Over a century of mining...
As the story goes, Jim Butler was camping around Tonopah
Springs, the spring of 1900 when his burro wandered off. While
chasing it, Jim picked up a rock to throw at it & discovered
some promising looking ore. He continued his journey and showed
the samples to others, who showed little interest. After
returning to his home in Belmont, Butler told a young attorney
named Tasker Oddie about his discovery. Tasker had a friend who
taught chemistry in Austin, and he enlisted the teacher's help
in assaying the sample. The ore valued at more than $200 a ton.
Jim's wife, Belle urged him to travel once again to the site of
the original find and filed eight claims and removed several
tons of ore. For a one quarter share, Wilse Brougher hauled the
ore by horse and wagon to Austin, then by rail to Salt Lake City
That first shipment netted the partners $500.00, which was used
to buy equipment needed for further development. As venture
capital was difficult to obtain, Jim, Belle and their partners
implemented the unusual concept of mine claim leasing by the
foot. These leases, which were sealed by a handshake, gave the
lessor 75% of all profits from his claim and greatly speeded the
development of the district. Many of the miners got rich under
this arrangement. The practice then quickly spread to other
The Butlers eventually sold their interests in the properties to
a Philadelphia financier, who formed the Tonopah Mining Co. The
assets of this new company exceeded one million dollars. Tasker
Oddie subsequently formed the Tonopah Belmont Development
Company with production between the two, totaling more than half
of the precious metals from the mining district.
History tells us that the mines in this district produced in
excess of five million tons of ore. At today's market the
precious metals produced would be valued in excess of
And there were no taxes!