Queho Posse Chapter

E Clampus Vitus

Desert Hills Cemetery, Beatty , NV

November 3, 2007


At the direction of

Noble Grand Humbug

Jumpin’ Gary Buyachek

The brethren of the Queho Posse Chapter 1919,

and all other members of the Ancient and

Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus are called to

a Doins at

Old Man Beatty’s Namesake

The Gateway to Death Valley

The Center of the Bullfrog Mining District

Beatty, Nevada

October 26-28, 6012

Let us always remember

those who have gone before!

On behalf of

Noble Grand Humbug

Jumpin’ Gary Buyachek

Clamphistorian Mark Hall-Patton

presents this history of

Old Man Beatty’s Namesake

The Gateway to Death Valley

The Center of the Bullfrog Mining District

Beatty, Nevada

As part of the October 26-28, 6012, doins of the Queho Posse Chapter 1919

of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus.

Obfuscationist Press


A sort-of History of Beatty and nearby interesting notes

In 1904, Frank “Shorty” Harris and Ernest “Ed” Cross found a good prospect while prospecting in southern Nye County. Their find, named the Bullfrog by "Shorty" Harris because of the notable green color of the ore, led to one of the last great mining booms in Nevada.

The early 20th century was a period of great turmoil in southern Nevada. The great Tonopah rush in 1900, followed by finds in the Goldfield area, had again focused attention on the vast and relatively trackless desert landscape. Senator William Clark of Montana was beginning to put together the railroad which would become the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad and lead to the founding of Las Vegas, but that was still five years away. Southern Nevada, though it had been prospected since the 1860s, still held mineral riches for those who could find them and exploit them.

"Shorty" Harris and Ed Cross were just the people to do so. They both had years of experience in prospecting the desert. They did not hold the desert in fear or awe, but instead saw it as a land that held riches for them to find.

"Shorty" was, as his nickname implies, a short man, about 5’4”. He had come to the desert in 1870 from Rhode Island. His partner in the particular prospecting trip that led to the find that created Beatty was Ed Cross, a young married miner. "Shorty" was an aficionado of the distilled beverage, a garrulous drunk. Ed, on the other had, was a relatively sober prospector, determined to make a go of mining, who had brought his wife to the desert. Ed had previously owned a mine outside of Ballarat, California. He bought the mine in 1897 for $25, and sold it in 1901 for $2,800, which shows he had the right idea.

Ballarat was a boom area in the Mojave Desert which supplied many of the early miners for the Bullfrog boom. Many had gone to Tonopah, following Jim Butler’s fabulous find there in 1900, and three years later to Goldfield. “Shorty” and Ed’s claim would even outshine Tonopah and Goldfield for a time.

It was August 9, 1904, when they found the ore. It was never clear which one first located it, since both “Shorty” and Ed claimed each had, but it was clear that what they found was a major find. They wasted no time in getting it staked, and high-tailing it to Goldfield to get the ore assayed. With results of between $665 and $3,000 a ton for gold, they knew they had really found a motherload.

Unfortunately, “Shorty” was a bit of an imbiber (which is sort of like saying Bill Clinton may have strayed a bit). He promptly got roaring drunk, while Ed Cross lined up a sale of their claim for $10,000. “Shorty” could not be found to sign the papers, so the sale fell through. When “Shorty” did show up somewhat the worse for wear, he found that he had sold his half of the claim for $1,000 to a J. W. McGalliard. It was said that he was so disgusted that he used up the last of his funds from the sale on a few more rounds for his friends.

Ed, however, was not so inclined toward the ‘Oh Be Joyful’ of the era. He worked out a partnership with McGalliard, forming the Original Bullfrog Mines Syndicate. Cross eventually sold his shares in the company for $125,000, taking the money, leaving the desert, and buying a ranch near Escondido, California. “Shorty” went on to prospect the rest of his life around the Death Valley region, making a few more finds but never locating anything as significant as the Bullfrog. He died in 1934, and is buried in Death Valley.

“Shorty” and Ed had decided to try to keep the claim quiet, though they had not staked every bit of the land around their find. This was because “Shorty” believed in giving others a chance at finding something, if it was there to be found. The idea of keeping the claim quiet was, however, not quite possible when “Shorty” was “in his cups.” By the end of the few days of drunken excess, everyone in Goldfield knew about the new find, and men were already leaving the town to try their hand at the new bonanza.

As with all bonanzas, someone has to be the winner. In the case of the Bullfrog district, Bob Montgomery was among those lucky few. He was in Goldfield, having tried his luck at prospecting for a number of years, having started in Ballarat, and then going to Tonopah at the turn of the century. There he had given up mining in return for true love, and become an optician and jeweler. The Goldfield excitement had brought him out of his self-imposed removal from prospecting, and in 1903 he followed the boom there.

Montgomery was among the first to relocate to the Bullfrog area, and left Goldfield in the summer of 1904, on the heels of the Harris/Cross find. He met a Shoshone Indian named Hungry Johnny who took his to some good locations, which he staked as the Shoshone and Indian Johnnie for himself and a partner, Thomas Edwards.

Montgomery went back to Goldfield, and a few weeks later returned to Old Man Beatty’s ranch, where he met Hungry Johnny again. Johnny took him to another site on today’s Montgomery Mountain, and Montgomery staked the Shoshone 2 and 3. Though the ore did not look promising, he had some assayed. It proved to be a disappointing less than $5 per ton.

An old time prospector named Al James offered to show him where to assay, if he was given a part interest in the mine. Montgomery and Edwards agreed, and James showed them an area that assayed at $300 a ton. The mine was in a talc area, but as they dug further into the talc, some eventually assayed at $16,000 a ton. Montgomery proceeded to buy out James for $20,000, and later Edwards for $100,000. He brought in another partner, Malcolm Macdonald, for $100,000 to pay Edwards, but retained majority control.

The Shoshone became the great mine of the district. New communities began in the area, including Rhyolite, Amargosa, Bullfrog, Bonanza, Gold Center, and, in 1905, a new community near Old Man Beatty’s ranch named, appropriately enough, Beatty. It was this latter which had a ready source of the most important substance needed for a successful desert community, water.

Rhyolite was the most successful, at first, of these new communities. It was the closest to the Shoshone, and did have water available. As soon as it was laid out, the residents of Bonanza picked up their town, pretty much lock, stock and building, and moved it to Rhyolite. Interestingly, the first death in the new Bullfrog mining district occurred during the relocation of Bonanza, when a spectator in Rhyolite had a heart attack while watching the buildings being moved and died.

The district was “puffed” or promoted by none other than George Graham Rice, a well-known conman who was quite successful in promoting Rhyolite and the surrounding mines, to his own benefit. He claimed he brought in Charles Shwab, who had made his money in steel and later in stock deals.

The rush was a great success for a few years, with Rhyolite booming to, by some estimates, 10,000 residents. The nearby town of Beatty was not without its supporters, though. It was in a heated race with Bullfrog to be the second most important community in the district.

One of the odder incidents in the race was the creation of newspapers for both towns with the same name. Las Vegas resident C. W. Nicklin created the Bullfrog Miner for Beatty, but only got out one issue in early March 1905 while waiting for his actual printing outfit to arrive. Frank Mannix, a former Colorado newspaperman was employed by the Bullfrog Townsite Company to create a newspaper, and decided that the name sounded like a good one. His Bullfrog Miner started publication on March 31, 1905, since no further issues had been printed of the previous Bullfrog Miner.

Nicklin, however, got his printing outfit, and started his Bullfrog Miner in earnest the first week of April, and for a month and a half there were two Bullfrog Miners. Mannix claimed his was the first, and Nicklin claimed his was the first, and the local residents called them Number 1 and Number 2, though it wasn’t always clear which was which. Nicklin finally ended the debate by renaming his the Beatty Bullfrog Miner. Nicklin was able to get his rival banned from the mails for a short time, but his crowning achievement in the war between the two communities was the creation of the famous bullfrog shaped map of the Bullfrog Mining District. It showed Beatty at the heart of the district, with Bullfrog and Rhyolite in the armpit of the frog.

Beatty quickly outshone Bullfrog, and by the end of 1905 Bullfrog had lost its luster. Rhyolite continued to be the largest town in the district with 6,000 recorded residents in 1907. In 1906 Bob Montgomery sold out his Montgomery Shoshone Mine to Charles Shwab. Shwab invested in the mine, sold stock, and looked for a good return. He was not a starry-eyed investor, though. He set up the payments that he was repaid for all loaned moneys before any stockholder was paid. As it worked out, this was prescient, since the mine closed in 1911. Schwab had taken over $400,000 out in profits to repay his loans, and eventually sold the equipment for another $100,000, which he also retained. His investors were not as successful.


Bob Montgomery, however, had done well. He was the father of the town of Beatty, in addition to his success with the Montgomery Shoshone Mine. He filed the first plat map of the community, hosted the first Thanksgiving celebration, and built the Montgomery Hotel, a fine hotel which was the talk of the region.

However, by February 1906, Montgomery sold his Beatty interests to Charles Shwab as well, continuing to follow the elusive gold. He eventually was in at the founding of Skidoo, named by his wife from the popular phrase 23-Skidoo, which was the last of the Death Valley area boomtowns. He eventually died in 1955 in New Mexico at the age of 91, still claiming he was putting together a new “deal.”

Shwab sold his interests in Beatty to Dr. William S. Phillips in 1907, after the arrival of the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad. Phillips was a con man, who, after the arrival of a second railroad, the Bullfrog Goldfield, quickly promoted all the new building he was going to be doing by putting up signs on lots saying what buildings were going to be built there. After selling as many lots as he could, he skipped town, leaving the new investors in the community holding the bag.

Beatty did not die, though. Surviving Shwab’s indifference, and Phillips’ con-artistry, the small community still had a ready source of water, and now two railroads serving it. Within a short time a third railroad, the Tonopah and Tidewater reached the town as well. Each railroad rated a celebration, but it was the first, Senator William Clark’s Las Vegas and Tonopah, that rated the Railroad Days celebration of October 22-23, 1906, just over 101 years ago from this doins. It was a great community celebration, and meant that Beatty was “on the map”.

{A little side note on Senator William Clark. He was the namesake of Clark County, Nevada, a major player with mining interests throughout Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Montana, a railroad builder, and perhaps the most corrupt United States Senator in history. He bought his Senatorial seat through donations to the Governor of Montana, and was noted for his willingness to bribe anyone who needed bribing to get his interests moved forward. He did not consider himself corrupt, however. As he once stated, “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale!”}

1908 saw the death of Beatty’s namesake, Montillon or Montillus “Old Man” Beatty. He had come to the area about 1890, and had acquired the Lander Ranch, now the Beatty Ranch, in 1896. He was a Union veteran from Iowa who was in the Civil War in Company I of the 2nd Iowa Infantry. He was injured and discharged. When the town that bears his name received a Post Office on January 19, 1905, he served as Postmaster, continuing in the job until March 24, 1906, at which time he resigned his position and sold his ranch. It was perhaps an interesting role for him, since he could not read and could only sign his name. None-the-less, he was Beatty’s first postmaster.

Beatty was now the hub for three railroads and the Bullfrog Mining District, but great growth was not in its future. With the closure of the Montgomery Shoshone in 1911, the fate of Rhyolite and the district was sealed. The Beatty Bullfrog Miner, the winner in terms of longevity with the rival Bullfrog Miner newspaper, was closed in 1909. Rhyolite quickly failed, and by 1924, the old depot in Rhyolite was purchased by N. C. “Wes” Westmoreland.

Planning to turn it into a casino, Westmoreland began cleaning out the building, which had been closed for some years. He found the carcass of a cow in one of the restrooms, where it had died and been mummified by the desert air. Beatty residents just joked that it had missed the last train out of the town.

In Beatty itself, the rail connections were also closing with the end of active mining. The Las Vegas and Tonopah was closed in 1918, with the rails being pulled up the following year. The Bullfrog Goldfield, which had not begun track laying until May 1906, was never a success. It reached Beatty on April 25, 1907, but by June of 1908 the Tonopah and Tidewater had taken over operations of the line, and the BG was part of the T & T. This lasted for six years, though the BG had lost its identity with the local population, which called the entire route the T & T.

By 1914, however, there was a new wrinkle. The BG was merged with the LV & T, and the T & T was paid off for some of its investments in the BG. This lasted until after World War I, when the Las Vegas and Tonopah again sold off the BG entity, this time to a New York investment group, Althouse and La Grande. After one trip over the B & G route, Mr. Althouse said he planned to sell off the assets of the railroad and pay off the debts of the new acquisition, and then distribute any proceeds left among stockholders. An attempt to sell the railroad to local residents resulted in the Tonopah and Tidewater taking over the railroad yet again. This lasted until January 1928, when the line was finally closed for good. For a railroad that historian David Myrick called, “Without a doubt … Nevada’s most unwanted railroad,” it lasted longer than anyone would have thought possible.

For all this, Beatty was still the best place in the area for roads. It had steady water, and interest in the Death Valley region continued among some tourists. It held on and provided services for construction crews working on Scotty’s Castle, and any travelers in the area. Mining did continue into the 1920s, most notable at the J Irving Crowell’s Flourspar mine. Flourspar is a mineral used in steel production, and the mine produced until 1989.

Another mining operation in the Beatty area was the reopening of the town of Carrara. Carrara had originally been founded to exploit a marble deposit in the hills above the town. Taking its name from the Italian marble quarry, Carrara grew up in the 1911-1917 period to be a notable small community, with its own newspaper, the Carrara Obelisk. The marble quarry was not a success, but the small town of Carrara was notable for having a water fountain in the middle of town that was claimed to be the only one in the state. Carrara was revived in 1928 by G. Ray Boggs when gold ore was found where his wife told him to dig. Boggs made enough from this investment to, among other things, start the first Nevada Airlines. Flying Lockheeds, it was billed as the “fastest airline in the United States,” but with the stock market crash of 1929, Carrara, and Nevada Airlines, both closed. Attempts to revive the area in the early 1930s also failed to materialize.

One other major product that was produced in the area around Beatty during the 1920s was booze. Many bootleggers found the isolation to their advantage, and using local springs and other water sources, produced for sale and consumption throughout the area. The Exchange Club, originally built in 1906 by George Greenwood, served visitors and travelers. Through later owners, it provided provisions and libations for generations of visitors to Beatty.

In the 1920s, a new family arrived in Beatty who was to be have a significant impact on the community. These were the Reverts. Albert Revert, who had grown up in Virginia City, came to the town in 1929. He and his family decided to stay, buying the old Beatty Ranch, and property in town. Today, the Revert family still has a major role in the community.

Other businesses were built and grew with the small town. During the 1930s, the town held on, and with the coming of World War II. Electricity reached Beatty in 1940, the same year the Tonopah and Tidewater finally stopped running. In 1940, the area population, including the town of Beatty, was only 450. After the T & T stopped running Beatty received its first telephone service. Even so, by the late 1940s only two phones were in town, one at Azbill’s Store and one at Brownie’s Store. While the center of the district, Beatty was still relatively isolated.

With the growth of Las Vegas as a gaming and tourist destination, and the development of the test site, Beatty grew after World War II. Never large, it did provide a needed stop for workers at the Nevada Bombing Range, later the Nevada Test Site, the Tonopah Army Air Field, and for tourists looking to visit the Death Valley National Monument and Scotty’s Castle. Death Valley Scott’s far-famed example of what the gift of gab can do for a cowboy brought many tourists through the community. With Scotty’s death in 1954, the town lost a true friend.

In recent years, the town has continued to serve the traveling public. The 1950s saw the Nevada Test Site have a tremendous impact. By the 1980s, new ways of processing gold ore reopened areas around Beatty for mining, some of which are still active. A community celebration in the 1960s and 1970s, which included wild burro races, brought many visitors, as do Beatty Days celebration today.

The community is still small, but it is still the gateway to Death Valley, and a great site for the October 6012 doins of the Queho Posse.

What sayeth the Brethren?



A Beatty Bibliography, for literate Clampers, and others who may be interested

Caruthers, William, Loafing Along Death Valley Trails; A Personal Narrative of People and Places, 1951, Death Valley Publishing Company

Chapman, Robert H., The Deserts of Nevada and Death Valley, in National Geographic Magazine, September 1906

Jarvis, Susan, and McCracken, Robert D., Bibliography of the Histories of Nye and Clark Counties, Nevada, 1992, Nye County Press

Labbe, Charles, Rocky Trails of the Past, 1960, C. H. Labbe

Lehman, Anthony L., edit., By Buckboard To Beatty; The California-Nevada Desert in 1886, 1970, Dawson’s Book Shop

Lingenfelter, Richard E., Death Valley and the Amargosa; A Land of Illusion, 1986, University of California Press

McCracken, Robert, Beatty; Frontier Oasis, 1992, Nye County Press

McCracken, Robert, A History of Beatty Nevada, 1992, Nye County Press

Murbarger, Nell, Ghosts of the Glory Trail, 1956, Desert Magazine Press

Myrick, David F., Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Vol. II: The Southern Roads, 1992, University of Nevada Press

Perkins, George E., Pioneers Of The Western Desert, 1947, Wetzel Publishing Co.

Pulsipher, John Lewis, The Life and Travels of John Lewis Pulsipher 1884-1963, 1970, V. O. Young

Weisser, John, Montgomery, Nevada, 2006, Jack Williams Publishing Company, limited 1st edition of 100 copies

The Greybeards and Officers of the Queho Posse want to thank Claudia Reidhead, Suzy McCoy, the Beatty Museum, and the people of Beatty for their help in making this doins possible.

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