University of Nevada, Las Vegas

A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 37

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“ That’s right. We call this stope the ‘ Glory Hole.’ Thousands of tons of rock have been mined out from this space, and every ton was high- grade straight up to the grass roots.” I knew the shipments were standardized to hundred- dollar ore, a bit of information I had gleaned elsewhere. Tasker went on to say that some of the ore ran as high as a thousand dollars a ton. But the values all over the mine were not so high, so they sweetened from the Glory Hole. Every time a shipment fell below a hundred dollars a ton, they put in a few tons from there and the values would reach the required level. To look aloft and try to visualize the amount of money this great excavation represented dramatized for me the magnitude of the Tonopah discovery. Discussions with my father during the months I was engaged helped me evaluate what I was seeing now. Because I was going to a mining camp to live, he thought I should understand the worldwide importance of the discovery of gold and silver in Nevada. Only a few years before, the United States had emerged from the Spanish- American War in dire need of gold. Men who might have been prospectors were instead becoming homesteaders on free land in the West, and as a result, the discovery of precious metals had been practically nil for years. Now, millions of dollars were pouring into the economy of the nation in a beneficent stream. Conversations with geologists and mining engineers had aroused in me an interest in the developments of the mines themselves, an interest that never flagged. This was something I could more readily understand than the economics of new money. As we passed a certain point on our return to the station platform, Tasker pointed to a spot where a right- angle jog appeared on both sides of the tunnel, the testimonial, he said, of an engineer’s job well done. He held his candle against the side wall so that I might examine the little six-inch shift in alignment. He saw me looking a bit lost, so he explained that there were two shafts at the Mizpah. The first one was sunk about a hundred feet from where he and Jim Butler dug the location hole. Next, they put down another shaft on the Desert Queen claim and connected the two shafts on this level. They crosscut each of these shafts to meet at a determined point three hundred feet below the surface, as nearly at right angles to the shaft as possible so that the floor of the tunnel would be level. And that six- inch jog was how close the engineer had come to perfect alignment. I was much impressed. To my ignorance, it seemed fantastic that men could drill down into the earth for three hundred feet in two shafts separated by a quarter of a mile, strike out seemingly blind, and meet at some unknown

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 37
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