University of Nevada, Las Vegas

A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 60

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Once during my life in Tonopah I saw a man’s hand struck. Suddenly the hammer poised in midair. The crowd groaned, knowing what had happened. After an instant flinch, the man crouched over the drill, looked up at his towering partner, and yelled, “ Come down, you!” Down came the hammer. The men cheered and the women cried. The hand on the drill began to turn red, but still it held on to the drill. When the injured man’s turn came to rise and hold the hammer, the blood crept down his arm until it looked as if it had been thrust into a pot of red paint. The blood ran into the hole and mixed with water from the hose. Every time the hammer descended, the red fluid sloshed up and spattered nearby onlookers. The man sagged lower after every blow, but he never gave up until the timer’s hand signaled fifteen minutes. Then he fell over in a dead faint. The platform looked like a slaughtering block. Champion drillers were kings, known and feted throughout the mining world. The prize money was accompanied by cases of champagne and other liquors. The third day’s celebration consisted of a single- handed drilling contest, cowboy races, bucking contests, and a baseball game. Late in the afternoon we went down near the railroad to see the tug- of- war, but when the men turned black, it made me sick and I fled. Every night there was dancing, and on the last evening, a display of fireworks. At regular intervals during the three days’ celebration, mule- drawn trucks, loaded with high- grade ore from leases in Goldfield, creaked through town. One shipment had canvas streamers running along the sides of the wagon, which announced in letters three feet high: “ 30 TONS OF ORE! $ 45,000.” A photograph taken that day shows Hugh and me standing on the ore sacks along with the lucky owners and several of our friends. Astride the wheel horse was long, lean Harry Hudson, a master mule- skinner who could turn a twenty- mule team on a twenty- foot square. That day his slender body assumed more than the usual stiffness of pride as he rode through the town, for in front of him perched his eighteen- month- old baby. A canvas runner floating in front of them bore the inscription: HARRY HUDSON AND SON.

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 60
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