Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grand Old Man of Gold Butte - Art Coleman & Bill Garrett

Orville Perkins is well known for capturing much of early Southern Nevada life with his entertaining and skilled writings. In his book Hookey Beans and Willows he writes of the Grand old Men of Gold Butte capturing a timeless snapshot of the good ol' days at Gold Butte.

Orville and his stories are cited in many different histories of Clark County. His stories and depictions of early life Southern Nevada are an invaluable resource of information, exciting for any reader from the casual to the academic. His descriptive narratives are the reason that many of the histories and legends of this area still exist today. I highly recommend that you track his book down, Hookey Beans and Willows, and purchase a copy for yourself. A copy may be found at the Old Logandale School.
Grand Old Man of Gold Butte
With the passing of Bill Garrett and Art Coleman, an era came to a close. It had been slowly developing for a long time. The two old men were the only link that held the past to the present at Gold Butte.

Art Coleman had been a long time prospector in Nevada. He first saw this area in 1907 during the Copper City boom and was quite impressed with the general area. Art, being young and restless had worked in many camps in Nevada. Robert E. Lee told of seeing Art in early January of 1910 in Caliente, waiting to go to Goodsprings to look for a job. Because of the big flood he was stranded. Art not wanting to waste anymore time in a flood drenched town decided to walk to Ely, the only way to get there. He and a pardner walked the one hundred and thirty miles in the dead of winter. This must have been quite a fete as hardly anyone lived north of Pioche till you reached the Ely area.

With the coming of prohibition many old prospectors turned to bootlegging, they knew most of the old camps and springs to set up operations. In the early twenties Art ran the Moapa Bar, but tiring of looking over his shoulder for probi agents, decided to go to the Gold Butte area and homestead. He settled in the Jumbo Basin to do a little dry farming and prospecting and if things to too tough, he could always do some bootlegging. The farming operations were never a real success but prospecting was good. Art set up dry washing operation in the most likely washes. One time with the aid of Bob Fleming, they did some slice mining. By saving the water, they could run it thru several times. They did recover some gold and a few of the choice nuggets he kept for display, having fun sometimes with the unwary. He was one of a disappearing breed. Here, at Gold Butte, he teamed up with Bill Garrett who had moved into the now abandoned house shipped in by Johnnie Nelson’s mother from White Hills. The house was dismantled and hauled to Kingman where it was shipped in sections by rail to St. Thomas. Johnnie hauled it to Gold Butte and reassembled it. Quite a comfortable home.

Bill Garrett, raised in Texas, wasn’t one to talk much about the past. He was the sort of fellow that one did not pry too much into his past. In some of his more mellow moods he told of as a boy he and another youth pulled a holdup, in the melee that followed a man was shot. The boys ran and bill wound up in Canada. While in Canada, Bill fell in with an old man who taught him how to build a still. This was to come in handy in later years. Drifting back to the States he began to follow rodeos and eventually, became a world champ cowboy. He told of being in St. Louis in 1904 for the world fair. A rodeo was part of the fair, and Bill entered the saddle bronc riding event. On the first day he got a very rough horse and just as the gun went off, ending the ride, this cinch broke. Bill, saddle and all, made a beautiful loop landing straddle of a pole fench with Bill still in the saddle. It was the hit of the rodeo, they wanted him to do it everyday, little realizing it could not happen that way again in a hundred years.

The next fifteen years found Bill working on ranches and following rodeos. Bill became quite the rodeo star. While working in the Unitah County area of Utah, he got involved with a girl, her former boyfriend went looking for Bill, he found him in Vernal. Bill had been warned the man was looking for him in the shoot-out that followed the man lay dead. Bill was arrested and stood trial in Vernal but freed on a self-defense plea. Bill knew it was time to move on, so he next showed up in Gold Butte, working for George Hartman as a cowhand.

For server years the Lord had been good to Southern Nevada, the rains had been plentiful and stickmen were increasing their herds, the future looked the mid nineteen twenties that had all changed, a prolonged drought had set in and few were the cow outfits that would survive. Hartman was one that would fail, even with the men going without pay to keep things together. Big Swapp had nine hundred dollars coming and at thirty a month, that’s a long time without a payday. Bryant and Roxton Whitmore, Bill Garrett and others had back pay they could not get. Some took a few cows for pay, and Bill did this and moved into the abandoned White Hills house which was to be his home for the next forty years.

The Gold Butte house became a popular place, most people going out that way stopped at Bills. He sometimes made a little whiskey which did a lot for the house’s social success. Smoke coming from in back of the big rock some hundred yards back of the house would be a sure sign that a new batch was in the works.

The thirties came and with it the great depression, repeal of the Volstead Act and if that wasn’t enough, the Taylor Grazing Act. One by one Bill sold off his cattle to live. He had a prize horse running on the range, a light sorrel stallion with flax mane and tail. This horse was Bill’s pride and joy. A rancher from Willows, California, saw him from a distance and made a good offer so he was also sold. Bill was getting a little age on himself by this time, he wasn’t quite what he used to be, so had to get Elwood Perkins to catch Sun Flower, the pride of the Gold Butte range.

Art managed by accident to create more excitement than they could handle. One day while prospecting down below the Butte, he pulled off the road to turn around, his old model A backfired and set a grass fire that nearly got him before he could speed away. The smoke could be seen for a couple of days from as far away as Overton.

In their later years, they both got a county pension, still the Gold Butte house always had an open door. Throughout the years, hundreds had enjoyed their hospitality. Art was the older of the pair and passed away first, he was buried there at Butte. A couple of years later, Bill followed and was laid by his old friend. Stones were bought for the pair by their many friends. Those that pass and pause long enough can see that here lies the last of this breed of men.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Key West Mine Property Examination 1932

This report came from the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.  The original scan can be found here: 

Key West Mine, Clark County
Preliminary Examination Made January 23rd, 1932
By Alfred Merritt Smith

This examination was made in company with W.F. Darling, a rancher who lives on the Virgin River four or five miles north of the mine, and Jack Lisle, a prospector at that time living in St. Thomas.

The workings examined consisted of a tunnel about two hundred feet long, a cross-cut about one hundred fifty feet direct N. 50 W. Near the mouth of the tunnel is an incline fifty two feet long which connects with a drift running three hundred feet west, then seventy five feet south to a new shaft with head frame. The incline has a slop of about fifty-five degrees and also connects with the old shaft. About fifty feet in from the mouth of the tunnel is a drift running two hundred feet westerly on a vein two feed wide which splits and pinches out the face.

The country rock is a granitic or dioritic formation. It is intruded with a black igneous dyke apparently a peridotite formation, which has been mineralized and constitutes the ore body. The ore and dyke material contain augite, olivine, biotite and enstatite, pyrite, chalcopyrite, phyrrotite. The dykes are of pre-Cambrian age and are older than pegmatite dykes occurring in the area, which cut through both the black ore-bearing dykes and the granitic country rock.

The new shaft on the property is about three hundred feet deep. Water now stands in it at the one hundred and forty feet level. The shaft is said to have made twelve thousands gallons per day on the three hundred foot level. The water was said to be of good quality and potable.

The area is sparsely wooded with pinion, juniper and mountain Mahogany. The property is said to be owned by the Nevada Nickel and Copper Company, a corporation with offices at 50 Congress Street, Boston Massachusetts. R.E. Paine, 50 Congress Street, Boston is one of the officials known to the last operators.

The mine was last operated under lease and bond by a company represented by one Louis Thompson of Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Thompson had a lease and Bond on the mine and constructed a mill at an asserted cost of $120,000. J.J. Jessup was construction engineer. The mill was built in 1928 and operated for a time in 1928 and 1929. It contained an ore crusher, ball mill, Dorr duplex classifier, Wilfley tables and later, Grosh flotation cells. There is no doubt but what the mill was very poorly designed and was an utter failure. None of the group had any knowledge of modern metallurgy, yet they had the temerity to attack what is probably one of the most complex and difficult ores in the country.

Thompson stated to the writer that he shipped two hundred tons of concentrate to Los Angeles and about the same amount of ore. The concentrate was no better than the ore. Eleven hundred tons of ore was shipped to the International Smelter at Tooele, Utah, a hundred tons to the American Smelter at Garfield, Utah. A ton of matte (no information as to who produced the matte) was shipped to Stauffer Chemical Company, Richmond, California, and is said to have yielded good results.

Thompson said the value of the concentrate shipped was $119.00 per ton, some of even higher value. He stated that the ore contained copper – 6%, Gold – 0.02 ounces per ton, silver – 2.0 ounces per ton, platinum – 0.17 ounces per ton, palladium – 0.22 ounces per ton, nickel – 2.5 ounces per ton, cobalt – 1.5 to 4.0%, iron sulphide – 52%, silica – 12%. The ore contained no arsenic and no antimony.

Thompson organized the Key West Mining Company when he leased the property. He contracted many debts, was sued by creditors and a court judgment was obtained against him for $5,000. The creditors removed and sold the mill.

Locally Thompson himself is said to have incurred a majority of the bills and later on to have repudiated them, stating that he was only a minor stockholder in the Company. It was said, however, that he was a principal stockholder and is quite wealthy.

Gasoline engines were used for development work and to operate the mill.

Mt Darling stated that one of Thompson’s partner was named “Scoog”. The mill was removed in 1930.

The Tailings pond below the mill will average three feet deep and about 50 feet in diameter. There is also a pile of about twenty tons of concentrate.

The best ore in the mine is bunchy and erratic and results from the mineralization of the black igneous dyke in which it occurs, a most unusual ore occurrence. After being extracted from the mine the ore weathers and slacks after a time. The ore dyke in the Key West roughly follows the bedding of the gneissic country rock but spreads out along fractures on both the north and the south ends, forming seems and bunches. Most of the dyke is ore of lower grade. In the mine workings it appears to be from three to eight feet wide.

Prior to the operation of the mine by Thompson, it was owned by one Evans and Alfred A. Glaiser, who last worked it in 1904. The mine was discovered by a Cherokee Indian named Scott Allen about the Year 1890.

Some distance to the east and south limestone beds from 1,000 to 2,000 feet thick rise in cliffs resting unconformable upon the gneiss which is a country rock of this mine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Clark County's Claim in Nevada's Mining History

Mining is a large piece of Nevada’s history. When most of us think about mining and Nevada we think of the Comstock and Virginia City and the other great and more well-known mining features within the State. However the small scale operations that are scattered throughout the State also played a large role in shaping this rough country into what it is today. Clark County has its own claim in Nevada’s rich mining history.

One of our goals with the Gold Butte Historic Documentation Project is working to preserve, understand and appreciate some of the lesser known aspects of Gold Buttes rich history. Like the square set timbers in the mines, it is often the basic framework that is so easily gets looked over, that makes us what we are today.

The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology is a wealth of historical knowledge on mining within the state. They have thousands of scans of historical documents and maps throughout Nevada. We will be working to link and digitally transcribe many of the documents for the areas in and around Gold Butte. One of the documents is a “General  Reconnaissance” of the mining in Clark County in 1937. This document is filled with irreplaceable facts and data about mining in Clark County.

Please take the time to read this full document. It is filled with incredible history and captures a beautiful snapshot of Mining in Clark County in 1937. It gives a wide array of accounts on a variety of topics including; Topography, Climate and desert vegetation, water resources, power facilities, transportation facilities, History of mining, mineral production to name only a few. It also gives detailed accounts of many of the mining districts within the county.

Clark County Information Circular
Reconnaissance of Mining Districts in Clark County Nevada November 1937

Highlights from the Information Circular – Department of the Interior – Bureau of Mines
Reprinted from US Bureau of Mines Information Circular 6964
The report covers the locations of the various mining districts the nature of the deposits, information of past operations, current activity, and general data likely to be useful to operators, investors, and others interested in mining.

According to the census of 1930, the population of the county was 8,532, the majority residing in Las Vegas. The principal industries are agriculture, stock-raising, and mining. The assessed value of real property for the fiscal year 1935-36 was $4,552,500. The county and State tax rate for that year was $2.52 per $100, exclusives of special taxes.

History of Mining

Nevada was part of the territory acquired from Mexico in 1848 by the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. In 1850 it was made a part of the Territory of Utah. By Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1861 the Territory of Nevada was created, and on October 31, 1864 it was admitted into the Union.

Clark County is one of the oldest sections of Nevada, and the first mining in this area was done by Indians who settled in the Muddy and Virgin River Valleys at the dawn of the Christian era. Archeological investigations at Pueblo Grande de Nevada (The Lost City) near St. Thomas show that these burials and specimens of their culture may be seen in the Lost City Museum a short distance south of Overton. The mining activities of this aboriginal race were confined largely to the exploitation of the Virgin salt deposits (probably for trade purposes) and for turquoise. Pipes and other articles made from soapstone have been found also.

The earliest white men in Nevada were the Franciscan monks, who passed through Clark County on their way from Mexico to California as early as the middle of the eighteenth century. There is some evidence to show that a little mining was done by Spanish Explorers, who followed in the trails of the Franciscan fathers.

Southern Nevada was colonized by the Mormons in 1850, and settlements were established at Las Vegas, Callville, and along the Muddy and Virgin Rivers. Aside from the mines of the Indians and Spanish explorers, the Potosi mine in the Goodsprings district is the oldest lode mine in the State. It was discovered in 1855 by some of the Mormons who returned from San Bernardino, California. According to Helen j. Stewart:

A man by the name of Slade was made superintendent of the Potosi mine in 1855, having been sent out by the church authorities to supervise the lead mining. They made and attempt to smelt the ore at the mine, using pitch-pine for fuel, with no result save badly burned hands. They also tried cedar wood for that purpose, which was better, but still not successful. Not being satisfied with the results, they brought their ore down to the Las Vegas rancho. Dudd Leavitt and Isaac Grundy here built a furnace in a fireplace, using the chimney for making a draft. When the ore became too hot they devised the plan on placing an adobe brick in the furnace to even the temperatures. In this crude way they succeeded in making a success of their smelting operations. They moulded their lead in an old iron skillet which gave the bars the appearance of miners’ loaves of bread. In this manner they prepared and sent to Cedar City, Utah, ten thousand pounds of lead, which was put in charge of Bishop Smith and by him distributed.

Notwithstanding this early discovery, little attention was paid to the mining of base metals until 45 years later.

The first systematic mining in Clark County began with the discovery of gold-silver deposits in the Eldorado district in 1857. As this district was on a natural travel route (the Colorado River), it was actively exploited. This discovery was followed by the discovery of the keystone Mine in the Goodsprings district in 1892 and mines in the Searchlight area in 1897.

In 1905 the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake RR was completed and the town of Las Vegas established. The completing of this railroad stimulated the mining of zinc, lead, and copper deposits in the Goodsprings district, and the greatest activity occurred here during the war, when the price of the base metals became very high.

The exploitation of nonmetallic deposits in the county began about 1910. In recent years most of the metal mining has been done by lessees and small companies, principally of gold and silver deposits.

To review the full document click the following link. keep in mind it is a large pdf document and may take time to download depending on your connection speed:


This is only a very small cross section of one document of thousands found on the NBMG site. Take the time to search other information found on this site:

Through our history we will preserve our access

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Public Lands Day 2010

Public Lands Day 2010 was the kick off event to the Gold Butte Historic Documentation Project.

We had a few Historic Maps and other historic information to show people the types of resources that are available

Public Lands Day was the perfect setting to kick this project off. Part of the goal of Public Lands Day is to connect people with the public lands and celebrate service and recreation on those lands. With this project we hope to raise people's awareness of the rich history that is also connected with our public lands and encourage them to visit these places. 

If you have stories, books, other websites or any resource that has a record of historic events, people or places within the Gold Butte region please share these with us so we can share it on this site and with others.

Some of the specific categories or types of things that we are looking to collect information on are:
  • Corrals
  • Wells
  • Wind Mills
  • Mines
  • Mining Districts
  • Maps
  • Springs
  • Historic Locales
  • Landing Strip
  • Guzzlers
  • People of Gold Butte

Mining, Ranching and the Pioneer heritage is a big part of what makes Gold Butte so fascinating.  This project will grow and be successful with your help.
If you have any questions or stories you want to share please feel free to contact Elise or myself


Gold Butte Historic Documentation Project

The overall goal of Gold Butte Historic Documentation Project is to create a catalog of places within Gold Butte and the stories behind them. Our goal is to ensure that the places and the stories behind them are preserved and accessible. Some have been lost and many are not freely accessible. But with this project we hope to begin to recover and collect as much as we can. This project can only be carried out with the help and support of the people who love and enjoy our public lands. We hope to collect hard facts such as names and dates but also personal accounts and your experiences with places out at Gold Butte. Family stories and your personal narratives is what will bring this project to life.

Through our history we will preserve our access