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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 53

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on making fortunes but determined to have a “ helluva good time” on the way. Because we lived in Tonopah, I was not too familiar with the racy happenings in Goldfield, where life was always more spectacular than ours. Echoes of excitement filtered into our town - for instance, the “ Wild West” stunt staged for Elinor Glyn, author of Three Weeks, the most sensational novel of the 1900' s. In 1905, with hoopla and fanfare, Elinor Glyn was brought from Los Angeles to “ see the sights” of the new boomtown. In order to make the gambling look colossal, all the money in town was gathered onto the gaming tables in Tex Rickard’s Northern, including cash from the John S. Cooke Bank. John S. Cooke was something of a sport and a tremendous Goldfield booster. The money was said to have been strictly tabulated and returned next day to its legitimate owners. At a given signal, trouble was started at one of the roulette tables. There was real gun play; heroes sprang to the rescue. Elinor Glyn wanted local color, and she got it. The event - in actuality a colossal advertising stunt - secured headlines in newspapers throughout the country, which was the reason for it in the first place. In 1906 Goldfield boosters arranged the Gans- Nelson fight, also for publicity purposes. By that time, the railroad had been completed from Tonopah into Goldfield, and special trains ran from San Francisco and from as far east as Chicago, bringing thousands from all over the United States. The winner of thirty- round battle for the lightweight championship of the world was to receive $ 30,000, and this amount in twenty- dollar gold pieces was on display in the window of the John S. Cooke Bank. Gans won the bout on a foul, and received one thousand dollars per round. As a result of this event, plenty of money found its way into mining stock promotion, and much “ sucker” money was left behind in the gambling houses run by Ole Elliott, Tex Rickard, and the rest of the fraternity of saloon- keepers. Goldfield became the scene of serious labor troubles, which developed out of the flagrant practice of high- grading, that is, the theft by mine employees of lumps of exceptionally high- grade ore. High- grading was so openly practiced that the miners scarcely tried to conceal it. A man was pointed out to me on the street whose clothes were so heavily loaded with rocks that he swayed when he walked. In spite of this lack of concealment, it was not easy to arrest a man for high- grading. He had to be caught with the ore on his person, and the ore had to be identified as having come from a specific spot, a difficult procedure since all ore in the district was similar. Usually when a high- grader came off a shift, he had a confederate at hand to whisk the loot into the hands of a local assayer, who quickly reduced the rocks to powder so that the ore could not be identified. Sometimes the ore was shipped to Tonopah. Once it was out of town, the high- grader was pretty sure to be safe.



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