Tonopah Nevada State Historic Marker 15

Tonopah- NSHM #15 is a Nevada State Historic Marker Located in Tonopah, Nye County, Nevada. The rock marker is locate just off the highway in a park.

Photograph of a panoramic view of the Tonopah Mining Park (now a historic site) and Mount Butler in the distance, Tonopah, Nevada, ca.1904. -  - Pierce, C.C. (Charles C.), 1861-1946
Photograph of a panoramic view of the Tonopah Mining Park (now a historic site) and Mount Butler in the distance, Tonopah, Nevada, ca.1904. – – Pierce, C.C. (Charles C.), 1861-1946

Nevada State Historic Marker 15

Jim Butler, District Attorney of Nye County, is credited with the turn-of-century discovery, which ended a twenty-year slump in Nevada’s economy.  American Indians originally used the name Tonopah for a small spring in the nearby San Antonio Mountains, long before Butler camped in this area in May 1900.  Tonopah became the richest silver producer in the nation and replaced Belmont as the Nye County county seat in 1905.  The mines spawned a railroad, several huge mills, and a bustling population of approximately 10,000.

The mines faltered in the 1920s, but Tonopah achieved long-lasting fame because of the prominent financial and political leaders it produced.  Many camps and communities followed in the wake of Tonopah’s boom, most of which have become ghost towns.

NEVADA CENTENNIAL MARKER No. 15

STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE

Tonopah Marker Summary

Nevada State Histori Marker15
NameTonopah
LocationNye County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude38.0670, -117.2291

References

Walter Edward Perry Scott – “Death Valley Scotty”

Walter Edward Perry Scott  (September 20, 1872 – January 5, 1954), also known as “Death Valley Scotty”, was a miner, prospector and conman who operated around Death Valley, California. Later in life, he was befriended by Albert Johnson, who built the Death Valley Ranch in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley, which is commonly known as “Scotty’s Castle“.

Walter Scott (1872 - 1954)
Walter Scott (1872 – 1954)

Walter was born in Cynthiana, Kentucky to a family of six children. He moved west to Nevada to join his brothers at the age of eleven. He worked as a water boy for a survey party, and later found employment at the Harmony Borax Works in Death Valley. Later, Scotty worked for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show as one of the rough riders. It was seasonal work, and while he was employed by the show for twelve years, he would return to Death Valley for odd jobs.

After a disagreement with Buffalo Bill, Scott left the show for good and again returned to Death Valley. Upon his return, he took up prospecting for gold. Scotty as a prospector was more of a con man who used to con investors in to backing his “mining” adventures.  It was reported that when the investor’s delegation wanted the view their new mine, Scotty would march them around the hot valley until they forgave or forgot about their investment.

On March 11, 1906 Scotty stared as himself in a play which opened in Seattle to a full house.   We was arrested after his only performance and the charged for his crimes, the publicity exposed him to new investors.  In spite of this Albert Johnson maintain interested in his “mine”. Another investigator was sent, who reported back that the mine did not exist. Johnson refused to believe this, and the following year he visited the mine himself, but left without seeing the mine.  He was later sued by his investors in 1915 and ended up in jail.

Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons
Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons

For various reasons, Johnson felt beneficent towards Scott, and in a verbal agreements made specific provisions allowing Scott the right to live out the rest of his life at the castle. Johnson is known to have provided several thousand dollars for years. Walter Edward Perry Scott, AKA “Death Valley Scotty” died in January of 1954 and is buried on a hill about the Death Valley Ranch, which is known as Scott’s Castle.

References

James Crysanthus Phelan – Rhyolite Shopkeeper

James Crysanthus Phelan
James Crysanthus Phelan

James Crysanthus Phelan was a business man and early pioneer of the desert southwest, who like many others followed the boom towns west. Early in his life, he owned a series of butcher shops in various towns throughout the south west, including Rhyolite. It is believed that his butcher shop was located on Golden Street across the street from the Cook Bank Building and near the Porter Brothers Store.

Biography

The automobile garage owned by James C. Phelan, and named after him, is cleverly planned, well built, and managed according to up-to-date methods. Mr. Phelan’s father, who was an honored veteran of the Union Army in our Civil War, is D. F. Phelan, and he is still living at Los Angeles.

Prior to casting his lot in the Golden State, he was a pioneer in Colorado. Mrs. Phelan, who was Annie Donahue before her marriage, is deceased. Born in the Centennial State on October 25, 1867, James C. Phelan was educated at the public schools in Colorado and New Mexico, and also, as he likes to put it, in ” the great school of experience.”

As a young man, he ventured in both the grocery and butcher business, having a store when only nineteen years of age, at Albuquerque, N. M. For fourteen years, too, his business at Williams, Arizona, was one of the most progressive and profitable establishments in that town. On September 9, 1893, Mr. Phelan was married to Miss Myrtie Dickinson, and this union was blessed with three boys and four girls, viz : Mary M., Chris E., Roy N., Jimmie J., Ruth E., Bernice L., and Leoma C, all of whom were educated in the public schools of Fresno, the two eldest studied at Heald’s Business College, while Roy N., is a student at the University of California at Berkeley.

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”

Mr. Phelan has accepted the doctrines of the Christian Scientists, socially he finds recreation in the circles of the Woodmen of the World, the Knights of Pythias, and the Young Men’s Christian Association. In May, 1916, he built the finest and most complete auto establishment in California, spending $90,000 upon the same. He then became agent, for the San Joaquin Valley, of the Maxwell, Mitchell and Marmon automobiles, and the Kleiber and Maxwell Trucks. He employs from forty to fifty men to man the several departments, each of which is complete in itself.

When he first came to California, in 1905, he worked for three years on the Fresno ranch ; and then, getting into the automobile business in a modest way, he has made success after success. Mr. Phelan sold out in August. 1919. Mr. Phelan is a stanch Democrat, but always something more than a political partisan. In advocating and working for good roads, for example, his public-spiritedness has been particularly shown.

References

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.

References

Cook Bank Building

The Cook Bank Building is the most iconic image and popular images of the Rhyolite ghost town, in Nye County, Nevada. When John S. Cook built his bank to three stories, it inspired John Overbury to add a third floor to his Overbury building located just down Golden Street. The structure is centrally located in the remains of the town, and photographically, very interesting. Partially for this reason, the structure is a common choice for filming locations, and even appeared in an Alanis Morissette music video.

Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun
Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun

The Cook Bank is to most iconic building in Rhyolite and one of the most photographed ruins in Nevada.

John Cook and his brother started the John S. Cook & Company Bank in Goldfield, Nevada in January 1905. Later that same year the opened a new branch in Rhyolite. The banks first location was in a rented building on Main Street. After buying a lot on Golden Street, construction of the Cook Bank Building in the spring of 1907.

One of four banks in Rhyolite, the Cook Bank Building was by far the finest. Build of poured concrete, the building was three stories tall and had a basement that housed the Post Office. The interior was finished with marble staircases and mahogany accents. It also boasted modern conveniences such as electric lights and indoor plumbing

Despite its opulence, the Cook Bank was open less that two years. In the summer and fall of 1907, a financial crisis, often referred to as the Knickerboxer Crisis, caused banks across the country to go bankrupt. By 1910, the Cook Bank was closed and John Cook had sold off all of the building’s fixtures.

Since the closured of the Cook Bank, the building has appeared in many movies including: The Air Mail, The Arrogant, Cherry 2000, The island, Delusion, Ramona!, The Reward, Wanderer of the Wasteland, Six-string Samurai, Rough Rider’s Round Up, Bone Dry, Ultraviolet and more..

BLM Plaque – Rhyolite, Nevada
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”

Cook Bank Building Map

References