Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Fresh Air"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
September 06, 2005
Podcasts

ARCHIVE: Nevada Mining - Goldfield

Listen

INTRO: The town of Goldfield 180 miles north of Las Vegas is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first passenger train rolling into town. It was once the largest city in Nevada setting the stage for a seemingly bright future of mining. Five railroads, three newspapers, five banks and even a mining stock exchange grew over the years to serve 30-thousand residents. In 1906 it was the center of the national spotlight when it held the longest lightweight Boxing Championship of the World lasting 42 rounds. But today Goldfield is barely a shadow of its glory days. KNPR's Ky Plaskon paid a visit.

PLASKON: Goldfield's main street is US95.

SOUND: GOLD FIELD

PLASKON: By some accounts, this was a center of urban sophistication in 1907. Urban sophistication was different back then. Health-care though primitive was abundant in Goldfield with 25 hospitals. There was a bar in town so long that it took 80 tenders to run it as miners brought in their 6 dollar-a-day salaries. At its peak the mining industry generated 11-million dollars annually here. That's more than 216 million dollars in today's money. All that's left of those profits in Goldfield today are the brick and mortar shells of an opulent hotel, high school and bank. Every inch of land bordering the town is like Swiss cheese, scared with abandoned mines and their colorful tailings. A complex system of un-charted tunnels wind beneath the ground. Most of these dark holes have been abandoned for nearly a century with signs posted by the state, Stay Out, Stay Alive. Higher gold prices recently however are drawing new prospectors.

T106 :10 "This is my mine belt, my light in case I get stuck in the dark, I always have my mine light with me. I'll take you out and you can see the mine and the head-frame."

PLASKON: 30-year old Jarrett Anderson has been a hard rock miner all his life. He was brought here by the company Lone Star Gold to prospect. He smells like dust and is entirely covered with mud. He's just crawled out of one of the 100-year old mines after drilling for 12 hours. He's anxious to go back and show it off.

SOUND: Opening gate

PLASKON: He opens the gate and peers down into the hole.

ANDERSON: See how it goes down here 300 feet. It is pretty small, five by five. It is probably still one of the few head-frames.

PLASKON: So you jump down there every day?

ANDERSON: Yup.

PLASKON: Technically, Jarrett is lowered down by an old crane, the kind that's so old he says it isn't used anywhere anymore. He can't wait to go back down into the mine.

ANDERSON: You can't imagine how dark it is. Go in the bathroom or closet and close the door and turn off the light. It is probably 10 times darker than that. What is nice about mining is that it is a controlled atmosphere, we pump in air so it is actually a pretty safe place to work. I feel safer down there than up here, because up here the sun burns you, people run you over all the time, people shoot each other. Down there I am safe. I feel at home.

PLASKON: Even when Jarrett is on vacation, he goes to his own mining claim. Anyway . . . in Goldfield there are a lot of challenges working in a pit that dates back to the beginning of the last century.

ANDERSON: Right, when I got here a couple of months back we had a water line break and we had a little bit of a cave-in and I had to go back in and restore it. I mean the timbers are 100 years old and take some old timber out and re-block it. It was kinda fun.

PLASKON: The job obviously doesn't scare him.

ANDERSON: If I had some worries I wouldn't be mining I guess. The only health problem I worry about is running out of beer and Copenhagen. Ha!

PLASKON: What he does all day is stand in a tunnel and drill at different angles into the rock. That makes a core sample. Back at the surface the core samples are analyzed for signs of gold. If gold is found in the 300-foot-long core sample it will tell them where to dig a bigger hole.

ANDERSON: It's a gambling thing, it's a roll of the dice.

PLASKON: Jarrett says it's paying off.

ANDERSON: We found enough gold here to pay for the place. Everything from here on out is pure profit. There is still gold here, I seen it.

PLASKON: Tom Timkin is the geologist and project manager of this mine owned by Lone Star Gold.

TIMKIN: We are using newer tools to find veins that were missed before and we are hopeful that we will find veins that were missed by the old-timers.

PLASKON: He knows prospectors have been trying to work the ground in Goldfield for years unsuccessfully.

TIMKIN: Well it happened here, they went public, they got a lot of stock revenues and then spend that money and re-organized to a new company and spent that money and all the while making some money on their gold operation but not enough to pay back the share-holders and the operators took the money in from the stock. That wasn't necessarily a scam.

PLASKON: Tom opened up the mine because higher gold prices make it more profitable to scour. But townsfolk aren't banking on gold in the hills for another boom in Goldfield.

SOUND: General Store

CLERK: You see it is quiet, peaceful. We don't have any drive-by shootings because everybody in town packs. We haven't had a bank robbery in 60 years, of course we haven't had a bank in 60 years.

PLASKON: The Clerk of the General store says city dwellers are fleeing the urban sophistication for Goldfield.

CLERK: Its starting to grow again. 15 years ago we had around 525 people. We were down to about 225 about 5 years ago. I would say we have 325, 350 now. We have a lot of people coming in here, selling their homes for big bucks and coming in here and snapping up property and we are growing pretty good.

PLASKON: Last month it was a little less quiet in Goldfield. Residents paraded down highway 95 through town, offering historic bus tours, live music, crafts, beer, held a miners liar's contest and a popular land auction.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

Related Stories:

Nevada Variations - Goldfield

Dayvid Figler - Goldfield or Bust

See discussion rules.

Archives

Apr 4, 2009 | Drug Donation Program
Nevada lawmakers are debating the creation of a program that would help cancer patients get expensive prescription drugs for less.

Mar 13, 2009 | Budget Wrangling
As state lawmakers wrestle with Nevada's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, there are several plans afoot aimed at softening the next economic bust.

Mar 2, 2009 | Autism
The cost of treating children with autism can be $24,000 to $40,000 per child per year according to the Autism Coalition of Nevada. A bill before the Nevada Legislature aims to help families pay for the care.

Feb 16, 2007 | Chinese New Year
This weekend marks a celebration of Chinese New Year. KNPR's Rick Andrews reports on how the holiday is being celebrated by the valley's growing Asian community.

Dec 7, 2006 | Food and Beverage
The economy of scale for food and beverage operations in Las Vegas means any edge in efficiency is real money. Rick Andrews reports on a software product scoring with food and beverage managers looking at the bottom line...and what you're likely to order.

Nov 15, 2006 | Global Gaming Expo
The Global Gaming Expo trade show and conference got underway Tuesday in Las Vegas. Vendors showcase their latest wares including new slot machines.

Nov 1, 2006 | Stardust Memories
When it opened in 1958 the Stardust was the world's largest hotel. Now, after more than 48 years, it's closed.

Sep 27, 2006 | Nevada Northern Railway
The 'Nevada Northern' is celebrating its centenial anniversary. News 88.9's Rick Andrews went on a tour of the museum with executive director Mark Bassett.

Jun 30, 2006 | Standing Up for Ringo
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley tells the story of how she saw the Beatles in Las Vegas in August 1964.

Jun 29, 2006 | Sports Supplements
From fortified cereals to energy drinks to serious sports nutrition, people are willing to spend lots money to supplement their diets. Rick Andrews reports on the business of sports supplements.

May 25, 2006 | Love
Wednesday Cirque du Soleil provided a glimpse of their much anticipated show based on the music of the Beatles. Flo Rogers reports on Love.

May 24, 2006 | Telecommunications
A Senate telecommunications bill currently being considered includes provisions on most everything, but some worry that controversial measures will derail the entire package.

May 16, 2006 | Nanotech
Universities across the country are spending millions to expand nano technology research...manipulating molecules 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Rick Andrews reports on nano research at UNLV.

Apr 24, 2006 | Earthscope
Hualapai Mountain Park, near Kingman, has been chosen by the National Science Foundation to be home to a seismic monitoring station. Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

Apr 18, 2006 | Anatomical Donation for Science
In the second of two reports exploring innovative medical facilities in the Valley, Rick Andrews visits the Medical Education and Research Institute of Nevada in Henderson.

Apr 12, 2006 | Immigration Reform Stalled
Immigration legislation in the U.S. Senate is at a standstill. Many in the Republican Party blame Nevada Democrat, Senator Harry Reid for the impasse. Jill Morrison reports from Capitol Hill.

Apr 1, 2006 | New Plans for Nellis
The first of April brings news that a large piece of military land in Las Vegas may be redeveloped.

Mar 28, 2006 | Test Site Worker Compensation
Senator Harry Reid is trying to get compensation for Test Site workers who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, but never compensated.

Feb 27, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alice Keys
Alice Keys has been active in the African American community for decades and known through her association with the Moulin Rouge Casino. Here's her recollection of meeting one of the great African Americans of the last century.

Feb 21, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe
When close friends interview each other, the stories are often more intimate and revealing than talking to a reporter. A case in point is Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe talking about their hopes for their adopted son.

© 2014 NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO   
Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.