Asa Merton Russell “Panamint Russ” 

Asa Russell, also known as “Panamint Russ”, was a prospector and mine owner is the Butte Valley Area of Death Valley National Park, California.

Asa Merton Russell "Panamint Russ" in front of the Geologist cabin - Courtesy of Desert Magazine April 1955
Asa Russell “Panamint Russ” in front of the Geologist cabin – Courtesy of Desert Magazine April 1955

Russell started his mining career in the 1930 working in the Butte Valley area of the Panamint Mountains. The miner found gold high up the side of old Manly and began mining operation. Asa Merton Russell first established a camp, known as “Russell’s Camp” for his mining operations and registered several claims in the area from 1933 to 1947. Russell developed the springs nearby into a water source to supply the camp with drinking water, irrigation for trees and even vines of Concord Grapes. A five hundred gallon water tank is added to the system in the late 1950’s or 1960’s

The concord grapes are doing well, too. Twenty-five years ago coming through Riverside, California, I stopped at a nursery and bought a half dozen bare-root size, wrapped them in a newspaper, laid them on the running board with a wet gunny sack and today they are 20 feet of beauty.

Life on the Desert – by Panamint Russ – Desert Magazine, April, 1955

Asa Merton Russell retired from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in May of 1960. This event probably coincided with the previously mentioned 500-gallon water tank and water system expansion. Upon his retirement, Russ moved full time to his “Russell’s Camp” located on the site of the Ten Spot Mill. The miner operated his “Lucky Strike” mine from 1930 to 1974.

References

Courtney Chauncey Julian

Courtney Chauncey Julian
C. C. Julian

Courtney Chauncey Julian, C. C. Julian, was a businessman and shameless promoter who’s business dealings forced him to flee to California for China. He is noteworthy in his dealing in Death Valley National Park for his promotion of the town of Leadfield. After numerous court battles, he fled to Shanghai, China where he is poisoned or committed suicide.

C.C. Julian launched a newspaper blitz promoting his Julian Petroleum Corporation in 1923. The promotional blitz formed the basis for a ponzi scheme for investment into the JPC. The scandal became known as the “Julian Pete Scandal”. By 1927, it is estimated that Julian sold four million dollars in stock, which was stolen from his investors. Others estimate the value of the scheme at over eight million.

Drama followed the man, as he received death threats, however the nature of this threat is never resolved. It was reported by the United Press on Jan 4, 1924, that gun shots are fired threw the windows of his $100,000.00 house in Hollywood.

Perhaps one of his wierdest altercations came with famed film star Charles Chaplin. Just weeks after the shooting, Julian literally bumped into a table where Chaplin was eating at Club Petrouschka in Hollywood. A fight ensured and Chaplin got the better of Julian and knocked him out.

As one would expect from a thief, Julian had assets seized, by Collector of Internal Revenue, of $250,000.00 in cash and securities for failure to file is earnings from 1919-1923. He is able to maintain his house because it is deeded by his wife.

Julian at the Western Lead Mine located in Leadfield, California - Photo Los Angeles Times
Julian at the Western Lead Mine located in Leadfield, California – Photo Los Angeles Times

The end of Julian Petroleum Corporation stated in 1925. Julian sold his interest in the company to Sheridan C. (S.C.) Lewis and Jacob Berman for the sum on $500,000.00. The following year the company merged with California-Eastern Oil Company. An internal audit revealed the company had issued 4,200,000 unauthorized shares of stock. On May 5, 1927, the Los Angeles Stock Exchange halted trading in Julian Petroleum.

In 1931, Julian was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in Oklahoma. He jumped bail and fled to country for Shanghai, China. Courtney Chauncey Julian is found dead of suicide in March, 1934.

"The Last Days of C. C. Julian," Los Angeles Times, 29 Sept. 1935
“The Last Days of C. C. Julian,” Los Angeles Times, 29 Sept. 1935

This town was the brain child of C. C. Julian, who could have sold ice to an Eskimo. He wandered into Titus Canyon with money on his mind. He blasted some tunnels and liberally salted them with lead ore he had brought from Tonopah. Then he sat down and drew up some enticing, maps of the area. He moved the usually dry and never deep Amargosa River miles from its normal bed.

He drew pictures of ships steaming up the river hauling out the bountiful ore from his mines. Then he distributed handbills and lured Eastern promoters into investing money. Miners flocked in at the scent of a big strike and dug their hopeful holes. They built a few shacks. Julian was such a promoter he even conned the U. S. Government into building a post office here. 

Desert Magazine – 1971 – Betty J. Tucker

References

Piper’s Opera House – NSHM #236

Piper’s Opera House – NSHM #236 is Nevada State Historic Marker #235 and is located in Virginia City, Storey County Nevada.

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost of damaged.

Piper’s Opera House - NSHM #236, one of the largest venues for theater and performance on the Comstock. -  - University of California, Davis. Dept. of Special Collections.
Piper’s Opera House, one of the largest venues for theater and performance on the Comstock. – – University of California, Davis. Dept. of Special Collections.

HSHM #236 Text

This building, the most significant vintage theatre in the West, was erected by John Piper in 1885.  Third in a succession of theatres which he operated on the Comstock, Piper’s Opera House, with its original scenery, raked stage, and elegant proscenium boxes, is a remarkable survivor of a colorful era in American theatrical history.  Many popular nineteenth-century touring stars and concert artists appeared here.

STATE HISTORICAL MARKER No. 236
DIVISION OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND ARCHEOLOGY
LOUISE Z. DRIGGS

Nevada State Historic Marker #236 Summary

Nevada State Historic Marker236
NamePiper’s Opera House
LocationVirginia City, Storey County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.31094, -119.65016

References

African Americans and the Boston Saloon – NSHM #266

William A G Brown - Owner of the Boston Saloon, Virginia City, Nevada
William A G Brown – Owner of the Boston Saloon, Virginia City, Nevada

African Americans and the Boston Saloon – NSHM #266 is a Nevada State Historic Marker Located in Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada. Virginia City has eight Nevada State Historic Markers and a wonderful location to visit and dive deep into history.

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost of damaged.

William A G Brown, a freeman, moved to Nevada and started the Boston Saloon. The Boston Saloon was located at the intersection of D and Union Streets . The Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise called the saloon a “popular resort for many of the colored population”

The saloon building is lost the great fire of 1875. The site of the saloon was subject of an archeological excavation in the year 2000.

NSHM #266 Text

Between 1866 and 1875, a remarkable business thrived in Virginia City.  Free-born William A.G. Brown operated the Boston Saloon, serving Virginia City’s African Americans.  Archaeologists have revealed that Brown offered his customers finely prepared meals with the best cuts of meat.  Shortly after Brown sold his business, the great fire of 1875 swept through town and destroyed the building.

There were rarely more than one hundred African Americans living in Virginia City during its height in the 1860s, but they played varied and important roles in the community. Some African Americans pursued work as laborers, porters, and barbers.  Others became affluent business owners, and a prominent doctor won widespread respect.  By the 1870’s, African American children attended integrated schools. However, the decline of mining by 1880 sent many Nevadans, including African Americans, elsewhere. When mining in the state revived in the early 1900s, a shift at the federal, state, and local levels that implemented segregation via law or practice kept most African American families from returning to communities like Virginia City.

The site of the Boston Saloon is located uphill and to the left of this location at the corner of Union and D Streets now occupied by the Bucket of Blood Saloon parking lot.

STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE
DON MCBRIDE AND THE BUCKET OF BLOOD SALOON
RENO-SPARKS BRANCH OF THE NAACP, UNIT #1112
STATE HISTORICAL MARKER No. 266

Nevada State History Marker Summary

Nevada State Historic Marker266
NameAfrican Americans and the Boston Saloon
LocationVirginia City, Storey County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.31054, -119.64942

References

The Comstock Lode – NSHM #13

The Comstock Lode – NSHM #13 is Nevada State Historic Marker #13 and located in Historic Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada. Virginia City is a wonderful little town to visit and home to Eight Nevada State Historic Markers.

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost of damaged.

"Mining on the Comstock", depicting the headframes and mills of the various mines, and mining technology used at Comstock, most prominently the method of square-set timbering developed there to work the veins. -T.L. Dawes (drawing); Le Count Bros., San Fransisco (lithographers)
“Mining on the Comstock”, depicting the headframes and mills of the various mines, and mining technology used at Comstock, most prominently the method of square-set timbering developed there to work the veins. -T.L. Dawes (drawing); Le Count Bros., San Fransisco (lithographers)

Nevada State History Marker #13

Near this spot was the heart of the Comstock Lode, the fabulous 2 ½ mile deposit of high-grade ore that produced nearly $400,000.00 in silver and gold.  After the discovery in 1859, Virginia City boomed for 20 years, helped bring Nevada into the union in 1864 and to build San Francisco.

Several major mines operated during the boom.  Their sites are today marked by large yellow dumps, several of which are visible from here – the Sierra Nevada a mile to your left, the Union, Ophir, Con Virginia and, on the high hill to the southeast, the combination.  The Lode was worked from both ends, north up Gold Canyon and south from the Sierra Nevada Utah mines.

NEVADA CENTENNIAL MARKER NO. 13
STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE

The Comstock Lode – NSHM #13 Summary

Nevada State History Marker13
NameThe Comstock Load
LocationVirginia City, Storey County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.31668, -119.64736

References