Local Mining Subject of History Discussion
Public Urged to Attend Free April 3 Event
Mining in Clark County is the focus of the next panel discussion about local history set for Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m.
The 90-minute roundtable discussion, called “Centennial Stories: Examining Our Past,” is free and includes an opportunity for those who attend the free event to ask questions of the panelists of pioneers and historians.
The event takes place in the County Government Center Commission Chambers, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, and is aired live and later replayed on Clark County Television (CCTV) Channel 4 and viewers are able to call in with questions. All Channel 4 programming also may be viewed live on the county Web site at www.accessclarkcounty.com.
The roundtable features Dr. Elizabeth Warren, a historian and historical consultant who specializes in the American West; Tony Worly, owner and operator of Eldorado Canyon’s Techatticup Mine; Donn Blake, underground miner in Goodsprings & Searchlight; and Gail Andress, long-time resident and miner in Eldorado Canyon. Moderating is county Museum Administrator Mark Hall-Patton.
Mining has played a huge role in Nevada’s history, even giving it the nickname “The Silver State.” The boom and bust nature of mining has left a ghost town legacy throughout the state. About the time of the northern Comstock discovery in 1859, gold was discovered in Eldorado Canyon, located south of Boulder City, in what was then part of New Mexico Territory. Even before that, in 1856, Mormon missionaries in Las Vegas were mining lead on Mt. Potosi, southwest of Las Vegas. By 1863, when the area was part of Arizona Territory, the largest producer in Eldorado Canyon, the Techatticup Mine, was up and running. A couple of years later in Eldorado Canyon, miners O.D. Gass, Nat Lewis and Louis Cole took over the abandoned Mormon Fort in Las Vegas valley and began growing crops to sell to nearby miners and travelers on the California trail.
At the turn of the century, gold and silver were discovered at the place that is now Searchlight. The gold caused a boom of several years, so that shortly before Clark County was created in 1909, Searchlight was a serious contender for the county seat. Although the boom faded, Searchlight hung in there and survived, although never again to return to the glory days. Goodsprings, located 35 miles south of Las Vegas, had
sporadic mining activity in the 19th century. Then there was a boom in copper and zinc fueled by World War I.
With the end of the war, mining in Goodsprings went bust and never saw significant mining activity again. Though the early years of mining in Clark County involved precious metals, in the post-World War II era, new minerals became important. Gypsum, which had been mined as early as 1905, is now a major part of the mining industry locally, and gravel is now one of the most important mining products in Clark County.
“One of the goals of the county’s year-long commemoration of our centennial is to engage the community and celebrate our common heritage,” said Commission Chairman Rory Reid. “These monthly roundtables are a great way to do that.” 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Clark County, and the county is commemorating the event with a year of activities.
Discussions about Clark County’s history are set for every First Friday in 2009, except in July when the event will be held Wednesday, July 1.
Roundtable discussions slated for later in the year are May 1, “Architecture and Neon in Clark County”: June 5, “The History of the Strip: The Early Years”; July 1, a Wednesday, “The History of the Strip: Howard Hughes and Beyond”; August 7, “The Mob and Las Vegas”; Sept. 4, “Hispanics in Clark County”; Oct. 2, “Entertainers on the Las Vegas Strip”; Nov. 6, “Military History in Clark County”; and Dec. 4, “Marketing Las Vegas.” The discussions kicked off in February with a discussion of the history of segregation in Las Vegas. In March, the subject was the history of women in Clark County.
“I would hope that listeners willleave witha better understanding and greater appreciationof their community, bylearning from those who were there,” said Hall-Patton. “Hearing people tell their own stories, in their own words, is a wonderful and funway to learn, andaffirm, our history.”
Other centennial celebrations will include a touring history exhibit about rural Clark County, the grand opening of the Candlelight Wedding Chapel and a 1910 railroad cottage at the Clark County Museum, the release of “Asphalt Memories: A Dictionary of Clark County Street Names,” a book-length publication; the placement of historical markers, a Web-based history of Clark County commissioners, brochures, a mural at the Winchester Cultural Center, additional historical programming on Channel 4, and partnerships with the Clark County School District and the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.
Clark County also has nominated the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to the National Historic Register. The Strip is located in unincorporated Clark County and is not part of any city. The Centennial Web site also will feature historical information, events listing, trivia contest, link to a geocaching project and a section where residents can share their historical stories.
Clark County was officially formed on July 1, 1909, out of what had been Lincoln County and is named for railroad baron William Andrews Clark. The city of Las Vegas, which includes downtown and the area north of the Strip, was incorporated two years later in 1911. Those interested in additional information on Clark County’s Centennial celebrations can visit the Web site at www.accessclarkcounty.com/100 or call 455-8200.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction overthe world-famous Las Vegas Strip andcoveringan area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 15th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 44 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 7th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. Thecountyalsoprovidesmunicipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development. In 2009, Clark County celebrates a “century of service.”