Mining History: Goodsprings, NV
Goodsprings, NV

Goodsprings, largely dormant for 80 years, continues to puzzle and mystify mineral enthusiasts.

Pioneer Saloon

The Pioneer Saloon still stands in Goodsprings. Sarah and I are going to check it out this weekend.

The Pioneer was built in 1913, when Goodsprings was still producing tons of zinc and lead every year, and a smattering of other metals as well. It's seen a lot but hasn't changed much - from the bullet holes in the walls to the wood-fired heating to the stamped interior and exterior tin walls. The Pioneer may, in fact, be the only stamped-tin building still in business in America.

In 1942, a DC-3 taking off from Las Vegas with film star Carole Lombard on board crashed into the side of Mount Potosi, the largest irregularity on Goodsprings northern horizon. Newspaper articles still on the wall behind the bar at the Pioneer tell of how her husband, Clark Gable, waited here at the Pioneer's cherrywood bar for word of her fate as rescuers blazed their way up the snowy mountain to the crash site.

Goodsprings' Early Days

Mormon scouts were sent forth from Salt Lake City in search of raw materials for bullets reported finding rich lead ore on Mount Potosi in 1856. 9,000 pounds of lead was smelted early the next year, but the effort was abandoned due to the poor quality of the resulting metal. Some copper ore was shipped about 25 years later, but the nearest railroad in 1880 was 80 miles away, and shipping costs were very high. In 1882, rich gold ore at the Keystone Mine proved profitable, and for the rest of that decade, many claims were staked, buildings were erected in Goodsprings, and over 30,000 ounces of gold hit the market.

Goodsprings largest riches, however, lay in the large amounts of less valuable minerals that could not be profitably mined until transportation costs came down. That happened in 1905, with the completion of the railroad between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. In 1906, geologist T.C. Brown recognized that the low-grade lead ore that had been stacked up in favor of shipping out higher grade ore was really zinc, and suddenly the district boomed. The largest mine (the Yellow Pine) completed a railroad spur from its property to the LA-SLC railroad in 1910, dropping shipping costs dramatically. Goodsprings population peaked at 1000 in 1915, when WWI zinc demand drove prices to new record highs.

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