November 4, 2005
Nevada's Online State News Journal
830 THE HISTORY OF NEVADA
[From The History of Nevada, edited by Sam P. Davis, vol. II (1912)]
Up to March 1, 1873, Eureka County was a part of Lander, at which time an act of the Legislature called it into being and described its boundaries as follows :
"Beginning at a point on the north boundary line of Lander County, equidistant between the northeast and northwest corners of Lander County; thence running due south from said initial point to the south boundary line of said Lander County ; thence running east along said south boundary line of Lander County ; thence running north along the east boundary line of Lander County to the southwest corner of White Pine County ; thence running west along the south boundary line of Elko County to the southwest corner of said Elko County to the northwest corner of said Elko County ; thence running along the west boundary line of Elko County to the northwest corner of Lander County ; thence running west along the north boundary line 0f said Lander County to the place of beginning."
By an Act approved March 2, 1881, a small strip was detached from White Pine County and added to Eureka. The Act creating the county stipulated that Eureka should assume half the public debt of Lander and the town of Eureka was named as the county seat.
The first meeting of the Eureka County Commissioners took place in Eureka March 20, 1873. The first Commissioners were D. H. Hall, E. E. Phillips and L. W. Corner. F. H. Harmon presented his commission as County Clerk and it was accepted, but when William Arlington presented his commission, signed by the Governor as County Commissioner, the Board rejected it. Next in order, District Attorney Baker presented the commission of T. C. Edwards as County Recorder ; W. M. Gates presented a similar commission on behalf of A. S. Campbell for the same office. The commissions were spread on the minutes and later in the day Campbell was recognized. W. A. Edwards was appointed County Surveyor, J. D. Sullivan,
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Sheriff, and L. P. Kelly, Superintendent of Schools. C. C. Wallace was recognized as Assessor, and W. A. Seaton as County Treasurer. On March 22 the Board rejected the bond of William Head as Superintendent of Schools and declared the position already filled.
On March 25 Skating Rink Hall, on the corner of Main and Bateman streets, was accepted for county purposes, being presented by J. O. Darrow.
The Act creating the county provided that an election should be held whenever 500 citizens presented a petition calling for it. Such a petition was duly presented to the County Commissioners, but they decided on May 5 that it was not in accordance with the law, as it contained many names who were not bona fide citizens of the county. On June 16 additional signatures were secured and the petition again presented, again to be rejected on the same grounds as before. On April 21 the Board of Commissioners approved the settlement of the public matters between the counties of Lander and Eureka.
On December 2 another petition was presented to the Board bearing the names of 680 citizens, representing three-fifths of the taxable property of the county. By this time there were many mutterings of discontent and threats were numerous as to what might happen if the Board should again reject the petition. They declared the County of Eureka subject to the provisions of the Act of March 21, 1873. This Act was made to apply to an area two miles north and south of the Court House, one mile west and half a mile east of the same.
Ruby Hill township was created on March 16 and abolished September 11, 1876. In September fifteen voting precincts were created and a few weeks later two more were added. In October, 1873, bonds to the amount of $20,000 were issued to meet public needs, and in December, $17,347 in bonds were issued to meet the indebtedness to Lander County. In 1880 the new Court-house was accepted. In the same year $20,000 in bonds were issued to provide for public schools. In 1872 the children of school age numbered 472.
The first paper published in Eureka was the Sentinel, a daily, edited by George Cassady, who was afterward elected to Congress. The Leader was also a daily, and the Weekly Mining News was published at Mineral Hill. The Sentinel still survives, being published by Geo. Skillman.
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Eureka's topographical features consist of mountains and valleys. The Humboldt River flows across the northern part, with its general course to the west; Maggie Creek from the north, and Pine Creek from the south, empty into the Humboldt. Fish Creek rises in the southwestern part of the county and flows east into White Pine and sinks. The Diamond range of mountains skirts the eastern border for nearly 100 miles. The Sulphur Mountains extend from the Humboldt River on the north nearly 100 miles south, and then turn westerly across the southwestern portion of the county. The lowest point of the county is at Beowawe, which is 4,695 feet above sea level. Prospect Mountain and some of the loftiest peaks of the Sulphur Range have an altitude of 9,500 feet. Diamond Mountain, overlooking the town of Eureka, has an altitude of 11,000 feet.
The county is more adapted to mining than agriculture, although of late years along the Humboldt, Fish Creek and in Pine Valley a good deal has been invested in hay and cattle raising and the growth of the white sage affords good pasturage for cattle. Cottonwood, cedar and mountain mahogany afford fuel and the charcoal industry, when the mines were producing, was large and lucrative.
The principal mining districts are the Antelope District, twenty miles north of Eureka ; the Cortez District, in the Toiyabe Mountains, about thirty miles southeast of Beowawe station on the Southern Pacific R. R. The Cortez Co. built a mill in 1863 which cost $100,000. It was afterward enlarged from eight to sixteen stamps and finally sold for $6,000 to Sam Wenban, one of the original locators.
TOPOGRAPHICAL AND GEOLOGICAL.
Eureka County lies entirely in the Great Basin, and its surface is divided between great mountains and valleys. The former are pregnant with mineral veins and deposits of gold, silver and lead, copper, antimony zinc, etc. The gold and silver-lead deposits have been mined extensively; the copper and antimony are abundant. There are well-known veins and deposits of zinc.
Sulphur, niter, salt, borax, soda and other minerals of economic value are abundant in the county ; but as little or no attention has been given them, their extent cannot at present be estimated. Bitu-
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minous slate, gypsum and kaolin are known to exist, but have received only passing attention.
The valleys are mostly arid, but where irrigation is applied the soil will produce an average of forty bushels of wheat to the acre, and 60 bushels have been harvested in the richer soil. Barley and oats have been raised in considerable quantities for home consumption. Alfalfa grows luxuriantly and two crops harvested during the year will cut from three to five tons to the acre. Good crops are cut in the Humboldt Bottom and in Pine and Fish Creek valleys. There are a number of small farms watered from the mountain springs that yield good crops of hay, barley, oats, fruit and vegetables of extraordinary fine quality and flavor. Both the mountains and valleys afford good pasturage in winter and summer alike, with only occasional unfavorable seasons, there being an abundance of bunch and other natural grasses in the mountains and white sage in the valleys.
Stock Raising Industry.—Stock raising is a permanent industry out of which a number of persons have become rich, the climate and extent of the ranges being exceedingly favorable. Game is not abundant, but wild rabbits, grouse, sage fowls, doves, etc., breed enough to afford good sporting. Several of the streams are full of trout and German carp (the latter imported), and the Humboldt River affords fine fishing for splendid mountain trout and imported catfish. Cottonwood trees of natural growth are found along the river bottoms, and dwarf cedar, nut pine and mountain mahogany are plentiful in the mountains and foothills. Wild flowers and medicinal herbs grow in profusion. The average elevation of the valleys above sea level is about 6,000 feet. Prominent mountain peaks rise above the valleys from 2,500 to 4,600 feet. In 1878 the population of the county numbered 7,896, 6,581 of whom were residents at Eureka, the county seat, and Ruby Hill, the center of mining operations in Eureka county. The average quotation of silver in New York that year was $1.152 per ounce. Since that year, corresponding with the decline of silver, mining and metallurgical operations have steadily diminished, and the population of the county is reduced accordingly.
Newark District, with the Bay State, Nevada, Battery, and other mines, which have been productive and profitable at one time or another, is situated about 20 miles to the northeast of Eureka, be-
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yond Alhambra Hill. It also lies in White Pine County, borders on Newark Valley, and procures its supplies from and ships its products by way of Eureka. Spring Valley and Prospect Mountain districts lie to the west and southwest and are separated by Spring Valley. In the former district are situated the Woodchopper, Reeves and Berry, North Star and other mines, which have produced considerable rich chloride of silver ore; in the latter are the Mountain Boy and Kentuck mines, which have yielded large quantities of rich silver-lead ore. These districts are each of them tributary to Eureka and likewise referred to as belonging to Eureka district.
Geology.—The cambrian, silurian, devonian and carboniferous ages are all represented in Eureka district, but it is only in the limestone of the cambrian period that ore deposits of any great value have been found. The Hoosac, "76" and a few other small mines lie in the Lone Mountain's limestone, and the Bullwhacker in the Pogonip limestone, both of which belong to the silurian age. In the rocks of the devonian and carboniferous ages in Eureka district no ore whatever has been found. The following beds of the cambrian age have been distinguished by Mr. Arnold Hague, geologist in the field of this region, of the U. S. Survey of the Fortieth Parallel; Prospect Mountain quartzite, Prospect Mountain limestone, Secret Canyon shales, Hamburg limestone and Hamburg shale. The rocks of the silurian age, in the order of their succession, are Pogonip limestone, Eureka quartzite, and Lone Mountain limestone. The rocks of the devonian age in the neighborhood are the White Pine shale and Nevada limestone, in the latter of which are situated the mines of Alhambra Hill and some of those of Prospect Mountain district.
The principal mines of Eureka district lie in Prospect Mountain and Hamburg beds of limestone, which run through the district several miles in length, and are bounded on either side by bands of quartzite or argillaceous shale. The beds of the Prospect Mountain limestone differ somewhat from the Hamburg beds, the latter containing more silica, and breaking with a sharper fracture than the former; upon the surface it also shows a rough surface where it has been weathered by exposure to the elements. These beds vary in width from 1,000 to 6,000 feet and have a general northerly trend. The dip is to the eastward, excepting isolated cases. The Prospect
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Mountain quartzite bends around the northern slope of Prospect Mountain in the form of a horseshoe; it sinks on the east side just north of the Eureka tunnel, where it is separated by a fault from the Secret Canyon shale. At a point northwesterly, upon the west side, west of the mouth of the Prospect Mountain tunnel, it underlies and forms the foot-wall of the Ruby Hill lode, with an average dip of 40 degrees to the northeast.
The ore-bearing limestone zone of Ruby Hill has been characterized as a "lode" in the rulings of the court of the sixth judicial district of Nevada, upon the evidence submitted through litigation between the Eureka Consolidated Mining Company and the Richmond Consolidated Mining Company of Nevada, and these rulings were sustained by the United States Supreme Court. Hence the term "lode" has been applied to all of that portion of the Prospect Mountain limestone of which Ruby Hill is partly formed. The main feature of the Ruby Hill is the presence of a fault fissure, to which the name of Ruby Hill fault has been given by the U. S. Geological Survey, and which appears to have a very important bearing upon the mineralized zone, as also upon the ore deposits. It strikes in a southeasterly direction and the average dip of its plane is 70 degrees northeasterly. It extends from Ruby Hill through all of the mines to the southeast and has a fault plant along which the whole southwestern country has been raised (as illustrated by the U. S. Survey) from 500 to 2,000 feet.
Ores of Eureka District.—The following minerals have been found among the gold and silver-bearing ores of Eureka district: Galena, anglesite, cerusite, minelite, wolfenite, limonite, pyrite, arsenopyrite, molybdenite, malachite and azurite. The different classes of ore are so varied in their composition that a full description here would be too voluminous for the requirements of this work.
Silver occurs in the form of chlorides and sulphides, etc., and is more directly associated with quartz, lead and iron than other components in the ores. Gold occurs in a metallic state and is also chemically diffused through quartz, iron oxide, etc. Antimony is present in many of the ores, but in what state has not yet been determined. Silver is seldom found without an intermixture of gold, and although Eureka is regarded wherever it is known as a "silver camp," gold and
836 THE HISTORY OF NEVADA
silver at their present respective commercial values occur in about equal proportions in the combined products of the district.
The lead ores of Eureka district have cut a most important figure in the general output; the metallic leads obtained from them have realized no less than $25,000,000 in the open market. They occur mostly in the form of galena of a coarse and medium grain and more or less mixed with sulphide of lead and iron oxide. The lead frequently occurs in the form of nodules of galena, which are changed at or near the surface into carbonate of lead and in irregular masses distributed with iron oxide throughout the ore. The products of the mines of Eureka district may be classed as auriferous argentiferous lead ores, gold as well as silver entering largely into this composition. They are generally of a smelting character and while lead has always formed the most important factor in their reduction, they also contain sufficient iron, silica and other reducing agents to make them self-fluxing. They are phenomenally valuable for shipment to distant smelting centers, on account of their iron gangue. Especially where ferruginous ores are scarce and in demand, they command the highest rates paid and frequently realize in the open market more than the full commercial value of their gold and silver contents. The sulphurets, sulphides and carbonates of lead usually contain more silver than gold and carry combined values in both of the precious metals, varying from $20, or thereabouts, up to $150 per ton, while ores of similar characteristics, found in the Hamburg limestone beds, frequently run from $300 to $500 per ton in value and carry more gold than silver. The chloride ores of the district are sometimes extremely rich, running up into the thousands of dollars per ton, principally in silver. The iron and silicious ores usually carry greater value in gold than silver ; especially where the quartz appears in a much crystallized form, it is generally very rich in gold.
Iron ores are plentiful in all parts of the district ; they occur in the form of oxide and carbonates and occasionally silicate of iron, and range in value from $6 or 8 to $200 and $300 per ton in gold and silver. In some of the mines where iron ores predominate the contents average three or four dollars in gold to one in silver, and in many cases might be treated for reduction by the cyanide or other similar processes with extremely profitable results.
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Free gold has been found in Prospect Mountain in hematite (sesquioxide of iron) and also in shipping quantities in calcite (crystallized carbonate of lime). Specimens of free gold in hematite and large blocks of calcite have assayed up into many thousands of dollars per ton. Those occurred in some of the mines upon the west side of Prospect Mountain, but in the Hamburg bed of Adams Hill, and that which forms the eastern base of Prospect Mountain for a continuous distance of 10 or 12 miles, the ores that were mined generally predominated in gold. It is estimated that there are millions of tons of low-grade ore blocked out and in prospective in the various mines of the district, the value of which must depend on future appliances for their reduction to marketable material, and which, under such advantages as are enjoyed in the prominent camps of California, Utah and Colorado, would realize to the owners many millions of dollars.
Yield of the Metals Estimated.—The total yield of ore from the mines of the county from 1894 up to the end of 1895 is estimated at over $125,000,000 gross value. That estimate is based on the tonnage accounted for upon the county assessor's books since March, 1873, the ores that were reduced in Eureka previous to that period, the products which were shipped to Austin and other places, and from other sources of information. Up to the latter part of 1882 the estimates of the U. S. Geological Survey placed the total production of the precious metals from Eureka district alone at about sixty million dollars—about one-third gold and two-thirds silver. It also estimated the production of lead at 225,000 tons, which, at $90 per ton, equals a value of $20,250,000, making the total yield of the district, up to the latter part of 1882, in round figures, $80,000,000.
The Eureka reduction companies never paid anything for the iron contained in the ores they purchased, but shippers are paid at the rate of $15 per ton at the Salt Lake and other distant smelters for all of the iron their ore contains. As some of the Eureka ores carry as much as 60 per cent. (1,200 to the ton of 2,000) of iron, that metal has assumed great importance as a factor of economic value to shippers. At distant smelters it is an important fluxing agent, and not easily obtained. It is worthy of note that Eureka district has been mainly self-sustaining. It has neither been fostered by loud advertising nor speculation in stocks. The total amount of capital invested for the purchase of mines
838 THE HISTORY OF NEVADA
has now reached $2,000,000, and a like amount will cover all of the assessments that have been levied for its support. The shares of her incorporated companies have always been held for legitimate investment at their normal value. The mines have been only 25 years under active development and the lowest depth obtained is only 1,400 feet. That was the depth (or thereabouts) of the Con. Virginia when it commenced to make millionaires of men and show up the apparently limitless richness of the Comstock. The county assessor's books show a total yield from the mines of the county, from the quarter ending March 31, 1873, up to March 31, 1896, of 1,316,170 tons and 1,490 pounds of ore of the net value of $44,241,016.93.
Neighboring Districts Within County.—Outside of Eureka and within the county are several mining districts any of which may come to the front as great ore producers. In fact, Cortez and Mineral Hill have already yielded sufficient to give them place among the most important mining regions of the county. Safford district, situated on the south side of the Humboldt river, about five miles distant from Palisade, has a number of ore veins in porphyry. The ore is generally very rich in silver, and there is justification in the belief that the veins will pay well to explore on an extensive scale.
Richmond district, which is divided by the line that separates Eureka from Elko county, and Goodhue and Schroeder districts, in the northerly part of the county, have produced rich ore, but not in such quantities as to give them special distinction. Roberts district has been known for a number of years, but until within the present year it has only received passing attention. Several years ago some claims were worked, but with results so unsatisfactory that they were soon practically abandoned. Early last spring, they having fallen into the hands of R. D. Clark of Reno, his son and others who were associated with them, men were employed by them on the Keystone mine, and they developed a vein or, deposit of ore which they feel justified in exploring on a more extensive scale than had previously been attempted. Miners are of the opinion that the prospect is good for the development of a great mine. It is situated about 53 miles northeast of Eureka and 17 miles southwest of Cortez. The mines show bold croppings which are traceable for a half mile or thereabouts. The work recently done there consists of a tunnel 150 feet in length,
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connecting with a shaft 105 feet deep. Low-grade ore was sound on top, but very rich material was encountered in sinking. Recent developments consist of a vein of 15 to 20 feet in width, not all ore, but the paying material assays from 18 to 600 ounces of silver to the ton, and some of it will yield as high as $120 in gold. The ledge is described as a contact vein, with a porphyry foot-wall and limestone in the "hanging." Messrs. Clark & Co. have secured about 20 claims on the lode. Cuprite and other forms of copper are found in some of the ore, and quantities of it will yield from 12 to 34 per cent. of that metal. Lead and iron sulphides are also abundant. A concentrator has been set up near the mine and a smelter is in course of construction to be used for matting the ore until more definite plans are matured.
Mineral Hill district is situated in the foothills, about five miles east of Mineral Station, on the line of the Eureka and Palisade railroad. It was discovered in 1869, when several claims were located there upon silver quartz deposits. They were sold in 1870 to George D. Roberts and Wm. Lent, of San Francisco, for $400,000, and the Mineral Hill Mining Company was organized. After mining and milling several hundred thousand dollars' worth of ore, this company sold to an English syndicate for one and a half million dollars. The English people operated the property for some years, but, although some of the ore ran very high in silver, the average of it was too low grade to work, as affected by the downward course of silver. So they sold to the present owners, Messrs. Barker, Spencer & Co., who realized $60,000 or $70,000 profit by running tailings through the mill. The ore that has been mined since then was assorted, and lots, valued at from $100 to $500 per ton, were shipped to Salt Lake and Eureka. The character of the ore is free milling quartz and chloride. This is doubtless a great property, but it has nowhere been developed below 100 feet in depth.
Cortez district is situated upon Mount Tenabo, east of and near the north end of Toiyabe range, and about 30 miles south of Beowawe. It is there that the first important mining operations in the county were conducted. It was discovered in 1863. The principal mines—the Garrison and others, numbering upwards of 60 claims—are principally owned by Simeon Wenban, who, by his indefatigable energy and shrewdness, has amassed a great fortune out of them. He was
840 THE HISTORY OF NEVADA
among the discoverers and first locators of the district, and in the face of numberless difficulties stood by the great property with strong resolution and indomitable will through many trying ordeals, over a period of nearly thirty years. Deserved success crowned his efforts and made him a millionaire. These claims are now incorporated in Nevada, under the styling of "The Tenabo Mill and Mining Company." They are marked by several miles of bold croppings, and are combined in what is probably the greatest mining property, at this date, in the state of Nevada. The ore runs from a few dollars up into the thousands per ton. The principal workings are approached by long tunnels, and but little shaft work has so far been needed. The mines are nearly idle at present, it being understood that Mr. Wenban will not work them, on account of the low price of silver. The ores are treated by a leaching process, and the plant in use for the purpose is said to be one of the finest appointed establishments of the kind in the State.
Union district, situated about four miles eastward from Mineral Hill, has an abundance of low-grade silver-lead ore and considerable of high-grade. It, at one time, bid fair for a position among the favored mining localities ; but through unfortunate business management it is practically deserted. Diamond district, situated in the Diamond range, about 12 miles north of Eureka, is in a similar position.
The First Smelting Furnace.—The discoveries of precious metals in Eureka brought some of the best equipped metallurgists in the world to this county.
There is some difference of opinion as to whom belongs the credit of erecting the first furnace in the State. In 1869 a smelting furnace was erected in the Eureka district, Nev., by C. A. Stetefeldt, which appears to have smelted ores from several of the mines, but a large proportion of gangue in the ores rendered the flux required too great, and pecuniary difficulties prevented the completion of the plant. The first successful commercial plant appears to have been erected by Col. G. C. Robbins at Eureka, 1869, which plant was described by R. C. Canby before the International Congress of Applied Chemistry, the data being furnished by F. Robins, son of Col. Robins. The stack was a draft furnace, through which the mixture of oxide and carbonate ores is said to have "run like butter."
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Originally slag was run off into ordinary iron wheelbarrows, and bullion molds were made of sheet iron, folded and reinforced by a heavy wire rim. In 1870 the original draft stack had already given way to two small blast furnaces, and within the next four or five years there were 12 or more plants erected. However, it did not take the mine owners long to learn that the smelting toll charged by a large plant was less than the operating costs of an individual one, so eventually two only, the Eureka Consolidated and Richmond Consolidated, survived. These eventually combined to fix a smelting charge which was all the miner could stand and just low enough to prevent the ore going to Salt Lake City.
In 1870, with the exception of Stetefeldt, there were no skilled metallurgists, there were two or three itinerant assayers whose knowledge did not extend beyond the use of the crucible and cupel, but careful hourly analyses of slags were made on the point of a long-handled shovel.
T. Pritchard was smelter foreman, a son of a Welshman and a Mexican woman described as racially a metallurgical marvel.
The crew was Mexican and Indian and celebrated feast days with great vigor. During one of these shutdowns Pritchard whitewashed the furnace interior with bone-ash, having gotten the idea from the resisting properties of the cupel. Three young German metallurgists, Karl von Leibinau, Albert Arents and Otto H. Hahn, came to the camp about this time. Hahn, probably with Leibinau as his assistant, planned and constructed the smelting plant of the Richmond company in 1871. Arents remodelled that of the Eureka. These men probably brought with them the plans of the Raschette furnaces from Germany. They were the first to introduce dust chambers into the camp and Arents invented and patented his siphon tap. For many years metallurgical pilgrims came to steal ideas from these works. For many years the lead product of Eureka led all Coast records, but the works were but crude affairs when compared with the monster copper-plants at Ely owned by the Guggenheims.
"The finding of the great Eberhardt mine on Treasure Hill, in White Pine County, Nevada, in 1867 or '68, drew critical attention to eastern, Nevada. Pioche was quickly discovered, and Eureka, that had been previously discovered but abandoned, was re-located, or re-appropri-
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ated, and by the autumn of 1869 a good many prospectors had gone there and were exploring all that region. Four men had taken up the Eureka mine and had mined and piled on the dump, perhaps fifteen hundred tons of ore. Four others had located the adjacent claim north of the Richmond, and were sinking upon it. The Jackson, to the south, had likewise been located and a little work done. A hundred other locations had been made in the district and a good many miners were at work, but it was clear that about all they hoped for was to make as good a showing as they could, in the hope to later sell out, for the ores were all heavy in lead, with a good deal of silver and a small percentage of gold, all impossible to mill, and up to that time no successful smelting had been accomplished in the State.
Then, none of the ores would bear transportation to the railroad and thence to any known point of reduction, for to get to Eureka from the railroad, men had to go south 140 miles from Elko to Hamilton—three miles below Treasure Hill—and thence northwest 40 miles, to Eureka. In December, 1869, Eureka consisted of two tents, one log house, one rough board house and one corral. Isaac Bateman, who built the first and second International hotels in Virginia City, with Colonel David Bull and with Joe Farren as silent partners, had bonded the Eureka mine, and a little later Bateman went to London to try to sell it. They also built two furnaces of about 30 tons capacity each, and employed an old Baltimore copper smelter, who knew nothing of scientific smelting, the analysis of ores or the needed fluxes to use, and gave him charge of the smelters.
The Jackson smelter was set running with similar ability in charge, and because of the goodness of God and the fact that the ores were in great measure self-fluxing, some base bullion was turned out. A little later a road was opened to Carlin, and in the following spring still another road was opened to Palisade, on the old Central Pacific Railroad. In the course of the winter a crowd of people had flocked in, until the camp numbered 1,200 or 1,500 people. The only source of revenue was the smelters. Farren had some money, but Bull and Bateman had none to speak of. That firm made an arrangement with an Austin bank to get advances on their bullion. The Jackson company made a similar arrangement with a Hamilton bank.
But it was a tough, hard winter. It was the only camp in Nevada
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where the people were held together by the cohesive attraction of universal poverty. With the rest, a great many tough characters had flocked there, and things were always lively and sometimes exciting. There was no jail, and if a man was convicted of any offense, he had to be sent by stage 90 miles, to Austin, the county seat.
The late Major John H. Dennis was deputy Sheriff, and he made frantic efforts to get the county to build him a jail. But the commissioners were cautious men ; they informed him that it would be more prudent to wait and see if there was really going to be a permanent camp before building a jail. In this crisis one of the county commissioners came into the camp with a four-horse team load of barley, in eighty-pound sacks. The commissioner brought his own food and blankets with him, tied his horses to the four wheels of the wagon and fed them, and when night came went to sleep in his own blankets on his load of barley. Dennis knew all the thugs in town. He selected two whom he considered experts, explained to them that in the interest of justice it was necessary to separate four sacks of that barley from the wagon and deposit them in a designated place, for which he promised a reasonable reward and exemption from prosecution. Barley was worth there at the time four and a half cents per pound.
The feat was accomplished. Next morning the commissioner rushed to Dennis and acquainted him with his loss. Dennis assured him it would be idle to try to find and arrest the culprits, assured him that he had got off cheaply, and expressed surprise that they did not likewise take his best span of horses. The commissioner hastily disposed of his load and the next night made his camp out on the road to Austin, twenty-five miles from Eureka, and, it is said, slept that night with one eye open. Reaching home, he called a special meeting of the board of county commissioners, and before the meeting adjourned a jail for Eureka was ordered and a message sent to Major Dennis to begin work on the jail at once. The major always insisted that when he had secured the jail, he made full restitution to the commissioner for the lost barley, and maybe he did. But he is dead now ; so is the commissioner ; so are nearly all of that old company, and de mortuis nil nisi bonum.
Colonel Dave Buell was a great help to Eureka in that first winter. He was six feet four inches high, muscled like a tiger, was afraid of
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nothing, and the whole town knew his history, and when they saw him, the worst of them did not feel like making trouble. A couple of anecdotes are told of him. One illustrates his nerve; the other, his gall. He was, in the '50s, Sheriff of El Dorado County, California. There was a tree in the outskirts of the county seat upon which some seven or eight men had been hanged. Buell always rode a thoroughbred horse. One afternoon a messenger reached him at a way station twelve miles from the county seat and explained that a mob had been formed and would take a prisoner from the jail as soon as it was dark, and hang him on that tree.
Buell at once called for a bucket of water and a bottle of whiskey. He broke the top of the bottle off, poured half the contents into the water, gave it to the horse and then said, "Come." From where he was there was a steep grade up the mountain for three miles, then a down grade into town. He started up this grade on foot, in a dog trot, the horse following him. Reaching the summit, he sprang upon the back of the good steed and in a fast lope rode to town. Night came down before he reached home, the mob had the prisoner with a rope around his neck, leading him to the tree. As Buell approached a hundred pistols were drawn, and he was sternly warned not to interfere. But he spurred into the crowd, shouting, "Let me speak to the man a minute ; he may have a message to send to friends."
Springing down beside the wretch, with his bowie knife, which he always carried, he severed the rope from his neck, caught him up and threw him upon the horse; then slapping the flank of the horse, he bade the man to run him for his life, then turned, and, facing the crowd, cried out: "You are under arrest, every son-of-a-gun of you."
There were hot words hurled at Buell in return, but the crowd cooled down quickly. The audacity of Buell had won their admiration, and the result was that they made a night of it. I am afraid Buell joined them.
The other anecdote is that he once obtained a bond on a Belmont mine—Belmont is a little northeast of Goldfield—and went to Paris to sell it. He did not know three words of French, but he carried his gall with him. He had been in Paris but a day or two when a great horse race was advertised. He in some way found when and where the race was to come off, and was on hand early. Seeing a finely-canopied
EUREKA COUNTY 845
grand stand vacant, he unceremoniously took a seat in it. In a few minutes a superbly-mounted officer rode up and, dismounting, with many bows, addressed him in beautiful French, to which Buell replied in Western English: "I am much obliged for your words of welcome, but it is of no consequence ; I do not desire any special courtesies." The young officer mounted and rode away, but five minutes later an older man, still more elaborately dressed and decorated, came, and in incisive tones made a little speech to Buell. Buell listened and then, in the same western English, replied: "Really, you gentlemen are showing me too much attention. I am just a common miner from Nevada, and do not expect extraordinary attentions in France." Just then a splendidly caparisoned carriage and four, with stunning outriders, drove up. The Emperor and Empress—Napoleon III and Eugenie--alighted and took their seats in this pavilion, where Buell quietly sat. The officer who had been appealing to Buell, turned to the Emperor and, bowing low, made what Buell believed was an explanation, coupled with an appeal, which was probably for authority to oust the intruder by force.
The Emperor listened, then turned to Buell, smiled, and then addressed a few words to the officer, which Buell construed to mean, "Never mind; let the long American alone." And he watched the races from the Emperor's pavilion.
Bateman finally succeeded in bonding the Eureka mine to an American corporation after he had failed to dispose of it in London and that mine, which cost $250,000, paid $1,000,000 in dividends annually for fifteen years and its total yield was more than twice that amount.
The Richmond mine was bonded for $55,000. The man who held the bond pointed out to a hundred men that if in that soft ore there was not a million dollars under the sag of the hillside, then he was an idiot, and everyone, in a courteous way, assured him that he probably was. But J. J. Dunne took it to London, unloaded it for $600,000 or $700,000 upon the Englishmen. They sent a superintendent over who, on looking at the property, declared the belief that it was another Yankee swindle. But when the company got to work, that same sag in the hillside paid annual dividends of $1,000,000 a year for nine consecutive years, and in the meantime every conspicuous member of the company and many outsiders made fortunes.
846 THE HISTORY OF NEVADA
Some of the leading State builders lived originally in Eureka. It produced some of the most successful politicians in Nevada. Black Wallace got his first political schooling there. George Cassady was elected to Congress from there, as was Thomas Wren and George Baker. Gov. Sadler also was an old Eureka man and during one of the hard winters he ran a general merchandise store, and when nearly every one in town was broke he never refused credit to man or woman, and when spring came he had over $200,000 of bad debts on his books. Eureka, while now carrying but little of the prestige of the old flush days, has been one of the greatest camps of the State, and possibly the very best for the amount of money expended. It grew into a great camp on the individual efforts of a few men and without assessing its stockholders.