The Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company Records (1904-1930) consist of correspondence, invoices, receipts with voucher checks, mining leases, insurance policies, payroll accounts, published notices and articles. Also included is a monthly Goldfield Consolidated Mines reports ledger from February 1914 to October 1916 for mines located in the south central Nevada area. The collection primarily dates from 1904, before the consolidation when the boom in Goldfield was beginning in earnest, until 1919, when the company ceased its operations in Goldfield, although there are a few records post-1919 as the company continued to exist after the mines and mill closed down.
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Scope and Contents Note
The collection primarily dates from 1904, before the consolidation when the boom in Goldfield was beginning in earnest, until 1919, when the company ceased its operations in Goldfield, although there are a few records post-1919 as the company continued to exist after the mines and mill closed down.
The Goldfield Consolidated initially was a holding company for a group of independent mining companies whose records were later incorporated into the umbrella company’s records. These independent mining companies represented the largest and most productive mines in the district, and their records document the initial bonanza period of mining prior to the consolidation effected by Messrs. Wingfield and Nixon. There were four major companies that controlled the richest mines: the Goldfield Mining Company, which owned the January mine, the Red Top Mining Company which owned the Red Top mines, the Jumbo Mining Company which owned the Jumbo mines, and Wingfield and Nixon’s own Goldfield- Mohawk Mining Company which controlled the famous Mohawk mine. Nixon and Wingfield acquired other mines and mining companies but these were the most important and their early pre-consolidation records are significant. The Consolidated Company did not fully centralize its operations until 1908, the various accounts reflect the transition in the period 1906 to 1907.
The bulk of this collection originated in the company's accounting office, and consists primarily of original invoices from the company's suppliers, employees, and contractors, receipts for payments made, and voucher checks that constituted the actual payment. In the absence of account ledgers, these invoices and vouchers constitute the most complete record of the company's expenditures, whether for machinery, lumber, or chemicals for ore processing, to services rendered from employees, attorneys and engineering consultants, or the private detectives the company employed as miners to inform on their employees. Unlike ledgers in which expenditures are usually abstracted or summarized, as, for example "sundries" or "general expenses," the invoices itemize everything the company paid for, including ore cars, or freight charges, office rent, legal fees, cigars and whiskey for George Wingfield, and or the ambiguous expenses of the legal department for "entertaining" jurors after a trial.
The collection also contains a series of surveys of the underground workings of the Consolidated mines in the period of deep mining development after 1908. Intense geological analysis of the district revealed the probability that the rich veins of gold ore which had sustained the initial bonanza mining operations from 1904 to 1908 ran much deeper underground than originally thought or could be reached by the earlier system of shafts and lateral prospecting. After the settlement of the labor troubles in Goldfield of 1907-8, when the Consolidated resumed operations, its management undertook a program of extensive development and prospecting by sinking its shafts down to 1000ft and cutting lateral tunnels at 600, 700, 800 and 1000 feet. Consolidated sunk deep shafts on the Clermont mine, the Red Top, the Combination the Laguna, and the Mohawk. Eventually all these mines connected at various levels allowing the company to extract and bring the ore to the surface more efficiently using an electric underground rail system and utilizing central shafts. The surveys document this extensive exploration. Prepared by a mining engineer, the surveys are carefully annotated by detailed notes of the geological conditions being encountered as the various laterals, crosscuts, winzes and stopes were cut. The surveys from the Laguna Mohawk mine include 21 sheets covering a depth of 153 feet, averaging eight feet between survey levels. The data from the surveys allowed a much more scientific approach to underground prospecting. According to a newspaper account in the Goldfield News the Consolidated would show visitors a three-dimensional model of their mines and the ore bodies, with large sheets of glass held in place a fraction of an inch apart, with all the different workings and veins marked in the proper location.
A series of eleven vertical sections of the vertical boundary between the Combination and Florence Mines properties show the underground workings on either side that either cross or approach the boundaries in relation to the ore vein which both mines were tapping.
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by copyrights and other rights. See Reproductions and Use on the UNLV Special Collections website for more information about reproductions and permissions to publish.
The collection is arranged chronologically with the exception of the two ledger books and one oversized flat folder.
Biographical / Historical Note
The Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company was the culmination of years of shrewd investments, skillful maneuvering in the volatile financial and mining stock markets, and mastering the art of personal persuasion by two of Nevada’s most colorful millionaires of the early twentieth century, George S. Nixon (1860-1912) and George Wingfield (1876-1959). Wingfield, a rover and gambler who dabbled in mining in northern Nevada, found his way, like many others, in the soon-to-boom silver town of Tonopah in 1902. George Nixon, personable, self-taught banker with political ambitions had met Wingfield in Winnemucca where Nixon had established a bank. The two became life-long friends and ultimately hugely successful business partners, Wingfield the richest man in Nevada and its premier political power-broker, and Nixon, a U.S. Senator. In 1902, however, both were still small players in a Nevada that was rapidly changing. In Tonopah, Wingfield did what he did best, gambled, won, bought a saloon with his winnings, and began investing in local mining operations. Nixon, the banker and politician, saw the potential of the Tonopah boom, and with his friend and now business partner George Wingfield, brought his financial resources into play. When the gold strikes in neighboring Goldfield began to draw investors, Nixon and Wingfield followed, first in small ventures in Columbia (just outside Goldfield) and eventually as major investors in the Goldfield Mohawk Mining Company, whose mine was the site of a phenomenally rich strike in 1906. Wingfield and Nixon proceeded to acquire control over the Mohawk and its earnings, which they then used to gain control over neighboring mines. The scheme that resulted in creation of the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company arose initially as a defensive move against the intrusions of the Goldfield Combination Mining Company, whose claims encroached on the Mohawk mine. Given the muddle of over-lapping mining claims over the same ore deposits and the looseness of the Nevada mining laws, Wingfield and Nixon’s attorneys advised them that rather than pursuing litigation with an uncertain outcome, the better strategy would be to buy out the neighboring mining companies, thereby neutralizing their claims. And this is precisely what Wingfield and Nixon did. Using their extensive capital, financial acumen, and east-coast connections, they were able to buy controlling interests in the Goldfield, Red Top, Jumbo, and Laguna mining companies, controlling the Mohawk, Florence, Red Top, and Jumbo mines, the largest producers in Goldfield. Wingfield and Nixon organized a holding company, the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company, incorporated in Wyoming and capitalized for $50,000,000. To complete their near monopoly of mining in the Goldfield district, Wingfield and Nixon leveraged a buyout of the Combination Mines Company, their only major competitor, in 1907. This completed the consolidation of mining in Goldfield by a company that by 1917 was ranked as the 148th largest industrial corporation in the United States.
The centralized, systematic and direct management of mining operations, as opposed to the older system of leasing mines to smaller, independent operators, made Goldfield Consolidated the most efficient and cost effective mining company in the state with its own mill and railroad, and also the most productive, at least while the ore held out. Consolidation helped Goldfield Consolidated weather the financial slumps that ruined most smaller mining operators, but by 1913 the ore was playing out and the company’s dividends fell off. In 1919, in the wake of the post-war depression, the company ceased operations in Goldfield and closed its mines and mills, although the company continued as a holding company for Wingfield’s mining ventures throughout the west. Wingfield lost his fortune (and his stock in Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company) in the Great Depression but he remained on its Board of Directors until his death in 1959. While it lasted, the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company paid out a total of over $29 million in dividends to stockholders, of which at least $8 million was paid to George Wingfield personally.
Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company Records, 1904-1930. MS-00744. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Materials were purchased in 2012, 2013, and 2015; accession numbers 2012-17, 2013-20, and 2015-49.
Collection was processed in 2015 by Joyce Moore. Collection description was written by Peter Michel.