Take it easy
  Broken Hills

39° 03' 08"N, 118° 00' 35"W - BROKEN HILLS quad

VISITED 13 December 2003.
Our Dinner
: Hamburgers at Middlegate!

June 19, 2020
Our breakfast: Eggs at Middlegate
Our lunch: Burgers at Cold Springs Station
DIRECTIONS Highway 50E from Fallon 47 miles to Middlegate and the junction of Highway 361; Turn S on SR361 for 17.1 miles, turn left (at sign) on local dirt road for 1.7 miles From Fallon: 65.8 miles

Broken Hills was largely the mining operation of two men, James Stratford and Joseph Aurthur, from about 1913 to 1920. Because they got the most promising locations before anyone else got there, the town never really boomed. They sold out to a mining and investment company, which went belly up soon after. The town was active once again in 1926 after discoveries in nearby Quartz Mountain, (Paher)

Like Quartz Mountain, water had to be delivered from the Lodi Valley, some 10 miles away, and the ores mine here were mostly of the lead-silver variety. Ore was shipped 12 miles to Bruner's 50 ton mill to be worked. This may be the Mystery Mill we discovered when we were exploring near Phonolite, which I just realized is a site I never even started the page on. Oops.

The excitement begins....

FAIRVIEW, Nev. A real strike has been made within the last week 30 miles east of this place and 12 miles west of Lodi .Authenticated reports from those who have been there are to the effect that there is an abundance of excellent ore. A townsite, which is to be known as "Broken Hills" has been laid out and several leases let. The rush to the new diggings has commenced and at present there are about 35 men in the camp.
Reno Evening Gazette, April 30, 1913

People start heading to Broken Hills oh-so-slowly...

Many Reno People Are Interested at Broken Hills, 60 Miles South of Fallon
Several Reno people are interested in the new camp of Broken Hills, which is located about half way between Fairview and Lodi, 60 miles south of Fallon and 40 miles from Rawhide. At the present time there are from 25 to 50 men in the camp, which is reached easily from Rawhide. The strike was made about a month ago by a prospector named Strathford [sic] and his associates, who have been operating in the district for some time. The camp is 14 miles from wood and water. Water is secured from Lodi and retails at 8 cents a gallon.
Reno Evening Gazette, May 20, 1913

D. S. Johnson, president of the Goldfield Blue Bell Mining company, who has been in Tonopah for some weeks, has just returned from Broken Hills, which is eight miles from Lodi and near the line between Nye and Churchill counties, say the Tonopah Miner. The camp of Broken Hills is not to be confused with the camp of the same name which is located in the vicinity of Ellendale, and which received a great deal of publicity some few years ago.
-Nevada State Journal, February 21, 1915

Well, at least somebody is making a few bucks here and there...

James Stratford and Joe Arthur, who have wandered over a good share of NEvada in search of gold and silver and who have made several discoveries that helped swell the bank roll, are in Reno for a few days after a fishing trip in the Reese valley. They spent part of the summer at their mining property, the Broken Hills, in southern Churchill county, taking out and shipping two carloads of ore which brought $70 per ton. FOrmerly their prospecting was done a-foot, prodding their burro which packed the camp outfit and tools. Now they have an auto, for which the Broken Hills mine paid, and they travel at ease.
-Reno Evening Gazette, September 12, 1916

Mining continues.

The center of excitement is the Broken Hills silver mine, located by Stratford and Arthur, two prospectors. Governor Boyle is quoted over his own signature to this effect: "I consider the Broken Hills property a remarkably promising prospect. I may go further and say that it is the best showing I have seen in any new territory in Nevada for many years."
-Pioche Record, May 21, 1920

May is not a good month for Broken Hills.

Tonopah-- Matt Costello was found dead in a chair at his cabin in Broken Hills Saturday, according to a report received here by Sheriff Thomas from Deputy Tom Kilker. No particulars were contained in the message and an undertaker arranged to leave Sunday Morning. Costello had recently returned from Reno where he closed the sales of several groups of claims. He was supposed to be a native of Denver and nothing is known of his family history. For the last thirty years he has been known as one of the veteran prospectors who wandered from one end of Nye county to the other. Twenty-five years ago he was in the Death Valley district. During the original Broken Hills excitement he sold several groups of claims for cash that he invested in Reno income property with which he eked out a scant living. With the coming of the Quartz Mountain rush he found an active demand for numerous well-placed groups that he had located years before and disposed of some to the Hasbrouck Company, James A. McLaughlin and Louis D. Gordon, the latter buying his Southwest Extension claims. Three days ago he optioned the "30-30" group, changed to the Belmont Extension, to some Reno people, and is understood to have received a considerable cash payment.
-Reno Evening Gazette, May 17, 1926

The 1910 Federal census for Rhyolite shows a Matt Costello, aged 40 in 1910, with a birthplace of Wyoming; renting a house on Golder Street; occupation gold miner; whose parents were both born in Ireland.

Charles Huber, deputy state mine inspector, had scarcely landed home from Broken Hills Saturday evening than he was called to return to that camp by a telegram announcing the death of John Barnum in the Illinois mine. It is understood that Barnum met his death while showing a party over the Illinois property, and reports say that he walked into an open shaft and was killed instantly. Details of the accident are lacking.
-Reno Evening Gazette, May 17, 1926

However, the Mine Inspector report tells a different story.....

He and his partner, Dan Leavitt, were working in a winze on the tunnel level, which is in about 250 feet from the portal, 200 feet deep, inclined about 80 degrees. Finding a little loose rock under the windlass stringers, they pulled one out. Another one went down the winze, and no doubt hit a plank which they had put there for staging. Shortly thereafter, the deceased went down again, hanging a lamp on the ladder, and no doubt stepped on the plank or platform. The plank broke and down he went to the 100 level. The body was left there until I arrived, and was then taken up to the tunnel level. I am satisfied that the deceased did not notice the plank being broken from the falling rock. The nails driven into same held it in place, and he being a very large man, stepped on same, and down all went.
-Inspector of Mines Biennial Report, 1925-1926

On its way out, the post office pulls up stakes in 1935, but one final surge before it's all over.

New Company To Reopen Former Ore Producer
Incorporation of the Broken Hills Mining and Milling co was completed lately with the issuance of a certificate by the secretary of state in Carson City, the Independent reports. According to company officials, one of the major objects in forming the new company is the construction of a milling plant in the vicinity of Gabbs where both water and power are available, not a great distance from Broken Hills. ALthough the company has been shipping ore from the Broken Hills mine, the heavy expense in shipping and milling charged does not justify a continuation of this method of handling the ore.
-Reno Evening Gazette, June 5, 1948

OK. It's all over.

To Broken Hills
Next morning we broke camp and started for the old mining town of Broken Hills. On the way we passed the lone grave of Matt Costello, with its small stone and ornate iron fence on the top of a small hill, miles from anywhere. Broken Hills is a recent camp, and was very active about 20 years ago. There was on one in town that Monday morning but it appeared one or two houses were being lived in. Of chief interest to us was the largest building which had one entire side blown out by storms. The building had been a post office on one side, and evidently a casino or club on the other. Pigeon holes were filled with old letter and much 20 year old mail was scattered all through the post office section. An ancient phonograph of two old car tables with green oil cloth tops and chairs were all that remained in the club side. Wall paper and boards and debris filled the place with confusion, and a little breeze off the desert rattled the old window curtains.
-Thomas Wilson, Nevada State Journal, June 4, 1950

Mr. Laird Wilcox writes:
I saw your entry on Broken Hills, NV. My grandparents lived there off and on from the late 1920's until 1948 when my grandmother died. My grandfather, M. C. Stromer, continued to live there for brief periods until 1952. My mother spent part of her childhood there. The 1930 U.S. Census had under 20 people there and Mom knew all of them. I was there myself intermittently from 1943 until 1945, and then again for visits until 1952. My mother and I stayed there for several months in 1944-45 when my father was in the service.

I remember the place fairly well. In the 1920s my grandfather owned and ran the only store there. He was also postmaster and Justice of the Peace. My grandmother was a schoolteacher who taught in the one-room school house, mainly to Indian children. At night with a full moon you could almost read. I have never seen the stars as bright as I did as a small boy in Broken Hills. Some of the web sites show a broken down two-seat outhouse there. I remember using that.

My grandfather is given a full chapter in Nell "Murbarger's Ghosts of the Glory Trail", published in the mid-1950s. He was the last person to live there. My father visited Broken Hills in the early 1970s. No houses were left, probably torn down for the wood, the railing around Matt Costello's grave was gone, and there was a lot of litter around, broken boards, cans, etc.

26 March 2014

POST OFFICE December 1, 1920 to October 15, 1921, June 16, 1926 to February 28, 1935

Before coming upon the actual town site, there is a grave on the north side of the road. Some remarkably dull-witted individual has stolen the headstone. Mary Francis Strong writes in the September 1972 issue of Desert Magazine:

Our first stop was at a lonely hillside grave where a wrought iron fence protected the site and a simple marker stated"Matt Costello, 1866-1926." Matt found his pot-of-gold at Broken Hills after spending his life prospecting with "luck"that provided merely bed and beans. He eventually located a promising claim and sold out with plans to spend his money enjoying life. This was not to be. Perhaps the excitement of finally making it proved too much, as Matt was found dead before he had a chance to even spend a penny. He was buried here in the country he loved by his friends. They felt he would like to be
near his big strike.

Aside from the headframe and a small contemporary (1980's) building standing at the Broken Hills Mine, there isn't much left of Broken Hills, save some scattered debris and the remains of a couple of buildings. Cow pies now dot the landscape.

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