Legends of America

Follow the links to the various pages of Legends of America

The Old West Legends of America Outhouse Madness Ghostly Legends Outlaws Old West Saloons Rocky Mountain General Store Legends Photo Store The Book Store Make your travel reservations here! Route 66 Native Americans The Old States - Back East

Legends of America    |    Legends General Store    |    Legends Photo Shop

 

Legends Of America's Facebook PageLegends Of America's Twitter PageLegends on Pinterest

Legends Home

Site Map

What's New!!

 

Content Categories:

American History

Destinations-States

Ghost Stories

Ghost Towns

Historic People

Legends & Myths

Native Americans

Old West

Photo Galleries

Route 66

Travel Center

Treasure Tales

 

   Search Our Sites

Custom Search

Google

 

About Us

Advertising

Article/Photo Use

Copyright Information

Blog

Facebook Page

Guestbook

Links

Newsletter

Privacy Policy

Site Map

Writing Credits

 

We welcome corrections

and feedback!

Contact Us

 

Legends' General Store


Old West/Western

Route 66

Native American

Featured Items

Sale Items

Books/Magazines

CD's - DVD's

Nuwati Herbals

Personalized-Engraved
Postcards

Wall Art

Custom Products

and Much More!

 

  Legends Of America's Rocky Mountain General Store - Cart View

 

Legends' Photo Prints

Legends Photo Prints and Downloads
 

Ghost Town Prints

Native American Prints

Old West Prints

Route 66 Prints

States, Cities & Places

Nostalgic Prints

Photo Art Prints

Jim Hinckley's America

David Fisk (Lens of Fisk)

Specials-Gift Ideas

and Much More!!
 

Legends Of America's Photo Print Shop - Cart View

 

Family Friendly Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevada Flag - silver state legends iconNEVADA LEGENDS

Frank "Shorty" Harris - Single Blanket Jackass Prospector

Bookmark and Share

<<  Previous  1 2 3  Next  >>

 

Frank "Shorty" Harris (1856-1934) - One of the best-known and revered prospectors of Death Valley, Frank Harris was born on July 21, 1856 in Rhode Island, but was orphaned when he was just seven years old. In the late 1870's, he rode the rails west to seek his fortune in mining. He spent a lot of time in several mining camps including Leadville, Colorado; Tombstone, Arizona, in the mines of Idaho before making his way to Death Valley. Standing just five feet, four inches tall, he soon took on the nickname of "Shorty," and quickly earned a reputation that he could "smell gold."  Known throughout the region for having found several good claims, he never worked or developed them. Instead, he spent a lot of time talking and drinking in saloons rather than doing the hard labor of mining. Known for his wild exaggerations and tall tales, most of his stories made him out to be a hero, but, in spite of this, he was well-liked.

 

Frank "Shorty" harris and mule

Shorty Harris was responsible for some of the region's most

 famous gold strikes.

 

 

In the summer of 1904, Harris partnered with a man named Ernest "Ed" Cross and on August 9th, they discovered the Bullfrog Mining District. According to the tale, as the two were preparing to head out for the day, Ed was cooking breakfast when one of Shorty's mules took off. Chasing after the mule, he stubbed his toe on a rock and fell down. As he was getting up, he looked around before letting out a yell: "There it is, the strike of the century! Forget the breakfast Eddie, let’s get ta Goldfield and get this assayed!"  Incredibly, the ore samples came back to be worth $3,000 per ton and Shorty wasted no time going to the saloon to celebrate. While Shorty is on a binge for almost a week, Ed was working on lining up a sale for the mining rights. Unfortunately, Shorty would come out on the "short-end" of this great find as while he was "celebrating," he gambled away his share for $1,000 and a mule to a man named J.W. McGaliard. His partner  Cross, however, joined with McGaliard and formed the Original Bullfrog Mine. Later, Ed sold his share for $25,000 and he and his wife bought a big ranch in Escondido, California.

 

Shorty continued to search for the all elusive glittering gold and in the fall of 1904, he hustled another grubstake from Leonard McGarry, the Bullfrog postmaster. He and a man named George Pegot then headed for the Panamint Mountains in December.  There, they found free gold pockets on the north side of Hunter Mountain. Shorty rushed the sacks of gold to be assayed at Goldfield. Coming in at $250 a ton, the find began the rush of the Gold Belt Spring Mining District. However, Shorty drank through most of the rush, not profiting from his find.

 

The next year, he obtained another grubstake and partnered with Jean Pierre "Pete" Aguereberry, who had just been swindled out of Echo Canyon by Chet Leavitt. The pair soon headed to Ballarat, California, taking the trail across the valley floor and heading up Blackwater Canyon to Wildrose Spring. Along the way, Aguereberry spotted flecks of gold in a rock and they both soon staked out several claims, with Pete talking the north half, which he called Eureka and Shorty claiming the south half, calling it Providence. The town of Harrisburg is soon founded and Shorty's two grubstakers hustled him off to San Francisco to find backers for the Cashier Gold Mining Company. This time, Shorty didn't gamble away his interest and ended up with 50,000 shares of stock and $10,000 in cash.

Shorty continued to prospect for the rest of his life, though he never had a mine he could call his own. At the age of 78, having been ill for a time, he died in 1934 at his cabin at Big Pine,
California.  Before he died he had requested to be buried at the “bottom of Death Valley,” beside an old friend named James Dayton. He requested that the following epitaph be placed on his headstone: Here lies Shorty Harris, a single blanket jackass prospector - 1856-1934.

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, last updated July 2012.

 

In 1930, Shorty told his story to the Magazine of the American Automobile Association of Southern California. Here is an excerpt from  Half a Century Chasing Rainbows by Frank "Shorty" Harris as as told to Phillip Johnston.

 

The best strike I ever made was in 1904 when I discovered the Rhyolite and Bullfrog District. I went into Boundary Canyon with five burros and plenty of grub, figuring to look over the country northeast from there. When I stopped at Keane Wonder Mine, Ed Cross was there waiting for his partner, Frank Howard, to bring some supplies from the inside. For some reason Howard had been delayed, and Cross was low on grub.


“Shorty," he said, “I’m up against it, and the Lord knows when Howard will come back. How are the chances of going with you?”


“Sure, come right along,” I told him, “I’ve got enough to keep us eating for a couple of months.”

 

So we left the Keane Wonder went through Boundary Canyon, and made camp at Buck Springs, five miles from a ranch on the Amargosa River where a squaw man by the name of Monte Beatty lived. The next morning while Ed was cooking, I went after the burros. They were feeding on the side of a mountain near our camp, about half a mile from the spring.

 


Frank "Shorty" Harris grave in Death Valley

Frank "Shorty" Harris' grave in Death Valley, courtesy Find a Grave

 

 

I carried my pick, as all prospectors do, even when they are looking for their jacks -- man never knows just when he is going to locate pay-ore. When I reached the burros, they were right on the spot where the Bullfrog Mine was afterwards located. Two hundred feet away was a ledge of rock with some copper stains on it. I walked over and broke off a piece with my pick -- and gosh, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. The chunks of gold were so big that I could see them at arm’s length -- regular jewelry stone! In fact, a lot of that ore was sent to jewelers in this country and England, and they set it in rings, it was that pretty! Right then, it seemed to me that the whole mountain was gold.

I let out a yell, and Ed knew something had happened; so he came running up as fast as he could. When he got close enough to hear, I yelled again: “Ed we’ve got the world by the tail, or else we’re coppered!”

 

 

Continued Next Page

 

 

<<  Previous  1 2 3  Next  >>

From Legends' General Store

Old West Exclusive Products - apparel, bumper stickers, posters and moreOld West Exclusive Products - Legends of America and our General Store provide a number of exclusive products that you won't find anywhere else! Utilizing our vintage photos, Old West words, and original graphics, you'll find selections for t-shirts, bumper stickers, Old West prints and calendars, and much more. Click HERE to see the entire line.

 

Old West Exclusive Products - apparel, bumper stickers, posters and more

 

                                                            Copyright © 2003-Present, www.Legends of America.com