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 They have thousands of scans of historical documents and maps throughout Nevada.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: ftp://nas.library.unr.edu/keck/mining/mdjs.htm
Through our history we will preserve our access