By 1872, the Nevada silver mining industry was one of both wealth and speculation. When the federal government limited the use of silver in its monetary system in the 1870s, many Nevada mines were forced to close. Nevada's economy entered a depression period lasting from about 1880 to 1900. The population of Nevada also dropped sharply --2,491 in 1870, 62,266 in 1880, then 47,355 in 1890 and 42,335 in 1900. There was even talk of revoking statehood. With ore discoveries in Tonopah in 1900, Nevada once again began its familiar, frantic boom-exploit-bust cycle. It was into this maelstrom that Rawhide was born.
Wow. That was kinda poetic, wasn't it?
High-profile stock swindlers and mining promoters set up shop, and the race was on. Millions were made from stock schemes that returned noting in the way of dividends to investors. While not limited to Rawhide, this town was a perfect example of the schemes and flamboyant advertising of the day. Examples can be viewed by checking out this old mining investor magazine.
FIrst a general over view or two.
Mining locations were first made in the area in 1906. With the finding of some high-grade gold ore and after considerable flamboyant advertising, a rush to the district took place in 1908 that raised the temporary population to 4,000 people. On September 4, 1908, a fire destroyed a large part of the business section of Rawhide, which caused a loss of several hundred thousand dollars. No large mines have ever been developed in this area and the principle production of the camp has been derived from leasing operations. In the early years of the camp as many as 50 sets of leases or leasing companies were at work at one time. Nearly all the ore was shipped for treatment.
Reconnaissance of Mining Districts in Mineral County, NV. U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1937
And... we have a newspaper!
The Rawhide Rustler is the title of the new paper just started in the new camp of Rawhide. J. Holman, Buck is editor publisher and it looks as it it would "make good." The camp is a new one, and yet thirty-five leasers are already at work. Five stage lines have been established running into the new camp, going from Luning, Mine, Fallon, and Acme. The Rustler has the best wishes of The Mining Review
-Salt Lake Mining Review, October 30, 1907
Word was now out and the camp begin to take on serious proportions.
THE NEW CAMP RAWHIDE
(Wonder Mining News)
A considerable number of the citizens of WOnder have been to Rawhide within the last few days, and upon their return have said that the new district gives promise of much richness. No wide ledges have been yet uncovered, but over and area nearly three miles long and two miles wide there is, it is reported, a network of stringers which show remarkably heavy values in free gold. Despite the fact that active work at Rawhide was started only a little more than a month ago, some of the leasers, it is said, have already taken out thousands of dollars worth of gold ore. While most of this is found in the quartz similar that of Wonder and other districts, some of the gold is in a formation so soft that placer mining is being successfully carried on. There are about two hundred people in the new camp, and others are constantly going in, traveling facilities having been greatly improved by the putting on of stage service by the K.C. Company. A post office will be established in the near future, and there is much talk of a bank. The following are extracts from a letter received in this office from M.W. Nicholson, a prominent citizen of Rawhide:
"There are four saloons, two grocery stores, two butcher shops, two barbers, two assay offices, two real estate offices. We have one hotel and lodging house here now, and more are to be established by men who have purchased lots for this purpose. There is an opening for a good restaurant. We have no newspaper as yet. I think there is an excellent opportunity at once for a capable man in this line. There is plenty of wood and water. The latter is selling at $2.50 a barrel, and wood will be about $20 a cord. This is the richest cap for surface indications in Nevada. It is being shown that the values hold at depth. The values range from $200 to $120,000 a ton. This may sound like and extravagant statement, but I can show you ore in lace that will go from $40 to $60 a pound. It has been seen by plenty of people here. The area in which high grade ore has been found is four miles wide by six miles long, and new places are being opened up every day. The principal properties are the McLeod, Grutt, Balloon, Dunning and Rosebury groups. On the latter and on the Balloon claims several leasers are at work. The Ruby Silver LEasing and Mining company has three very fine sections of ground. The Grutt and Co. leasers are in very high grade on the Rambler fraction. Rich ore was found recently on the Gray Eagle fraction. Rock for four feet across the ledge is being sacked from the surface."
-Salt Lake Mining Review, 11-15-1907
RAWHIDE IS GREAT CAMP
NATIONAL BANK CONTINUES ITS GOOD RETURNS
RICH STRIKES ARE BEING MADE CONSTANTLY
ORE RUNG BETTER THAN $20 A PAN
RAWHIDE,Nev., Nov. 24.—This is certainly a wonderful camp and, there Is not another one in the state that can show such remarkable progress, and that, too, in the face of such adverse conditions as the present financial situation.
The townsite is six weeks old and there are now between 1600 and 2000 persons in camp. A few days since a rush was made down the canyon and Squatter Town was started with over 100 tents, and all in half an hour. This was on land adjoining the townsite and the squatters immediately started trading In lots to which they had no title. Being mineral land, the squatters can have no title unless the owners decide to make a townsite on their ground and sell the lots.
Rich strikes are being made constantly, the latest being on the Proskey lease on Grutt hill. A big crowd soon gathered to see the wonderfully rich ore, and a specimen weighing over ten pounds was shipped to Reno, and it goes from there
to Chicago. Thirty thousand dollars was offered and refused for a fractional claim on Grutt hill adjoining the Proskey lease. There are eighteen saloons in camp and there Is very little money In circulation, but probably more than In any
other town in proportion to its size. Any ease up in the money situation means a tremendous boom here. The ground is all leased on the following groups: The Van Dorn or Townsite group, the Roseberry group, Grutt hill, Dunning hill, Balloon claim and Rawhide claim.
LOS ANGELES HERALD: MONDAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 25, 1907.
Promoters were helping to drive up prices.
RAWHIDE TOWNSITE SELLS FOR $600,000
Philadelphians Pay $50,000 cash with Monthly Payments of $100,000
The sale of the Rawhide townsite for $600,000 was reported today. The Van Dorn Brothers, the townsite locators, transferred their holdings to Philadelphia people for $50,000 cash and term payments of the balance at the rate of $100,000 a month. The rush to the camp continues unabated. Postmaster Nicholson believes 10,000 boomers will be in Rawhide by May 1. Two new automobile lines have started operations, and the travel on foot from Fallon and Schurz is growing.
-San Francisco Call, February 19, 1908
Where the hell is Rawhide, anyway?
Churchill County, Nev., is going to put up a determined fight to retain possession of the new camp at Rawhide. The other party to the quarrel is Esmeralda county. Meantime, Rawhide doesn't seem to be worrying much. At any rate, it keeps on growing and developing.
The Mining Investor, February 24 1908
Actually, neither of them got it. Originally in Esmeralda County... or was it Churchill County? There seems to have been some confusion. Rawhide "moved" to Mineral County when they split Esmeralda County in two in 1911.
Upon the accompanying map, please mark the Rawhide P.O. site. Doubts have been arising as to the location of Rawhide P.O., if same is in Churchill county or in Esmeralda county.
Answer of H.W. Cox, Post Master, dated April 4th, 1908: County commissioners of Churchill County Nevada employed an engineer to determine location of Rawhide and found same to be in Esmeralda Co.
-Reply to P.O. Department Division of Topography, 1908
Rawhide was a big town now, with some big town problems.
RAWHIDE TO DEAL WITH HORDE OF CLAIM JUMPERS
A citizen's meeting is called for tonight to take care of the claim jumpers. Several of the most valuable claims in the camp have been jumped in the past few days. The rush to the camp is unabated, arrivals averaging over 100 a day. Accommodations are plenty and no suffering has been felt by those who come prepared to pay their way. The citizens are fighting for better mail service. Hundreds stand in line at the post office daily and many of the fail to reach the window before the hour of closing. The business men of Main Street have raised a sum to keep the office on Main Street, which others have a fund necessary to move to Rawhide Avenue.
-Los Angeles Herald, March 17, 1908
3 BANDITS ROB MINERS OF $47,000
HIGHWAYMEN AT RAWHIDE GET BIG SUM
Two Men Carrying Money to Pay and Meet Obligations of the Mine Owners Are Held Up
Three bandits heavily armed overcame Edward Hoffman and companion on a road two miles from Rawhide late this afternoon, threw them to the ground and made off in their victims' two-horse rig, taking gold and bank notes amounting to
about $47,000 with them. The money was consigned to the Coalition Mining company at Rawhide, to be used in paying miners' wages and to meet the final payment on one of the properties. purchased last week by the Coalition company. Posses from Churchill and Esmeralda counties are in pursuit. The bandits are headed for Schurz. It is believed,they will be surrounded and a battle will result before morning.
-Los Angeles Herald, March 23, 1908
However, the facade was already cracking.
NOTES ON RAWHIDE NEVADA
Being an Excerpt from a Letter of one Mine Operator to Another.
The important strikes are on three low hills. The first to the north is Grutt hill, the second Balloon hill, and the third Murray hill. With all their talk, I can not that a shipment has ever been made from this [Grutt] wonderful hill. This is nothing that can be called a fissure, nor any body of ore that in any way approaches a vein. There are probably a half a dozen shafts on this hill. Most of them are the work of lessees. Their "ore" as they call it, is thrown over the dump like waste, and it resembles waste, regardless of the claim made that it is all mill-ore. Most of the leases are for sale, and one must expect a strong statement from the owners, and generally gets it. I saw some twenty or thirty sacks of ore on the hill, but no claims are made that any has ever shipped.
As an example of the foundation of the stories you are reading daily: On Grutt hill about February 1, quite a few seams were observed. After cleaning off the surface, this strike was left for ten days, and was daily visited by hundreds, if not thousands. When it got stale as a star attraction of this kind, a few holes were placed and it was blown out. It is said some seven sacks of $3000 each were recovered. A pieced was thrown through a bank window, and was accepted for the price of the glass and put on deposit for the 3000 people that not inhabit the camp. I was not present at the great blast but arrived the next day. I visited the hole from which this $21000 came and found it about 6 ft. long, 3 ft. wide, and about 18 in. deep. I saw no signs of continuation of the ore, or any ore at all in the sides, ends or bottom.
Prices for both mining ground and real estate were so high and the tone of the camp so uncertain, that it not appeal to me as a camp that would win out.
There will, in my opinion, be a great reaction from the present boom, as there are now some 4000 people in the camp and probably not more than 500 are given a living. The rest are hangers-on or prospectors and lessees. This condition cannot last, and undoubtedly the great number of unemployed left in various busted camps round about, made it possible for Rawhide to have a population today of 4000. The camp does not justify a population of more than a few hundred, as there are but 50 men working on the mines for wages. The wages are high and have attracted a great many idle miners from other camps, like Goldfield and Tonopah.
To sum it all up: There is at present no quantity of high grade ore opened up in the camp; this is evident, for they are not sacking and shipping, and there are at least 75 teams going back empty to the railroad and willing to haul ore for $5; there is not a true and well-defined vein in the camp, outside of the Royal and the Tiger, some two miles west of town. As a milling proposition, the conditions are bad because there is no water within 9 miles and no fuel within 35 miles. The camp will have to have a large railroad, and to get this they must show up a large amount of ore. The little mills that are talked of now will never pay much more than shipping.It is very difficult to get any reliable information, and knowing that there is a great deal of fake handed out, one is too suspicious to believe any stranger. To me there is not the right tone about things and there is too much insincerity about the whole place.
-Mining and Scientific Press, March 28, 1908
RAWHIDE SHERIFFS PREY ON WOMEN OF THE CAMP
Such Is The Charge Made By Captain Of State Police After Investigation
One of the greatest systems of graft ever perpetrated in this state has been uncovered at Rawhide by the members of the state police, which will involve many undersheriffs of Esmeralda county. Thousands of dollars have been filched from the tenderloin women of the mining camp by unscrupulous officers, who demanded a weekly stipulated tribute from them or refused to allow them to stay in the camp.
-San Francisco Call, April 12, 1908
VALUE OF THE CAMP From the exaggerated and flamboyant advertising of the district by interested parties many people look upon Rawhide as entirely a paper boom. In this they are mistaken because the surface extent and value of the discoveries show the district to be well worth development The reports of large bodies of high grade ore are misleading-- the assays are no doubt correct but the sampling is open to doubt. The question now is what has actually been uncovered at Rawhide?
-The Engineering and Mining Journal, April 25, 1908
Still, people were coming to Rawhide to check it out.
Which is the most direct route to Rawhide, Nev., and the cost?
Take train to Hazen, 290 miles from San Francisco; change to Nevada and California road to Schurz, 66 miles; stage from there to destination, 28 miles. Railroad fare, $13.50; stage, $10; sleeper, $2.50
-The San Francisco Call, May 3, 1908
And so were the criminals.
BANK OF RAWHIDE ASKS FOR POLICE PROTECTION
DIscovery of Plot to Steal Ore LEads to Assignment of Guard
There are a number of desperate characters in Rawhide and it was discovered that a plot was on foot to loot the bank. They had chartered an automobile and intended to take their booty in that vehicle into Death valley. The ring leaders found out that their plot was discovered and left the country before the authorities could complete the chain of evidence against them. It has since been found that the members of the gang were still plotting to rob the bank, hence precautionary measures have been taken.
-San Francisco Call, May 18, 1908
Political correctness was unheard of in 1908.
WORK ON RAWHIDE ROAD IS RUSHED BY 300 MEN
RENO, Nev., Aug. 23.—Three hundred Greeks were hired Saturday to complete the Schurz-Rawhide railroad, and the force will be increased as fast as material can be procured to finish the line. The grading for the road has been completed and rails laid for several miles. The officials of the line say they will have trains running by October 1. The reason for employing Greeks is because the white men prefer to work-in the mines.
San Francisco Call, August 24, 1908
And then, a near-fatal blow.
RAWHIDE SWPT BY BIG FIRE
Three Thousand People Left Homeless
$750,000 PROPERTY DAMAGE BY CONFLAGRATION
MANY BUILDINGS DYNAMITED TO PREVENT TOTAL LOSS
Business District In Ashes-- Relief is Hurried to Stricken Mining Town. Two Men are Reported Cremated.
Rawhide, Nev. Sept. 4-- Three thousand people homeless, a score or more injured and a property loss of over $750,000, is the result of a disastrous fire which started at 9:30 this morning in Dr. Garner's office, located in the Rawhide Drug company's building. The fire quickly spread to the Ross hotel, from whence its sweep was uninterrupted south and east to Balloon avenue and up Rawhide avenue to within fifty yards of the People's hospital. Over a ton and a half of dynamite was used in the demolition of buildings, which in a measure stayed the flame's progress. At 11 o'clock the business portion of the city was a smoldering mass of ruins, the flames finally being checked south of Balloon avenue.
Frenzied men, whose fortunes were going up in flames, rushed madly forward in their attempts to save their belongings, and would have perished had not restraining hands detained them. A famine was feared, as all the supply houses and grocery stores were wiped out. Dispatches sent to Reno said "We have lots of money, but no grub."
-Los Angeles Herald, September 5, 1908
But neighbors rallied to assist.
RAWHIDE RISES FULL-PANOPLIED FROM THE RUINS
ELEVEN AUTOS AND SPECIAL TRAIN BRING AID
NEVADA TOWN WILL BE REBUILT ONLY WITH TIMBER
All Tents To Be Barred After Thirty Days- Telegraph Facilities Tied Up- No Fatalities From Fire
A commissary department was established here today and food is being issued to the needy. During the last night Goldfield and Tonopah rushed in eleven automobile loads of provisions in addition to a special train of two cars from Goldfield. Five thousands dollars' worth of supplied also came by special train from Reno. The town is already being resurveyed and rebuilding will commence immediately. It is planned to put up nothing but substantial buildings. No tents will be allowed within the fire limits after thirty days. The latest estimate places the total loss by yesterday's fire at $800,000. Thousands of people are attempting to reach Rawhide and are stalled on the desert and at the various junction points, and unless they are well provisioned will suffer actual physical want.
-Los Angeles Herald, September 6, 1908
Although some neighbors had even worse luck.
MINE CAMP LEFT IN RUINS
Squattertown Swept By Ten Foot Wall of Water
SIX WOMEN AND CHILDREN MISSING
Cloudburst Breaks on Town and Wrecks 130 Houses
500 PERSONS QUICKLY RENDERED HOMELESS
Rawhide, Nev. Squattertown, a settlement just south of Rawhide, was swept by a 10 foot wall of water following a cloudburst in the hills to the north tonight, and 130 buildings were partially or completely destroyed. It is reported that two women and four children are missing, but up to a late hour tonight it was impossible to secure verification, as everything is in darkness and confusion. The cloudburst occurred on the summit of the low hills to the north of the camp at 6:40 o'clock this evening. In a few moments a three foot wall of water poured down the slope, covering the three miles from the summit to Main street with the speed of a railway train. The flood rushed into the street, which lies in a hollow and forms a general drainage channel, and every business house on the east side was flooded to a depth of from one to four feet with muddy water. Several structures were torn from their foundations and floated some distance down the street, while the crest of the flood was covered with furniture, animals, and all sorts of debris. Gathering force as it poured down the channel the flood swept into and over Squattertown, a half mile further down. The water formed a wall ten feet high as it crashed into the frail structures, inhabited for the most part by miners and their families, and buildings were overturned and demolished at the first blow. Before the wave has passes 500 persons were homeless and their property piled in a tangled heap in the basin at the foot of National hill. Rawhide was visited by a disastrous fire on September 4 last year, when the entire business portion of the camp was destroyed by the flames.
-The Call, San Francisco, September 1, 1909
They sure knew how to settle their differences in Rawhide.
RAWHIDE DYNAMITER MAY BE LYNCHED
RAWHIDE, Nev., Sept. 27.— The leading merchandise store of Rawhide was almost entirely demolished today by exploding dynamite. H. L. Gleason, proprietor of the store, and his wife were seriously injured by.the explosion. A. Lee has been arrested and lodged in jail on the charge of having caused the explosion. So strong is the feeling against Lee that he was threatened with lynching by the infuriated citizens. It is stated that Lee had personal grievance against the owners of the store.
Los Angeles Herald, September 28, 1908
Rawhide slowly petered out after the initial rush, but work continued even as the population dwindled.
RAWHIDE producing steadily and considerable development work is under way. Nevada New Mines Co. treating 60 tons daily, ore said to assay $22 to $30. National Milling Co. treating 35 tons daily. Several properties under development and some shipping-grade ore being mined. Placer mining in old Squattertown and on Grutt Hill.
-Engineering and Mining Journal Vol. 98, November 28, 1914
Anna Frances Elleser Rechel was the last resident of Rawhide, moving there with her husband George to Nevada some time after 1911, and then to Rawhide in 1931. She lived there until the 1960's, when her family feared for her safety living out in the middle of nowhere alone. Some sources claim Charles Manson was wandering about. At any rate, her family moved her to Fallon, where she died in 1967. A 1940 census shows her living in Rawhide, age 56, occupation "Prospecting," owning her house, and self-employed. Aside from the residents of the nearby Scheelite mine, the only other people listed on the census were Ralph Matlack and his wife Bertha, stock raiser; Earl Parker, sheep herder; Anna Wedell, "resort manager" at the hot springs; John Muhlhauser, a well driller, and James William Shute, a miner.
Finally, the time came in the 1960's when no one remained in Rawhide but Anna and a big, rugged old miner named Bill McGrath who had lived there as long as she, more than thirty years. McGrath, quiet, clean-shaven, and always gentlemanly, came over each evening to have dinner with Anna, and one night died there, sitting in his usual rocking chair. Anna had him buried in the Rechel family plot because in the deepest sense he was family. Now Anna was alone.
-A Mine of Her Own: Women Prospectors in the American West, 1850-1950