Thursday

Ghost Town of Gold Butte at Gold Butte

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This page last updated on 04/22/2017

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(Fig. 01)
Gold Butte Town Site 2
(Fig. 02)
Townsite Description: Leaving the I-15 from exit 112, the Gold Butte Townsite is located at the end of Gold Butte Road, about 50 miles south of the highway. The town was originally known for the mining of mica and was typical in that it resembled the layout of most other mining boom towns of the era. However, even with the discovery of some gold in 1905, it was as short-lived as many other mining camps of that period. Initially the town consisted of only a few permanent buildings and a miner’s tent camp. As news of the discovery of gold spread, a post office opened on March 19, 1906. Within a short time the town had its own hotel and the population grew to between 1,500 and 2,000 people during the mining boom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before people began to move out as fast as they had originally rushed in. By the end of 1910 the mining activity slowed down to a trickle and the post office closed on February 28, 1911. Shortly after the town was dismantled and its many desert scarce building materials were shipped to St. Thomas, Nevada.

Today, not much is left from what once was the Gold Butte Mining District. Apart from some mines and a few structural foundations, fencing, scattered junk such as kitchen appliances, and the cemetery are about all that remains of the town site today (Fig. 02). The two headstones in a small fenced off cemetery are for two cowboys who moved there in 1916. One of them was William Garrett, cousin of Pat Garrett, who shot Billy the Kid. The other was Arthur Coleman. They were partners in several enterprises, including some cattle ranching and prospecting, and had their own distillery. It is said that they rather enjoyed their homemade moonshine. Both lived at the town site until their deaths, Coleman in 1958 and Garrett in 1961.
                                
Mining History: Some historians believe that Spanish explorers camped in the region in the 1730's and crushed gold and silver ore, long before others sought riches here. The discovery of vermiculite sheet mica in 1873 by a Mormon pioneer named Daniel Bonelli became the start of what was eventually known as the Gold Butte Mining District. However it wasn’t until 1905, when gold was discovered in the area, that a town began to grow. There are more than 40 claims on Gold Butte alone which have historically taken gold in some amount. The reality was that people found gold in the surface of the Gold Butte area and moved into it without realizing there would not be much gold beyond the surface. The fact was that more copper than gold was mined here during the mining district’s heyday. As a result the town site never really grew into a full-fledged town. The Lincoln and Old Tramp Mines located north of the town produced a high-grade copper ore. Small amounts of copper and zinc were shipped from the District up to 1918, and there is evidence that minor gold production continued in the District through 1941. During this period, mule teams (plus horses and oxen) were used to pull ore wagons to the rail spur located at St. Thomas. Unfortunately, none of these mines are still in operation today. Click here to learn more about the Gold Butte Mining District ... Gold Butte Mining District.
                            
Gold Butte Correl 2
(Fig. 03)
01/09/2015 Trip Notes: On our way to the Gold Butte Townsite, we stopped at Buffington Pockets and the Devil’s Throat. Just north of the townsite there is an area that contains a coral (Fig. 04) with several watering troughs and tanks (Figs. 05 & 06), one of which appeared to be still in use. We actually mistook this area (Fig. 03) for the townsite until we drove a little further down the road later on. Hiking behind this area we found several instances of buried piping that ran down a wash towards a couple of water storage tanks and the coral area. Again refer to the map in (Fig 03). It appears that someone may have tapped into a spring near the base of the mountains for water to sustain the livestock that was once being raised here. We also found an old truck bed (Fig. 07), a foundation surrounded by several mattress springs that appeared to have been a bunkhouse (Fig. 08), and some other odd and end reminders of the past (Figs. 09 & 10).
                                                   
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(Fig. 04)
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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
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(Fig. 07)
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(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 09)
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(Fig. 10)
After hiking this area we continued on down Gold Butte Road for about a mile to the actual townsite (Fig. 02). The first thing we noticed were the two large concrete foundations  in the center of the area (left side of Fig. 01). Off to the right was a large steel hopper (Fig 11), that looked out of place. We think it was brought down from the milling area up behind the town. On the west end of town we found a small, yet quite deep mine shaft that was covered with steel grating to prevent anyone from falling in (Fig 12). Hiking to the east we spotted a small cemetery (Fig. 13) which contained two headstones; one for William H. Garrett, 1880-1961, and a one for Arthur S. Coleman, 1876-1958. We then followed a trail leading south out of town toward the mountains. This led us through a large boulder field of monzogranite (Fig. 14), a rough conglomerate rock consisting of large quartz and other crystals. Monzogranites are biotite granite rocks that are considered to be the final fractionation product of magma. It is formed from molten rock under great pressure and deep under the surface of the earth. Over time, arid conditions and flash floods have washed away protective, overlying ground layers. As they were exposed, huge eroded boulders settled on top of one another, creating the massive rock piles we see today.

We spent the next hour hiking and exploring these hills. We were rewarded with locating the old milling site and no less than five mine adits and shafts. From what I have been able to gather, this area was known as the Gold Butte Mine. Even though some of them were caved in (Fig. 19), preventing entry, we still found several that we were able to enter and explore (Figs. 15-18). In comparing what we found here with pictures found on the Internet that were taken by others a few years ago, one thing is evident. More and more of this town has either deteriorated or been carted away over the past several years.
                                    
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(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 12)
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(Fig. 13)
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 15)
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(Fig. 16)
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(Fig. 17)
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(Fig. 18)
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(Fig. 19)