Death Valley
Historic Resource Study
A History of Mining
NPS Logo


A. The Bullfrog Hills (continued)

5. Gold Bar Mine

a. History

The early twentieth-century strikes at Tonopah and Goldfield attracted miners from all parts of the United States. Among them were two miners from Cripple Creek, Colorado, named Ben Hazeltine and N. P. Reinhart. Although they arrived in Goldfield too late to capitalize upon that rush, they soon found jobs in local mines. By the time the news of Shorty Harris' and d Cross' strike hit Goldfield, Reinhart and Hazeltine were ready for another rush, and they joined the great migration to the new Bullfrog District. Finding that all the close-in ground was already staked out, the two men drifted farther afield, prospecting in the upper Bullfrog Hills. On October 10, 1904, their persistence paid off, for they found and located the Hazeltine claims, approximately four miles northwest of Rhyolite, and two miles north of the Original Bullfrog.

Illustration 31. Sketch Map, Homestake-Gold Bar claims, 1905.

The two men worked the mine by themselves for a short while, and regularly brought in ore samples to be assayed at Rhyolite. The rich results of the assay tests did not go unnoticed, and early in 1905 Reinhart and Hazeltine sold their mine. If the newspaper accounts are reliable, the two men joined that very select group of prospectors who were able to make good on their finds, for the reported sale price was $117,000 in cash and treasury stock of the purchasing company. The Rhyolite Herald hailed the sale as "the first deal of importance made in the district." The new owners, headed by Goldfield promotors J. P. Loftus and J. R. Davis, soon organized themselves as the Bullfrog Gold Bar Mining Company, and set to work. [51

The Gold Bar Mine immediately caught the attention of the Bullfrog District. By the end of May 1905, after only six weeks of exploratory work, the mine had run into ore ledges averaging $15 per ton, and had uncovered small rich pockets, one of which assayed at $1,458 a ton. The company ordered a 25-horsepower hoisting engine to replace its horsedrawn whim, built a wagon road to the mine, and began construction of a shaft house and other auxiliary structures. As the summer progressed, the mine raised its work force to fourteen miners, and continued to uncover evidence of paying ore. Although the small rich pockets were few and far between, the mine reported in July that it had an abundance of good ore worth $50 a ton. Towards the end of the summer, with the mine well into its development phase, a new boarding house had been completed for the convenience of the miners, and the Herald characterized the Gold Bar as "one of the surest and most dependable properties in the district."

Good news continued to flow via the mine's reports during the fall of 1905. By this time the mine was exploring the ground through three different shafts, one of which was down to the 150-foot level, and all three shafts reported paying ore. Superintendent L. E. Bedford reported that the company had spent almost $1,400 in development work, at the rate of $7.50 per foot of work. Further strikes in the Gold Bar caused its stock to jump from 104 per share to 35¢ in two weeks. With the continuing success of the Gold Bar Mine, and the opening of the Homestake Mine next door, a group of Rhyolite promoters located ten claims just south of the Gold Bar property, with the intentions of starting another town.

On November 17th, the Rhyolite Herald described the Gold Bar property in some detail. The mine, said the reporter, showed bigger continuous free milling ore deposits than any other property in the Bullfrog District, with a reported 350,000 tons of ore in sight. The Gold Bar had been the first mine in the district to discard the hand windlass in favor of a horse whim for raising ore. Even that, however, had proved insufficient, and the company had recently ordered a gasoline hoisting plant. The company owned a fifteen by twenty-one foot bunkhouse which slept fourteen miners, a boarding house, and superintendent Bedford was building a bungalow for himself, constructed of lumber and canvas. The company had begun to sack its high-grade ore for shipment, and was discussing plans for the construction of a 40-stamp reduction mill on its property. [52]

Gold Bar and Homestake mining camp
Illustration 32. View of the Gold Bar and Homestake mining camp in November of 1905. Miners from the two companies shared living quarters in the fledgling townsite. The very small dump at the top of the picture belongs to the Homestake Mine--the Gold Bar workings are out of the picture to the left. Photo courtesy of Nevada Historical Society.

Gold Bar and Homestake mining camp
Illustration 33. Another view of the Gold Bar-Homestake complex in late 1905, taken up the hill to the northwest of the previous picture. The dump and hoist in the foreground are the main workings of the Gold Bar Company, and the buildings in the center of the picture are also part of the Gold Bar complex. The two dumps and the structure towards the top of the hill belong to the Homestake Company. Photo courtesy of Nevada Historical Society.

main Gold Bar shaft
Illustration 34. Close-up of the main Gold Bar shaft, in November of 1905. Note the rather crude hoisting frame, which was powered by the rather tired-looking horse in the background. The high-grade ore was stacked next to the shaft, for future sacking, as shown in the picture, while the waste was hauled via the ore car to the edge of the dump. Photo courtesy of Nevada Historical Society.

The new hoisting plant for the Gold Bar arrived early in January of 1906, and after delays in obtaining enough timber to construct the gallows frame, development work resumed. By this time the company had completed over one thousand feet of underground work in its shafts, drifts and crosscuts, and all indications pointed to a very large body of ore. Stock in the mine rose to 49¢ per share, and local brokers advised their customers that it was a good buy at that price. The Gold Bar Company agreed, and on February 9th, applied for a patent to its claims.

In early March, the Herald again described the condition and prospects of the mine. The Gold Bar, according to the paper, now had the second largest hoisting plant in the state of Nevada. It consisted of a 28-horsepower Hercules gasoline hoist and a 1-ton ore skip with an automatic dumping capability, which could raise 140 tons of rock per day from a maximum depth of five hundred feet. The gallows frame of the hoist was fifty feet high and contained 20,000 board feet of lumber. Interior developments were also impressive. By the end of March the three shifts of miners had made lateral connections between the two main working shafts, while above ground other employees were sacking $350 ore for shipment. In order to improve communications, a telephone line was being built from Rhyolite to the mine. New strikes were being reported, with some assays running as high as $450 to the ton. The company continued to contemplate the building of a mill, if transportation problems could be solved, and had purchased water rights in the Grapevine mountains, eight miles to the west. Work started on improvements at that spring, which initially had a flow of three miner's inches an hour, enough to operate a small 10-stamp mill.

In the meantime, investors were eagerly buying stock in the promising mine. Shares of Gold Bar stock which had sold for 40¢ each in January jumped to 604: in February, and reached the magic figure of $1 each by, the first of March. Although the Bullfrog Miner, expressed mild surprise "at this almost phenomenal advance in the price of the stock of a company that has not yet shipped a pound of ore, the advance continued, and the Gold Bar stock reached the price of $1.92-1/2 per share on March 30th. [53]

In April, the fortunes of the mine reached a turning point, as the Gold Bar Company gave Charles M. Schwab, the famous steel millionaire and mining promoter, an option to purchase the property. Descriptions of the deal varied, but Schwab apparently had an option to purchase the mine for $1,000,000 by May 1st. Schwab sent his engineers out to examine the mine, prior to exercising his option, and the Bullfrog District waited in anticipation. The control of a mine by a man with the assets of Schwab could only mean good things for the entire district.

While Schwab pondered the deal, the Gold Bar continued to report discoveries of valuable ore, and the month of April saw so much promising development take place that the owners of the mine privately expressed the hope that Schwab would let his option expire without buying the mine. The Herald after digesting the latest company reports, called the Gold Bar "one of the biggest things in the far famed State of Nevada."

But the San Francisco fire and earthquake dampened the mood of unbounded optimism. Schwab requested an extension of twenty days on his option, due to financial difficulties caused by the disaster, and the Gold Bar Company approved his request--which seems to indicate that they were a bit more anxious for Schwab to buy than they had said. A further ten day extension followed the first, and finally Schwab decided not to buy. The newspapers advanced several causes for the decision. Some speculated that Schwab was hurt more than he was willing to tell by the San Francisco disaster. Others felt that Schwab's engineers had not given him favorable report on the mine, and one paper wrote that the present Gold Bar owners had killed the deal, by insisting upon being given too large a share in the new ownership of the mine.

Nevertheless, the deal fell through, and the owners put on a good face, declaring that they were glad that Schwab had not bought. Developments at the mine continued despite the effects of the San Francisco disaster upon financial circles. Sacking of high-grade ore progressed, the new main working shaft reached a depth of 250 feet, and the company began the construction of a new boarding house with accommodations for sixty miners. Towards the end of June the Gold Bar made its first shipment, a small one of five sacks of ore, and announced that it had received a government patent for its claims. Stock sales continued to be brisk, despite the financial climate of the times, and the company was reported to have a splendid treasury balance. [54]

On June 29th, the Gold Bar company held its first annual meeting, re-electing J. P. Loftus as president and J. R. Davis as vice-president and general manager. Davis reported that the company had spent $48,660.55 in the last year on development work and capital improvements, and that the mine had an estimated $2,347,000 worth of ore in sight. The company had $28,893.20 in cash in the treasury, and held unsold treasury stock worth $143,893.20 at the present market value. That market value had declined, though, as an inevitable result of the failure of the Schwab deal, and dropped from a high of $2.15 per share in May to a low of $1.02 in late July, before beginning to recover.

The Gold Bar Company continued operations through the intense heat of the summer. The mine now employed twenty-five men, and its main shaft reached a depth of 330 feet by the end of July. Discounting 'the small pockets of rich ore which were being sacked for shipment, values throughout the mine ran from $8 to $15 per ton. It was becoming apparent that the. Gold Bar was a low-grade mine, which would have to operate its own mill in order to make a profit. Work progressed on both the mine and the company's water rights during the fall. No new deposits of high-grade ore were found, but the company reported good milling values as the shafts reached deeper and deeper. Superintendent Bedford received praise from both the company and the local newspapers for his business-like manner, as the miners sunk their shafts, drifts and tunnels at a rate of 400 feet per month through October and November. By the end of 1906, when the Gold Bar Company paid its county taxes, the improvements listed on its property included the hoisting plant and gallows frame, a small engine house, a blacksmith shop, a boarding house, an office building, three Lenox ore cars, and mining tools and equipment. [55]

Gold Bar workings
Illustration 35. View of the Gold Bar workings in June 1906. The old working shaft, site of the discontinued horse whim, is in the foreground, with the new shaft and hoisting plant to the right. The dumps of the Homestake Mine appear in the top right of the picture. Photo courtesy of Nevada Historical Society.

Gold Bar hoisting plant
Illustration 36. Close-up of the new hoisting plant of the Gold Bar in June of 1906. The massive gallows frame and ore bin dominate the foreground, with the engine house behind. Photo courtesy of Nevada Historical Society.

In early January of 1907, the Gold Bar announced that it would definitely build a mill on its property, but no further details were released. In order to help finance the construction, the mine began to ship ore to the newly completed Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad terminus at Rhyolite. Upwards of thirty tons were shipped by the end of February, estimated to be worth $8,000 to $9,000. Work on the water rights in the Grapevine Mountains continued, and the company installed a gasoline-powered pump at the spring to help improve the flow of water. By this time, the Gold Bar and the Homestake mines were together employing so many miners that the men briefly considered splitting off from the Bonanza Miners Union of Rhyolite, and forming their own local.

Two more carloads of high-grade ore were shipped via the Las Vegas & Tonopah in March, and the company received a check from the mill for February's shipment Although the returns from the first shipment were $7,000, less than had been expected, it still represented the best net profit to date of any shipment from the Bullfrog district. The Bullfrog Miner, summarizing the details of over 4,750 feet of development work at the Gold Bar, called the mine "the biggest milling proposition in the state of Nevada today."

When the Rhyolite Stock Exchange opened for its first day of business on March 29th, 1,000 shares of Gold Bar stock were sold for $1.15 each. In spite of the announced mill plans, and the fact that the Gold Bar had started shipping its high-grade ore, the growing realization that the mine was essentially a low-grade operation had steadily driven down prices from the highs of the previous summer. Stock which had opened the year at $1.50 per share had dropped to $1.25 in February and declined further in March.

Despite this decline in stock values, the Gold Bar seemed to have enough money in its treasury, due to shipments of high-grade ore and past stock sales, to press ahead with its mill plans. On June 22, the company announced that it had let a contract to a construction firm for the erection of its mill. The name of the construction firm was the Loftus-Davis Corporation, an ominous sign which went unobserved by the local newspapers. The mill plans called for the crushing of the ore by ten stamps, followed by amalgamation and cyanide treatments. Since the majority of the Gold Bar's ore was free-milling, more sophisticated and costly treatment was not necessary, in the view of the company. Work began for the mill foundations, and the company started laying a pipe line from its spring to the mill site.

Machinery for the mill was ordered, and shipped from the manufacturer in July, and the pipe line was almost complete by the end of August. The annual report of the company showed a total expenditure of $119,000 to date, and Loftus and Davis were re-elected to their posts at the head of the company. Later in August, mill machinery began to arrive via the railroad, while grading work at the millsite continued. Despite the physical evidence that the Gold Bar was evolving from a developing to a producing mine, stock prices continued to fall. $1.15 quotes in late March fell to 80¢ by the middle of May, to 70¢ by the end of July, and to 584: on the first of September. [56]

Work on the mill slowly progressed during the last months of 1907. The Nevada-California Power Company informed the Gold Bar that electric lines could not be extended to its property before March of 1908, so the company was in no great hurry to complete its mill. The underground miners were laid off, since the company felt it had enough ore blocked out to support the mill for several months, but work continued on the surface preparation for the mill. By the first of October, the excavation and grading work was completed, and the men began pouring the concrete foundations. These were finished by the first of November, and the framework of the mill building was begun.

Detailed plans for the mill were finally released to the press in early November. Power would be supplied by a 50-horsepower electric, motor, assisted by the gravity flow of the ore. The mill would have ten stamps, each weighing 905 pounds, for the crushing of the ore. Each stamp would have a 6-inch drop, at the rate of 100 per minute, giving the mill a crushing capacity of forty to fifty tons per day. From the stamps the ore would pass over 120 square feet of amalgamation plates, then into a Huntington mill, and over the plates again, in a surprise move, the company announced that cyanidation had been eliminated from the treatment process--a very unusual omission.

In addition, the Gold Bar began construction of a 50,000 gallon water tank above the millsite. With the ore already developed in the mine, whose main shaft now reached a depth of 600 feet, the company grandly announced that it had "immense reserves of milling ores which will keep the ten-stamp mill busy for years." The Rhyolite Herald also quoted the Gold Bar as stating "that there is enough ore in sight to run a 100-stamp mill at full capacity for two years, in which case there must be close to 400,000 tons blocked out." If the company's figures were true, and the average ore value is placed at a very low estimate of $7 per ton, then the Gold Bar Mine had almost three million dollars worth of gold waiting to be milled, and could look forward to a long and prosperous career. Investors, however, did not seem to believe the figures released by the Gold Bar Company. Stock in the mine continued to decline, from 42¢ at the end of September, to 38¢ at the end of October, and 30¢ by the end of November.

stock certificate
Illustration 37. Stock certificate. Courtesy Dr. Richard Lingenfelter.

Delays also began to plague the company. Although the mill building was completed by the first week of December, and the machinery was being installed, work on the power line was interrupted due to a conflict between the Nevada-California Power Company and the Western Federation of Miners. For an unknown reason, the union would not let any of its miners work for. the power company, and delays continued until a subcontract was let for the construction of the line. In the meantime, the Gold Bar had resumed underground work, in anticipation of the completion of the mill, and all the mill equipment was in place by December 7th, with the exception of the water pumps, which had not yet arrived. By January 10th, 1908, all these irritating delays had been surmounted, and the Gold Bar mill was finally ready to begin operations. Investors took heart, and stock in the company closed the year of 1907 with a brief flurry, rising to 37¢ per share. [57]

On January 11, 1908, the Gold Bar Mill began operations, amid much excitement and anxiety. The worries turned out to be justified, as the mill was forced to shut down within a week, due to excessive leaks in the pipe line. After several weeks of delay to replace the broken pipe, the mill started up again during the first week of February, and on February 22d, the first clean-up was made, resulting in $2,000 worth of gold bullion. The mine announced that this trial run had resulted in a recovery ratio of 86% of the gold content of the ore, and that it planned to treat 35-40 tons of $15 ore per day. President Loftus also announced that the success of the mill and the ore reserves of the mine practically guaranteed that the company would add thirty more stamps to its mill within six months.

Superintendent Bedford brought in another bar of bullion from the mill on the first of March, this one estimated at a value of $3,000 to $4,000. This was the result of two more week's production, which had continued despite reoccurring problems with the pipe line. The pipe delivered from a New Jersey supplier was half rotten, complained the company, and would not stand up under pressure. Despite this problem and others with the intermittent power delivered over the new electric lines, the mill treated an average of forty tons per day in March, with an average gold recovery of $350-$400 per day. The mine, in the meantime, was taking out ore at the rate of forty tons per day, sufficient to keep the mill in steady operation.

Production continued in April. On the 4th of that month, the mine shipped another bar of bullion, estimated at $4,000-$5,000 value, and the mill continued to treat approximately forty tons of ore per day, despite annoying leaks in the pipe line. Rumors circulated that the mine would be forced to replace the entire pipe line in order to solve the water problem, at the cost of considerable delays.

Gold Bar-Homestake camp site
Illustration 38. View of the Gold Bar-Homestake camp site in January of 1908. The recently completed Gold Bar Mill is visible towards the left top, and the very beginnings of foundation work on the Homestake Mill can be seen in the right-top corner. The population of the camp was at its height when this picture was taken, as both the Gold Bar and the Homestake were in periods of production. Note that wooden buildings have replaced the tent houses of earlier years. Photo courtesy of Nevada Historical Society.

Gold Bar Mill and hoist
Illustration 39. Close-up of the Gold Bar Mill and hoist in January of 1908. As usual, the mill was placed as close to the mine as possible in order to reduce costs of transporting ore, and was built on a slope so the force of gravity would help turn the machinery in the 10-stamp mill. Photo courtesy of Nevada Historical Society.

Suddenly, on April 25th, the mine and mill were closed. The company announced that the shut-down was only temporary, in order to refurbish the mine and pipe line. In addition to the water problems, assay reports from the mill tailings indicated that the present treatment process allowed $3.60 per ton of gold to escape with the tailings. Losses of this magnitude obviously could not be tolerated in a low-grade operation. Belatedly, the company seemed to realize that it would have to install the relatively expensive cyanide treatment machinery in order to make a profit. Plans to replace the entire pipe line were also announced, with the New Jersey supplier providing free replacement pipe, and the Gold Bar absorbing the costs of relaying the pipe. 19,000 gallons of water was being pumped at the spring site, but only 9,000 gallons reached the mine. Ominously, the company did not announce a definite date for the beginning of the improvement work. The news hit the Bullfrog District with the force of doom, and Gold Bar stock quickly dropped to 16¢ per share. [58]

With the benefit of hindsight, it suddenly became apparent that something was definitely wrong with the Bullfrog Gold Bar Mining Company, and had been wrong for some time. L. E. Bedford, for example, who had been superintendent of the Gold Bar since 1905, had quietly resigned on March 21st, and left for California. He had told reporters at the time that he had been offered a better job, but now they wondered if he had seen something coming and had got out while the going was good. His departure, at the very time when the Gold Bar was finally beginning to produce, looked strange.

On May 6th, all suspicions were confirmed, as bad news hit town. I. K. Farrington & Company, a New York brokerage firm, announced that the recent decline of the Gold Bar stock was solely due to "the throwing over by a western bank of a large block of Gold Bar, with instructions to sell regardless of market price conditions." Evidently, someone on the inside knew that the Gold Bar was about to fail, and intended to unload. Three weeks later, the Rhyolite Herald reported that over 200,000 shares of the company's stock had been sold, as the dumping continued, and the price sank to 6¢. Loftus and Davis, in the meantime, the principal controllers of the Bullfrog Gold Bar, left for a two-month vacation in Europe, announcing that they would take a look at the Gold Bar problems upon their return.

While the pair were abroad, however, their attorneys were not idle. The Nevada Exploitation Company, an aptly named Goldfield concern, filed suit for an attachment on the assets and property of the Gold Bar Company, in order to recover $36,300 which it had advanced to the Gold Bar to finance the construction of its mill. The owners of the Nevada Exploitation company were Messrs. Loftus and Davis. In essence, Loftus and Davis were thus suing themselves, but if they won, the Gold Bar would become the property of the Nevada Exploitation Company, and all holders of Gold Bar stock would be left holding the bag. Given the fact that Loftus and Davis were controlling partners in both corporations, one could not expect that the Gold Bar Company would be adequately defended in court.

The Rhyolite newspapers smelled fraud of the worst sort, and started screaming. The Herald managed to obtain copies of the company's reports for April and June of 1908, which gave the directors' side of the story. According to Loftus and Davis, the Gold Bar had decided to borrow the money for mill construction from Nevada Exploitation Company (owned by themselves), rather than sell shares of the company's treasury stock. At the time that decision was made, stock in the Gold Bar had declined from a high of over two dollars per share to 40¢. Since they were sure that the mill would prove to be a large success, they felt that, the treasury stock would then rebound to values around $1 each, so it was in the company's best interests to hold on to its stock.

As soon as the mill opened, however, the mine superintendent suddenly reported that the values of ore in the mine were not at all what he had claimed during past years, and the mill was forced to attempt to reduce very low-grade ore. Finding that the mill was losing money, Loftus and Davis then decided to sell the treasury stock, in order to repay the company's debt to the Nevada Exploitation Company Failing in that attempt, with the company treasury depleted and the mill losing money each month, Loftus and Davis had reluctantly come to the decision to close down both mine and mill. Just as reluctantly, they had also been forced to sue themselves in order to recover their money. All in all, the two men claimed, the failure of the Gold Bar Mine was the fault of Superintendent Bedford, who had deceived both themselves and the public for over two years concerning the true value of the ore deposits in the mine. It was no wonder that he had left town.

The Herald however, did not believe a word of it. Bedford had indeed been guilt of deceiving the public, but not of deceiving Loftus and Davis, who obviously were the leaders of the company. Only when Bedford had discovered that Loftus and Davis planned to let him carry all the blame for the company's fraudulent practices had Bedford decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and left town. The Herald could cite too many direct quotes from Loftus and Davis concerning the prospects and values of the Gold Bar to believe that they were innocent. One had only to review the directors' production statements of the last several months to prove that point, for while they were claiming bullion shipments of $4,000 to $8,000 per month, the actual figures released in the official company reports were from $1,500 to $2,000. It was evident to the Herald that Loftus and Davis had intended to defraud the public from the beginning, by loaning themselves money to build a mill, releasing false claims of mill returns, dumping the company's stock on the market, then recovering their loans by foreclosing on the Gold Bar. Thus they would be left with all the profits of the mill returns and the stock sales and would lose no money at all. The public stockholders, however, would lose every penny which they had invested in the Gold Bar Mine since 1905.

Despite the extreme anger of the local newspapers and of stockholders around the nation, the plans of Loftus and Davis were completed with hardly a hitch. The Nevada Exploitation Company won its suit agains the Gold Bar Company, and in December of 1908 the Gold Bar mine and mill were sold to the. Nevada Exploitation Company. Holders of Gold. Bar stock, which had plunged to 3¢ per share, were left with nothing but waste paper in their hands.

Not content with their coup, Loftus and Davis then proceeded to announce a grand reorganization of the Gold Bar. They proposed to reincorporate as the New Gold Bar Mining Company, with a capitalization of 1,000,000 shares, par value $1 each, and offered to sell 600,000 shares in the new company to stockholders of the old, at a special discount rate of 7¢ per share. The money thus raised, they announced, would pay off the debt owed by the Gold Bar to Nevada Exploitation, after which the mine would be free to resume operations. The Rhyolite Herald managed to secure an interview with Loftus and Davis, at which "The merits and demerits of the Gold Bar freeze-out were discussed with considerable animation."

The Herald reporter showed Loftus and Davis a copy of the Gold Bar's official report of the fall of 1907, wherein the company had stated that it had $1,250,000 worth of ore in its mine. The two men insisted that the best estimates had indicated that there was that much ore in the mine, but as soon as the miners began extracting ore for the mill from the fabulous ore ledges, every single one of them disappeared. Loftus and Davis agreed that the simultaneous failure of every ore. body in the mine at the same time was "somewhat extraordinary" but it was "nevertheless true."

The Herald reporter pressed on, citing conflicting reports given to the public via the newspapers and those released at later dates as official company reports. Time and again, Loftus and Davis insisted that there had been no intent to defraud the public. Finally the reporter asked why the company had dumped its treasury stock after it had determined that the mine and mill were a failure and would have to be closed down. "What kind of treatment is that for the public to receive at your hands?" Loftus' reply amply summed up the philosophy of the Gold Bar Company. "I am not the guardian of the public. It is up to the public to decide these things for themselves." When further pressed by the reporter as to the lack of ethics displayed by the company, Loftus reiterated his feelings in the best tradition of the nineteenth-century robber barons--"The public be damned."

All this damning of the actions of Loftus and Davis, of course, could not bring back the Gold Bar. The therapeutic value of being able to identify and condemn a pair of acknowledged villains, however, seemed to be good for the Bullfrog District, and the papers continued to be full of various and sundry attacks upon the motivations, characters, and ancestry of Loftus and Davis. As the attacks continued, the Rhyolite Daily Bulletin reintroduced a factor that everyone seemed to have forgotten in the recent excitement. After digging through past copies of the Rhyolite newspapers, the Bulletin reminded the public that the contract for the construction of the Gold Bar mill had been awarded by the company to the Loftus-Davis Company of Goldfield, and another piece of the puzzle fell into place. It was no wonder, said the Bulletin that the Gold Bar Company had been willing to accept a poorly designed and built mill, with rotten water pipes, a lack of cyanide treatment facilities, and other defects.

The full extent of the fraud now became clear for the first time. Not only had a Loftus-Davis controlled company loaned the Gold Bar the money to build its mill, but the mill had then been built by yet another Loftus-Davis company. How much of the almost $50,000 paid by the Gold Bar to that construction company represented a pure profit? And how did Loftus and Davis have the nerve to sue the Gold Bar to recover the costs of construction, when they had already paid themselves for the actual construction work? The Bulletin's question, of course, went unanswered.

Indeed, Loftus and Davis inexplicably seemed to be unaware of the extreme wave of hatred directed towards them, for they blithely persisted in advertising for investors in their reorganization efforts. Needless to say, their advertisements fell upon barren ground. No one who had been burned by one of Nevada's most complete swindles was willing to suffer again, and the reorganization plans soon fizzled out. Ironically, at about this time, the United States Geologic Survey published its report on the Bullfrog district. "Although a little rich ore has been found" in the Gold Bar Mine; the report stated, 9t is evident that the deposit is to be regarded as a large mass of low-grade material, such as can be worked, if at all, only on a considerable scale and by the most economical methods possible in this district." Economical was one thing which the Gold Bar Company was not. [59]

Although the Gold Bar affair was now finished, it was some time before all the dust settled. Angry stockholders continued to write letters to the Rhyolite newspapers, denouncing the fleecing which they had taken, and Loftus and Davis experimented with several more attempts at reorganization for several months. Neither had any success. More annual reports of the Gold Bar Company were dug out and exposed in the newspapers, including one of June 1906, which stated that the company had over two million dollars of gold ore in sight. Several individuals and companies made feeble efforts towards teasing and reviving the mine, but all failed before they really got started. One thing became abundantly plain--the Gold Bar Mine did not have any paying ore at all. The Nevada Exploitation Company,, however, paid its taxes upon the Gold Bar property in December of 1909, in order to protects its investment in the mill and machinery located on the property, but no work was done upon the ground during that year.

In June of 1910, by which time the Gold Bar Mine had been idle for over two years, the Nevada Exploitation Company announced that its mill buildings and machinery were for sale, but no one seemed interested in purchasing a poorly designed mill. Finally, in February of 1911, the company succeeded in selling the mill to the Round Mountain Mining Company, for transfer to another Nevada mining district. By this time, Loftus and Davis felt safe to show their faces in the Bullfrog district, when they came to close the deal. The two men still insisted that they had been innocent all along, and that the sole cause behind the Gold Bar's problems had been the deceptions practiced by former Superintendent Bedford upon the company and the public. No one believed them, but the Bullfrog District was probably glad to see the Gold Bar mill, a constant reminder of a past failure, shipped away during April.

By this time the Gold Bar Mine had entered that company of failed mines which people will not let rest in peace. Between 1910 and 1919 the Nevada Exploitation Company continued to hold title to the ground and paid county taxes each year. The company even performed the required $100 of labor each year on each claim, in order to avoid still higher taxes. But in 1920, Loftus and Davis finally gave up, quit paying taxes, and the Gold Bar joined its Bullfrog contemporaries on the delinquent tax list of the Nye County Treasurer. [60]

The Gold Bar Mine rested on the county delinquent tax list from 1922 until 1942, with the exception of 1937, when the mine was briefly worked. Then, in 1942, the Gold Bar was purchased from the county (through payment of back taxes) by an individual from California who incorporated himself as the Gold Bar Mining Corporation. Whether for reasons of nostalgia or otherwise, the Gold Bar Mining Corporation still retains title to the mine, dutifully paying county taxes of from $110 to $150 each year. No serious mining endeavors, however, were ever carried out. [61]

The story of the Bullfrog Gold Bar Mining Company is not a pleasing one. It is, however, one that is all too typical of the mining history of the early twentieth century. What started out as a legitimate effort to exploit a high-grade gold deposit turned into a high-grade fraud when its owners figured out that the Gold Bar was a low-grade mine, and was not the sort from which fortunes are made. Like many mining promoters before and since, Loftus and Davis determined to mine the pockets of stockholders when it became evident that mining the ground would not prove profitable. Given the boom spirit and unbounded optimism of the Bullfrog District, which is most typical of mining camps throughout history, it is not altogether surprising that Loftus and Davis were so successful.

As is obvious by now, the Gold Bar mine was never a large producer of gold. I is impossible to determine how much ore was ever taken out of the ground, since the majority of the available figures are those which were released to the press by the company itself. It is doubtful, however, that the Gold Bar ever contributed a significant amount of gold to the coffers of the country. Two things, though, are abundantly clear: the private stockholders of the Gold Bar company never made any money at all, and Loftus and Davis never lost any. How much money those two promoters gained from their various swindles will never be known.

b. Miscellaneous Gold Bars

Like the area around the Original Bullfrog, the ground surrounding the Gold Bar Mine was covered with locations, prospects and mining companies shortly after the initial successes of the Gold Bar Mine were publicized. As usual, most of these companies incorporated the words "Gold Bar" into their titles, staked out ground as close as possible to it, and tried to attract investors. Like the Bullfrog tadpoles, some of these mining companies never actually mined, while a few did. All of them failed.

Chief among these companies who tried to find ore were the Gold Bar Extension, which operated intermittently from June of 1905 to February 1908; the Gold Bar Annex, which existed from February of 1906 to August of 1907; the Original Gold Bar Extension, which ran from April to November of 1906; and the Gold Bar South Extension, with a life-span from April of 1906 to April of 1907. None of these companies ever found any ore, and although a few of them were able to list and sell their stocks for a short period of time, a singular jack of success marks their efforts.

c. Present Status Evaluation and Recommendations

See the Homestake-King section, where it and the Gold Bar mines will be discussed together.

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

Last Updated: 22-Dec-2003