Dedicated May 22, 2010 (6015)
Under the ascended leadership of
Noble Grand Humbug
"Mystic" Dick Turgeon,
The Redshirts of the Queho Posse Chapter 1919, and others of the Ancient and Honorable Order of
E Clampus Vitus
Gather to review the history of the community of
As related by
Clamphistorian Mark "The Expert" Hall-Patton, XNGH, DS-3,
Scribe of St. Vitus
For their doins on April 23-25, 6015
When the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad's route was being surveyed across southern Nevada, the need for a stop near the mining area around Goodsprings, Nevada, was clear. Goodsprings was booming, with gold, silver, and other metals being extracted from their hidden geological sites around the community.
To accommodate the shipment of ore from the Goodsprings region, a siding was planned as near to the community as possible. This was called Goodsprings Junction, which showed clearly the focus of the stop. Goodsprings itself was the center of the Yellow Pine Mining District. It was a growing district, with growth in the active mines in the district.
The town of Goodsprings was founded in 1899. With the coming of the SP, LA, and SL only about seven miles distant, the need for a siding on the new railroad was obvious. The railroad started building through the area in 1904, and by February 1905 had reached the site of Goodsprings Junction.
Samuel Yount, an early resident of the Goodsprings region and operator of a general merchandise store in Goodsprings, had a nephew who was in the freighting business. George Fayle, upon hearing about the new junction on the railroad being built, decided to relocate from Calico, California (where he had been hauling ore from the mines to the nearest siding at Daggett), and try his hand in Goodsprings Junction.
This was in 1904. Before Fayle's arrival, Goodsprings Junction had only one store, operated by Sam Yount. When Sam Yount convinced Fayle to start his own store, it allowed Sam to move to Goodsprings itself and concentrate on his role as postmaster of Goodsprings and operator of his store there. The Younts had gotten their start in the cattle business by buying the cattle of Joseph Good, who was the namesake of Goodsprings.
George Fayle moved his family, nine horses and two freight wagons to the new town of Goodsprings Junction. With support from his Uncle, Fayle began building his operation in the small siding community.
Fayle knew that the new siding was significantly closer to many of the area mining districts than the previously closest siding, that of Manvel in California, a site today known as Barnwell. Goodsprings Junction was two days closer, an important consideration when the difference between a producing mine and a worthless site was often the distance to mill facilities and rail facilities. Fayle saw an opportunity, and took advantage of it.
By the time the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake at reached Goodsprings Junction in February 1905, Fayle had built not only a corral for his horses, but also a store (albeit in a tent) and underground storage for such delicate necessities as dynamite and perishable foods. The small community applied for a post office, and was told that since Goodsprings already had a post office, Goodsprings Junction would have to change its name.
What to do? Well, George Fayle did not have to look far for inspiration. His wife, Jean Fayle, provided the inspiration for a new name, which was acceptable to the postal authorities. And Jean, Nevada, was born.
Jean grew slowly. By April of 1907, George Fayle and Sam Yount had built the first hotel in the town. It's opening on the evening of April 10 was considered quite the festive occasion. An article in the Las Vegas Age related,
The first part of the evening was given to dancing, graphaphone [sic] selections and recitations. A Bounteous Spread was served in the dining room, after witch song and music filled the house until early morn, when all departed wishing host and hostess a prosperous future.
Jean continued to be the focus for the mines in the Goodsprings and Sandy Valley areas and new business moved into the town. Stages and freighters connected the town with other mining areas, including Pahrump and Eldorado Canyon. Beginning in 1908, the Mine Owner's and Operators Association of Nelson, Nevada, in Eldorado Canyon, agitated for a new road which would connect the canyon directly to Jean, and the railroad there, rather than having to go to Searchlight and use the Searchlight and Barnwell Railroad. Though moneys were raised, it was never a successful alternative.
The next big impetus to growth in Jean was the building of the Yellow Pine Mining Company railroad from Goodsprings to Jean. This was a narrow-gauge railroad, which used track, ties, and rolling stock from the old Quartette Mine railroad from Searchlight. It was a tricky line for the engineers, because the grade down from Goodsprings was quite steep for a railroad, and on a couple of occasions, the engines jumped the tracks.
The Yellow Pine Mining Company railroad ran from 1911 until about 1931. The rails were removed in 1934, but the right-of-way can still be seen along the road from Jean to Goodsprings.
In 1912, George Fayle, who had been involved with so much of the growth of jean, moved to Goodsprings, where he eventually built the Pioneer Saloon in 1913 and the Fayle Hotel in 1916. The Saloon was his first independent venture without partnering with his Uncle Samuel Yount, and continues to serve the people of Goodsprings and traveling public event today. It was recognized by the Queho Posse Chapter of E Clampus Vitus as an historic site in 2001.
George's wife, Jean, continued to operate the store, hotel, post office and other Fayle business interests in Jean until 1914, when she too move to Goodsprings. Though the post office of which she was the namesake continued to list George as postmaster at this time, she was the de facto postmistress, running the post off in the community name for her.
In 1914, efforts were being made to build an "all-weather" highway from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. The preferred route, which became known as the Arrowhead Trail Highway, ran through Jean, and automobiles became a part of the community's life. An article in the Goodsprings Gazette on March 6, 1920, characterized the small community as
… a mining supply and shipping point, with a large general store, warehouse, post office, hotel, saloon, and a dozen dwelling houses.
1917 saw the building of a sampling mill at jean, which allowed prospectors and miners to get their ores milled. J. B. Jensen built it. According to an article in the Las Vegas Age, March 3, 1917,
The operating of this new enterprise will be not only a great convenience to many properties now shipping ore, but will be of assistance to those who are working to open up new properties and prospects. The miner will be able to sell his ore in any quantity, large or small, and receive a settlement almost at once. Each parcel of ore will be run through the mill separately, reduced to a pulp, thoroughly mixed to make the consistency uniform, and samples of the product assayed. These assays will form the basis on which the sampler will settle for the ore, paying for the same without the delay which has always ensued when ore is shipped by the miner direct to the smelter. For this reason, the operator which a small capital, who is taking out only a small amount of ore will be able to turn his product into immediate cash and thereby keep his operations going on. In the past it has frequently been the case that the owner of a new property would be obliged to discontinue work wand discharge his men while waiting for weeks to receive returns on his shipment of ore.
Though this operation did run for a while, it was evidently not a long-term success, as it quickly faded from the historical record.
In the mid-1920s, an experiment by the federal government led to jean being place on the aviation map of the United States. In order to increase the speed and safety of flying, a series of night airway beacons, or searchlights, with attached fourteen-foot long concrete arrows pointing north, were built along the federal Contract Air Mail Routes. Contract Air Mail Route Four, from Los Angeles to Salt Lake city by way of Las Vegas, ran directly over Jean. Because of its location, a beacon and arrow combination was built at Jean, as well as an emergency landing field, the predecessor of the Jean Sport Aviation Center today. The beacon was removed many years ago, but the arrow is still visible somewhere in the vicinity of the airfield.
The impact of the highway, which became Highway 91, the now "old road" to Las Vegas, continued to grow. The community served travelers along the highway. During World War II, Jean became the site of strategic mineral stockpiles. Because of the value of the minerals and metals produces at Goodsprings, it was decided to create stockpiles there at Jean. The metals Reserve Company, run by Frank Mead, oversaw the stockpiles, which were basically large piles of ore.
The ore was located on the west of the Union Pacific right of way in Jean. By February 1944, it consisted of, as reported in Alan Patera's monograph on the Goodsprings area,
High grade lead-zinc ore, in a pile 80 X 25- ft., 7.5 ft. high. Medium and low grade lead-zinc ore, stored in a trapezoid shape, 198 ft. long, 136 ft. wide at one end and 108 ft. wide at the other, 10 ft. high. Yellow Pine Jig tailings, 70 X 115 ft., 9 ft. high. Argentina Slime tails, irregular in shape, maximum width 195 ft, four ft. deep.
In 1939, Sam McClanahan started a service station in Jean, that he operated until he sold out to Peter A. "Pop" Simon, a man who was to transform Jean.
Simon was a Lebanese immigrant who came to America in 1898 at the age of 15. He initially moved to Arizona, working in the Crown Mine. Within a short time, he began purchasing his own claims and had a mining operation with eleven employees.
He moved north to Nevada, becoming, among other things, one of the first passengers on William Andrews Clark's Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad when it began operation in 1906. He began selling produce in Goldfield after this trip, but mining was in his future.
Simon got involved in a poker game in the mining community of Mina. Seventy-two hours later, he had won enough that he began investing in mining claims. Eventually he owned mines in a number of areas, but most notably Simon, Nevada, where he owned the Simon Silver-Lead Mining Company and others.
Simon never lost sight of Clark County, and eventually bought the Techatticup Mine in Eldorado Canyon. In 1929 he began building an airport well east of downtown Las Vegas, originally called Simon Field. This airport venture proved fortuitous when Leigh Hunt bought Rockwell Field, the original airfield in Clark County (which was located approximately where the parking lot is behind the Sahara Hotel is today), and Western Air Express had to relocate. The airline leased the field, renaming it Western Air Express Field. This field was purchased by the City of Las Vegas in 1941, renamed McCarran Airport, and turned over to the Army Air Corps for use as a Flexible Gunnery School. Today, we know this small airfield at Nellis Air Force Base.
In 1942, Simon bought out McClanahan's interest in his service station in Jean. Seeing an opportunity, Simon began moving buildings from the Techatticup and Goldfield to the small highway and railroad stop, creating a resort which would become known as "Pop's" Oasis in 1947. This eventually consisted of a service station, motel, store, and eventually casino. Jean had entered a new phase in its history.
"Pop's" Oasis was noted for one artifact which sat outside the buildings. This was a large traction engine. The engine had originally been purchased by the Pacific Coast Borax Works in Death Valley, as one of three which were to be used to transport borax across the desert floor.
When one blew up, the other two were retired and put up for sale. One was purchased by the then owners of the Techatticup Mine in Eldorado Canyon. It was shipped by rail, traveling over the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad to Barnwell, and then over the Barnwell and Searchlight Railroad to Searchlight, Nevada, where it was off loaded. Unfortunately, no one knew how to run it, and it sat for a time in Searchlight.
Eventually Ike Alcock, a long-time miner and jack of all trades in Eldorado Canyon agreed to give it a try. He got the engine running, and steamed along at the blazing speed of 3 ½ miles per hour over the old road between Searchlight and Eldorado Canyon, eventually driving the engine to the mill site at Eldorado, under the water at Nelson's Landing today. After he turned the engine over to the mine owners, presumable showing them how to operate the somewhat finicky machine, they discovered it did not have enough energy to make it up the canyon to the mine and back with a load. Accordingly, it was abandoned at the mill site until "Pop" Simon acquired the mine, and eventually had it trucked to Jean. Today this engine sits in the backyard of Dr. Lonnie Hammargran's home in Las Vegas, while the last one of the three, known as "Old Dinah" is still on display at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley.
"Pop" Simon died in 1963. The Simon family continued to operate "Pop's" Oasis for a number of years. In 1987, the Gold Strike Hotel and Gambling Hall was built, and "Pop's" Oasis closed in 1988. The Simon family continued their involvement in the new resort.
In 1989, the Nevada Landing Casino opened in Jean. Eventually the MGM-Mirage Company purchased both the Nevada Landing and the Gold Strike as part of its acquisition of the Steve Wynn's Mandalay Bay properties in 2005. In 2007 the Nevada Landing was closed and demolished. Plans were announced for a large real estate development on 166 acres owned by the company that included the Nevada Landing site. With the recent economic downturn, the plans have not moved forward yet, but the Gold Strike Hotel and gambling Hall continues to provide a stop for weary travelers along Interstate 15.
Though there is still a post office, courts building, resort hotel and casino, two service stations, airport, prison and other amenities at Jean, there is no housing. From a railroad siding, Jean has become an Interstate Highway siding. It is a part of the long history of southern Nevada, and continues to provide services for the traveling public. George Fayle, "Pop" Simon, and all those who have been a part of Jean's history would be amazed at what they have helped build.
What sayeth the brethren?
And so recorded!
Bibliography - for those redshirts who can, and wish, to read further
Anon., Nevada, The Silver State; Volume 1, 1970, Western States Historical Publishers
The Las Vegas Age newspaper, various issues
Hewett, D. F., Geology and Ore Deposits of the Goodsprings Quadrangle, Nevada, 1931, USGPO
Jones, Florence Lee and Cahlan, John F., Water; A History of Las Vegas; Volume 1, 1975, Las Vegas Valley Water District
Myrick, David, Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California, Vol. II, the Southern Roads, 1991, University of Nevada Press
Paher, Stanley, edit., Nevada Official Bicentennial Book, 1976, Nevada Publications
Paher, Stanley, Nevada Ghost Towns & Mining Camps, 1984, Nevada Publications
Patera, Alan H., Goodsprings, Nevada, including Sandy, Jean, Keystone, Platina, Ripley and the Yellow Pine mine camp, 1999, Western Places
Founded in 1904 as Goodsprings Junction, a station on the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad, Jean received its current name in 1905 when the post office was opened. It was named in honor of Jean Fayle, the wife of George Fayle who had built a mercantile business and had the post office in his store.
The town enjoyed some growth with the building of the Yellow Pine Mining Company Railroad from Goodsprings to connect with the railroad here in 1911. By the time the Yellow Pine railroad was torn up in 1930, Jean was a stop for travelers on Highway 91 (today's I - 15).
Peter A. "Pop" Simon created a new motel-store-gas station-casino complex here called Pop's Oasis in 1947. It was a favorite stop for many and lasted until 1988. In 1987, the Gold Strike Hotel and Gambling Hall opened, and continues to serve the traveling public.
Dedicated this 25th day of April, 2010
By the Queho Posse Chapter 1919 of
E Clampus Vitus,
In conjunction with the
Gold Strike Hotel and Gambling Hal
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