The Bullfrog Mining District

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MAP - Bullfrog Mining District-2
(Fig. 01)
Area Description: Though I have been unable to find a map with any definitive boundaries, a topographic map of the most important part of the Bullfrog district, covering an area 7.25 miles from east to west and 2.9 miles from north to south, was made in 1905 by topographer William Stranahan, topographer. This map showed the town of Beatty near its eastern margin and included the Original Bullfrog mine on the west. A later map (Fig. 01), defined the Bullfrog Mining District to include a broader area, from the vicinity of Beatty west of US Highway 95 and the region near the old towns of Bullfrog, Rhyolite and Pioneer, 8 miles northeast of Rhyolite and Bullfrog. It adjoined the Fluorine District on the west. The district covers all of the Bullfrog Hills and also includes properties in the adjoining part of the Grapevine Mountains.

History of the Bullfrog Mining District: Gold was first discovered in the Bullfrog District in the summer of 1904. The district and the town of Bullfrog were established after famous prospectors Shorty Harris and Ed Cross discovered gold and opened the Original Bullfrog Mine. His initial finds were high-grade surface ore assayed at $700 per ton. Spurred by dreams of untold riches, prospectors once again blanketed the mountains and deserts.dreaming of becoming another Virginia City. This excitement of the discovery led to the development of several small mining towns in the area. Beatty billed itself as the most prosperous camp in the Bullfrog Mining District and quickly became a capitol of the Bullfrog Mining District. In the meantime, the entire tent town of Original (also called Amargosa,) which was located near the original Bullfrog mine, moved to the Bullfrog town site in March, 1905. However, at the same time, the nearby town of Rhyolite was also being established, which quickly caused a fierce competition between the two communities.

Spurned by the discovery of a nice ore chute in 1904 on the Shoshone, or the Montgomery as it is better known, Rhyolite soon became the metropolis of the Bullfrog District. Between 1905 and 1910, the game of “speculation” was played to perfection by various and sundry miners and promoters in the Bullfrog District, as 90 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, and most, but not all, were within the boundaries of the Bullfrog District. In no time at all, there were over 2000 claims covering a 30 mile area surrounding the Bullfrog Mining District. Within no time the town boasted about 1,000 people, a two-story hotel, a jail, post office, another three-story hotel, a lodging house, a general store, a bank, and an icehouse, as well as a number of other businesses and homes.  Making matters worse for the fledgling mining camp of Bullfrog were a number of fatal gunfights. As Rhyolite continued to grow, Bullfrog declined and by 1907 it was nearly empty, with many of its buildings being moved to Rhyolite.
During the same period, Beatty eventually secured three railroads into town and became the supply mecca of the Bullfrog Mining District. 

Up to the end of the year 1906, work in the district was confined mainly to prospecting and to blocking out ore. Prior to the beginning of that year the Montgomery-Shoshone, it is said, shipped about 100 tons of rich ore, the Original Bullfrog about 13 tons, and the Denver about 1,000 sacks. Small shipments were made in 1906 also from the Montgomery-Shoshone, Skookum-Bullfrog, Gibraltar, and Tramps groups of mines, but the amount was not recorded. During 1907 the production was 9,050 tons of ore, containing $132,428 in gold, $74,991 in silver, $112 in copper, and $7 in lead, a total of $207,538.
At the height of the ‘Bullfrog’ mining boom there were over 100 mines in operation within the Bullfrog Mining District. Unfortunately, the majority of these mines never produced anything or real value, and for the few that did, they were short-lived. With the completion of the railways the Bullfrog district began the shipment of ore and by the end of November, 1907, the Montgomery-Shoshone mine started producing ore and concentrates at the rate of about $150,000 a month, gross value, though this dropped by more than half in 2008. Refer to the section below titled Montgomery-Shoshone Mine.  Even so, by September of 2008, the Bullfrog District ranked as the third largest producer in Nevada, trailing only Goldfield and Tonopah. In the four short years between 1907 and 1910, the Bullfrog District produced $1,687,792 worth of ore  doing its part, along with the other small camps and the bonanzas of Goldfield and Tonopah, in pulling Nevada out of its three-decade economic slump.
Of the hundreds of mines and dozens of mining camps played a part in the Bullfrog District, several significant remnants can be found at some of the locations, while others have totally reverted back to their natural desert landscape. After living for years in the shadow of Rhyolite, its larger neighbor to the west, Beatty finally came into its own by the late 20s, after the gold ran out and turned Rhyolite into a ghost town. Today, Beatty is the only surviving town of the original Bullfrog Mining District.
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Montgomery-Shoshone Mine:
The Montgomery-Shoshone Consolidated Mining Company, with
offices in New York, owned most of the issued stock of the Montgomery-Shoshone Mines Company, the Shoshone-Polaris Mining Company, and the Crystal-Bullfrog Mining Company.The property comprised fourteen contiguous claims, covering in all about 178 acres. The consolidation also included the Bullfrog Reduction and Water Company and the Goss and Davis ranches, north of Beatty, with their water rights. The diagram in (Fig. 02) showing the principal workings of the Montgomery-Shoshone mine gives you an idea of how large this mine was. By far the most important mine in the Bullfrog district, the Montgomery-Shoshone is situated 1 mile northeast of Rhyolite, in the pass between Montgomery Mountain and Black Peak. The workings lie on the southeast side of the Montgomery-Shoshone fault and are mainly in rhyolite. The main shaft is 600 .feet deep and is connected with about 9,000 feet of drifting. Some of the mines shafts were up to 1,000 feet in length with average depths of 4-500 feet. Built in 1907, the Montgomery-Shoshone mill (Fig. 03) was a concentration-cyanidation mill. It treated about 6,000 tons of ore per month which averaged $10 to $12 per ton and carried a silver to gold ration of about 12:1. The milling costs averaged about $2.25 per ton. The ore was hoisted by cage and tram.
Shoeshone Mine Shafts
(Fig. 02)
Montgomery-shoshone mill
(Fig. 03)
Update: Barrick Bullfrog Mine: Mining in and around Rhyolite after 1920 consisted mainly of working old tailings until a new mine opened in 1988 on the south side of Ladd Mountain.
Note: Tailings, a.k.a. mine dumps, culm dumps, slimes, tails, refuse, leach residue or slickens, are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable fraction from the uneconomic fraction (gangue) of an ore. Tailings are distinct from overburden, which is the waste rock or other material that overlies an ore or mineral body and is displaced during mining without being processed. Depending upon the ore and the process, the amount of tailings can be large. For years I have been calling the extracted materials lying directly in front of a mine's tailings. The correct terminology for these is overburden.  
A company known as Bond Gold built an open-pit mine and mill at the site, about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Rhyolite along State Route 374. LAC Minerals acquired the mine from Bond in 1989 and established an underground mine there in 1991 after a new body of ore called the North Extension was discovered. (LAC Minerals was a Canadian mining company established in 1981 with extensive mineral holdings in North America and South America. They specialized in mining precious metals, but also had copper and lead-zinc mines. In 1994 they were purchased by Barrick Gold Corporation.)

Barrick Gold Corporation is the largest gold mining company in the world. Barrick Gold acquired LAC Minerals in 1994 and continued to extract and process ore at what became known as the Barrick Bullfrog Mine until the end of 1998. The mine used a chemical extraction process known as vat leaching involving the use of a weak cyanide solution. The process, like heap leaching, makes it possible to process ore profitably that otherwise would not qualify as mill-grade. Over its entire life, the mine processed about 2,800,000 short tons of ore and produced about 690,000 ounces of gold, roughly $200 million dollars.

                                               Ghost Town of Rhyolite Nevada