In 1900, Nevada was entering its third decade
of depression. The incomparable
which had stimulated the migration of 60,000 people into Nevada Territory, had financed a major
portion of of the northern effort during the
Civil War, made
into a state, and had spawned numerous smaller mining booms between 1805
and the 1870s, had died out by 1880. Since then, no new strikes of
importance had been found, the population of the state had fallen to
40,000, and the economy was suffering the effects of twenty years of
decline. Some cynics even suggested that Nevada should revert to
territorial status. Such was the fate of a state whose entire economy was
built around the boom and bust cycle of a mining frontier.
In 1900, however, the cycle was reversed.
Silver was discovered at Tonopah that year, and massive high-grade
gold deposits were located at
two years later. The great boom days returned to Nevada, and
prospectors, spurred by dreams of untold riches, once again blanketed
the mountains and deserts. No more discoveries were made which rivaled
the riches of Tonopah and
but numerous smaller camps were established which bloomed briefly on
the desert, dreaming of becoming another Virginia City.
Rhyolite, the metropolis of the Bullfrog
District, was one of these camps.
Gold was first discovered in the Bullfrog District on August 4, 1904.
The initial finds were high-grade surface ore assayed at $700 per ton --
just the kind of stuff to start a boom. Shorty Harris, one of the
discoverers, later described the reaction of
Goldfield when he and his