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David Fisk (Lens of
Mines of the Bullfrog District
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One of the first
rules of the mining game is to get in on the "ground floor" in order to
make money. When possible, an experienced prospector would hurry to the scene
of the latest strike, locate ground as close as possible to a strike, and form a
company with a similar sounding name.
Between 1905 and 1910, this game was
played to perfection by a number of miners and promoters in the
Bullfrog District, as 90 companies were incorporated with the magic word
"Bullfrog" somewhere on their letterheads. A few of these companies were
in the vicinity of the Original Bullfrog, and most, but not all, were
within the boundaries of the Bullfrog District. All hoped to lure
stockholders' funds by advertising their proximity to the big strike.
Bullfrog Mining Company - Located south of the Original Bullfrog
Mine, the Big Bullfrog was started in August, 1904 when Montillus "Old Man" Beatty, a local small-time dry rancher for whom the
town of Beatty was named, located the Mammoth claim.
Bullfrog Claims, courtesy National Park Service.
Click on map to see larger version.
Beatty soon sold out to a group of San
Francisco financiers, who incorporated
the Big Bullfrog Mining Company in 1905. Though the company owned just the
one claim, they formed the usual organization, with 1,000,000 shares of
stock and development began. By the end of year, it boasted a
16-horsepower hoisting engine, and a 2-horsepower blower engine for the
ventilation of its 120-foot shaft. The company was described as
"exhibiting good ore" in a
Developments continued on an optimistic level
in early 1906, as the company succeeded in finding some ore which assayed
as high as $180 per ton. In March the company announced that it had
uncovered a body ore worth $14 a ton and excitement mounted, as it was
enough to make the Big Bullfrog a paying proposition. However, the very
next month the earthquake in San
Francisco, California occurred and the
superintendent halted work at the mine. It did not resume operation until
the middle of September. The company then reported that "satisfactory
progress" was being made through the rest of the year, no more ore bodies
were found. By March, 1907, they had still not located any more ore and
stock prices began to plummet. After 1908, there was no further word from
the failed venture.
Mining and Milling Company - Incorporated on August 4, 1905 by
a by a group of promoters headed by J.J. Fagan and E.L. Andrews, the
company promoted itself as the owner of 15 claims, only one of which
was ever worked -- the North Bullfrog. But, there was a problem with
the North Bullfrog claim as it intruded into the boundaries of the
Delaware claim of the West Extension Company. Though the Apex Company
knew about these conflicting boundaries when the North Bullfrog claim
was filed, they forged ahead anyway. Work on the Apex ground
started in the fall of 1905.
In a race for other nearby companies, the Apex encountered encouraging
ore values and stock sales were adequate. Confident in their claims, the
promoters were confident enough that they decided to apply for a patent,
which resulted in the West Extension Company to file a lawsuit against
Apex. Though the dispute was tied up the courts, both companies continued
to develop shafts and tunnels. But, when the Apex Company uncovered a vein
of gold assaying $251 to the ton, the question was settled, and the legal
battle intensified. With all the news of the legal battles, Apex suffered
in the stock market and by May, 1906, its stock had fallen completely off
the trading board. In the end, the Apex company lost their contest for the
disputed ground and soon went out of business.
Miners working in a shaft, 1916.
Mining Company - On August 25-16, 1904 a group of prospectors
located two claims, the Delaware #2 and the Last Chance, on the north
and east sides of the Original Bullfrog Mine. Together with the
Bullfrog Extension #1 and #2, on the southeast of the Original
Bullfrog, these four locations were incorporated in February, 1905 as
the Bullfrog Extension Mining Company. Backed by San
financiers, the company had enough money to begin mining in May, 1905.
Getting to work, a six-man crew soon sunk an inclined shaft 75 feet,
and the company purchased new equipment and built a frame office
building. By January of 1906, the company felt confident enough to
advertise that it had a "magnificent quartz" ledge on its property
which was "conservatively estimated" to be worth $500,000. However, a
few months later, the promising developments were halted by the San
earthquake and fire in mid-April of 1906. The mine was shut down
and was idle from until June.
That same month, the company stock was selling at an all-time high,
but for unknown reasons, it closed again and mining only resume on
late October. By the end of 1906, although the company was still
delving for ore, no significant discoveries had been made.
Developments continued during the first part of 1907, as the company
vainly attempted to find traces of the Bullfrog ore on its property.
Though prospects initially looked good, they still didn't find any
rich ores and later that year suffered from the Panic of 1907 and
their stock fell to an all-time low. The mine lay idle throughout
1908, but money was raised by 1909 and one last attempt was made to
revive the fortunes of the Bullfrog Extension. Unable to raise enough
money to operate on their own, they advertised for lessees in June.
Successfully attracting a lessee, the new promoters once again
marketed the operations to potential investors, but they were
unsuccessful and the property remained idle throughout 1910. By
September, 1911 the company had finally given up hope, and the gas
hoist and gallows frame were dismantled from the Bullfrog Extension
property and shipped to Rawhide, for installation on a promising mine
in that district.
Fraction - In December,
1904, Len P.: McGarry, mining promoter, stock dealer, and president of
the Bullfrog West Extension Mining Company, noticed that the ground
claimed by his company did not coincide with the boundaries of the
Original Bullfrog. Between the Bullfrog claim of the Original Bullfrog
company and the Delaware and Ethel claims of the West Extension, there
lay a parcel of land, 1.7 acres, which was unclaimed. McGarry
immediately located and recorded this ground as the Bullfrog Fraction
claim. Then, interestingly enough, he sold it to outside mining
promoters instead of selling or deeding it to his own company.
However, hardly had the new owners started to work, when their
claim was disputed by the owners of the Bullfrog Apex Mining
Company. Soon, the acreage was tied up in lawsuits. The Rhyolite
Herald correctly surmised that the struggle would be lengthy and
costly for all concerned and said. "If they fight it out someone is
bound to lose, while all will be put to great expense. Think it over,
gentlemen, think it over."
The gentlemen involved, however, had already thought it over and the
Bullfrog Fraction continued to develop their claim, finding several
good ore leads. As their claims grew more valuable and the court
battles more involved and expensive, it became clear to them that they
could no longer protect their claim by themselves. So, in November,
1906, they gave up and sold the Bullfrog Fraction to the West
Extension Company, who quickly incorporated into their own operations,
ending the life of the Bullfrog Fraction.
Continued Next Page
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