milling is supplied by 2 D-11,000 Caterpillar Diesel engines equipped with electric generators. Water for milling is obtained from a well near the millsite. The custom-milling charge is $4.50 per ton, and payment is based on an average extraction of 90 percent of the gold and 85 percent of the silver contained in the ores.”
Reconnaissance of mining districts in Churchill County, Nevada by William O. Vanderburg
Named by James Simpson in 1859, he identified the cuts in the mountains as “gates.” The Gold Rush increased traffic across the great desert, and in 1859 the Overland Stage built Middlegate Station to service the stage and freight lines traveling across the country. The Pony Express used Middlegate Station as a changing station during their short eighteen-month history. An important junction and transfer spot for the Gabbs mines and points est. Fell into disuse and the ranchers and miners carried off many of the zeolite blocks used in the original construction. In 1942, Ida Ferguson bought the station at a BLM land auction and opened a bar and cafe, and enjoyed a bustling business on the historic Transcontinental highway.
Fremont, 1843, 1844
Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860
By 1860 a strong commercial demand had developed in the United States to construct a telegraph line across the vastness of the Western plains to link the Atlantic and Pacific coasts by copper wire. Although many believed such a line would be impossible to build and maintain, on June 16, 1860, Congress passed, and President James Buchanan signed, the bill which authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to seek bids to construct such a transcontinental telegraph line. When the only other two original bidders dropped out, Hiram Sibley of the Western Union became the only bidder left and won the contract by default. Sibley organized The Pacific Telegraph Company of Nebraska for the purpose of building the eastern section of the line and sent his protégé and eventual successor, Jeptha H. Wade, to California to consolidate small local companies there with The California State Telegraph Company. They organized The Overland Telegraph Company of California which handled construction eastward from Carson City, Nevada, joining with the existing California lines, to Salt Lake City, Utah. Sibley’s Pacific Telegraph Company built westward from Omaha, Nebraska, and the new line was completed on October 24, 1861. The Pony Express closed up shop that very day.
East of Fallon, south of Highway 50, lies Fairview Peak where, at 3:08 a.m. on December 16, 1954, an earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitude not only shocked locals, but was widely felt in many of the western states. Slightly further east and just north of Highway 50, between the Stillwater Range and the Clan Alpine Mountains in Dixie Valley, a second severe (magnitude 7.1) earthquake jolted the area on the same day. A Fallon weekly newspaper noted that the first (Fairview) quake drove Fallon residents out into the twenty-degree night. It even awakened Reno residents, and in Carson City, plaster fell in the eighty-four-year-old capitol building. Dixie Valley experienced sharp shocks that opened large cracks of up to thirty inches across in the earth and roadways. The shocks also moved huge boulders, some weighing fifty tons, onto the main highway. Timbers of one mine, at the 200 foot level, were found to be crushed after this quake. Dixie Valley resounded with loud booms starting moments before the quake was first felt and lasting until long after it stopped. The fifty-four-mile-long fault area at Dixie Valley included down drops of more than twenty feet. Another difference was that the quake opened four faults along both mountain ranges flanking the Valley as well as near Fairview Peak.
The Central Overland Route
The route was initially scouted in 1855 by Howard Egan, and used by him to drive livestock between Salt Lake City and California. The trail Egan used led straight through the high mountain ranges that most earlier explorers had worked so hard to avoid. Egan discovered that a series of mountain passes and mountain springs were aligned to allow an almost direct path across the middle of Utah and Nevada. The reduction in length over the ‘standard’ California Trail route along the Humboldt River by about 280 miles made this route about two weeks faster for emigrants getting to (or from) California. After it was developed many California emigrants and returning emigrants used this route. In 1858, During the Utah War the U.S. Army sent an expedition led by Captain James H. Simpson to survey it for a military road to get supplies to the Army’s Camp Floyd in Utah. The Army then improved the trail and springs for use by wagons and stagecoaches in 1859 and 1860. The Pony Express trotted over the COR till the Telegraph was built on this route in 1861. When the approaching Civil War closed the heavily subsidized Butterfield Overland Mail south western route to California along the Gila River, George Chorpenning and John Butterfield switched to the Central Route to avoid possible hostilities. The various stage lines, by traveling day and night and changing their teams at about 10 miles to 20 miles intervals, could get light freight, passengers, and mail to or from Missouri River towns to California in about 25–28 days. After the Civil War Wells Fargo absorbed the Butterfield stage lines and ran stage coaches and freight wagons along the Central Route as well as developing the first agriculture in the Ruby Valley in Nevada to help support their livestock. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad ended the use of the Route till the Lincoln Highway connected Central Nevada to the world.
Nevada looks funny in 1861
Thompson & West’s History of Nevada 1881.
The Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps Illustrated Atlas, Volume 1: Northern Nevada: Reno, Austin, Ely and Points North, Stanley W. Paher (1999)
Nevada Conifers, D. A Charlet
De Quille, Dan, 1947, The Big Bonanza
James, Temples of Justice- County Court Houses of Nevada
“Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860, An Act to Facilitate Communication between the Atlantic and Pacific States by Electric Telegraph” Chapter 137, U.S. Statutes 36th Congress, 1st Session June 16, 1860
Blasts in the Past
1980 GENO OLIVER, STAR CITY-UNIONVILLE
1981 SKIP PENNINGTON+, MANHATTEN
1982 BILL KENNEDY, KENNEDY
1983 JIM CRONN+, PINEGROVE
1984 GEORGE COURSON, LEADVILLE
1985 DOUG WALLING, BERLIN
1986 DAVID WOOD, ROCHESTER
1987 JOE LEPORI, AURORA
1988 BILL SAWYER+, SULPHUR
1989 MIKE MILLER, MILLER’S STATION
1990 RED BEACH+, SHAMROCK
1991 BOB RODGERS, COMO
1992 RON WALSH, SEVEN TROUGHS
1993 DANNY COSTELLO, THE REAL NATIONAL
1994 JIM GROWS+, DESERT WELLS
1995 DANIEL BOWERS, HIGH ROCK CANYON
1996 PETER VAN ALSTYNE+, FAIRVIEW
1997 EDDY GONZALES, GRANTSVILLE
1998 JOHN DORNSTAUDER, HUMBOLDT CITY
1999 KEN MOSER, BELMONT
2000 VAL COLLIER+, PEPPER SPRINGS
2001 CHUCK MURRAY, NIGHTENGALE
2002 MARC BEBOUT, NEW PASS MINE
2003 AL NICHOLSON, lONE
2004 RON THORNTON, FLETCHER STATION
2005 J D PATERSON, APPLEGATE-LASSEN TRAIL
2006 WALT SIMMEROTH, NEVADA CENTRAL R. W.
2007 JEFF JOHNSON, ADELAIDE
2008 OWEN RICHIE+, TYBO
2009 KARL SMALL,+ DUN GLEN
2010 DAN WESTON, KINGSTON
2011 RUSS BREAM, SMOKE CREEK
2012 JESS DAVIS, + FREMONT’S CASTLE
2013 CLIFF McCAIN, KNOTT CREEK
2014 BOB STRANSKY, JARBIDGE
2015 TIM PIERCE, WHISKEY FLAT
2016 KEVIN BRECKINRIDGE, COMSTOCK
+“Gone to Silver Hills”