Take it easy
  Bristol Wells

N 40.41677 ° W116.80049° Bristol Well, NV Quad

VISITED September 18, 2016
Our breakfast: Eggs, bacon, and hash browns at Cathedral Gorge
Our Supper: Ribeyes as big as your head at Cathedral Gorge.

Go to Pioche, Nevada. You there yet? Outstanding!! Now head north on US 93 for 14 miles; turn left on Bristol Wells Rd. Stay on Bristol Wells Rd for 6.2 miles. You're at a junction. One mile to the west is Bristol Wells; continuing on the road for 3.8 miles will take you to the mine site.

From Pioche:


Kiln builders were usually skilled artisans who took great pride in their work and employed special techniques in the construction of their beehive-shaped ovens. The fact that many century-old kilns remain almost intact attests to their fine craftsmanship. Not only were the rocks in the Bristol kilns skillfully fitted but they are of an unusual green color. Surrounded by clumps of blooming rabbitbrush, the green kilns and golden flowers complemented one another. Originally, there had been four kilns but one had collapsed (or been vandalized) and most of the stones were gone. Each kiln stands about 20 feet high, has a very small opening at the top and a metal-framed opening at the bottom which faces north. Of particular interest is the middle opening on the side which faces in a different direction on each kiln. We hypothesized about this but did not come up with a satisfactory explanation. Adobe mud mortars the exterior rocks and the interior has a coating of cement. They were built to last and they have. Once said to boast a population of nearly 400, several mills, a smelter, saloon and store, the crossroad of Bristol Well was an active community for many years. A windmill, several stone buildings, a few foundations, a covered stable and piles of slag mark the site. The stable is intriguing. It utilizes a rock wall built into the side of a hill (originally a mill site) which is about 60 feet long. The eastern half has been covered with ridge poles and roofed with sod. Heavy timbers down the center hold the weight of the roof. The western end is partially boarded and may have been roofed at one time. Due to the climate in this area, shelter for animals would have been necessary on winter nights. Later, talking with S.A. Hollinger of Pioche, we learned he had run cattle in the valley many years ago and used Bristol Well as a line-camp. He had used the stones from the collapsed kiln to build one of the cabins and also constructed the stable for his horses. "Those horses had to learn to duck in order to get in and out of the stable," Hollinger told us.
-Mary Frances Strong, Desert Magazine, August 1975

Pretty sure, due to the distance mentioned and the fact that men were "chopping wood," that this refers to the site now known as Bristol Wells.

From Royal City we went to the old town of Bristol, distant about eight miles. Here we found Mr. McGee, who had just returned from the Hillside, and like a true Christian gentleman, which he is, he "took us in" and done the "right thing" by us. The store is now open and ready for trade and well supplied with all articles needed in a mining camp. The store is under the supervision of Mr. John Mills, Mr. McGee's son-in-law. with the exception of cleaning out the wells, repairing the furnace and putting things to order, there was not much doing here. There are quire a large number of men engaged in chopping wood and burning coal, and Mr. McGee expects to have everything under full headway by the 20th of June. We were invited to take a trip over to the Hillside Company's mines, which are five miles from the old town, but owing to the lateness of the hour were compelled to decline, but we hope to be ale to visit them soon. Mr. McGee says he will purchase all the ores brought to him, and will pay a fair price for the same. This will be a God send to the miners and prospectors of Bristol, who are now compelled to pay a fabulous sum to the hauling of their ore to the mills at Bullionville, who, after paying for the hauling and milling, have very little money left for themselves. Bristol, like most mining camps of the State, lacks a good supply of water.
-Pioche Record, May 18, 1878

Not to say all was roses and charcoal at Bristol Wells. It had its share of crime like its neighbor Pioche...

Mystery At The Well

Lincoln County Has A Murder Mystery and Whether Man and Woman Committed Crime is Unsolved Question
Pioche, Nev, June 15-- Are Julius Weir, Jr. Julius Weir, Sr., and Mrs. Kate Weir responsible of the death of Charles Todd, whose body was found in the water at the bottom of a well at Bristol Wells Monday? That is the question which the peace officers of Lincoln County propose to find out. At a meeting of the special grand jury a few evenings ago, the matter was discussed and since then, it is alleged, sufficient incriminating evidence has been obtained to warrant the making of arrests.
The last seen of Todd alive was on May 14th. He was then at the Weir camp at Bristol whence he went about the date mentioned in company with William Blackwell.
It will be remembered that warrants were issued from Justice Perkins' court charging Blackwell and Todd with the crime of horse stealing. Mrs. Blackwell, who had a few days previous filed suit for divorce, being the complainant.
Blackwell and Todd were traced to Bristol and Walker Lee was deputized to go after them. He found his men, but for some reason, never fully explained, he left Todd at Bristol, bringing Blackwell and the horses back to Pioche.
Strange to say, nothing more was heard about the case. No return was made to Judge Perkins' court.
Todd suddenly dropped out of sight and the Weir's claim they missed him, yet admit that no attempt was made to spread the alarm until after the discovery of the body in the well near the premises last Monday by Angeol Bissio and William H. Garton.
-Reno Evening Gazette, June 17, 1909

The police narrow their focus on the son....

Pioche, Nevada September 27-- The grand jury has been investigating the mysterious death of Charles Todd, a Pioche mining man, whose body was found in a well near the home of Julius Weir, Sr., and his wife were discharged from here on June 7th, last.
Julius Weir Sr, his wife, Mrs. Kate Weir, and son Julius Weir, Jr, were placed under arrest upon the suspicion that they had murdered Todd and then deposited the body in the well to cover up the crime.
At the preliminary hearing Julius Weir, Sr., and his wife were discharged, but the son was held to the grand jury, evidence having been introduced to show that the latter and Todd had trouble.
It was also proved at the preliminary that Todd had $150 when last seen alive, but when taken from the well only a few dollars in change were found in his pockets.
Todd's body was exhumed on Friday and it was found that the skull was fractured on the left side, indicating that he had been struck with some blunt instrument. The Weirs have told several conflicting stories and the officers believe they are in possession of sufficient evidence to fasten the crime upon them.
The Weirs live at an out-of-the-way place off the main road.
-Reno Evening Gazette, September 28, 1909

And then... everything went away.

No bills were returned against Roy Alexander, accused of horse stealing, neither was any returned against Julius Weir, Jr., accused of the murder of Charles Todd, the jury having concluded that there was not enough evidence to warrant putting the county to the expense of a trial.
- The Pioche Record, September 25, 1909

I could locate no records for the Weirs or Todd, and no grave for the latter, at least in an internet search. Were the Weirs guilty of murder most foul? Who took the $150-- almost $4,000 in today's money? Why was he carrying so much on him? Why didn't Lee take Todd with him when he arrested Blackwell? We'll never know.




Several ruins, a wind mill, and, of course, the charcoal kilns grace this site. I saw something about one of the buildings being built from a dismantled kiln, leaving only three, but I didn't see any evidence of a missing kiln, unless it was in another area. We met a nice gentleman from Tucson who was slowly crawling around the area in an old Forest Service pickup. I've forgotten his name, unfortunately, but apparently he was making a ghost town and mining camp tour of Nevada and told us about some of the palces he visited. He, too, had heard that Bristol Silver Mine ws off limits, but he was going to go up there anyway, and we did see him later as we were trying to escape from the area. We rarely see anyone during our travels so it was nice.

South of the site is a graveyard. There were only three headstones that we could find, although the area fenced off was quite large.

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