Let’s start with the famous myth of this town. In 1900, Jim Butler came over from California, rumored to have wanted to visit the Klondike district. While on his journey, he trekked through the Sawtooth Pass with his 2 burros, no doubt a tiring trail. At one point he became angered at the animals for not moving and he picked up a rock to toss at them. As soon as he picked up the black rock, he immediately felt the unusual weight of it. This lead to his discovery of both silver and gold! Now while this is a myth, Jim Butler really did discover silver and gold in 1900. It wasn’t easy as several people denied the samples he gave them contained anything of value. It wasn’t until the samples were sent to Austin, NV that they were deemed to be high in silver and gold, ranging from $18-$600 per ton! Jim’s wife, Belle actually discovered the richest vein of all, the Mizpah.
Soon the town was well on its way to becoming the biggest city of its time. Upon our visit to this marvelous town, we could see an array of mineshafts speckled all over the hillsides as they once were long ago.
The Mizpah Hotel still stands and the streets are filled with rich mining history. We visited the cemetery where the victims of the Belmont Shaft fire (1911) are buried, and it allowed us to step back in time to see how hard mining life truly was. Many people died from silicosis due to the high silica content of the surrounding rock.
We stopped at the mining park and our geology hearts were fangirling when we saw all the amazing rock and mineral samples of Nevada. We also had the pleasure of talking to local residents, and we learned so much from them. The best part was the museum was pet friendly, so even the pups got to enjoy the history of this amazing boomtown!