|Quick early facts
1900 Jim Butler discovered outcropping heavily laced with silver, took samples and made 8 claims near Belmont
Tonopah Bonanza title changes
History of the newspaper Tonopah Bonanza
William W. Booth launched the Tonopah [Nevada] Bonanza on June 15, 1901, less than a year after Big Jim Butler had discovered silver in a local outcropping near a spring the local Shoshone called “Tonopah.” The town had in that brief time reached a population of over a thousand souls. It was the last great gold and silver bonanza in the United States.
The story of the establishment of Tonopah’s first newspaper has all the ring of the rough and tumble democracy that characterized these mining camps. Everyone there knew the importance of a newspaper, not just to gather and distribute local news, but to celebrate the town, advertise its businesses, and, above all, promote the mines and the district to potential investors from New York to San Francisco. Butler’s young partner and future Nevada Senator, Tasker Oddie, called a town meeting for the purpose of raising funds to purchase a printing press. After the requisite money had been subscribed in the spirit of local boosterism, all that was needed was someone to run the paper. William Booth, the only printer in town, was supposedly “elected.” Under Booth’s management the Tonopah Bonanza flourished, “calm and prosperous,” first as a weekly, then, as both the town and the paper’s circulation grew, a daily.
Booth had newspapers in his blood. Before coming to Tonopah, he had managed and/or edited newspapers in the Nevada mining towns of Austin, Safford, and Candelaria. His father, John Booth, was the long-time proprietor of Austin’s Reese River Reveille and had himself worked his way from mining town to mining town, serving as owner/manager of papers in Ione, Unionville, Carson City, Belmont, and Pioche before settling in Austin. His son William began his newspaper career in Austin during the 1882 election, starting his own opposition campaign newspaper. John Booth was solidly Republican and his son William, a staunch Democrat, and they conducted their political arguments in the heated editorials of their rival newspapers. William Booth likely moved to Tonopah with the intention of starting a newspaper, but he no doubt appreciated the public subvention of a new printing press and type which he ordered from San Francisco. Booth brought his old office down from Candelaria and set up on Main Street. The Bonanza grew with the town, and unlike his previous newspaper ventures Booth was often first on the scene. He successfully established the Bonanza as “the official paper of Nye County,” “with the largest circulation in Tonopah.” When the county seat was moved from Belmont to Tonopah in 1905, the Bonanzabecame the Nye County’s paper of record, publishing all legal notices.
Unlike Booth’s earlier highly partisan newspaper ventures, the Bonanza remained a stolid, middle-of-the-road paper, a consistent booster of the town and district, reporting mining news without engaging in local politics. Booth became a respected civic figure, appointed by Nevada’s governor to serve in his official entourage as “lieutenant-colonel and aid-de-camp” in Tonopah’s 1906 Fourth of July Parade. Unlike his competitor, Lindley C. Branson whose Tonopah Daily Sun became a rabidly anti-union clarion (and whose papers in Tonopah and Goldfield were boycotted by the miner’s union), Booth adhered to his civic role as a bipartisan spokesman for the town as a whole. He had no doubt learned a lesson from his earlier failures as an abrasive and divisive editor. And, fortunately, Tonopah never experienced the violent labor unrest that paralyzed other Nevada towns during this period. Even as the boom faded, the mines continued to produce enough ore to support the community and its newspaper and to spare Tonopah from becoming a ghost town. Booth managed the Bonanza until the Stock Market Crash of 1929 when it was purchased by Frank Garside, owner of the Tonopah Daily Times, who merged the papers into the Tonopah Times-Bonanza under which title it publishes to this day.