Goldfield, Nevada

Quick early facts

1902 A new mining district of three claims on the north ridge of Columbia Mountain as established by Harry Stimler and William Marsh and was known as “Grandpa”
1903 The town Goldfield was born: a group of prospectors voted to formally establish a town and rename Grandpa mining district to Goldfield
1903 The town was a tent camp of 20 people
1905 The boom years began
1906 Goldfield grew and became the largest Nevada city with a population of over 20,000 people
1907 Goldfield grew and became the largest Nevada city with a population of over 20,000 people
1907 Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad was completed
1907 Goldfield Hotel was built
1923 Devastating fire completely destroyed the Main St area (a total of 25 blocks)
1924 Another devastating fire destroyed the Goldfield News Building and the Montezuma Club

Goldfield News title changes

1904-1911 Goldfield News
1911-1947 Goldfield News and Weekly Tribune

Esmeralda County Courthouse (1902)

Street scene (1900s)

Goldfield Hotel (1900s)

Hippodrome theater (1900s)

Hotel Casey (1900s)

Ramsey Street (1900s)

Palace Hotel (1905)

Goldfield High School (1908)

Columbia Street (1908)

History of the newspaper Goldfield News

“The history of Goldfield presents to the world a fascinating and dramatic study in the elements of human character which constitute fitness to survive and triumph in the world’s never-ending struggle for fortune. Merely to be rich! That is not the thing at all – that’s monotonous and vulgar. The glory and the heroism are in the splendid spirit of the battle, not in the banquet that follows.” So proclaimed Nevada’s Goldfield News in it first and only annual number in 1905. Goldfield was the scene of the biggest gold bonanza in the United States since the Alaskan Gold Rush.  At the peak of the boom in 1905-10, Goldfield was Nevada’s second largest city.  The editor of the Goldfield News, the town’s largest newspaper, boasted that it reported on “All that’s new and true in the greatest gold camp ever known.”  The Goldfield News was one of the leading newspapers in Nevada, and with its daily and weekly mining reports, a paper that drew a national readership. Goldfield was also the center of radical labor action as the Industrial Workers of the World fought for control of the miners and all other labor.

James F. O’Brien and R.E.L. Windle brought a press and supplies and started the camp’s first newspaper; they borrowed type and paper from the Tonopah Miner [LCCN: sn86076143]. On April 29, 1905, they proudly issued the first edition Goldfield News, an eight-page, six-column weekly. O’Brien retired due to poor health in 1906. Local businessman and mining speculator, J.P. Loftus, purchased the Goldfield News and then leased it to newly arrived Colorado newspaperman, Charles Sprague.

Sprague was born in Ohio, the son of a U.S. Congressman. After graduating from college, he bought and edited a local newspaper.  In 1890, Sprague moved to Colorado Springs where he founded the Colorado Springs Evening Telegraph [LCCN: sn91052478] and the Mining Investor [LCCN: sn91052571] and served in the state legislature. In 1904, he was the editor of the Rocky Mountain News [LCCN: sn83016743]. Sprague came to Goldfield, Nevada, in 1905.  He leased the Goldfield News and served as its editor and the manager of its parent Goldfield Publishing Company, for which he built the Goldfield News Building, one of the largest office buildings in downtown Goldfield.  Sprague enlarged the News, making it the principal promotional paper for Southern Nevada mining interests and tripling a subscription list that reached every state in the Union. In 1909, an evening edition, the Goldfield Daily News [LCCN: sn85058380] was added. When Sprague, now president of the Goldfield Chamber of Commerce, ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress as a Democrat in 1910, the rival Tonopah Daily Bonanza [LCCN: 2016271065] bitterly attacked him for posing as pro-labor when he in fact represented only “High Collar Capital” and had advocated violent measures against striking miners.  Sprague was, in the words of the Bonanza’s fiery editor, William W. Booth, a “hypocrite . . .  bereft of humanitarianism, manhood and honor.” The Goldfield News nonetheless prospered, but Sprague’s interests were now more in mining. He sold the News in 1911 to the rival Goldfield Tribune Printing Company, owned by millionaire George Wingfield, who also controlled most of the mines in Goldfield. Sprague then went into the mining brokerage business, taking his boosterism from the newspaper to the stock market, where, however, he was markedly less successful.  The Goldfield Daily Tribune [LCCN: sn85058381], under manager and editor, John C. Martin, suspended the Goldfield Daily News [LCCN: sn85058380]. In that same year, the two weeklies were combined to form the Goldfield News and Weekly Tribune [LCCN: sn85058376] as an adjunct to the daily Tribune. The new paper continued under a series of owners and editors. In 1952, the printing was moved to Tonopah, and in 1956 the News was finally suspended, absorbed into the Tonopah Times – Bonanza and Goldfield News [LCCN: sn86076161].


Extra! Extra!

We are delighted to share a rare find of a photo of the Goldfield News staff on the cover of Goldfield News Annual Edition, 1905! These photos were taken of the actual paper- thanks to Dr. Peter Michel of UNLV Libraries Special Collections, and the Chair of our Advisory Committee, who found this conducting research. We shared these photos also via a blog on 03/29/2019:  

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Photo courtesy:
– University of Nevada, Reno Digital
– University of Nevada, Las Vegas Digital


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