Decicated May 9, 2009 (6014)


Under the befuddled leadership of

Noble Grand Humbug

Dennis "The Butcher" Robinson


{Never get between a deer and his truck}


The redshirts and proto- redshirted brethren of

 E Clampus Vitus

 Chapter 1919

 Widely and popularly known as the Queho Posse


Shall review the history of

Pioche, Nevada


And its well Populated Boot Hill

At its doins on

May 8 and 11, 6014


Keep sake authored by none other than



Mark Hall-Patton


Pioche, Nevada,


And its


Boot Hill Cemetery


In history, lore, and with some inadvertent accuracy


As presented to the brethren and wannabe brethren of the


Queho Posse, Chapter 1919


Of the


Ancient and Honorable Order of


E Clampus Vitus


Queho Posse Chapter 1919


Written, rewritten, copy-written, edited, managed, laid out, flummoxed, fanned, federated, fascinated, and fumigated by



Mark Hall-Patton, XNGH, DS-3


Obfuscationist Press


6014 {2009}


Pioche, Nevada, was the center of one of the great mineral finds of the mid nineteenth century in Nevada. In the winter of 1863-64, Paiute Indians showed William Hamblin, a Mormon rancher living in southwestern Utah, some rock. The Paiutes called the rock 'panacre,' as best as Hamblin could write the word phonetically. Hamblin recognized the 'panacre' as silver ore, and asked the Paiutes to show him where it had come from in the area.


The ore turned out to be high-grade silver, and Hamblin claimed the Panacre Lode. The following year the town of Panaca was created, and the first rush in the Pahranagat Mountains was underway. It was a fairly slow rush, as such things went. The local Paiutes were not happy with the newcomers, and caused great problems. The area was also part of Utah, and Brigham Young was not at all supportive of the search for the material riches of silver and gold.


Hamblin than told General Patrick Edward Conner, who was in Utah at the time representing the Federal government in a show of distinct force. Conner was more interested in the possibilities, and helped with making the east aware of the new finds. Some stock companies were formed, and new mining districts and communities, such as Hiko and Logan City were formed.


Panaca was a Mormon settlement which both grew from supplying the new mining areas, and was affected by it. The area was part of Utah, and the pious residents of the community did not find the influx of oft-times inebriated miners at local occasions a positive influence. In 1864, and again in 1866, part of western Utah was transferred to the new state of Nevada, and the area including Panaca was part of that boundary movement. Similarly to the Muddy River Missions further south, once the area was surveyed and found to be in Nevada, many of the Mormon residents left the community and returned to Utah, but by no means all. Panaca continued to be an important supplies community for the mining districts, including the new district and town of Pioche.


One of the sidelights of these early border changes was the creation of new counties in Nevada. With the January 1866 addition of territory from Utah, Lincoln County was created with a capitol at Crystal Spring. On March 1, 1866, a new addition of territory from Utah to Nevada was approved by the Nevada State Legislature, which included all counties along the eastern side of the State. Lincoln, only a few weeks old as a county, none-the-less acquired new territory along with Nye and Lander counties, and the border between Utah and Nevada was moved. Still later in 1866, on May 4, the U. S. Congress allowed another one degree of movement of the eastern line of Nevada into formerly Utah territory. This act also allowed the southern boundary of Nevada to reach to where the oblique line between California and Nevada reached the Colorado River, adding territory to Nye and Lincoln counties, which today includes Clark County. The County seat of Lincoln County was moved from Crystal Spring to Hiko on March 18, 1866.


With all this movement of borders in 1866, new interest in the Pahranagat Mines area was induced. Francois L. A Pioche, a capitalist from San Francisco, through his agent Charles E. Hoffman, began buying claims in the area which was to become known under his name. He formed the Meadow Valley Mining Company, one of the two major mining companies to be associated with the Pioche boom.


After acquiring the mines, Pioche moved from San Francisco to the new camp, building a smelter to process the ore from his claims. Soon William Raymond and John Ely came to the area, and created the Raymond and Ely Mining Company, which was to be the other great Pioche firm, and the biggest producer of any of the great booms in southern Nevada in the long run.


An early letter, dated February 20, 1870 by Franklin Buck, a merchant who removed from Weaverville, California, to the new mining camp, datelined Meadow Valley, Nevada,


	"The town at the mines where we have located is the pleasantest place I have seen.  We look from the side of the range 

	of low hills where the mines are, over a valley 25 miles wide and 60 miles long, bounded by lofty ranges of mountains.  

	The grass and timber are plenty.  The mines, the most extensive and richest I have ever seen, but the water!  We have 

	to go seven miles to a spring and if we buy it it costs 10 cts. A gallon.  Fortunately there is some snow on the hill 

	sides and the children help us out.  I have struck one mining town at the start

	… Last week came a rush of people and such a staking off of lots you never saw.  You could not buy one now for 100 

	dollars.  Some 1000 houses have been built and started and from present appearances we shall soon have a population

	of three or four hundred people.  A stage line has been started too, to Hamilton and we shall have a mail weekly…


	We haven't gotten a name for our town yet although we have a Justice of the Peace and two lawyers.  Also, we don't 

	know sure whether we are in the state of Nevada or Utah.  Don't intend to pay taxes to either…"



The name of the community, Pioche, was in place soon after this letter was written. The stage line referenced could have been either the Travis Brothers Silver Peak and Pioche Stage Line or W. L. Pritchard's Fast Freight Line.


Pioche grew quickly, becoming a boomtown with article touting the richness of its mines appearing in newspapers from New York to San Francisco. Unfortunately, it also became known for its lawlessness. Quoting from another letter from Buck, dated November 3, 1870,


	"You were right in thinking we live here just as we please.  If we want a hot whiskey toddy we have it.  IF we 

	chose to lay abed late, we do so.  We come and go and nobody wonders and no Mrs. Grundy talks about it.  We are 

	free from all fashions and conventionalities of Society, so called with you.  I like this.  About one half of 

	the community are thieves, scoundrels and murderers and then we have some of the best folks in the world and I 

	don't know but what our lives and property are as safe as with you.  You can go up town and get drunk and get 

	shot very easily if you chose or you can live peaceably.  I don't have any trouble.  I will send you the paper 

	with an account of the last fight and the verdict.  It served them right.  When I heard firing we ran out and 

	saw the running but were some distance off.  I was in hopes eight or ten would have been killed at least, as 

	these fighting men are a pest in the community…"



By the next year, some order was being attempted in the rowdy mining camp. According to the irrepressible Mr. Buck, in a letter dated may 13, 1871,


	"In Pioche we have two courts, and number of sheriffs and police officers and a jail to force people to do what 

	is right.  There is a fight every day and a man killed about every week.  About half the town is [sic] whiskey 

	shops and houses of ill fame…



The town prospered through the mid 1870s, when water was struck at the 1200 foot level in the mines. At this depth, it was quite expensive to pump the water out of the mines. Most of the high-grade ore had been played out, and the town went into a decline.


During its heyday, Pioche boasted a number of newspapers. The first was founded on September 17, 1870, as the Ely Record (though it was published in Pioche). The name was changed two years later to the Pioche Record. It became the Lincoln County Record in 1900, went back to the Pioche Record in 1908, and back to the Lincoln County Record in 1925, the Pioche Record in 1932 and the Lincoln County Record in 1968. It is still being published today. It has been continuously published since 1870, except for a few months in 1900, an impressive record for any mining camp newspaper no matter what it is called.


The next was the Pioche Review which was printed from September to November 1872, the Pioche World which appeared for one issue in 1874, the Pioche Journal which lasted from March 1875 until it was destroyed by fire in May 1876 and shut down in June 1876, and the Local News, which lasted for two months in 1876.


During the early 1870s, Pioche was mainly known for its lawlessness, as noted before. The New York Herald ran a story that claimed Boot Hill in Pioche contained 200 murdered individuals. Many stories claimed there had been 72 men killed and buried in Boot Hill before the first person died of natural causes.


While indeed a fairly lawless area, the numbers were decidedly enhanced in many of these stories. In Boot Hill, for example, the research done by Leo Schafer show that only six people were buried in Boot Hill before the first natural causes death (that of Judge Charles A. Leake on August 12, 1870). Some flavor of the danger which could occur for bystanders ca be seen in this short report from the Reece River Reveille from 1872,


	"Judge Pitzer and Colonel Johnson had a quarrel and indulged in animated target practice with six-shooters at 

	Pioche last Friday.  Six shots were exchanged.  Outsiders wounded as usual; principals unscathed as customary…"



This, of course, does not mean that there were not many more cases of lead poisonings, "accidents," stabbings, etc. which continued to help fill the area of Boot Hill. Schafer eventually notes 286 burials in the Boot Hill and public cemeteries in Pioche between 1870 and 1875.


The town had captured the position of county seat of Lincoln County in 1871, and by 1872 had its first courthouse building. The $26,400 contract called for the building of a 50' by 100' two story brick building. The structure was completed, using public bonds, for the sum of $88,000, a mere cost overrun of 300%. In today's terms, this would be almost on budget for a government job.


A problem developed with the ability of the county to pay back the bonds. With the downturn in local mining, the bondholders ended up having to wait, until by 1907 the bonds, including principle and interest, topped $670,000. The total was negotiated down to $435,000 with the bond holders that year, but two years later the major objection behind not allowing the creation of a new county out of the southern part of the county was alleviated only by the new county agreeing to take on 60% of the bond debt.


Clark County, the newly formed county, thus started its existence with a major bond debt. In all the last of the bonds were not finally retired until 1937, 66 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars after the building of the original building. It is an interesting note that the building itself was condemned and retired from use as unsafe four years before the last of the bonds were paid.


By the 1950s, the Courthouse building, which in the long run had cost almost $1,000,000 was almost sold to 'Dobe' Doc, who was planning on moving it to Clark County and making it a part of the Last Frontier Village on the Strip. Though Lincoln County District Attorney at the time, Jo G. Martin was all for the idea, thankfully the building was not moved. Today, this building can be visited as a museum in Pioche today. I would encourage everyone to take the time to see it, if your can.


The most successful production year for Pioche was 1872, when $5,462,000 worth of metal was shipped. The decline came quickly thereafter, within just a few years. However, even with the decline in the mines, the town did not stop. There were revivals of some the mines in the 1880s and 1890s, but they were always short-lived. The town survived as a supply center for ranches and farms in the area and the county seat of Lincoln County.


In 1912 E. H. "Ed" Snyder began buying mines in the Pioche area. He acquired the Prince Mining Company and others, eventually incorporating the Combined Metals Reduction Company in 1917. It was this company which eventually acquired the Amalgamated Pioche Mining and Leasing Company, which owned among other properties the Raymond and Ely Mine, the most famous in Pioche history. The Combined Metals Reduction Company would lead the twentieth century revival in mining in the area. It was an important part of the community until 1958. During this period, Pioche was not a producer of high-grade ores, but rather of low-grade but important lead and zinc ore.


Today, the community which is hosting our doins is a town with a wonderful and rich history, proud of its past. Let all brethren enjoy the time of our stay, while maintaining suitable decorum.


Pioche's Aerial Tramway


One of the parts of Pioche which is noted by every visitor is the aerial tramway which stretches across the town. It was built about 1930 to carry ore from what had originally been the Meadow Valley Mine to a new smelter. The operation by the Pioche Mines, a part of the Combined Metals Reduction Company. It is perhaps one of the best-known visual assets of Pioche today, and can be seen just above Boot Hill.


While it may seem unusual today, such aerial trams were used by mines throughout the west. They were often, as in this case, an efficient way to get ore from relatively inaccessible mines on the sides of mountains to the smelter locations much lower down in valleys. Most were built before the 1920s, and Pioche's is a late survivor of a spectacular technology of western mining.


Boot Hill and the Public Cemetery


Our plaquing will be at the Boot Hill area of the public cemetery. This is the area which counts 267 burials between 1868 and 1875. It would be a mistake to think that this is an area only for those who, for various often nefarious reasons were not considered worthy of burial in consecrated ground, or in cemeteries operated by such groups as the Odd Fellows or Masons.


Here, this was just the cemetery for much of this period. It was used for the lawless and the law abiding, and in the case of the children and infants buried here, the too young to be either. Please remember this is a cemetery for many who were not bad, and many who were.


The Plaque


Pioche's Boot Hill


A mining town from the late 1860's, Pioche is one of the most intact historic communities in

southern Nevada. Named for Francois L. A. Pioche, a San Francisco financier who, with partners,

acquired some of the earliest claims in the area, the town grew quickly. Its isolation led to a

lawlessness which was as famous as its mines.


The many murders in the area led to the creation of Boot Hill, the earliest cemetery in Pioche.


There were six deaths from lead poisoning in the town before the first person died of natural


causes and this cemetery was in active use during the boom years. Though religious and


fraternal cemeteries were later created, Boot Hill continued to be used for many years.


Though in use today, Boot Hill remains a part of the history of Pioche. Let us not forget those who


are buried here, for they too are a part of our heritage.


Dedicated this 9th day of May, 2009


By the Queho Posse Chapter 1919


E Clampus Vitus


In cooperation with the


Pioche Chamber of Commerce




For those among the redshirts whose appetites for knowledge have been whetted by this keepsake, the following references are recommended by the author.


Arrington, Leonard, and Jensen, Richard, Panaca: Mormon Outpost Among the Mining Camps, in Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Winter 1975


Gamett, James M., Nevada Express; Wells, Fargo & Co. and Other Letter Expresses, 1857-1895, 2002, Western Cover Society

Hulse, James, "The Camp That Came back": The Combined Metals Reduction Company and the Revival of Pioche, 1912-1958, in Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Fall 1999

Lingenfelter, Richard, and Gash, Karen, The Newspapers of Nevada; A History and Bibliography, 1854-1979, 1984, University of Nevada Press


Mottaz, Stan, County Evolution in Nevada, in Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Spring 1978, Volume XXI #1


Murbarger, Nell, Sovereigns of the Sage, 1958, Desert Magazine Press


Myrick, David F., Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California; Vol. 2, The Southern Roads, 1992, University of Nevada Press


Paher, Stanley W., Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, 1970, Nevada Publications


Parker, Renee, and George, Steve, edit., Political History of Nevada, 11th Edition, 2006, Nevada State Printing Office


Schafer, Leo, Boot Hill The Pioche Cemetery and the Story of the Pioche Boom, 2008, Book Connections


Trennert, Robert A., Riding the High Wire; Aerial Mine Tramways in the West, 2001, University Press of Colorado


White, Katherine A., A Yankee Trader in the Gold Rush; The Letters of Franklin A. Buck, 1930, Houghton Mifflin Co.


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