Julia’s Jarbidge Junk Book

The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus

Julia’s Jarbidge Junk Book

Julia’s Unequivocal

Nevada Klampout



clamper year 6019

Brought to you by

Julia C. Bulette chapter 1864, E Clampus Vitus

Researched and interpreted by Jeffrey D. Johnson XNGH, Clamphistorian at chapter 1864

Envisioned by

Noble Grand Humbug Bob Stransky

Junk Auctioneer, Brett “Shortround” Stockwell

Dedicated to Young Golddigging Widders and Old Orphans

2014 c.e.




Why yes, Jarbidge is a ”fer piece” from any place. This year’s junk trip has the unique quirk

that it is not in the Great Basin like the rest of our territory. Northern Elko County is drained by the tributaries of the Owyhee, Bruneau and Jarbidge Rivers. They flow in to the Snake River and out to the sea. To the South the range is drained by the North Fork of the Humboldt and in the East, St. Mary’s River.




The North American Continental plate moves at a rate of one inch a year in a Southwesterly direction. Underneath the plate is a volcanic hotspot or mantle plume. 10 to 12 million years ago the hotspot was just North of the Idaho border. Over that time it has moved, leaving a trail of volcanic debris and ejectamenta from McDermitt Nevada, East. Now the Yellowstone Caldera area is over the plume. During the middle and late Miocene, a sequence of ash flows, enormous lava flows and basalt flows from 40 odd shield volcanoes erupted from the Bruneau-Jarbidge caldera. The eruptive center has mostly been filled in by lava flows and lacustrine and fluvial sediments. Two hundred Rhinos, five different species of horse, three species of cameloids, saber tooth deer and other fauna at Ashfall Fossil Beds 1000 miles downwind to the East in Nebraska, were killed by volcanic ash from the Bruneau Jarbidge Caldera. Graben and horst fault block activity raised the mountains and the layers of volcanic material were incised by the creeks and rivers draining North. The pinnacles and canyons created show the layers of volcanic sediments. Matterhorn peak is the highest summit in the Jarbidge Range at 10,838 ft.


Abies Lasiocarpa


Where the Jarbidge Mountains are forested the forest is dominated by the Subalpine fir. The tree is dark green and conspicuous with a steeple shaped figure. In the higher elevations Pinus Albicaulis (whitebark pine) and Pinus Flexilis (Limber Pine) become more common. In Nevada the Subalpine fir lives exclusively in the Jarbidge District. The high mountains here have elements of Rocky Mountain plant communities like the Sawtooth Range in Idaho as well as the Great Basin communities. Fine stands of native grasses make this area a fertile hunting ground for Elk, Antelope and Mule Deer. California Bighorns thrive in the rim rock along the river canyons. Populous Tremuloides (Aspen) grow at every spring, creek and seep. Both Juniperous Occidentalis (Western Juniper) and Scopulorum (Rocky Mountain Juniper) thrive in the middle elevations. The Murphy Complex of fires ravaged the Area from Mountain City to Jackpot on both sides of the line in 2007. 750,000 acres were consumed over 1,000 square miles.


Only the Sidewalk Remains


Only this short length of cement sidewalk remains to mark the business district

of Gold Creek. Island Mountain is in background. Photograph by the author.

Gold Creek lived and died in the ’90s, its only records entombed

in the yellowed pages of deceased journals, the memories of the few

old timers who remember life at this placer camp—and the short length

of sidewalk upon which trod men and women who dreamed of a city

which “in another year will be the largest town in Nevada . . .”



FINE of Elko, Nevada,

first brought to my attention

f the ghost town of Gold Creek

in the northern part of her county.

“The old camp is about gone,”

Freda had written me. “All that remains

is one short length of cement

sidewalk, lost in the sage . . .”

That a settlement once sufficiently

important to have had cement sidewalks

could have vanished so completely

was a circumstance to whet the

interest of any chronic ghost towner,

Gold Creek, Nevada, in 1897. Photograph courtesy Nevada State Historical


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at Gold Creek . . .

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HIGHWAY 43 •” ‘JCTIR* •• —v


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and I knew I would never be wholly at peace with my conscience until I followed the Gold Creek trail to its end. From tax records at the courthouse in Elko I learned that the townsite had been laid out in 1896; and from files of the Elko Free Press of 1897-98, I gleaned a few references to this then flourishing center. But beyond this, the trail back to Gold Creek’s past seemed lost, and during the first four years after Freda had told me of the camp all the pertinent information I was’able to collect might have been typed on one sheet of note paper. Then, in a manner of speaking, I hit the historical jackpot! In the vault room of Nevada State Library at Carson City, I located a complete file of the Gold Creek News —a wide-awake weekly journal, edited and published at Gold Creek, Nevada, in the pre-Spanish War days when that place was a booming gold camp! In its first edition published December 24, 1896, The News took a quick look backward at the earlier history of the region, and from this retrospective view I learned that the discoverer of the district had been Emanuel “Manny” Penrod—former partner of Henry Comstock at Virginia City and originally part owner of the claim which developed into the rich Ophir mine. Like many of the first locators on the Comstock, Manny was crowded out. With his family he emigrated across the state to Elko County. He located near the north base of Island Mountain, discovered placer gold in a small stream subsequently named Gold creek, and in 1873 or ’74 organized the Island Mountain mining district. Others filtered into the region in the years immediately following, including a few Chinese—former laborers on the newly-completed Central Pacific railroad — who drifted over from Tuscarora’s populous Chinatown. Most of the Chinese, as well as a few Indians, found employment with Penrod on his placer claims. In 1878 a small general store was opened at the forks of Gold Creek a mile above the Penrod home by a Tuscarora Chinaman named Hung Li. If this embryo town had any name at all it was Island Mountain — predating the boomcamp of Gold Creek by 18 years. Penrod and his crew and a handful of other miners had everything to themselves for two decades—a rather strange fact considering the evident richness of that placer field. As early as 1876 nuggets valued at $50 each had been found in Gold Creek and gravel averaged a dollar to the pan in gold! Penrod and his neighbors, using primitive equipment, took out $800,000 worth of the yellow metal in 23 years. Of that total, approximately $250,000 was credited to Penrod, and this despite the fact that gold was priced at only half what it is today, and the placers could be worked for only 60 to 90 days each year due to a scarcity of water. In 1896 the Gold Creek Mining company—a New York stock corporation— was organized, the new town of Gold Creek surveyed and platted on the other side of the ridge from the Penrod home, and a mad mining boom was under way-—-all in one headlong rush! First building erected on the new townsite was the office of The News —a frame structure 20×30 feet. Within 48 hours after the printing equipment was unloaded from the wagon in which it had been freighted 75 miles from Elko, the first copies of this new journal rolled from the press. The first edition reported that streets were being graded, a thrice-weekly freight line was in operation to Elko, the first load of lumber for construction of a three-story hotel had arrived



Sunflower Reservoir, built in 1897 to supply water for Gold Creek placer mines.


Before the connecting ditch could be completed, the mining company ran out of money and the water was never used. Photograph by the author. that day, electric lights and a waterworks were to be installed at once, and it predicted that within a year the town would have a population of not less than 5000! This same issue contained the professional cards of three engineers— mining, hydraulic and civil—with offices at Gold Creek; also the announcement of an assayer, and the advertisement of Laundryman Charlie Wah of No. 9 Pekin Ave., Gold Creek. In its second issue The News carried an ad for the old Chinese merchant at Island Mountain. “HUNG LI, General Merchandise,” announced that printed appeal. “Fine Display of Rich Silks, just received. A large stock of Chinese rice and whiskey. Call and be convinced. Everybody knows me as Lem, and I have been in business here 18 years. No. 1 Pekin Ave., Chinatown, Gold Creek.” On January 7, 1897, nearly a million feet of lumber, purchased at Truckee by the Gold Creek Mining company, had arrived in Elko by rail and was being mule-freighted to Gold Creek to meet the urgent demand for building materials.


“Where only a few days ago was an unbroken snowfield, the town of Gold Creek is rapidly springing into existence,” the paper declared. “The light of the carpenters at work is seen from a distance far into the night. One of the finest hotels in the state is rapidly going up, only to give way in the near future to a substantial brick structure. Six and eight-horse teams are arriving daily with lumber and supplies, and their campfires at night dot the valley of Penrod Creek. Some 150 loads of lumber will arrive this month . . .” It was the company’s intention, said The News, to make Gold Creek “the best appointed mining camp on the continent.” The News reported that small gulches were yielding $200 to the running foot in gold; Crevice gulch had run $150 to the cubic yard of gravel, and $5 in gold to a pan of dirt “is not uncommon.” Even State Surveyor General Pratt had weighed Gold Creek’s mines in his official balances and found them worthy of commendation. His report of January 30, 1897, stated that 300 men were then on the company payrolls. Fifty were at work in the diggings, and 250 men and 150 teams were engaged in building an eight-mile ditch to connect with a three billion gallon reservoir which would supply the company’s placer operations with 2500 miner’s inches of water every 24 hours for 200 days out of each year. The district included 6000 aeres of placer ground, stated Surveyor General Pratt, with the gravel averaging 60 cents per cubic yard in coarse gold “worth $19.47 an ounce.” Miners were receiving $3 for a 10- hour day; teamsters $6 to $8 a day for four-horse teams, and laborers on the reservoir—mostly Chinese—were being paid $2 a day. The stage, even in midwinter, was making the 75-mile trip to Elko in 10 to 12 hours, and freight was being brought from that point for a cent a pound. “If an election was held at this time,” said The News, “Gold Creek could poll more votes than any other town in Elko County. In another year it will be the largest town in the state . . . ”


Gold Creek postoffice was established February 20, 1897, with Judge J. B. Abel serving as postmaster. By 19 March 4, two doctors had hung their shingles in Gold Creek windows; Gold Creek Mercantile company was in position to supply virtually all the wants of man; a meat market had opened for business; and a sawmill, hardware store and drug store were soon to make their bow. New advertisers appeared in The News from time to time, and by the autumn of 1897 its columns carried the messages of a dozen saloons, lodging houses and general stores, as well as a professional directory of architects, engineers, assayers, doctors and others. But despite all her flourish and flaunting, Gold Creek was riding on a one-way ticket — her destination: the Quagmire of Debt. First intimation of this fact was an announcement on November 26, 1897, that the Gold Creek Mining company was being reorganized and that “outstanding obligations will be met.” Nor was even The News, itself, prospering too well, judging from an appeal by the publication’s then current editor, Dunbar Hunt: “If anyone owing The News $2.50 will come around and settle it we can get the paper for its next number out of the express office. If not, we will have to resort to wrapping paper.” Evidently the editor’s appeal brought forth funds sufficient to ransom the impounded shipment of newsprint, for the next two issues of the paper appeared as usual. With the second of these issues—December 10, 1897— the little frontier journal apparently breathed its last. There followed a complete news blackout which remained unbroken until February 5, 1898, when the Elko Free Press observed: “M. J. Curtis, who put up the Waldron block in Gold Creek, has commenced suit to foreclose a mechanic’s lien on the property. There are so many different kinds of suits plastered on this lone building that it is hard telling who will get the rafters . . .” So that was the history of Gold Creek, Nevada — a boomtown born with the fanfare of trumpets, and buried without even the sounding of taps. “Uncle” Hugh Martin is a native of nearby Mountain City who has lived in this vicinity throughout most of his busy 83 years. I found him working in the flower garden back of his small white cabin on Mountain City’s main street — a slender, neat, happy-looking man with a youthful face and eyes that sparkled merrily when he spoke. Yes, he said, he had been at or near Gold Greek during the “excitement”— his parents having moved from Mountain City to a ranch on Martin Creek in 1878 when he was six years old. There he and his brothers and sister had grown to young adulthood witnessing the Gold Creek boom from start to finish. After we made plans to visit the site of Gold Creek on the following day, I went across the street to spend the night with Uncle Hugh’s niece and her husband, Ellen and Claude Womack. The Womacks are nice folks. Claude has been constable of Mountain City for many years, and Ellen is pretty and gray-haired with bright friendly eyes and a quick infectious laugh—the Uncle Hugh Martin. He saw the Gold Creek boom begin and end. Photograph by author. sort of woman anyone would be fortunate to have as a neighbor. Claude and Ellen own a few small cabins— all spotlessly clean—which they rent to travelers and sportsmen. The one Ellen assigned to me was furnished with a good bed, table and several easy chairs along with a white-crockery washbowl, a bucket of well water, an old-fashioned copper teakettle, a wood-burning cookstove and a big box full of pine wood and kindling. She said she usually got $3 a night for the room, but since there was only one of me, I could have it for $2.00. Morning dawned bright and sunny, and soon after I had washed the breakfast dishes, Uncle Hugh arrived with Pete Bastida, operator of one of the two general stores at Mountain City, and also an authority on Gold Creek’s early history. Pete’s parents had homesteaded there during the boom and later operated a general store a half mile north of Gold Creek proper. Ellen Womack joined our party and we set off to spend the day in a town that had ceased to exist except in the files of old newspapers and in the memories of a few men and women. We drove south through pleasant Owyhee Valley, past the little ghost town of Patsville and the turn-off to the once great Rio Tinto mine two miles west. Here the lame prospector, S. Frank Hunt, saw his dream come true when a hidden ore deposit produced $23,000,000 in copper in eight years. As we traveled upgrade along the sparkling Owyhee River—one of the few major streams in Nevada which eventually empties into the ocean rather than the oblivion of interior sinks—we were seldom out of sight of beaver dams. The trunks of quaking aspen and willows along the stream banks frequently displayed the teeth marks of these generally-rare animals. We also glimpsed a fat muskrat and on two occasions jumped small groups of deer which had come down out of the dry canyons to drink. Later, skirting the calm body of water impounded behind Wild Horse dam, Uncle Hugh indicated a sideroad on our left and I swung the car toward the low sage-covered hills which bordered our world on the east and north. After five miles Uncle Hugh pointed to a dim road leading to the left along the west bank of a small trickle of water. “This is Manny Penrod’s Gold Creek —the stream for which the town was named,” he said. “If you want to see the site of Chinatown, we can turn off here.” We followed the little stream toward its source and entered an area torn and tumbled upside down in man’s frenzied search for treasure. “Old Man Penrod worked all this ground in the early days,” said Uncle Hugh. “He and his family lived across the canyon yonder, in a nice house built of dressed lumber. The house has been gone for years, but you see that little stone building, beyond the willows?” he pointed to a small vaultlike structure without visible windows and only one door. “That little building sat close behind the old Penrod house. I think it had something to do with the assay office . . .” At a fork in the creek a mile above the little stone building, Uncle Hugh signalled for me to stop. “Here was the site of Lem Li’s store,” he said at a shallow cellar-like depression buried in sagebrush. “He was a nice old Chinaman,” went on Uncle Hugh. “Everybody liked him. He always had a little gift




Massive headgates built to control the flow of water at Sunflower Reservoir. Photograph by author. for all who came to his store—a cigar, maybe; or if the customer was a lady, he might give her a little silk handkerchief made in China. “After Lem died, the store was taken over by his brother, Hong Li of Tuscarora. Hong was nice, too, and the Li brothers ran this store for nearly 40 years.” From Chinatown our way continued up Hammond Canyon past old mine tunnels and dumps, a few tumbled down cabins and the silent shell of a little gold mill. The higher we traveled into the range, the narrower and more rutted became the old freight road. The sage that crowded nearer to the wheel tracks increased in stature until it towered above the car, and the tips of its soft gray branches almost met in the center of the trail. Near the head of the canyon, just under 7000 feet elevation, we halted for lunch beside a seeping spring in a small grove of aspen and soon afterward crossed the summit of the range and headed down the other side—our road now leading through hundreds of acres closely massed with bright golden daisies and a cream-colored lupine. In the midst of this cream-and-golden world lay Sunflower reservoir, a calm sheet of water whose still surface reflected the deep blue of the Nevada sky and the form of every summer impound the waters of Penrod Creek, below the town of Gold Creek for use cloud that floated over it. Controlled by massive headgates at in hydraulic mining. This was the great three billion gal- the head of the dam, these waters “After the company spent hundreds Ion reservoir built 60 years before to were to have been channeled to a point of thousands of dollars building the dam and eight miles of ditch, its money ran out when the ditch still was three miles short of completion. The water in the reservoir never reached the placer ground,” said Uncle Hugh. “That was what killed the town. Until the ditch was completed, the ground couldn’t be mined—and there was no money to complete the ditch. “Corey brothers of Salt Lake City, who had contracted to do the construction work, eventually came into possession of the reservoir and canal —probably on a mechanic’s lien in lieu of payment. Later the property was sold for delinquent taxes to Providencio Mendive, a rancher near the highway who still owns it. He uses the dam to water his cattle, but no use has ever been made of the old ditch.” We drove down the flower-massed slope to Martin Creek and the old Martin homestead — Uncle Hugh’s home of more than three-quarters of a century before. Another few miles down the road we detoured across a rough hillside to the Gold Creek cemetery— a place of five graves and only one marker. In a few more minutes we came to a halt at the abandoned townsite of Gold Creek. The cement sidewalk lay close be- The only building remaining at the site of the old Penrod home is this dungeon-like stone structure. Photograph by author.



side the main road on our left—a good wide thick sidewalk that well befitted the main business street of a town which men had foreseen as a coming city. The old walk upon which Gold Creek’s assorted commerce had trodden so briefly was still wide and thick, but its ends and edges are crumbled and thrusting stubbornly through the narrow interstices between its squared sections are stiff gray sprigs of the repossessive sage. Across the slope west of the sidewalk we found the usual tokens of man’s former presence—tin cans with soldered tops, fragments of purple glass, broken handles of china cups, bits of sun-twisted harness leather, a bridle bit and enough horseshoes to have brought good luck to a regiment! Circling east of the sidewalk we made our way around caved cellars and past weathered piles of shakes and sheathing where buildings had stood. We even found an old fresno scraper half hidden in the sage. After the big boom fizzled out early in 1898, said Uncle Hugh, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hardman, who operated the big store, continued in business here for several years—running not only the store, but also the Gold Creek postoffi.ee, a saloon and hotel. Several families still were living in town, at that time, but the Hardman’s business came mostly from ranches and mines in the surrounding territory. “Gold Creek’s farewell fling took place in 1928 when 1500 persons gathered to celebrate the Fourth of July,” continued Uncle Hugh. “Everyone brought a big picnic lunch and we had a fine program of races, music and patriotic speeches. Soon after the celebration the townsite and its remaining buildings were purchased by the Moffatt cattle company and Jim Penrod—a son of old Manny Penrod who had died about 1914—was employed to tear them down. “And that,” concluded Uncle Hugh Martin, “is about all I can tell you of Gold Creek’s history . . .” Somewhere, in the course of our journey, morning had turned into midday and midday into evening. And now, the sun had set behind the sagecovered hump of Poorman Peak, the pink flush of twilight had come to lay softly along the horizon and night’s chill was creeping into the canyons and the valley. As I turned the car back toward Mountain City and supper, I realized for the first time that day that I was tired—very tired; yet, eclipsing that weariness was the rich feeling of satisfaction and gratification the day had brought.


Owyhee River


Pete S. Ogden called this tributary of the Snake River the Sandwich Island River. A trio of Polynesian trappers from the North West Company worked this stream and were never heard from after 1819. By the 1840s Hawaii had become the popular name for the islands and Owyhee was the spelling used by the populace of Oregon Territory for this river. The Owyhee drains one of the most remote areas of the nation. From around about Mountain City, Nevada Hwy 225, there are no crossings till Highway 95 crosses it in Rome, Oregon. The river is navigable in spring. Salmon ran in the Owyhee till 1933 when the River was damned for potato farmers. Manny Penrod By Howard Hickson It began in 1859 on the Comstock Lode. All the original Partners went about their business and Penrod, who ended up with $8,500, lived the longest. Manny showed up in the Island Mountain Mining District in northeast Nevada around 1873. He and others made a few mediocre discoveries there. The town that haphazardly rose from the sagebrush was first called Penrod then later changed to Gold Creek. He and a partner, C.B. Macon, bought 70 acres of mining ground up Hope Gulch at the 7,500′ level. In the years that followed his ore profits were up and down, nothing really worthwhile. He and Macon next tried hydraulic mining and washed thousands of tons of ore off the slopes. That, too, yielded nothing about which to shout. By the time he sold the Ophir (same name as the famous mine in Virginia City) it had produced nothing worth bragging about in gold or silver. In August 1874 Manny and Macon sold some of their claims in the district. The Elko Independent announced, just one week later, that the new people made a big discovery on the property formerly owned by Manny and his partner. Although he again dodged prosperity, the two associates were, according to the Independent, making $15 to $20 a day which wasn’t really that bad in those days – wasn’t great either. Manny, a Democrat, was elected to the Nevada Assembly to represent Elko County for the 1875 session. In 1880 he and his wife, Seranna, son, Jim, and a granddaughter lived in Elko. He probably spent most of the summer months up in Gold Creek when water for mining was available. Tiring of not finding the big bonanza and with a typical prospector’s way of thinking that new riches beyond imagination were hiding under the next rock, he tried another place. In 1893, after selling the rest of his Gold Creek mining interests, he began working his claims in Tennessee Gulch where he, with Walter Stofiel, discovered the Constitution and Oro Grande mines. Six years later he built a three-stamp mill and refinery. In nine days a gold bar worth $1,000 was poured. That was the biggest splash he made in area mining and it was near the time he left northeast Nevada for good. His last connection to mining was in 1909 when he was honored as the last survivor of the original claim holders of the Comstock Lode. Virginia City was the scene of a big party to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the biggest silver strike in the nation’s history and Manny, frail and not well, was the center of attention. Penrod never hit the bonanza he diligently pursued for decades but he had something the other first claim holders did not: He was still alive. On April 12, 1913, he passed away in Vallejo, California. Gold Creek Ranger Station Built in 1910, the compound was expanded by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1915 the facility was the administrative headquarters for the entire Ruby Mountains Reserve, soon to be called the Humboldt National Forest. The RMR was created by Theodore Roosevelt on May 3, 1906. The Bungalow/Craftsman architectural style is typical for Forest Service buildings and was placed on the National register of Historic places in 1992. Bruneau River The Bruneau (Brown water) was named by voyageurs from the North West Company before 1821. Hot Springs are known in the bottom of the Canyon. The Bruneau Canyon cuts 1,200’ deep through massive ancient lava flows and is 40 miles long. Rowland Rowland is located in the picturesque bottom of the Bruneau Canyon. A mine was up the hill and off to the southwest. Evidence of the mill and ditch still exist. Since the 1880s Ranchers patronized the Post Office, school and grocery. Until 1942 Scott’s Saloon provided refreshment. It appears that what was left of the town burned in the recent fires. Rowland and Bruneau River Diamond A Desert This desert is made of welded ash flow tuffs, rhyolite lava flows and a succession of olivine tholeiite basalt flows overlain by tertiary lake beds and Quarternary gravel and alluvium laid down in a virtually horizontal plain cut by steep gradient erosional channels with narrow riparian ecosystems. In 1926 Airmail delivery service began between Elko and Pasco, Wa. Varney Airlines pilot Franklin Rose was flying a 160 hp bi-wing Curtiss Swallow. Out over Mountain City he tried to dodge some thunderstorms and had to land some place in the Diamond A. The plane was damaged but Frank was happy to see riders coming his way almost immediately. Alas they were bootleggers convinced he was a revenuer and he was their prisoner. With their guns drawn, Frank argued for his life, ”What makes you think I’m a government agent?” ”We can read, it says U. S. in big letters on the side of your plane.” Frank almost laughed out loud. After some ‘esplaining’ they bought his story, pointed him towards the nearest ranch house and disappeared into the canyons. Jarbidge Mountains from Diamond A Desert Adams Onis Treaty 1819 First, the Spanish traded Florida to the British after the Seven Years War in 1763 in exchange for Cuba back. During the American Revolution the Spanish captured it from the British. In the Peninsular war (1807-1814) the French occupation ruined the Spanish administration. By 1819 Spain was forced to cut their losses, get a grip on their rebellious colonies and negotiate with the United States. In Spanish Florida the U.S. Army under Andrew Jackson had seized the vital forts and towns and set the standard of American Imperialism. John Q. Adams, Secretary of State under President James Monroe, and Luis de Onis, Minister of Foreign Affairs for King Ferdinand VII, signed the treaty to settle the border disputes between the U.S. and New Spain. The treaty set the boundary at the Sabine River, the present Louisiana-Texas border and North to the Red. West on the Red River to the 100th meridian West, North to the Arkansas. West on the Arkansas River to its headwaters, location unknown till J. C. Fremont located it in 1845. From there the line went North to the 42nd parallel and due west. Spain had claims, authorized by papal bull, to the West Coast of the continent since 1493. By signing the Adams Onis Treaty the Americans acquired all the Spanish claims north to Alaska, disputed only by the British, Russians and the natives. At someplace on the loop trip along the Buck Creek canyon the Junk Expedition will cross the 42nd Parallel into Idaho. From 1819 till 1848 we would have been illegal aliens crossing the Southern border of Oregon Territory. At the Junction of Bucks Creek and the Jarbidge River our trail heads South and within a mile we are back in the One Sound State. I’ll take “What Home Means” for 1,000$, Alex. Formations in Jarbidge River Canyon Jarbidge River Before the Dam diversions, Chinook Salmon and Steelhead swam up from the Pacific, spawned and died in these canyons. Native Salmonoids present now include Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri, (Redband Trout), Bull Trout and Mountain Whitefish. The Jarbidge flows for 17 miles in Nevada and NDOW claims fly fishermen average five fish an hour. The fishery is self sustaining and no stocking occurs on the Nevada side. July through October is the best time to fish. Bull Trout (Salvelinus Confluetus) were once known as Dolly Vardens. In 1980 they were reclassified as a separate, threatened species Case number 606, 1916 It was a dark and stormy night when a .44 slug entered Fred Searcy’s melon behind his left ear. When the mail wagon didn’t show Postmaster Fleming found the wagon, horses and corpse just North of town in a thicket of Salix Geyeri (willows). In the morning Fred “Curly” Morse (not to be confused with Jerome Lester “Curly” Horowitz of the Three Stooges, also a Clamper) followed a distinct dog footprint in the snow and found near the bridge a black overcoat, a blue Bandana, 182$ in coin and a white shirt weighed down with rocks in the river. Fifty pieces of evidence were recovered including a letter with a bloody handprint and the slashed mail bag. Three thousand in cash have never been recovered. Ne’er do well Ben Kuhl was fingered for the murder since he often sported the Black Overcoat and a borrowed .44 was found under the cot in his tent. The constable rounded up him and his friends and hauled them to Elko. Ben’s friend William McGraw squealed but served 10 months anyway. Ed “Cutlip Swede” Beck from Finland was convicted as an accessory. He served 6 years of a life sentence. After scores of locals testified against Kuhl two experts from Fresno and Bakersfield testified that the thumb print on the envelope most certainly belonged to Ben Kuhl. This was the first occasion fingerprints were allowed as evidence in a murder trial. Kuhl was sentenced to death, hanged or shot, his choice. A week before his execution he received a stay and suspension by the Nevada Supreme Court. Although finger prints had never been admissible anywhere before, the conviction was upheld. The Board of Pardons narrowly commuted his sentence to life, a week before his execution. Ben Kuhl served his time raising chickens at the State Prison in Carson. By 1943 “he was white haired and still raising chickens.” He had served the longest term at the time when Governor E.P. Carville pardoned him. Gov. Carville was also the Elko County D.A. when he convicted Kuhl in 1917. Kuhl died from TB in 1944. Banjo Bob’s Authentic 1909 Saloon in Jarbidge Jarbidge The Bannocks, Shoshone and Paiutes avoided the Canyon of the Evil Giant like Clampers from the temperance meeting. Tsawhawbitts was his name. (That word transmogrified to Jarbidge.) Foraging basketfuls of natives for rations was his game. Prospectors on the other hand combed the area for the gloriously gilded beginning in the 1870s when the Army had run what was left of the aboriginals on to the reservation. David Bourne hit pay dirt in 1909, exaggerated the story to 27 million, and soon everybody was talking about it. Jarbidge was Nevada’s last big boomtown, the district organized in 1909. Seventy five claims were made the next year. 1,500 hopefuls swarmed into town including Death Valley Scotty. When winter came all but 300 left. The nearest Railroad was in Idaho and shipping costs were extreme. One enterprising young man shipped a few tons of coal by parcel post. The P.O. soon put a stop to that. The only road was from the North. In 1911 a road was built to Deeth but it is so steep the stage had to tie on a log and drag it to help slow it down. In 1917 the town was snowed in for three months. George Wingfield leased the Bluster Mine in 1911 and the Bourne and Success mines in 1912. He blew 250,000$ in Jarbidge altogether but kept coming back. 1914 was the first big year at the Bluster which boasted a 3,400′ tramway. In 1913 Solomon Guggenhiem’s Yukon Gold Company, under the name Elkoro Mining Company, bought up many mines and from 1917 till 1933 it was the biggest gold producer in the county and for several years of the state. In 1917 Elkoro ran a 44,000 volt electrical line from Thousand Springs, Idaho, to the mine, but refused to electrify the town. A barrel of whiskey exploded in the cellar of the Success Bar on November 3, 1919. It rocked the whole town. Gas lamps fell over and soon the town was torched. No one died, (nobody could have slept through the concussion). Twenty two business were consumed, the telephone office, Simon’s movie house, five saloons and five barber shops. The town was angry and blamed the Elkoro Company. Finally the bastards that owned the mine relented and electrified the town, then advertised in the mining journals how generous they were. Some things never change. I have looked diligently for one reference to Western Federation of Miners or I.W.W. activity in Jarbidge, in vain. In 1916 the WFM became the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. The IUMM&SW was, like its extremely close relative and offspring, the Industrial Workers of the World, one of the most democratic, militant, racially egalitarian, and socially visionary unions in the history of the world. It was founded in 1893 out of the hard fought and sanguinary labor wars in North Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene district, where, as elsewhere, the mine owners and managers met every unionization effort with a brutal force and ruthlessness. Across the Mountain West, company gunmen shot down WFM pickets, union halls were burned, WFM members and their families were deported by company-directed “vigilantes,” Federal troops and state militias imprisoned hundreds of miners in “bull pen” concentration camps, there were massive legal frameups directed against union militants and leadership. Against this backdrop of hideous, bloody repression, the Western Federation of Miners not only persevered but it grew rapidly and it became extremely effective as a major, visionary social justice force. Well before the end of the 19th century, the WFM endorsed Anarchosyndicalism. At the same time they endorsed and practiced the American Constitutional right of armed self-defense. At the WFM convention of 1897, held at Salt Lake City, President Ed Boyce delivered a famous speech: “I deem it important to direct your attention to Article 2 of the Constitutional Amendments of the United States — “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This you should comply with immediately. Every {local} union should have a rifle club. I strongly advise you to provide every member with the latest improved rifle, which can be obtained from the factory at a nominal price. I entreat you to take action on this important question, so that in two years we can hear the inspiring music of the martial tread of 25,000 armed men in the ranks of labor.” The Preamble to the Charter of the WFM reads, “We hold that there is a class struggle in Society, and that this struggle is caused by economic conditions. We affirm the economic condition of the producer to be that he is exploited of the wealth which he produces, being allowed to retain barely sufficient for his elementary necessities. We hold that the class struggle will continue until the producer is recognized as the sole master of his product. We assert that the working class, and it alone, can and must achieve its own emancipation. We hold that an industrial union and the concerted political action of all wage workers is the only method of attaining this end. An injury to one is an injury to all. Therefore, we, the wage workers employed in and around the mines, mills and smelters, tunnels, open pits, open cuts, dredges, and other allied industries of the Western Hemisphere, unite under the following Constitution:” Union Organizers and sympathetic workers were attacked savagely for decades by thugs, vigilantes, George Wingfield, and the Nevada, Idaho and Federal government. In 1933 Elkoro closed leaving 17 miles of underground workings and no power for the town’s people. Guggenhiem and his shareholders did no work at all and made over 10 millions, the workers received 5 bucks a day and the shaft. Company housing was 1.50$ a day. The last mines closed in 1937. The district is said to have produced 355,000 ozs of Gold and 1,670,000 ozs of silver. It was fun while it lasted. The town was built on Forest Service land with special use permits and liquor was not permitted.. In 1911 the town persuaded the Secretary of Agriculture to sell them the lots their hovels sat on. The county did not properly deed the lots till 1969 when a special act of the legislature provided official proof of ownership. In the 1990s the town finally got their cemetery from the Feds. Today because of Jarbidge’s isolation and beauty it is one of our state’s secret treasures. Pavlak Named for one of the original discoverers Pavlak is upstream from Jarbidge. Many mine works are still visible and a campground. Copper Basin Charleston Charleston is on the Bruneau River. In 1876 this was Mardis. Mardis town failed in 1883 when the placer mines gave out. In 1886 the PO was called Bayard and it closed in 1890. A new revival came in 1894 and the place was called Charleston. Lawlessness reigned. The Prunty clan came in 1900 and a school was opened. Mining continued till 1942 and the Post Office closed in 1951. In the 1950’s Tungsten was mined nearby. George Washington Mardis Murder Shawn Hall George Washington Mardis discovered placer gold in 1876 on aptly named 76 Creek. Mardis had been active in the area since the late 1860s, and his company, the Mardis Silver Mining Company, was prominent in the Wyoming Mining District, which was later renamed the Island Mountain Mining District. While discoveries on 76 Creek led to the creation of the town of Mardis, mines in the district had been active since the early 1870s. Actually the Mardis Mining District organized in the spring of 1872, but the active mines were located along the Bruneau River, not at the future Mardis townsite. Mardis, also known as “Old Allegheny,” is one of the more intriguing characters in Elko County history. He was raised in Pennsylvania and talked constantly about the Allegheny Mountains there. His appearance was intimidating, because an accidental mining explosion had taken one of his eyes and scarred and blackened one side of his face. But Mardis had a reputation for honesty and fairness, and everyone who knew him trusted him. Mardis became a bible-quoting preacher following his involvement in an incident at Mountain City. While drunk, he got in a fight. He knocked his opponent unconscious, and the crowd convinced him that he had killed the other man. Panicked, Mardis disappeared for a couple of weeks. After he learned of the ruse he was never known to drink again. Mardis hauled ore from many northern Elko County mines to Deeth and Elko, and miners trusted him to carry their gold to banks in Elko. In September 1880 he made a trip to Elko carrying miners’ gold to deposit, as well as $250 to buy supplies for Gold Creek’s Chinatown. After traveling for some time, a Chinese man known as “New York Charley” sprang from the brush, startling Mardis and his team, and demanded Mardis’ money. When Mardis told him that all he had was some chewing tobacco, Charley shot him four times. Mardis was not dead, however, so Charley finished him off with his knife. Mardis’ body was found a few hours later, and a posse formed at Gold Creek. Charley had inexplicably taken off his shoes when he fled, and his six-toed footprint left a plain trail for the posse to follow. They found him hiding in Gold Creek. Because he had stolen his own people’s money, the Chinese community pleaded to mete out their own brand of justice to Charley. The posse granted their request, and they dealt with him quickly. His funeral took place at the same time Mardis’ did, and both were buried in the Gold Creek Cemetery.



Geograghical Memoir of Upper California for the Senate, J. C. Fremont 1848

Nevada: The Narrative of the Conquest of a Frontier Land (1935) James G. Scrugham

Thompson & West’s History of Nevada 1881.


Shawn Hall, Old Heart of Nevada: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps

Desert Magazine, 1957 February, Nell Musbarger, Gold Creek, pages 17-21





























Nevada History, John Evanoff 2007




Nevada Conifers, D. A Charlet 1996



Blasts in the Past




































“Gone to Silver Hills + ”