INVENTORY OF HISTORIC RESOURCES--THE EAST SIDE
A. The Bullfrog Hills (continued)
3. Miscellaneous Bullfrogs and Tadpoles
One of the first rules of the mining game is that one must get in on the "ground floor" in order to make money. If possible, an experienced prospector will hurry to the scene of the latest strike, locate ground as close as possible to it, and form a company with a similar sounding name. Between 1905 and 1910, this game was played to perfection by various and sundry miners and promoters in the Bullfrog District, as ninety companies were incorporated with the magic word "Bullfrog" somewhere on their letterheads. A few of these companies were in the vicinity of the Original Bullfrog, most--but not all--were within the boundaries of the Bullfrog District, and all hoped to lure stockholders' funds by advertising their proximity to the big strike. Some of the companies even went so far as to try mining.
A goodly number of these miscellaneous Bullfrog companies located ground within the present boundaries of Death Valley National Monument. Some, like the Bullfrog Winner Mining Company, the Bullfrog Western Mining Company, the United Bullfrog Mining Company, the Bullfrog Plutos Mining and Milling Company, the Bullfrog Gold Note Mining Company, and the Bullfrog Jumper Company, never did more than locate their claims, incorporate a company, sell stock to gullible investors, and never sank a pick into the ground. 
Other "close-in" companies were more interested in actually mining. Among these were a group of assorted Bullfrog mines which surrounded the Original Bullfrog on all sides, much like ants around a pool of honey. These companies, all of which were located and incorporated soon after the beginning of the Bullfrog rush, all sank shafts as close as possible to the Original Bullfrog claims, hoping that the peculiarities of geologic formations would cause the rich green ore found by Harris and Cross to dip and angle into their properties.
Of the seven companies which surrounded the Original Bullfrog ground, six were utter failures, and one--the Bullfrog West Extension--got lucky, for the unpredictable Original Bullfrog ledge penetrated its property. Although this seems like a high rate of failure, it was about the norm for the risking business of mining. The Bullfrog West Extension was the earliest of the mines which sprung up around the Original Bullfrog, thus emphasizing another mining dictum that the "firstest gets the mostest." As an example of an unusual success, its story will be told later. The other six mines were not so fortunate, and the following are the brief tales of some ill-fated companies which attempted to cash in on the Bullfrog bonanza.
a. Bullfrog Extension Mining Company
On August 25th and 26th 1904, a group of prospectors located two claims, the Delaware #2 and the Last Chance, on the north and east sides of the Original Bullfrog.. Together with the Bullfrog Extension #1 and #2, on the southeast of the Original Bullfrog, these four locations were incorporated in February of 1905 as the Bullfrog Extension Mining Company. The incorporation was the usual one, with 1,000,000 shares of stock offered to the public at a par value of $1 each, and it was backed by San Francisco financiers. In May the company had enough money in its treasury to begin mining, and by June a six-man crew had sunk an inclined shaft 75 feet into the ground. Development continued through the summer and fall, and in November the company was the proud owner of a 25-horsepower gasoline hoist, a frame office building for the mine superintendent, and a 141-foot shaft. By January of 1906, the company felt confident enough to advertise that it had a "magnificent quartz" ledge on its property which was "conservatively estimated" to be worth $500,000.
The promising developments at the Bullfrog Extension were halted by the San Francisco earthquake and fire in mid-April of 1906, and the mine was idle from then until June. Even though stock in the company was selling at its all-time high of 13¢ per share in late June, work was again halted for unknown reasons, and was not resumed until late October. By the end of 1906, although the company was still delving for ore, no significant discoveries had been made. Still, the company readily paid its county taxes of $24.86, assessed on personal property consisting of a 25-horsepower gas hoist, a twelve by sixteen-foot frame engine house, and a small office building, one ore car, and miscellaneous tools. 
Developments continued during the first part of 1907, as the company vainly attempted to find traces of the Bullfrog ore on its property. For a few months, prospects looked good, as described in the Bullfrog Miner on March 29th. The Bullfrog Extension, it reported, was "sinking at the rate of two shifts a day on a practically sure thing." Stockholders shared the optimism of the company and the newspaper, as the price of Bullfrog Extension stock was still holding at 12¢ per share in April. The panic of 1907, however, which hit the Bullfrog district in the fall, had a decided effect upon the fortunes of the company. The stock, after dropping from 12¢ to 5¢ in one month, had completely disappeared from the trading board by October. For a mining concern heavily dependent upon stock sales for operating cash, this was a disastrous blow.
The company rallied, however, and on November 1st announced an assessment of 24¢ per share of stock, payable to the secretary by December. Stockholders were thus faced with the choice of paying 2¢ a share more into the company treasury in an attempt at saving a mine whose stock was then worthless, or of forfeiting their shares to the company. (Assessment was illegal in Nevada, due to many past abuses, but the Bullfrog Extension was incorporated in Arizona, a more permissive state.) The assessment was partially successful, for the company was able to raise enough cash to pay its 1907 taxes--although they were paid late--but not enough was collected to pay for any future development works. The mine lay idle throughout 1908, and the company was forced to call for another assessment of 14: per share in December of that year. This time so few stockholders responded that the company was not able to pay its taxes, and the property of the Bullfrog Extension Mining Company entered the county's delinquent tax rolls 
In 1909, one last attempt was made to revive the fortunes of the Bullfrog Extension. This time the owners had no hope of raising enough cash to operate on their own, so in June of that year they advertised in the hope of attracting lessees. It would seem strange that the Bullfrog Extension would still be attempting to develop a mine in 1909, since the Original Bullfrog--the catalyst of the district--had already died. The neighboring West Extension property, however, was uncovering good ore, so the Bullfrog Extension changed its emphasis, and advertised its potential as a neighbor of the West Extension, rather than as a neighbor of the Original Bullfrog.
The advertisements were successful, and the property was leased in October. The new promoters then advanced a scheme which was absolutely fantastic, even for the Bullfrog district. The lessees incorporated not one, but three separate leasing companies, each of which had a lease on a different section of the Bullfrog Extension ground. The promoters then placed a long and confusing advertisement in the Rhyolite Herald attempting to explain their scheme. Potential stockholders were invited to invest in each of the three companies, which jointly held a three-year lease to the Extension property. Although the leasing companies were incorporated separately, they would then develop the Extension mine on a combined basis. As an extra added bonus, the purchasers of the first 50,000 shares of stock in each of these companies would receive, "free of cost," an equal number of shares in the Bullfrog Extension Mining Company--a promotional gimmick of no real risk, since Bullfrog Extension stock had been worthless for two years by this time.
The leasing scheme, as fantastic as it was, enabled the company to raise enough cash to hire a miner to do the annual assessment work on the Bullfrog Extension property, and to pay the 1909 county taxes of $18.00. Too few investors, however, could be fooled all the time, and the leasing companies folded before doing any work. The property was idle throughout 1910, although the company still retained enough cash to pay for the annual assessment work and the $18.00 in county taxes. By September of 1911, the company had finally given up hope, and the gas hoist and gallows frame were dismantled from the Bullfrog Extension property and shipped to Rawhide, for installation on a promising mine in that district. It was a very typical fate for mining equipment, buildings, tools, and anything else of value in a dying mine. 
b. Big Bullfrog Mining Company
Located in the south of the Original Bullfrog, this mine had its inception in August of 1904, when "old man" Beatty, a local small-time dry rancher for whom the town of Beatty was named, located the Mammoth claim. Beatty soon sold out to a group of San Francisco financiers, who incorporated the Big Bullfrog Mining Company in 1905. The company owned just the one claim, but nevertheless formed the usual organization, with 1,000,000 shares of stock, par value $1. Developments commenced, and by the end of 1905 the company boasted of a 16-horsepower hoisting engine, and a 2-horsepower blower engine for the ventilation of its 120-foot shaft. The company was described as "exhibiting good ore" in a Rhyolite newspaper, whatever that meant.
Developments continued on an optimistic level in early 1906, as the company succeeded in finding some ore which assayed as high as $180 per ton. Stockholders, on the basis of this discovery, offered to sell. their stock for 14¢ a share, but no one was willing to buy. In March the company announced that it had uncovered a body of milling grade ore worth $14 a ton. Excitement mounted, since $14 ore was enough to make the Big Bullfrog a paying proposition, provided that great care and economy was taken, and that the ore deposits proved to be massive enough to warrant a large-scale operation.
In April, however, the San Francisco disaster drastically undercut the fortunes of the Big Bullfrog Company. The superintendent halted work at the mine when he learned of the calamity, and did not resume operation until the middle of September. The company then reported that "satisfactory progress" was being made through October and November, but no more ore bodies were found. At the end of 1906 the company held assets of one 16-horsepower engine, an engine house and gallows frame, several ore cars, and mining tools, for which it paid $29.32 to the county in taxes. 
The Big Bullfrog Company opened 1907 with a flair of development work, sinking its shaft to the 250-foot level, and opening up two ledges, with "fair values exposed." By March, however, the flair had definitely fizzled, for as the Bullfrog Miner wrote, the mine had "no material values." "Last week work was suspended for unknown reasons," continued the paper, as if the absence of any paying ore was not reason enough to close the mine. Stock in the mine slowly settled to 14 a share, and then disappeared from the trading board altogether, as it became evident that the mine would never again reopen. The Big Bullfrog had breathed its last, and with the exception of annual assessment work done in January of 1908, no further word was heard from another failed venture. 
c. Bullfrog Fraction
In December of 1904, Len P.: McGarry, mining promoter, stock dealer, and president of the Bullfrog West Extension Mining Company, noticed that the ground claimed by his company did not coincide with the boundaries of the Original Bullfrog. Between the Bullfrog claim of the Original Bullfrog company and the Delaware and Ethel claims of the West Extension, there lay a parcel of land, 1.7 acres in all, which was unclaimed. McGarry immediately located and recorded this ground as the Bullfrog Fraction claim. Then, interestingly enough, he sold it to outside mining promoters instead of selling or deeding it to his own company. Although this would seem to be a clear conflict of interests, such moves were not that unusual in the cut-throat business of mining.
Fractional claims are the bane of miners, and the delight of lawyers, and this one was no exception. Hardly had the new owners started to work, when their claim was disputed by the owners of the Bullfrog Apex Mining Company, owners of the North Bullfrog claim, whose boundaries conflicted with those of the Fraction, as well as those of the West Extension and the Bullfrog Extension. When the Apex company filed for a patent to the North Bullfrog claim in May of 1906, both the West Extension and the Bullfrog Extension filed adverse actions against the granting of the patent. Then, when high grade ore was found on the Fraction claim in June, matters got even more serious. For a while, the big companies tried to settle the matter by furiously working the ground in question, with the Bullfrog Fraction caught hopelessly in the middle. Then, in July, the West Extension and Bullfrog Extension both filed suit in court against the Bullfrog Apex Company, and a long legal battle ensued. The Rhyolite Herald correctly surmised that the struggle would be lengthy and costly for all concerned. "If they fight it out someone is bound to lose, while all will be put to great expense," wrote the editor. "Think it over, gentlemen, think it over."
The gentlemen involved, however, had already thought it over as much as they wished, and during the remainder of 1905 and for most of 1906, the case wound its way slowly through the Nevada court system. In the meantime, the owners of the Bullfrog Fraction, surrounded by litigants which desired their ground, continued to develop their claim, and continued to find good ore leads. As their claims grew more valuable, and as the court battles grew more involved and more expensive, it became clear to them that they could no longer protect their claim by themselves. Accordingly, in November of 1906, they gave up and sold the Bullfrog Fraction to the West Extension Company. That company in turn incorporated the West Extension Annex Company to develop the Bullfrog Fraction claim, and began to operate the two mines as one.
The Bullfrog Fraction thus disappeared as a separate mine, and became part of the West Extension holdings--where it would originally have been had the president of the West Extension, Len P. McGarry, seen fit to benefit his company rather than his pocketbook two years previous. As a bonus to the West Extension, and as a great aid in its fight against the Apex, the Bullfrog Fraction was granted a patent (which had been applied for by the previous owners) in March of 1907. 
d. Bullfrog Apex Mining and Milling Company
The Bullfrog Apex Mining and Milling Company was incorporated on August 4, 1905 by a group of promoters headed by J.J. Fagan and E.L. Andrews. The incorporation was a rather typical one, listing capital stock of 1,000,000 shares, par value $1 each. The company listed itself as the owner of 15 claims, only one of which was ever worked--the North Bullfrog. There was only one problem with the North Bullfrog claim: it intruded into the boundaries of the Delaware claim of the West Extension Company, the Delaware 4$2 claim of the Bullfrog Extension Company, and completely covered the small parcel of ground known as the Bullfrog Fraction.
As events were to prove, the organizers of the Apex Company knew about these conflicting boundaries when the North Bullfrog claim was filed, but they forged ahead anyway., hoping to capitalize upon a few technical mistakes committed by the other companies.. Work on the Apex ground started in the fall of 1905, and soon all the competing companies were sinking shafts within a stone's throw of one another. The original Bullfrog shaft was the focal point, with the Apex Company sinking only forty feet away from it, the Bullfrog Extension working on the east, the Bullfrog Fraction on the west, and the West Extension to the west of the Bullfrog Fraction.
The development race between these companies continued through the early part of 1906. The Apex encountered encouraging ore values, stock sales were adequate at 114: per share, and the promoters were confident enough of the mine's prospects that they decided to apply for a patent. That, however, was the move which spelled the end of the mine. When the Apex filed its papers for patent, the local newspapers, as required by law, published the legal description of the claim boundaries. When these were published, the West Extension Company immediately realized that the Bullfrog Apex was attempting to patent land which the West Extension had a prior location to, and it filed an adverse action against the Apex application, and then filed for its own patent. 
While the patent applications and adverse suits were slowly winding their way through the jurisdiction of the U.S. Land Office at Carson City, both companies continued to sink development shafts and tunnels, trying to find the elusive ore bodies, and determine if there was anything underneath the ground worth fighting for. When the Apex Company uncovered a vein of gold assaying $251 to the ton, the question was settled, and the legal battle intensified. The Bullfrog Extension had by now realized that the Apex patent also infringed upon its ground, and filed a second adverse suite against it. At about this time, the struggle was elevated from the Land Office to the civil court system of Nevada.
Law suits, then as now, took time, and in the meanwhile all the companies involved continued to develop their mines. At the very least, the company which lost the suit hoped to extract the best ore from the ground before the case was ever heard, thus minimizing its losses. By October, the Bullfrog Apex realized that the West Extension was winning this particular race to gut the contested ground, and managed to obtain a writ of claim and delivery, stopping the West Extension from shipping high grade ore from the mine until the suit was settled.
When the first hearing of the case took place, in the local Rhyolite court on October 9th, the judge soon realized that the case was too complex for him, and transferred it to the district court at Tonopah. The move meant higher legal costs to all parties involved, but it also meant more time to exploit the mines while awaiting results. But by this time the Apex was running into trouble. The great publicity surrounding the court suit was taking its toll upon the company, for the Apex was a relatively unheralded company, compared to the well-known West Extension and the less famous Bullfrog Extension companies. As a result, the stock of the Apex, which had been selling at a high of 11¢ per share in May of 1906, fell completely off the trading board within a few weeks of the announcement of the legal suits. Strapped for money to proceed with either the development of its prospect or the long legal battle, the Apex took its case to the people, in the form of a long newspaper advertisement. The appeal, however, seemed to have little effect, for Bullfrog Apex stock did not reappear on the market. 
As 1906 gave way to 1907, conditions remained much the same. The case slowly ascended the court calendar in Tonopah, and the West Extension, Bullfrog Extension and Bullfrog Apex companies continued to develop their respective portions of the disputed ground. By this time the West Extension Company had increased its stake in the affair, through the purchase of the Bullfrog Fraction ground, which effectively doubled the amount of land at dispute between it and the Apex. On February 8th, the case was finally heard in the district court at Tonopah, and the opposing factions were given another thirty days to file final briefs.
Finally, during the first week of May, the Tonopah court rendered its judgement. The ground known as the Delaware claim of the West Extension, and that known as the Bullfrog Fraction, the court announced, had been located and recorded properly prior to the location of the North Bullfrog claim of the Bullfrog Apex Company. Thus, despite the contentions of the Apex attorneys that the former claims had been allowed to relapse, the court found that such was not the case, and ruled entirely in the favor of the West Extension and Bullfrog Extension companies. The West Extension gleefully placed a full page ad in the Bullfrog Miner,, announcing that title to its ground was now uncontested. The Bullfrog Apex was left in the cold--its claim to the North Bullfrog ground was completely invalidated.
Although the Apex Company owned other property, such as seven claims near the Happy Hooligan, six miles to the west of the Original Bullfrog, the company had exhausted its treasury through its hectic development of the North Bullfrog claim, and through the legal costs of the court suit. Now, with no more money to pursue further mining, and with the utter loss of public confidence prohibiting the sale of further stock, the Bullfrog Apex Mining and Milling Company quietly closed its doors and went out of business. The company had taken a calculated gamble and had lost. 
e. Original Bullfrog Extension
On April 13, 1905, a group of five hopeful promoters incorporated yet another Bullfrog mine, this one called the Original Bullfrog Extension Mining Company--not to be confused (except perhaps by investors) with the Original Bullfrog or with the Bullfrog Extension. The Original Bullfrog Extension was the owner of two claims called the Hillside and Hillside #1, which were situated directly north of the Delaware claim of the West Extension Company arid the Delaware 42 claim of the Bullfrog Extension, respectively.
Despite the close similarity of names, the Original Bullfrog Extension was neither an "original" nor a true extension of the Original Bullfrog. That in itself was no great problem, but when potential investors figured out that the Original Extension was separated from the Original Bullfrog by the claim of the West Extension and the Bullfrog Extension, the company failed to attract much interest, and its stock was never placed on the trading boards. Nevertheless, the company went to work, with the forlorn hope that either the rich Bullfrog ledge would dip entirely through the intermediate properties and enter its ground, or that they would have the great luck of finding a separate ledge upon their own ground. By the end of 1905, pursuing these hopes, the Original Bullfrog Extension had sunk a shaft to a. depth of one hundred feet, and had equipped its property with a horse whim for raising the rock. 
The company continued its development work through the early part of 1906, but without much luck. Neither the Bullfrog ledge nor any other ledge appeared on its property. Then, in April, the Original Bullfrog Extension temporarily shut down work, while its superintendent traveled to San Francisco to learn the effects of that city's recent disaster upon the company's finances. The mine lay idle throughout the summer, but by September the company had recovered enough to announce that work would soon be started. Soon, however, turned out to be a long time coming, and work did not resume at all that fall. In December, with the property still laying idle, the company gave up the hope of developing the mine on its own, and advertised for a contract to sink fifty feet in the shaft. The advertisement described the company's property as being equipped with a 155-foot deep shaft, a good whim and a blacksmith shop. The company offered to provide the contractors with timbers for the shaft and with tools for mining.
The contract was let, and by March of 1907 had been completed. No ore was found, however, and the Bullfrog Miner was forced to admit that "nothing of importance has thus far developed" at the Original Bullfrog Extension. Nevertheless, the company continued to work through April, before finally giving up hope. Throughout the rest of 1907 and most of 1908 the property was dormant, with only the minimal necessary annual assessment work being done. In 1909, however, even the assessment work was not done, which meant that the Original Bullfrog Extension Company relinquished title to its claims. Another Bullfrog mine had died. 
f. Bullfrog Red Mountain--Rhyolite Bullfrog
The Bullfrog Red Mountain Mining Company had even less of a claim to the magic Bullfrog name than any of the above mines, for its four claims were situated almost a mile southwest of the Original Bullfrog. Undaunted, the company was organized early in 1905, and started to work, reporting that they had found ore worth $47 per ton. Despite this claim, efforts to develop the mine were not successful. By the time the Red Mountain had organized, approximately seventy-five other companies in the district had already used the Bullfrog name, with a noticeable cheapening of its value in attracting investors. This, along with the remote location of the mine, made it evident to any half-way careful speculator that the Red Mountain outfit had absolutely no hope of cashing in on the Original Bullfrog ledge, and just as remote a chance of finding another ledge of its own. As a result, although the Bullfrog Red Mountain announced the usual incorporation of 1,000,000 shares worth $1 each, the stock never hit the trading boards.
Before the company had really got work off the ground, the San Francisco disaster cut off operations. The mine was idle through the rest of 1906, even though it did take the public relations step of announcing that Sam Newell, superintendent' of the Original Bullfrog, had also been appointed as superintendent of the Red Mountain. Unfortunately, Newell had nothing to supervise, and nothing happened.
Then, in early 1907, the mine was sold to a new group of promoters, and the cycle started all over again. The new owners, led by two men named Voorhees and Taylor, decided to reincorporate and change the mine's name, hoping thus to sever all connections in the investors' minds with the losing predecessor. Since Voorhees and Taylor were two of Rhyolite's leading stock promoters and brokers, the new company had all the benefit of their experience and connections. From January to April, the Rhyolite newspapers carried weekly descriptions of the reorganized mine, thus keeping it in the public's mind, even though no work was being done. Finally, on April 6th, the new company incorporated itself as the Rhyolite-Bullfrog Mining Company, capitalized as usual for $1,000,000 and with the grand total of $1,003 in the treasury. 
With a newly incorporated company and with money in the treasury, the Rhyolite-Bullfrog Company underwent a flurry of development work. Camp buildings were completed in early October, including a boarding house, stables, blacksmith shop and a superintendent's office. Sinking was resumed by three shifts of miners, $10 ore was reported, and the company cleverly circulated the rumor through the newspapers that it had a good treasury reserve, in an attempt to bolster investor confidence. The papers were full of encouraging news carefully planted by the skillful[ stock brokers running the company. During the fall and winter of 1907 reports of $23 ore, "solid values", "promising" finds, and surface showings "the best in the district" appeared almost weekly. Then, suddenly, with the end of 1907, all work ceased. Despite all the promotional gimmicks, the mine was not attracting investors.
Through the entire years of 1908 and 1909, little work was done at the Rhyolite-Bullfrog, even though the company did display ore samples at the American Mining Congress convention in Goldfield in the fall of 1909--another good promotional stunt. That was the company's last gasp, however, and the mine lay idle through 1910 and 1911. Finally, in March of that year, the company's four claims were sold at auction by the Nye County sheriff, under a writ of execution brought by two disgruntled stockholders who wished to recover their ill-spent funds. The two men received title, to the mine for their efforts, and even tried a little prospecting work on their own, but the Rhyolite-Bullfrog, nee the Bullfrog Red Mountain, soon died an untroubled death. The venture had proved once again that even the very best of promotional campaigns could not save a mine which had no ore. 
Such were the varied fortunes of those who tried to find success in the shadow of the Original Bullfrog strike. As noted before, the above mines were the more honest of the many which carried the Bullfrog name, for they at least tried to find ore on 'their grounds. In this sense, they gave their investors a better run for their money than did the promoters who merely took stockholder's funds and ran. In the end, however, all came out equal, for no one made any money, and some merely lost it more quickly than others.
Had things, been different--had the Original Bullfrog been another Comstock--these surrounding mines could have made fortunes. That was what the promoters and stockholders had' bet upon, but as the twists of fate and geologic formations would have it, the Original Bullfrog itself turned out to be a low-grade proposition, despite the early finds of rich pockets of gold, and the surrounding mines found no ore at all. The early demise of the Original Bullfrog thus spelled doom for all the neighboring tadpoles, but such is the nature of the mining game. You pay your money and take your chances. The story of these mines is important, though, for they are typical tales which are repeated again and again in all the camps of the western mining frontier.
g. Present Status Evaluation and Recommendations
Due to the limited nature of the activities which took place on the property of these various mines, comparatively few structures were ever erected. Only a few of the mines had hoists or gallows frames, as most did not pass the windlass or whim methods of raising ore. Likewise, most of the mines never employed enough miners to warrant the construction of boarding houses or similar buildings. And, since all these mines failed before the general exodus of the Bullfrog district took place, the few improvements and structures located at their sites were immediately salvaged for use elsewhere, in the time-honored manner of desert mining, where wood was always a scarce commodity.
As a result, there are no structural remains at any of these mines. The only clues to past activities are the numerous pits, prospect holes, adits, and shafts which dot the landscape around the Original Bullfrog. The limited remains of these limited mining efforts are not of National Register significance.
Interpretive signs, which would point out the location of these mines, and briefly tell the story of their vain attempts to cash in on the Bullfrog bonanza, would be of historical interest and educational value to the visitor. Unfortunately, in the history of man's efforts to extract wealth from the earth, the failures of small-scale mines such as these are far more typical than is the small percentage of mines which actually made money.
Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003