John S Cook

John S Cook overseeing bars of gold bullion.  Photo Goldfield Historical Society
John S Cook overseeing bars of gold bullion. Photo Goldfield Historical Society

John S Cook is the founder and builder of the Cook Bank Building which is located in Rhyolite, Nye County, Nevada. He is an example of many men, who followed the gold miners from town to town and profited off of mining operations. Today, the three story Cook Bank Building is the iconic visual representation of the town of Rhyolite.

He started his career in Tonopah, Nevada working as a cashier for George Nixon. Nixon and his partner George Wingfield invested in various mining operations in Goldfield

John Cook and his brother started the John S. Cook & Company Bank in Goldfield, Nevada in January 1905. His original bank was located in a wooden structure next to the Palace Saloon before relocating to the Nixon Block Building.

Later that same year he opened a new branch in Rhyolite. The Rhyolite banks first location was in a rented building on Main Street. After buying a lot on Golden Street in Rhyolite construction of the Cook Bank Building in the spring of 1907.

The panic of October 1907 caused Mr Cook to suffer his worst month as miners withdrew this money from his banks. Many miners considered saloons to be more trustworthy can banks, and saloons such as Richard Northern Saloon benefitted from the panic. Oddly enough, the saloon would then deposit the funds bank into the bank, undoubtably, keeping a small profit for themselves.

Cook Bank Building, Rhyolite Nevada, Photo marked 1908 and "Courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society"
Cook Bank Building, Rhyolite Nevada, Photo marked 1908 and “Courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society”

The John S. Cook bank was the only bank in Goldfield to survive and remain open. In 1909, George Wingfield purchase control of the Cook Bank from investing and bought out Cooks shares as well. John Cook next moved to North and worked in the Cook Bank located in Reno. In 1929 the stock market crashed caused the Great Depression and Wingfield’s banks failed and the John S. Cook banks were closed into history. John S. Cook later moved to Los Angeles, California and died on July 22, 1945.


Pete Aguereberry – A Panamint Valley Miner

Pete Aguereberry was a prospector and miner who operated around Death Valley National Park, for whom Aguereberry is named. Born in the Basque Region of France on Oct. 18, 1874, Jean Pierre “Pete” Aguereberry sailed to America with his fater in 1890.

Pete Aguereberry
Pete Aguereberry

Aguereberry struggled to learn the English while working an assortment of odd jobs to make a living. He worked as a handball player, sheepherder, cattle driver, milk truck driver, ice delivery man, ranch hand, and stage driver. A a stage driver he found his was to Goldfield, Nevada around 1902.

A few years later, he and fellow miner Frank “Shorty” Harris struck gold at Harrisburg Flats, 55 miles southeast of Lone Pine on July 1, 1905. Aguereberry worked the the northern edge of a ledge, while Harris worked the southern side. Within a month, over 20 different groups were working the area which later became Harrisburg. Aguereberry transformed that claim into the Eureka Mine, which he worked until his death on Nov. 23, 1945 at Tecopa Hot Springs at age 72.

Aguereberry is perhaps best known for the road he built to Aguereberry Point so visitors could enjoy its spectacular view of Death Valley.

Though he wished to be buried at the point in Death Valley, government officials, citing the 1933 monument status of Death Valley, denied his final request. Augereberry’s remains were buried in Lone Pine. A plaque in Lone Pine, California honors the life and memory of Pete Augereberry. Pete is remembered amount friends as a modest, hardworking, honorable man and a true legend of Death Valley.