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Clark County

Eldorado Canyon

Inquiry Questions

  • How did Eldorado Canyon earn its "reputation for violence and lawlessness"?

Eldorado Canyon is located 39 miles southeast of Las Vegas.  According to local lore, the Spanish explorers from Mexico and their Indian guides discovered gold in Eldorado Canyon as early as 1775.  It was not until the news of a discovery of gold by Johnny Moss, a trapper who discovered ore in the Opal Mountains during the spring of 1861, that a rush of prospectors from California were attracted to Eldorado Canyon. Within a year, the Southwest Mining Company and El Dorado Mining Company had established working mines in the valley.  The Techatticup Mine, which was the principal mine of Eldorado Canyon, opened in 1863.  By this time four different townsites had been laid out, but the canyon was isolated, supplies difficult to bring in, and the camps had reputations for violence and lawlessness. In 1865 a post office was established, and in 1867 an Army Military Post was established to protect the steamboat traffic from hostile Indians. The Techatticup Mine was the most productive in the district, and by 1883 the company constructed its own fifteen-stamp mill to avoid the expense of freighting the ore for processing.  With the coming of the railroad in 1905, mining revived in the district, and a fifty-ton smelter was developed seven miles west of Eldorado Canyon.  A new townsite was laid out closer to the smelter and mines, and the older settlement moved to the new town of Nelson where a new cyanide mill was constructed to process the gold.  Over half of the total production for the area was mined from the Techatticup mine. 


Inquiry Questions

  • How has the value of the following metals changed over the years: gold, silver, platinum, vanadium, and lead-zinc?

Goodsprings, located 34 miles southwest of Las Vegas, was once well-known for its gold, silver, platinum, vanadium, and lead-zinc.  Silver ore was discovered in 1868, and the area was incorporated into the New England Mining District, later renamed the Yellow Pine Mining District. Shortly after the discovery, the site was abandoned because of the low grade of the ore.  The town reemerged in the 1890s when a prospector, Joe Good, opened a mine in the area.  The local springs and the city were named after him.  In 1893 the population was only 200 strong, and most of the residents worked in the Keystone Gold Mine that was opened in 1892.  The Yellow Pine Mining District, comprising several smaller sites, opened in 1901.  The San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad’s depot in the neighboring community of Jean stimulated the economic development in Goodsprings, leading to the reorganization of the Yellow Pine Mining District in 1906.  To increase its production, the district built a narrow gauge railroad from Goodsprings to Jean in 1911 that drastically reduced shipping costs. Previously, ore was carted to the railroad in Jean by an eight-horse team. Goodsprings grew into a modern community with several stores, a school, hospital, and post office. In 1910 an oval race track opened and hosted car races several times a year.  The town also had one of the finest hotels in the region, the Hotel Fayle, named for George Fayle, the owner, which opened in 1916.  The hotel had twenty rooms with private baths and a banquet hall where local dances were held with live bands imported from Las Vegas. Goodsprings peaked in 1915-1918 because of the demand for metals during World War I.  After the war the district dwindled, and became dormant by 1922.


Inquiry Questions

  • What affect did the varying types and qualities of metals and minerals found at Potosi have on the life of the community?

Potosi, the oldest lode mine in Nevada, is located 25 miles southwest of Las Vegas.  According to legend, Potosi was named after one of the greatest silver mines in colonial Mexico; however, other accounts claim that Nathaniel Jones, a Mormon settler who discovered lead deposits in 1856, named the mine and its small community after his childhood home in Wisconsin.  Lead was mined sporadically there through 1857, but was too brittle and flaky to be profitable, and the mine and settlement were abandoned when the Mormons left their Las Vegas mission. In the spring of 1861, the Colorado Mining Company opened a smelter near Potosi Springs and mined silver there until 1863.  In 1870 the Silver State Mining Company reopened the mine.  From 1873-1906, production was very inconsistent until the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad finished its line through Southern Nevada.  Mining at Potosi suffered from the financial recessions of the following years until late 1913, when the Empire Zinc Company took over production and Potosi became the largest producer of zinc in the state.  The mine suffered from the post war recession, and despite a small boom in 1928, never regained a constant level of production. 


Inquiry Questions

  • What role did music play in the history of Southern Nevada?
  • What characteristics defined each city in Southern Nevada?

Gold ore was first discovered in Searchlight by Paiute Indians in 1870, 55 miles south of Las Vegas, but it was not until 1897, when G.F. Colton, a notable prospector, discovered a rich gold vein and word spread, that Searchlight boomed.  The following year, the mining district was fully organized.  The Quartette Mill opened in 1898 and soon became one of the city’s finest producers.  In 1902 the first newspaper, Searchlight, began publishing, and a twenty-stamp mill was constructed by the Duplex Mining Company.  In 1903 a miners’ strike brought the town’s production to a standstill until the mining companies brought in non-union miners to work the mines.  The boom peaked during the spring of 1907 when the first train of the Barnwell & Searchlight Railroad arrived in Searchlight’s station to a warm greeting of a fifty-piece cowboy band.  In 1907 Searchlight contained over forty-four working mines and a population of 5,000.  However, Searchlight was hard hit by the financial panic of 1907.

The city recovered after a number of years and by 1910 was noted for its fashionable and modern amenities and its commuter train.  The community boasted a luxurious hotel, several saloons, a barbershop, lumberyard, shops, cafes, union halls, boarding houses, schools, several stables, the newspaper, and its own hospital.  The biggest mines were the Quartette, Cyrus Noble, Little Brown Jug, Old Bottle, and Duplex, whose gold production totaled $7 million.  In 1934 a flotation mill was built and a 30-ton custom mill ran briefly in 1935.  However, by the late 1940s, little was left of the once modern boomtown of Searchlight. 


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