Silver Tailings: Gran Pah and Goldfield


When the two men headed into the desert of southern Nevada in the winter of 1902, they were hoping to strike it rich. They had been present when Paiute Indian prospector Tom Fisherman wandered into Tonopah with gold ore.

Fisherman received a ten-dollar grubstake from Jim Butler and Tom Kendall, to find a claim where the rock was found. But, Tom immediately got drunk, and the only information they could get from him was the rock was found thirty miles to the south.

After giving up on Fisherman, Kendall and Butler grubstaked Harry Stimler, a half Shoshone Indian, and William Marsh, both native Nevadans from Belmont to find the gold. As they set about hunting for the ore ledge, a dust storm arrived.

However, despite the conditions, they found what they were looking for. They named their first claim the Sandstorm and soon other prospectors joined them and a small city of tents and dug-outs appeared.

Stimler and Marsh eventually dubbed the new settlement, Gran Pah, which in Shoshone means great water. It was later anglicized to Grandpa, as in the Grandaddy of all strikes, which it remained until October 1903 when the name officially  to Goldfield.

By that time many of the structures in the town were a mixture of mud and empty whiskey bottles. A year later, the rush was on, and demand for housing had become so great that carpenters worked around the clock, with new residents were arriving on foot, horseback and by wagon.

Soon Goldfield would be Nevada’s largest city.

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