Mining History Association

11th Annual Conference, June 1-4, 2000

Tonopah, Nevada

The 11th Annual Conference of the Mining History Association was held in Tonopah, Nevada, June 1-4, 2000.  Tonopah and nearby Goldfield were part of the Central Nevada precious metals rush that started in 1900.  In 2000, Tonopah was celebrating its Centennial.  The conference sessions were held in the Tonopah Convention Center.  The full program was packed with speakers who made presentations on a variety of mining history topics ranging from Central Nevada and California’s Death Valley to Kazakhstan.

The number of substantial buildings remaining in both Tonopah and Goldfield demonstrates that many expected the boom to last longer than it did.   Although much has been lost, many remnants of the glory days remain to be seen.  The conference attendees visited the Tonopah Mining Park and the Central Nevada Museum where the local mining history has been preserved.  Walking tours in Tonopah and Goldfield provided opportunities to see the history first-hand.  With a sturdy pair of hiking boots and with or without a four wheel drive car, the Nevada landscape provides countless historical mining sites worth exploring.  The basin and range country of Nevada offers many other forms of outdoor tourism in the high desert valleys and along the higher ridges of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Nevada has experienced a modern gold mining boom, starting with the discovery of the Carlin Trend gold deposits in the early 1960’s.  First, open pit mines opened to tap the new ore discoveries.  In recent years many mines have gone underground to produce gold from deeper ore bodies.  The all-day field trip held during the conference enabled the participants to visit the modern Round Mountain Gold Mine and the old mining camp of Belmont with its sturdy courthouse and old mill.  Other historic mining camps and almost-ghost towns in the area include Manhattan and Carvers.


Tonopah is located 206 miles northwest of Las Vegas and 237 south east of Reno.  There are many other historical mining sites along or close to either highway route.




The discovery of the Comstock Lode in the 1850’s put Nevada on the map but as the mines played out, the region slid into a period of depopulation and depression.  In 1900, Tonopah put it back on the map.  James L. “Jim” Butler found silver ore in Tonopah and he and his wife, also a prospector, staked their claims.  The richest claim was the Mizpah.  Within a year, silver ore worth $4 million had been mined, but the remoteness of the area made transportation difficult.  The claims were sold to the Tonopah Mining Company in 1902.  The railroad arrived in 1904 and enabled production to increase dramatically.  Between 1900 and 1920, the Tonopah Mining District produced over $114 million.


The influx of miners and prospectors to Central Nevada produced other discoveries.  The Goldfield Mining District was discovered in late 1902.  The Combination Lode was located in 1903 and a major rush followed.  The railroad arrived in Goldfield in 1905. The population had already risen to 8,000.  The Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company erected a 100-stamp mill in 1908 and the population had climbed to 20,000.  Between 1903 and 1921, the district output was valued at over $84 million.


To learn more about the mining history of Tonopah, Goldfield, and the surrounding areas, see the READINGS AND REFERENCES suggestions below.


(Adapted from the May 2000, Mining History News.  Photos, USGS Professional Papers 42 and 66.)

View of the Tonopah Mines from Florence Hill.


Goldfield Miners Underground.


Goldfield Mining Claims Map.


View of the Tonopah Mines from Florence Hill.

Panoramic view of the Tonopah Mining District, ca 1905. (Photo, USGS Professional Paper 42)





Unfortunately, no photographs have been located from the actual 2000 conference, the social events, or the tours and field trips.  With the help of Bill Wahl, Don Southwick, and others, we have attempted to reconstruct photo galleries of many of the sites visited during the conference.

Welcoming Reception, June 1, 2000, Tonopah Historic Mining Park.


Centennial Luncheon, June 2, 2000, Tonopah Convention Center.


Awards Banquet, June 2, 2000, Tonopah Convention Center.


Presidential Luncheon, June 3, 2000, Tonopah Convention Center



Walking Tour of Tonopah (On Your Own), June 1, 2000


Walking Tour of Goldfield and Goldfield Mining Sites, June 2, 1997
An excellent map and brochure describing a Walking Tour of Goldfield is available from the Goldfield Historical Society. (DOWNLOAD BOOKLET)  (DOWNLOAD MAP)  The society also sells printed copies of the booklet through their website.


Tour to the Round Mountain Gold Mine and Historic Mining Towns June 4, 2000





Nevada Commission on Tourism

Nevada Silver Trails (with videos and road trips)

Tonopah, NV

Tonopah Historic Mining Park

Central Nevada Museum, Tonopah

Goldfield, NV

Goldfield Historical Society

Round Mountain Gold Mine/Kinross Mining Company

Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology

Nevada State Division of Minerals



Mrs. Hugh Brown, “Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier,” (Palo Alto: American West Publishing Co., 1968).

Frank A. Crampton, “Deep Enough,” (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993, reprint).

Russell R. Elliott, “Nevada’s Twentieth Century Mining Boom, Tonopah-Goldfield-Ely,” (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1966).

Robert McCracken, “Tonopah, the Greatest, the Richest, and the Best Mining Camp in the World,” (Tonopah: Nye County Press, 1990) 

Tasker L. Odie, “Letters from the Nevada Frontier, Correspondence of Tasker L. Odie, 1898-1902,” William A. Douglass and Robert A. Nylen, ed., (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992) 

Stanley W. Paher, “Tonopah, Silver Camp of Nevada,” (Las Vegas: Nevada Publications, 1978).

F. L. Ransome, W. H. Evans, and G. H. Garrey, “The Geology and Ore Deposits of Goldfield, Nevada,” U. S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 66, (Washington: GPO, 1910).

George Graham Rice, “My Adventures with Your Money,” (Boston: R. G. Badger, 1913).

J. E. Spurr, “Geology of the Tonopah Mining District, Nevada,” U. S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 42, (Washington: GPO, 1905).

Joseph V. Tingley, Robert C. Horton, and Francis C. Lincoln, "Outline of Nevada Mining History," Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Special Publication 15, (Reno: University of Nevada, 1993).

Sally Zanjani, “Goldfield, the Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier,” (Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1992).



Don Hardesty and Sally Zanjani



(Charts Courtesy Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology)

We are searching for photographs taken at the Tonopah Conference and on the tours and field trips.  I you have any and would be willing to share them, please let us know. Just click on CONTACT US at the bottom of the Web page. Thank you.

The Webmaster

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