4WD or high clearance desired

37.9285024, -117.562053,741

DIRECTIONS From Tonopah, head NW on US 95 for 26.8 miles; head generally SE for 13.1 miles

In a nutshell, "Weepah was the last great mining boom in Nevada," according to Hugh Shamberger's The Story of Weepah. It created a lot of excitement, it only lasted a couple of months (March-April 1927), the use of automobiles was prevalent, and its most productive period came well after the boom, between 1935 and 1939.

As the story goes, an Indian named Dick Patterson found the gold in 1902 and told his friend, rancher James Darrough. A couple hundred people descended on the camp, but the ore disappeared after a few feet of digging and the camp was quickly abandoned. A second rush took place in January of 1908 and again fluttered out. In 1927, two young men, Frank Horton and Leonard Traynor appeared at the Tonopah Club, handing out fistfuls of ore as souvenirs. One person had his gift assayed, ad rushed back with the news that it assayed at $78,084 to the ton in gold and $96.20 in silver. Most of Tonopah lay in wait to try to follow the boys back to their find. By March 5th, it had been determined that the ore came from Weepah, and a stream of automobiles descended. The rush was on. By the end of the week, Weepah was a tent city with 150 people living here. By the second week 185 mining claims had been filed, many by amateurs that had no idea what they were doing, resulting in overlapping claims and feuding. On March 13 a guard was hired to watch over the properties to keep ore from being stolen. By the third and fourth weeks, houses were being moved in from Goldfield or from wherever they could be obtained, hot dog stands were being set up every day, saloons, gambling houses, and other businesses were popping up. A townsite was surveyed and a post office requested. Film companies headed for the site, and movies of the Weepah rush were seen all across the nation. The peak of the population was reached in April of 1927, at about 1500 ~ 2000 people. There were about sixty frame buildings. By the third month the population decreased rapidly as the amateurs left. When George Wingfield gave up trying to buy claims, most everybody left. From 1934 to 1938 an open pit silver mine and mill were operating, with about 50 miners living there. That was the end of serious mining at Weepah.

Things started off nice and slow.

A new gold strike at Lone Mountain is attracting much attention. The camp has been named Weepah, meaning "rainwater." Water will have to be hauled about six miles, as that upon the flat is nearly exhausted.
-Tonopah Bonanza, May 3, 1902

It looked promising enough to pique the interest of those Eastern money men.

Company Has Unlimited Capital and Will Begin Operations at Once- WIll Benefit Tonopah
The Darrough group of mines at Weepah, Lone Mountain, passed from the original locator, James T. Darrough, to the Weepah Gold Mining Company, an organization composed of Eastern capitalists and incorporated under the laws of the State of Nevada.
-Tonopah Bonanza, June 14, 1902

Folks happily dug and extracted what they could.

Weepah Camp
There is at present in the camp and district a population of 100 people. The town of Weepah consists of some forty odd tents and one frame structure. In the business line they have three saloons, three restaurants, one feed yard, and one assay office.
-The Central Nevadan, July 24, 1902


Weepah Notes
The first wedding to occur in Weepah took place on the night of the 2d instant. The contracting parties were Mr. Jefferson Jones of Silver Peak and Miss Alvira Clark of Ray, Ny county. Justice Callahan came over from Candelaria to perform the ceremony.
-Walker Lake Bulletin, August 15, 1902
Right before the frantic rush

The town is a squalid little camp at the base of a low hill spreading out onto the flat. No townsite has been staked out yet, and the inhabitants have picked out their locations for their homes by using squatter's rights. Most of the inhabitants sleep in tents ranging from the small one-man dog tent to the large and spacious (20 by 10 feet) of the cook shack, store, or club room. Scattered among these outfits are the brown homes of the regular tourist or city campers, whose tents are always newer and contain many more conveniences than do those belonging to the prospector. Four frame dwellings are already on hand at the camp, which belongs to the Gold Electric Mines company. Since the camp started the majority of dwellings have been tents. During the last week or so there has been an influx of building supplies, as all the available trucks in Tonopah were brought into service, and now the frame buildings are becoming more numerous. These buildings spring up in but a few hours after the supplies arrive in camp. One of the best examples of such work is the Weepah Club, where "Hard Rock Jack" jovially greets all comers. It is a flat-roofed structure with a canvas sign bearing the words "Eats and Drinks." The material for this place was brought into camp at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. By six o'clock there were three poker games going full blast, and another famous old character of the camps, "Smiling Jack," was standing behind a short improvised bar ready to dispense cigarettes or liquid refreshments. Pouring in and out about the tables and counters is a steady stream of prospectors, miners, brokers, sight-seers, and newspaper men. The speech is rough, but the men are happy. Although there is no established law in the camp of Weepah, there is a very trustful attitude among the residents here. Stories concerning claim jumpers are sent out occasionally, but such cases are few and far between. The average man who has lived in the desert for any length of time realizes the value of helping rather than hurting the other fellow, and he lives by that rule. His tent is always open to any one who may need it or anything in it.
-The Palisade Times (Palisade, Nebraska) May 13, 1926

And the frantic rush is on.

Claim Jumpers Told To Go and Two Are Threatened With Lynching
Straightening Up of Lines Today Causes Locators In Some Cases To Lose
The rush of gold seekers to Weepah, Nev., which has created a miniature tent city there since the discovery of last week of gold ore which assayed at $78,000 to the ton, continued today with grim prospectors replacing the pleasure seekers who flocked to the scene over the weekend. The gold fever burned so intensely that the miners found artificial stimulating unnecessary, and two bootleggers who set up business in the camp reported business dull. Two airplanes passed over Tonopah headed in a southerly direction and were supposed to be looking for Weepah but nobody knows what became of them as they were not seen at Goldfield.
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 8, 1927

150 Spend Cold Night and Day in New Esmeralda Camp
Tonopah Business Men to Repair Old Direct Road At Their Own Expense.
With the night temperatures down below twenty degrees, even the most seasoned prospectors are finding the going hard in the treeless desert camp in the Silver Peak range, where there is no fuel to warm the interiors of flimsy tents or the tarpaulin setups. Those who have been sleeping on the ground transferred last night to more comfortable quarters that were thrown open to them while some of the improvised homes have been furnished with heating stoves, using sagebrush as fuel. This makes a crackling hot fire in a very short space of time. The two boys who made the discovery that started the rush were offered $10,000 [$160,000 in 2021 dollars] for their three claims today but the dotted line is still innocent of their names. They can see much more than that in sight in the free dirt alone.
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 10, 1927

The frenzied rush apparently required a certain type of law enforcement.

If South Dakota has any more characters like "Wild Bill" Hickock their applications for sheriff at Weepah, gold boom camp, will be considered, but anyone with less than five notches on his gun will have no chance. C. W. Cue of Fairfax, S. D. who applied for the job, was so informed today by George W. Allen, one of the leading residents of Weepah, who wrote: "Although I'm not mayor, but just a pain mining man, I've forwarded your application to W. B. Mercer, sheriff of Esmeralda county who will have charge of police arrangements. I've been informed only men who are dead shots and have at least five notches on their guns will be employed to police this 'hell roaring' camp."
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 12, 1927

And they continued to come to Weepah.

Solid Companies Buy Claims In New Gold Camp
Rich Float Found Leads to Placer Possibilities and Chance of Conflict
Fifteen Hundred Drive to Scene on Sunday; Crowd Beginning To Settle
The Specter of trouble hovered in the offing at Weepah today when the gold boom camp woke up and found itself potentially twice as rich as was first supposed. Discovery of rich surface deposits by a red-shirted prospector, Ed McCalvie here yesterday, who came quietly back to camp after a day of work in the hills and failed miserably in attempting to keep secret the fact that he had found surface gravel worth about fifty dollars a pound. The prospect electrified Weepah.
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 14, 1927

People came from all over the country. Some just becuase they'd never seen a gold rush before.

[PHOTO CAPTION] Miami Motor Club offices have been busy the last two days giving road information to those attracted by the Nevada gold rush. George Mangos is seen explaining the best route to Weepah to callers Tuesday. A special map is being prepared to meet demands.
Samples of Ore Picked Up Said To Be Worth $76 Each
4,000 Acres Already Staked Out In Radius Of Ten Miles
The Indian, Pine Nut Johnny, a Piute, ed a party of prospectors to the find later yesterday at Barrel Springs. Twenty claims were staked out on the spot after finders had picked up samples of ore containing $76 worth of gold.
A high wind yesterday tore down everything movable at Weepah with the exception of two or three shacks. Scores of prospectors went hungry because the gale whisked away tents, gasoline stoves, cooking utensils and everything else in the camp that was not anchored. Signs that Weepah's gold will be mined with electricity, business conferences, airplanes and other modern agencies instead of the shovel, pan, pick and six-gun 50 years ago, have begun to appear. Two aviators from Bishop, Cal., brought an airplane and selected the most likely looking stretch of desert for a landing field as a center of operations.
-The Miami News, Miami, Florida March 15, 1927

They even tried flying in.

T. C. Alexander and L. N. Good, flying an Alexander Eagle Rock plane, left here Monday night for Los Angeles after arriving during the afternoon. The men came to carry passengers to Weepah but when they found the only landing place was on a dry lake eight miles from camp they decided they would not take the job.
-Reno Evening Gazette, March 16, 1927

Some folks wandered in to take advantage of other business opportunities besides mining.

"Hot dog!" cried Mary Victoria Lowe. She was formerly Mrs. Alread Macy Houghton of Washington, D.C., but thanks to the kindness of Nevada's legislature in passing the 'three months' residence law, she is now free and has resumed her maiden name two months earlier than expected. Hot dogs spell her future. Unhampered by a husband, she can now dash to Weepah where she and a Reno woman, Miss Cora Scott, plan to start a quick service food stand. According to the plan stated Thursday, the two women expect to arrive in Weepah today where they will establish the record of being the gold camp's first permanent woman residents.
-Nevada State Journal, March 20, 1927

Quite an array of auto licences is beginning to show up. Oregon, Washington, and Montana are in force. Plates from Utah and Arizona are seldom seen. Eleven hot dog stands are established in Weepah and will hold out until their supplies are exhausted. Three regular eating houses have been opened and ordinary camp fare may be obtained at town prices. So far there has been no profiteering. One merchant from Alhambra, Cal., has hot dogs, cots under a roof for 75 cents a night, and army coats for $35.
-Nevada State Journal, March 22, 1927

The rush attracted both good and bad

The body of R. M. McBurney, sixty-five-year-old miner, was brought to the morgue here this morning from Weepah, dead from wounds sustained at the hands of an unknown assailant who beat him with a revolver in his tent at the camp early Friday morning and disappeared with between six and seven hundred dollars. [$9800 2021 dollars] William O. Hill, whose tent is about fifty feet distant from McBurney's tent, testified that he heard voices in a quarrel between three and four o'clock in the morning and heard a voice say, "give me the money or I will kill you." Hill paid little attention to the affair, he said. McBurney's body was found at about eight o'clock Friday morning. His skull had been fractured in two places and a revolver, not discharged, found between the dead man's feet, was believed to have belonged to the assailant as neighbors testified that McBurney owned no gun. Letters found in McBurney's pockets indicating that he he came from Merced, Cal. He is said to have come to Weepah several weeks ago with another man.
-Reno Evening Gazette, May 14, 1927

And then, the camp began a serious and speedy decline.

Weepah haouses sem to have inherited the wonderlust of their former owners who came to Goldfiled from all parts of the world in 1906, and are shivering their timbers over starting another journey scorss the desert. This time the objective is Valcalda, beyone Silver Peak, where a new camp is in the making and where demand for housing prompts removal of the homes and mercantile establishments of famous Weepah. Agents of the Valcalda Company were in Weepha during the week negotiating with C. M. Walls for a number of buildings ranging from Frank Summerle's former boarding house to the smallest one-room shack.
-Reno Evening Gazette, January 3, 1928

As one of the concluding chapters in the history of the sensational mining camp of Weepah, the post office in that camp was ordered closed this week by postal authorities. The office was established shotly after high grade ore was discovered in the district.
-Nevada State Journal, July 5, 1929

As was common in Nevada, it was easier to move an entire building to use somewhere else when you were done digging.

A wobbling reminiscence of the Weepah boom rolled down Main street yesterday on its tedious way to Hawthorne. This was the former residence of Frank Horton, father of the Weepah boom and the birthplace of the twins who served as an inspiration for Horton Jr. to search the desert for a stake that would take care of the twins forever and ever. The house was sold by M. A. Woolridge to go to the naval center of Nevada where it will take on fresh importance. The hauling contractor spent one week loading and lifting the house into place on a high powered truck so it would not scrape the sides of cuts on the highway.
-Reno Evening Gazette, April 29, 1931

Now, the serious extraction began

The Weepah Nevada Company has just completed a 250-ton plant at Weepah, scene of a great rush in 1927, and is mining the large orebody with steam shovels.
-Reno Evening Gazette, January 1, 1936

When things aren't profitable, buildings got moved, and so did mills.

Work Stopped At Weepah; Operators Will Install Plant for New Mine
The mill of the Weepah Nevada Mining Company, situated thirty miles southwest of Tonopah, made its final run on tailings a few days ago and is now being razed. A part of the machinery is being trucked to a new gold property in Monitor valley, sixty-eight miles from Tonopah and about an equal distance from Austin, where it will for a part of a new reduction plant. The mill at Weepah went into commission in October, 1935, using flotation and amalgamation, and thereafter treated about 225 tons daily until the latter part of 1936, when it was changed to a cyanide plant, and with the same crushing unit the output was stepped up to three hundred tons daily and in some instances ten thousand tons was reduced in a month. The mill at Weepah had the advantage of electricity but such is not the case in the new camp.
-Reno Evening Gazette, May 24, 1939

But some folks never gave up looking.

Fred Horton, for a long time sole resident of Weepah, was in town this week. He reports that the population has increased 100 per cent during the past month. The writer was unable to obtain the name of the other resident.
Reno Evening Gazette, July 9, 1941

No different than today, I suppose....

Camp At Weepah Hit By Vandals
"Death Valley Curly" Roscoe Wright of Goldfield, who is doing some mining in the Weepah area, had occasion to stop off at the original Weepah townsite last week, the Tonopah Times reports, and discovered that vandals, or somebody seeking financial revenge, had battered in the door of Fred Horton's cabin and completely wrecked the interior. Dishes were thrown outside, and an axe used to demolish dishpans, the teakettle, and other utensils. Wright notified Horton, well-known Goldfield mining man, of his loss. Horton, who had been staying in Goldfield most of the winter, was unable to find a reason for the vandalism.
-Nevada State Journal, March 21, 1946

POST OFFICE April 8, 1927 - July 2, 1929




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