Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
NPS Logo


A. The Bullfrog Hills (continued)

4. Bullfrog West Extension Mine

a. History

While Shorty Harris was drinking in Goldfield in celebration of the discovery of the Original Bullfrog mine, he met an old acquaintance named Len P. McGarry. McGarry had been born in Eureka, Nevada, and had spent his entire life in the mining state, cutting his eye teeth on the rushes to Tonopah and Goldfield. He was the sort whom the local newspapers described as a "young man of promise," but his promises had temporarily run out, and he was looking for new fields of action. Quickly realizing the potential of the Bullfrog strike, McGarry reestablished his friendship with Shorty, and accompanied him back to the scene of the strike. There, on August 26, 1904, McGarry staked out some claims to the immediate west and north of the Original Bullfrog.

For a while, McGarry became sidetracked from mining, as he was one of the first investors and promotors of the Bullfrog townsite. His claims were recorded, but were not worked for over a year. But when the Original Bullfrog Mine started shipping its pockets of high-grade ore in 1905, McGarry regained interest in his claims, and went looking for financial backers. By December his search was successful, and on the 7th of that month the Bullfrog West Extension Mining Company was incorporated, with McGarry as president. Although the incorporation was very typical on paper, with 1,000,000 shares of stock listed at a par value of $1 each, the company decided to retain the majority of the stock, and sold a mere 125,000 shares, at 12-1/2¢ each, in order to raise the initial development fund. Stock sales were brisk, due to the location of the company next to the Original Bullfrog, and the West Extension was soon ready to begin work. [37]

Illustration 23. Advertisement from the Rhyolite Herald, October 27, 1905.

From the very beginning, the West Extension had better chances of intercepting the Bullfrog ledge upon its property than any of the other Bullfrog tadpoles, simply because it was the last to begin active operations. By the first of 1906, most of the mines surrounding the Original Bullfrog were showing signs of failure, and the Original itself had lost the rich ore ledge which had stimulated the first glory days. By process of elimination, this meant that if the Bullfrog, ledge went anywhere, it had to go through the West Extension property. The company followed this philosophy, and began sinking its shaft at the likeliest point.

By May of 1906, after only a few months of exploration work, the West Extension seemed to discover the first signs of the Bullfrog ledge, and the local newspapers duly reported the presence of "fine ore" in the company's shaft. Unfortunately, this was, the exact time at which the West Extension discovered that the Bullfrog Apex was encroaching upon its ground, and the long and costly legal struggle, described above, began. Nevertheless, the West Extension carried on, and began taking out high-grade ore, worth up to $200 per ton, to be sacked for, future shipment.

Within a few months, the early indications seemed proven, and in July the company's directors decided to withdraw the stock from the trading market, in order to capitalize upon the future profits of the mine themselves. With the mine reporting ledges averaging $50 per ton, with some rich pockets running as., high as $2,670, the decision seemed fully justified. For another two months the company explored, results continued to be encouraging, and in September the decision was made to shift from exploratory mining to development on a larger scale. A $5,000 hoisting plant was ordered, consisting of a 25-horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine, a four-drill capacity air compressor, and accessories. Len P. McGarry, who was acting as superintendent of the mine, as well as president of the company, increased the work force to ten miners. In answer to inquiries from eager investors, the company announced that it had ample funds to pay for the escalated development plans, thank you, and that none of the company's stock would be offered for sale.

Despite the continuing annoyance of the law suit versus the Bullfrog Apex, which among other things prevented the West Extension from adding to its treasury by shipping the high-grade ore, the company forged ahead. The big new hoisting plant arrived in late October and was soon installed and working. The Bullfrog Fraction claim was purchased and the West Extension Annex company was formed to exploit it. By this time the growing West Extension complex looked so strong to local and state investors that when the company announced that it would sell 150,000 shares of the Annex stock at 15¢ each, over 50,000, shares were purchased in two weeks--despite that fact that 15¢ per share was an exorbitant price for stock in a company that had not yet commenced mining. As 1906 came to an end, the West Extension looked like one of the best properties in the Bullfrog district, even though title to some of its land was still a matter of dispute. [38]

The mine continued to prosper in early 1907. Another shoot of rich ore, assaying up to $900 per ton, was opened in January, and more encouraging discoveries were made the following month. The Bullfrog Miner, after describing the latest strike in its February 22d issue, concluded that even though the "West Extension is only a baby as yet," it was. "unquestionably" the "finest piece of goods" in the district.

Although the West Extension might be considered a baby, it had already spawned one subsidiary in the West Extension Annex company, and another soon followed. In March, the claims of the Bullfrog Teddy group, which joined those of the West Extension, were purchased, and. the Bullfrog Teddy Gold Mining Company was organized. The officers and directors of this company were identical to those of the West Extension, and the promotion of the company soon began. The Teddy, the advertisements read, would be developed to catch the West Extension ledge, just as the West Extension had caught those of the Original Bullfrog, and the public was invited to share in the undoubted success of the venture. Response was again satisfying, with 140,000 shares of Teddy stock sold in March, and by April the price of the stock had risen to 16-1/2¢ per share. Obviously, investors who were frozen out of the West Extension, since it was operating as a closed corporation, were more than anxious to get in on its neighboring prospects. After all, the West Extension had good ore reports, its neighbors probably would also, and all three companies were under the same management. Len McGarry, for example, was the president of the West Extension, the West Extension Annex, and the Bullfrog Teddy, and would also be the superintendent of all three mines. In addition, Bullfrog Teddy and West Extension Annex stock was available for purchase from the office of the L. P. McGarry Brokerage Company of Rhyolite, Nevada.

Things were going so well for McGarry that he even ordered a hoisting plant for the Teddy, before active developments commenced. His luck held. During the next few weeks the West Extension found more ore, some assaying up to $264 per ton, and the Teddy found a ledge averaging $26.40. McGarry publicly offered to buy back the stock of the West Extension from anyone who had. been lucky enough to purchase it the last fall, but no one seemed willing to sell. When the board of directors of the company held its first annual meeting on March 15th, the directors were so impressed with McGarry's reports that they voted once again to keep West Extension stock off the trading board. This decision meant that the directors would have to finance development work on their own, but that seemed to be no problem, as the papers reported that $50,000 was raised in fifty seconds. [39]

By this time the West Extension properties were becoming famous throughout Nevada, and Len McGarry granted an interview to a reporter from the Reno Journal. The mine, he said, had rock averaging $20 per ton throughout its workings, more than enough to support a mill upon the site, and had encountered pockets and streaks of free gold, one of which assayed at $10,000 per ton. By the end of March the hoisting plant for the Teddy had arrived, the two shifts of miners at the West Extension had piled over a hundred tons of high-grade ore on the dump, and McGarry announced that the mine had thousands of tons of milling grade rock in sight. Again, rumors of a proposed milling plant were circulated.

Another strike of $99 ore was made at the West Extension in April, and the Teddy completed the installation of its hoisting plant and a blacksmith shop. Then, in May, the big news came. The West Extension won its suit against the Bullfrog Apex, and Was finally free to develop its mine unmolested, and to ship its high-grade ore, which was sacked and ready on the dump. Strangely enough, however, the company did not ship. Instead, development work went along as usual for another month, and then the mines were suddenly shut down. The company announced the reason for work stoppage as being the need to thoroughly survey the mines, in order to draw up final development and production plans, and to come to a decision regarding the construction of a mill. The shut-down, McGarry assured the papers, was only temporary. Holders of Bullfrog Teddy stock, however, were not fully convinced, and the price of the stock plunged to 3¢ per share. [40]

The mine was idle until the end of August, when the company announced its new plans, based upon the recommendations of several mining engineers who had inspected the ground during the shut-down. Once the decisions were reached, the mines reopened, work resumed and progressed satisfactorily throughout the fall, despite the effects of the panic of 1907. By December the owners announced that they had $195,000 worth of ore blocked out in the mine, and the directors again contributed more cash to finance the work. Again, rumors circulated through the newspapers concerning the erection of a milling plant for the West Extension. But despite all these indications of success, something was wrong with the finances of the company. The 1907 county property taxes were not paid on time, and for the want of $46.20 the property was listed on the delinquent list for several months.

In January of 1908, the West Extension executed another suspicious move, when that company bought out the stock of the Bullfrog Teddy. Although this would seem to be a meaningless move on the surface, since the two mines were already operating as one, it made a difference to stockholders of Teddy stock. The merger was quick, and the stockholders were helpless to prevent it, since the major stockholders and directors of the Bullfrog Teddy were one and the same with those of the West Extension. The real effect was that Bullfrog Teddy stock immediately became worthless, and according to the dictates of the directors, holders of it were forced to exchange it for stock in the West Extension at a ration of four to one. Bullfrog Teddy stock had last sold for 64: per share on the Rhyolite exchange, so for the stockholders to come out even West Extension stock would have to be worth at least 24¢ per share. But since West Extension stock was untraded, no one knew for sure what it was worth, except the directors of the company. In summary, the dealings of a company which formed a subsidiary, sold stock in it, and then absorbed that company and forced stockholders to exchange their stock for one of unknown value, were suspect.

In order to bolster the confidence of the suspicious stockholders, the West Extension announced at the same time that it was planning to construct a reduction plant at Gold Center, where ample water supplies were available; and that new financial backers had pitched their lot with the West Extension, including John Campion of Leadville, Colorado, and Fred Bonfils, one of the owners of the Denver. [41]

Hardly had these grand organization and building plans been announced, than another peculiar event took place. During the second week of February, the West Extension granted an eighteen-month lease to a pair of miners, for mining rights on a portion of the Delaware claim--the same claim for ownership of which the company had been willing to fight the Bullfrog Annex. Ordinarily, a company which had ample capital and a promising mine, which the West Extension claimed to have, would never lease a portion of its property, since the employment of lessees cut down on the potential profit of the mine. Yet the West Extension, which had never looked better, according to the reports it released to the Rhyolite newspapers, was doing just that. No one seemed to question why. The lessees, however, were not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, and immediately incorporated themselves as the West Extension Leasing and Milling Company, and went to work.

By the middle of March, the plans of the company changed once again. This time, the West Extension announced that it had reached an agreement with financiers from Salt Lake City and Chicago relative to the construction of a mill. In return for the West Extension's guarantee to deliver 20 tons of milling ore per day for one year, the financiers announced plans for the construction of a custom reduction mill at Beatty. At the same time, the West Extension also announced that the U.S. Government had approved its patent application for the Delaware, Ethel and Jumbo claims. Following these announcements, development proceeded at the mine, and the company shortly reported the location of another ore body, this one assaying as high as $800 in spots, with average values throughout of $40.

The company now had three shifts working its mine continuously, and began to stope the best ore for future milling operations. The mine superintendent reported that he could extract forty tons of milling grade ore per day without untoward effort. The major stockholders and directors of the mines continued to be impressed with its prospects, and once again raised $50,000 among themselves during the annual meeting on March 28th.

More strikes were reported in April, as the mine continued to find good ore. Assay reports differed from week to week, but it was undeniable that the West Extension had sufficient ore to support a mill. Work started on the custom mill at Beatty, and the construction superintendent estimated that the 10-stamp complex would be ready to accept ore in ninety days.

Work was "pushed night and day" as April gave way to May. The company announced that the average ore throughout the mine assayed from $22 to $30, which would make the West Extension one of the richest mines in the Bullfrog district, were it true. Yet at the same time that the company was making final arrangements for the milling and production of its ore, it also inexplicably let another lease on its property, for the duration of one year. [42]

As the summer progressed, developments continued. The West Extension worked its ten miners in two shifts during these hot months, and announced plans to raise the payroll to thirty--which was not done. The papers continued to announce good ore finds in the mine, and the lessees also reported good luck, one of them sacking thirty sacks of high-grade ore within the first month of operation. A constant stream of visitors inspected the now-famous mine, and all came way murmuring that they were impressed. But, on June 1st, an event occurred which the West Extension company did not report to the friendly papers, for the summer installment of county taxes on the Bullfrog Teddy property was not paid.

In August, the company announced that it had already had over $50,000 worth of milling ore stacked on the dump, awaiting the completion of the custom mill at Beatty, and that it had the capacity to deliver up to forty tons of ore to the mill per day.

Illustration 24. Advertisement for the leasing company operating on the West Extension property. From the February 1908 issue of Death Valley Magazine.

West Extension Mine
Illustration 25. The West Extension Mine, looking east-southeast towards the Original Bullfrog, shows the close proximity to the two. Photo from the Rhyolite Herald, March 22, 1907.

The company also announced an agreement with the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad, whereby an 850-foot spur would be built to the mine. In return the West Extension guaranteed to ship thirty tons of ore per day via the railroad at a cost of 60¢ a ton--a substantial reduction of the usual freight rate.

Towards the end of August, however, hitches began to develop in company's plans. The mill promoters announced delays in construction, due to difficulties in obtaining machinery and parts, and the West Extension, with time and money running out, began to negotiate with the Montgomery-Shoshone Mill about the possibilities of getting its ore treated there. In September, with the Beatty custom mill still far from complete, the West Extension finally made its first shipment of ore, twenty-five tons worth an estimated $2,000, to a smelter at Murry, Utah. After over two years of development and promotion, the West Extension had belatedly entered the list of Bullfrog producers. [43]

As October went by, the Beatty custom mill still showed no signs of an early completion date. The impatient West Extension directors held more talks with the Montgomery-Shoshone Company, but no agreement was reached. Negotiations were also initiated with the Bonnie Claire Mill, approximately twenty miles north of Rhyolite, but again the results were unsatisfactory. The West Extension therefore decided to attempt to build its own mill, at the mine site, and began preliminary surveys for a water pipeline from Rhyolite to the mine.

Even though a decision to build a mill meant that the West Extension would need more money than ever, the company also decided not to ship any more ore, preferring to wait and run it through its own mill in the future. The company also decided once again to avoid selling West Extension stock to raise money, and the directors met in Utah with their Colorado partners to iron out the details of the financial campaign. The results of that meeting were evidently satisfactory, for after the surveyors reported that water could be piped from Rhyolite to the mine site, the company announced that it would definitely build a mill. During the latter part of November, survey teams inspected the area around the West Extension mine, prior to selecting the best site for the mill.

Several mill machinery companies were invited to submit plans for the mill, and alternate proposals soon came rolling in. Since the mine had sufficient ore on the dumps for several months of mill supply, and more in the mine ready to hoist to the surface, the underground miners were laid off, until final details for the future of the mine and mill could be reached. Towards the end of December, 1908, the company tentatively agreed to mill plans submitted by the Joshua Hendy Company of San Francisco. The plans called for the erection of a 10-stamp mill, with treatment by stamp crushing, followed' by plate amalgamation, the "perfect" system of concentration and final treatment by cyanide lixiviation.. The plant was to be powered by electricity, and the Hendy Company estimated that it would take four months to build. Final contracts for the construction of the mill awaited only the official approval of a meeting of the full board of directors.

Thus, as 1908 ended, the West Extension appeared to be poised on the verge of becoming one of the Bullfrog district's important producers. Still, with all its promise, signs of financial difficulties continued to appear in the organization. In 1908 the Nye county taxes on the West Extension property were again paid late. Taxes on the Teddy property owned by the company were not paid at all, as the Bullfrog Teddy Mine had been abandoned shortly after the merger of the two companies. Ironically, a United States patent to the abandoned mine was received on January 15, 1909. [44]

During the first months of 1909, the ambiguity surrounding the future of the West Extension did not become any more clear. The directors held their annual meeting on January 30th, and re-elected Len P. McGarry as president of the company. That, however, was the only, definite news release to the press. Although the Rhyolite papers felt "certain" that the mill plans were approved, they were also forced to admit that "Little is being said about the mine proper of late, and it is impossible now to estimate with accuracy its ability as a producer." The silence of the company seemed ominous, since it had always been the first to let the papers know whenever something good was to be reported.

In the meantime, the West Extension Mine lay idle, as the directors tried to figure out what to do next. As January gave way to February and March, the directors still failed to reach a decision, and the mine, with its reported $50,000 worth of ore on the dump, was not touched. Rumors circulated that the Montgomery-Shoshone had taken a lease on the West Extension property, in order to ship its ore to the Shoshone Mill, but nothing happened. During the summer, several independent leasing outfits attempted to secure rights to work the ground, but all were unsuccessful, and the mine still lay idle.

By September of 1909, the West Extension Mine had not been worked for almost a year, and creditors of the company lost patience. A Goldfield legal firm sued the company to recover $2,400 in back fees, and a group of Rhyolite merchants were forced to initiate another suit to recover a paltry $600 in overdue bills. The company, in the meantime, underwent a private reorganization, and G. S. Johnson replaced Len McGarry as president. No reason was given for the change of leaders. Johnson promised payment in full to all creditors, and tried to dampen the unwelcome publicity, but gave no explanations for the recent puzzling lack of action at the mine. Despite Johnson's promises, however, the company's debts were not paid, and the creditors were forced to take the matter to court. The Bullfrog Miner expressed the public's bewilderment at the strange lack of action at the West Extension, for according to the company's reports, it could easily liquidate all debts merely by shipping the ore it said it had ready on the dump. Still, nothing happened.

By the end of 1909, the inevitable result was beginning to become plain for all to see. The last official announcements of the West Extension Company had been full of breathless figures of ore on the dumps, enormous ore deposits in the mine, and plans for a reduction mill. That, however, had been over a year previous, and nothing had been done since. The Mining World assessed the West Extension as a promising property, but "one in which lack of ample capital is holding back work, while absence of milling facilities is keenly felt. Much of the ore on this and other properties is of too low grade to warrant shipping to smelters." The Nye County Treasurer also summed up the situation in his own inimitable way, for when the West Extension failed to pay its 1909 county taxes on time, he immediately placed the property on the delinquent tax list. [45]

By 1910, the West Extension appeared to be a dead mine, but the local folk refused to let it die in peace. Indeed, the entire Bullfrog District was in a decided decline by now, but the stalwart at heart refused to believe. Admittedly, some of the most promising mines in the district had already gone under, but in the eyes of the faithful the Bullfrog District was not yet finished. The lead article in the January 1st issue of the Rhyolite Herald entitled "New Years Dawn Full of Promise," symbolized the optimism of the remaining Bullfroggers. With this attitude, it is a small wonder that the papers would not leave the West Extension alone, for it had been one of the latest mines of promise, and to admit that it had failed would be to admit the same for the entire district. As the above article continued, the West Extension, surely, "will be soon put into shape for production."

Accordingly, every straw was seized at. When a mining engineer from the huge Goldfield Consolidated firm, for example, made an inspection of the West Extension property in June and again in November, the paper hopefully printed rumors of the purchase and re-opening of the mine. Likewise, when the West Extension Company reorganized and reincorporated itself in September, the Herald saw certain signs of the imminent resumption of work. But 1910 ended the way it had begun--no work was done on the property for the second straight year, and the company's taxes were again delinquent. To add insult to injury, the private residence of Len P. McGarry, former president of the Bullfrog West Extension Mining Company, the Bullfrog Teddy Mining Company, the West Extension Annex Mining Company and the L. P. McGarry Brokerage house, was also placed on the delinquent list for the non-payment of county taxes. [46]

As usual, things got worse before they got better. In April of 1911 the West Extension estate was put under the auctioneer's hammer, to satisfy the claims of its creditors, who had won their suits against the company. As the Rhyolite Herald sadly noted, "The Extension is one of the truly bright prospects of the camp, and it is a matter of deep regret that financially it is on the breakers."

Towards the end of the year, however, prospects revived. The Mayflower Leasing Company, a consortium of promoters who were not yet ready to give up on the Bullfrog district, decided to take a look at the West Extension. The Mayflower Company had already had a limited degree of success in combining the ore output from several mines in the district for reduction at the Eclipse Mill, which it owned, and it soon decided that the West Extension could make a contribution towards this effort. In December, the company executed a long-term lease with the West Extension and announced that it would put two shifts of miners at work to extract ore for its mill. Interestingly enough, the Mayflower spokesman gave the Rhyolite Herald a much lower estimate of the value of the West Extension's ore than the figures received from McGarry et. al. in past years. The leasing company's assays showed that the mine had average values of from $12 to $15 per ton, enough to give the company a profit after deducting the foreseen costs of $7 per ton for mining, freightage and milling. The grateful McGarry, who was still listed as the principal owner of the West Extension, was finally able to pay the 1911 county taxes of $110.80, from the proceeds of the lease. [47]

As 1912 opened, the West Extension was thus literally given a new lease on life. This was made more evident on January 13th, when the Mayflower Company announced that it had gone one step beyond the leasing agreement, and had bought the West Extension property outright. The mine would be opened soon, the announcement continued, the long-awaited railroad spur to the property would be built, and best of all, the Mayflower itself would be reorganized, so that stockholders would have "a chance to get in on the new company." The Rhyolite Herald was ecstatic. This "is the first ray of sunshine with no clouds hovering near that Rhyolite has seen for many a day. This may prove the starting of a new era for the Bullfrog region, and be the first of a large number of companies to commence operations on a sensible, economical basis, and show to the world that this district can become a steady and profitable producer."

Although everything the Herald hoped for did not come to pass, the Mayflower Company did begin work. By February 10th, the mine and mill were both operating, and within a week the Eclipse Mill was treating twenty-five tons of West Extension ore per day. The new manager of the West Extension Mine estimated that it had enough ore in sight to supply the mill for one year, unless new ore bodies were uncovered. In the meantime, L. P. McGarry, left out in the cold, watched helplessly as the First National Bank of Rhyolite sold 30,000 of his shares in the old West Extension at auction, for repayment of a bad debt of $3,800.

By March, the reorganization plans of the Mayflower Company were complete, and it announced its incorporation as the Southern Nevada Mining company. The main assets of the new company were the West Extension Mine and the Eclipse Mill, as well as leasing rights on several other mines. The following week, the first cleanup was made at the mill, and the bullion was shipped to Utah. The company made no public statement concerning the estimated value of the recovered gold.

Another cleanup was made in the latter part of March, although no values were given, and holders of old West Extension stock were advised to exchange it for the new Southern Nevada stock as soon as possible. By the first of April, the mill had consumed the ore from the West Extension dumps, and the mine began extracting ore from the depths for shipment to the mill. A new boarding house was built at the mine, and the mill made another shipment of bullion. The March report of the Southern Nevada stated that 830 tons of West Expansion ore had been reduced, with an extraction rate of 90% of the gold value.

The success continued through May. Bullion shipments were made regularly, and the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad announced that the traffic flow warranted all north and south-bound trains stopping at the West Extension, for pickup and discharge of freight, ore and passengers. (The passenger rate from there to Rhyolite was 25¢.) As May passed into June, the Rhyolite Herald reported continued success in both the mine and the mill, and the company reported that enough ore had been blocked out in the mine to supply the mill for another year.

That, however, was one of the last reports printed by the Rhyolite Herald for the last surviving paper of the Bullfrog district ceased publication on June 22d. Although the Southern Nevada mine and mill were enjoying success, not enough other mines were still operating in the district to support the paper. As a result of the Herald's demise, our day-to-day knowledge of the West Extension comes to an end, and the recorded history of the mine becomes much more sketchy. [48]

We do know that the Southern Nevada was still operating the West Extension property at the end of 1912, for the company readily paid its taxes of $39.38, assessed on personal property consisting of one 15-horsepower Fairbanks-Morse hoisting engine, an engine house, a blacksmith shop, a gallows headframe, and mining tools. Sometime in 1913, however, the mine ran out of ore, as had been predicted, for the 1913 taxes were not paid. Apparently the mine was shut down rather early in 1913, for the tax rolls noted that less than $100 worth of labor had been performed on the company's claims that year.

But the Southern Nevada was not yet ready to give up. From 1914 to 1920, the company maintained enough faith in the future of the mine to pay taxes each year, even though no work was performed. Then, in 1921, the taxes were marked delinquent, and the property was deeded to the care of the Nye County Treasurer the following year. [49]

The West Extension Mine was dormant through the rest of the decade, until 1929, when its fortunes became interwined with those of the Original Bullfrog. As noted before, the magic of the Bullfrog name survived the life of the Bullfrog District, and between 1929 and 1978, various individuals, out of hopes of profit or feelings of loyalty to a bygone era, bought, sold, operated and leased the Original Bullfrog, the West Extension and other ghost mines of the district. During the majority of this time, the West Extension and the Original Bullfrog were owned by the same people, and neither enjoyed any significant recovery. Some of its owners merely held title for a period of years, and some, like the Burm-Ball Mining Company, operated the mine or leased it to others. Production was minimal and profits undoubtedly nonexistent, but the owners held on in hope and faith. The West Extension property was last purchased in 1976 by Boyce Cook and Lenard Cruson, the owners of the Original Bullfrog Mine. [50]

In terms of longevity, the West Extension was one of the most successful mines of the Bullfrog District, for it outlived the Original Bullfrog, all the Bullfrog tadpoles, and even the Montgomery-Shoshone Mine, which recorded the largest ore production in the district. In terms of profit, however, the West Extension could hardly be termed a success. The mine never made any money during the McGarry years, and whether or not it did while operated by the Southern Nevada is an unanswered question, due to the failure of latter to publish bullion figures. At best, the West Extension mine can only be considered as a very minimal producer.

But the mine did typify several aspects of early twentieth-century business procedures. It was an early and "close in" location, in the best traditions of mining, and was promoted by one of the Bullfrog District's most skilled stock dealers. Had the mine proved to be a bonanza, which was always the hope of its owners, they would have become relatively rich. Since it did not, they at least lost their own money, and comparatively little of others'. Thus, despite several shady deals, such as those surrounding the sale of Bullfrog Teddy and West Extension Annex stock, the attempt to develop the West Extension Mine seems to have been fairly honest. Finally, like all the other Bullfrog mines, the West Extension was able to extract ore at a profit only when it was operated on a large-scale and tight economic basis. The West Extension proved, if nothing else, that the best promotion and intentions in the world will fail to make a winner out of a low-grade mineral deposit.

b. Present Status Evaluation and Recommendations

Due to the close proximity of these two mines, the West Extension has rarely been identified as a separate mine from the Original Bullfrog. The confusion is natural, since the pits, shafts, tunnels and dumps of. the two mines run into each other on the ground, and especially since the two were owned and operated as one between the 1930s and the present. Given this status, and the fact that their histories are closely connected, there is no compelling reason to treat them separately at this point.

The physical structures remaining on these sites are not impressive. Both mines show evidence of much work, with numerous shafts, dumps, etc., dotting the landscape. In addition, a collapsed headframe, a water tank, a cement engine foundation and timber debris are scattered around the area. All in all, the two sites denote the scene of much past activity, but very little remains with which to interpret that past.

Nevertheless, the Original Bullfrog-West Extension site will be nominated to the National Register, due to the tremendous impact which the discovery of the Original Bullfrog Mine had upon the entire southern Nevada and southeastern California region. The discovery of the Original Bullfrog was the catalyst for one of the most colorful and enthusiastic mining booms in the area, and certainly sparked the greatest mining effort that Death Valley has ever seen. As such, the site of the original mine should be preserved. In addition, the sites of the Original Bullfrog-West Extension mining camp and of the short-lived tent town of Amargosa deserve the attentions of a historical archaeologist.

The interpretive potential of this site cannot be overstated. At present, there are absolutely no signs or indications of where the Original Bullfrog Mine is, or what it meant to the history of this entire desert region. Indeed, on most of the roads leading into the Bullfrog District, there are no signs informing visitors that they have entered National Monument boundaries. At the very least, interpretive signs, and something on the order or an outdoor exhibit should be erected at the site, in order to tell the story of the discovery and history of the Original Bullfrog and West Extension mines, and their influence upon the surrounding territory. The interpretive exhibit should also include a brief description of the canvas city of Amargosa, the first in the district, which was platted on National Park Service land, just south of the Original Bullfrog Mine.

Illustration 26. Sketch Map, Original Bullfrog-west Extension Historic Site.

site of Amargosa
Illustration 27. View from the site of Amargosa, looking northwest towards Bullfrog Mountain. The dumps of the Original Bullfrog cover the small knoll in the center, with the dumps of the West Extension tucked away in the small valley to the left. The grade of the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad, not visible in the picture, runs in front of the Original Bullfrog. 1978 photo by John Latschar.

site of Amargosa
Illustration 28. Reverse of above view, looking southeast from the West Extension towards the Amargosa site. Large leveled dumps of the West Extension are in the foreground, with two of the Original Bullfrog's dumps visible towards upper left. Collapsed headframe of West Extension is just to the left, foreground, off the photo. Compare this view to the March 1907 photo from the Rhyolite Herald. 1978 photo by John Latschar.

Original Bullfrog dumps

Original Bullfrog dumps
Illustrations 29-30. Top: Closer view of the Original Bullfrog dumps, from the Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad grade, looking northwest. Bottom: View of West Extension dumps to left, from the same spot. Conical dump of the Original Bullfog, to the right in this photo, may be matched with the same dump seen in left of above. 1978 photos by John Latschar.

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003