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.