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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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October 23, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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October 23, 1997
 

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Gazeu, on the stret t... What is your favorite way to save money? Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, October 23, 1997 17 Washington Montana Pahrump Pahrump JIM MILLER -- Retired paramedic -- "Don't play the machines;" BILL SHRIVER -- Retired mining engineer-- Not spendit, I guess." te RIS ,OTT -- Retired acher- lust not spendit, Lo0k for bargains." Compiled by PVG staff photographem 482-3o 16 NO to AbUse 751-1118 ':Tonopah 24 Hr. Crisis Line Pahrump Nevada then and now Esmeralda County's coal development history by PhiUip L Earl Nevada Historical Society L Three miles south of Coaldale on the north end of the Silver Peak Range are some 1,200 acres of semi-bituminous coal belts, sandwiched between layers of tertiary sedimen- tary sandstone, tuff and rhyolite. Discovered in 1893 by William "Jackass Billy" Groezinger, a prospector from Candelada, the deposits have been worked off and on for over a century. Nei- ther a chemist nor a geologist, Groezinger was unable to determine the exact nature of his find, but he had a marketable product and was soon shipping coal to householders and mine smelters in Candelaria, Columbus, Bellville, Fish Lake Valley and other nearby mining camps. With the opening of the mines of the Tonopah District in 1900, Groezinger discovered a new market and officials of the Tonopah Mining Com- pany optioned the properties in 1902. They dropped their option when they determined that the coal did not meet their needs and Groezinger kept the mines for another two years. In July 1904, he accepted an offer from Dr. Frances E. Williams, a Goldfield promoter. The townsite of Coaldale had been laid out in April and a postoffice was established on October 9, some three months after Dr. Williams took over. The Tonopah Railroad was being cotistructed south from Mina at that time and Coaldale had ocated on the northern edge of Esmeralda County, the community of Coaidale is today little more than a food and fuel stop on Highway 95. The word "coal" in the name intrigues many passing motorists who wonder about the history of the area, however, since coal is not a mineral for which Nevada is known. Operations of the Reorganized Darms Coal Company, 1923 Photo courtesy of the Central Nevada Museum, Tonopah becon a stop. To promote her enterprise, Dr. Williams talked railroad officials into using her coal to steam up the first engine to make the complete run into Tonopah on July 23. She was more interested in promotion than mining coal, however, and established the Coaldale Coal Mining Company, the Nevada Electric Power and Transmission Company, the St. Francis Goldfield Mining Company and the St. Francis Mining and Smelting Company. She sold a large amount of stock over the next year, but abandoned the venture when the Nevada Power, Mining and Milling Company extended electrical lines into central Nevada from Bishop Creek, Califor. in September 1905. Geologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) had meanwhile taken an interest in the coal beds, doing a chemical analysis for the first time in 1904. They noted a high ash content, but expressed the opinion that the coal might be good for steaming or the production of coal gas. Lewis K. Koontz bought the deposit in 1907 and Herman A. Darms took over in 1911. T. E. Rouvenanck organized the Nevada Coal and Fuel Company in 1911 to take over other nearby coal beds, but production and sales from both his enterprise and that of Darms focused upon Tonopah, Goldfield, Mina and Hawthorne. Another USGS report in 1911 indicated a better grade of coal and a study by geologists and chemists from the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada in Reno found that the production of coke or gas for electrical power plants was a possibility. Nei- ther Darms nor Rouvenanckcould raise money for coking ovens or gas plants, however, and production remained sporadic for the next decade. In 1923, the Reorganized Darms Coal Company took over the properties, but the only production came from occasional leasers. There was also a petroleum promotion in the mid- 1920s, by the Coaldale Merger Oil Com- pany, but, again, no production. In 1942, USGS engineers mapped the de- posits and the budget for the U.S. Department of the Interior for 1943 included an appropria- tion of $40,000 for development. Experimen- tal work on making petroleum from coal was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Mines Min- erals Laboratory in Boulder City and a new enterprise, the Sierra Coke and Coal Corn- patty, a subsidiary oftheTrans-Pacific Chemi- cal Company of San Francisco, was incorpo- rated in September 1944 to experiment with the productionofammonium sulfate for use as a fertilizer and to investigate coke production and the creation O f other chemical by-products from coal tar. World War II came to an end before development and production got underway, however, and private initiatives ended as well as fuel and chemical shortages eased. Darms died on September 12, 1946 and coal developments in the field came to an end. When this writer visited the site 15 years ago, we found two incline shafts, a weathered beadframe and a rusting steam boiler. Further exploration would surely reveal other remnants. Of course, any materials found on the site should be left intact. It's only good manners, and it conforms to the federal Antiquities Act. The road in from the north is bad and should be attempted only with a four-wheel drive vehicle. ill i i