The natural springs and the area
that surrounds what is now Goodsprings, Nevada were first used by the Ancient
Puebloans, and then the Paiute Indians. The springs were first documented by
white settlers in 1830 by a caravan that traveled along the Old Spanish Trail.
Mining first occurred in the area in 1856 when Mormons established a lead mine
at nearby Potosi, the oldest lode mine in Nevada.
Though a small oasis in the desert, no settlement would be founded until after
Joseph Good discovered silver near the springs in 1861. Good, who was primarily
a cattleman, would establish a small store in the area, but a town would not be
established until more silver and lead deposits were discovered around 1868.
First called Good’s Springs, the name later evolved to Goodsprings.
By 1882, gold had also been discovered and the Goodsprings or Yellow Pine Mining
District was established. Later, more gold would be found, with the Keystone
Mine, about 5 miles west of Goodsprings, being the most profitable. In 1893, a
post office was established at the Keystone Mine and the area supported about
200 people, just a few stores, and numerous small mines dotting the landscape.
In 1893, the first post office of the area was established at the Keystone Mine,
which also had the distinction of being taken over by the miners two year later
in a dispute over wages. The miners held the mine for three months until enough
money had been made to pay both their wages, as well as the wages for local
Indians who had been cutting wood for the mine.
In 1897, the post office at the Keystone Mine closed. However, in the meantime,
Joseph Good had sold his store to a man named Samuel Yount, who established a
new post office in Goodsprings in 1899. He served as the postmaster from that
date until 1914.
In 1901, the Yellow Pine Mining Company was formed, which consolidated ownership
of most of the area mines and built a mill. But, getting the ore out of the area
was a difficult job, as it had to be hauled by wagon to distant shipping points.
However, when the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad built a line
through nearby Jean in 1905, the task of moving the ore became much easier.
The township was officially platted in 1904, and gradually its tents and shacks
were replaced by more substantial buildings. With the coming of the railroad to
Jean, the Yellow Pine Mine then began to increase production and built a narrow
gage railroad from the remnants of the railroad line which had served the
Quartette Mine in Searchlight. Though the spur to Goodsprings would take several
years to build, when it was complete in 1911, it hauled tons of ore from Yellow
Pine's 100 ton mill and haul ore to Jean. With transportation problems eased,
the town really began to grow.
George Arthur Fayle, an ore hauler from Calico, California, moved to nearby
Goodsprings Junction (later changed to Jean, for his wife) in 1904. With
financial help from his uncle, Samuel Yount, who owned the mercantile store in
Goodsprings, Fayle established a tent store for miners and an ore hauling
Later, he bought an interest in his uncle’s store in Goodsprings and the name
was changed to the Yount and Fayle Store. In 1912, Fayle moved his family to
Goodsprings and began to expand the business. In 1913, he built the still
operating Pioneer Saloon.
That same year, a permanent school building was erected, which continues to
stand. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the oldest school
in Clark County that was built and still used as a school.
community prospered, reaching its peak population of about 1,000 people in 1915.
The following year, George Fayle, built the Fayle Hotel, the most luxurious
hotel in the area, providing for 20 guest rooms, electric lights, hot and cold
running water, steam heat, and a restaurant that boasted fine dining. Advertised
as the "finest hotel in the west,” it opened with a grand ball on May 13, 1916,
the hotel and restaurant were initially so successful, Las Vegas residents would
make a trip to Goodsprings to enjoy the hospitality. However, Fayle’s uncle,
Samuel Yount, objected to the building of the hotel, predicting that it could
not survive. Unfortunately, Yount’s prediction would not only be correct, but
would also result in the end of their partnership. Unfortunately, the hotel that
was located about 100 years west of the Pioneer Saloon would eventually be a
financial failure and in 1966, the building burnt to the ground.
Two years later, on May 20, 1916, the Goodsprings Gazette was established by
Frank A. Doherty. The four-page weekly newspaper continued after the founder’s
death less than a year later, then operated by his wife, Florence, continuing to
deliver to its 350-400 subscribers until 1921.
The entrepreneurial businessman also built the Fayle Department Store and,
convinced the town would continue to be a success, actively promoted the
settlement. Though all his ventures, other than the Pioneer Saloon, would
eventually fail as the town began to decline, Fayle would not be around to
suffer the humiliation. On December 9, 1918, he succumbed to the Flu epidemic
which was sweeping the United States and western Europe and was buried in the
Goodsprings cemetery, where his is still the largest headstone.
By the time Fayle died, Goodsprings was called home to about 800 people, several
businesses including a number of stores, several restaurants, nine saloons, a
post office, a school, the grand hotel, a hospital, and a weekly newspaper. The
town was so much larger than Las Vegas, those residents traveled to Goodsprings
for their shopping and entertainment needs.
The town continued to thrive through the end of World War I, when lead and zinc
was badly needed for the war efforts. However, when the war ended in 1918,
production decreased, mines shut down, and the town began to decline. By 1920,
only about 400 people called the town home. Goodsprings once again saw a spurt
of activity during World War II, but never grew to its former size. In 1930, the
narrow gauge railroad to Jean ceased operations and four years later, in 1934,
the railroad tracks were removed. By that time, the vast majority of the mines
sat silent, and Goodsprings was on its way to becoming a ghost town, with less
than 100 residents.
However, during its heydays, the Yellow Pine mining District earned over $30
million from lead, gold, copper, and zinc, providing for 1/3 of the total metal
production for Clark County, making it one of the most lucrative mining
districts in Southern Nevada.
In January, 1942, Goodsprings became the local site of another bit of excitement
when Carole Lombard, her mother, 15 army fliers, and the crew of a TWA
Skysleeper, returning from Indiana to California, crashed into the snow packed
Potosi Range. All 22 people on board were killed.
At the foot of the range, Lombard’s actor husband, Clark Gable, stayed at the
Fayle Hotel and consoled himself in the Pioneer Saloon while awaiting news of
his wife’s fate and holding out faint hope for her survival.
Today, a number of residents still live in Goodsprings, some in restored
buildings and others in mobile homes or newer structures. The community
continues to boast the still operating Pioneer Saloon and the Goodsprings
General Store next door. The Pioneer Saloon sports its original long cherry wood
bar that was brought down from Rhyolite, Nevada, which had already become a
ghost town at the time that the saloon was built. The old pot-belly stove in the
saloon, said to date back to Civil War times, is still used. Both the saloon and
the general store are sheathed in pressed metal, which resembles bricks.
In the Memorial Room of the saloon, the walls are covered with old newspapers
and photographs of the town’s history, including the fatal airline crash that
took Carole Lombard’s life.
Across the highway can be seen a couple of rusting tin buildings, an old stone
structure and a large foundation, and the ruins of the Yellow Pine Mill. To the
west, several more buildings continue to stand including the first permanent
building in Goodsprings, the A.G. Campbell cabin, which dates back to 1886. Also
standing is the 1913 school, which continues to serve students today, as well as
the post office, an 1890’s wooden cabin, a church, and numerous old homes and
buildings that stand in various states of disrepair.
East of Goodsprings on State Road NV-161 on the north side of the highway lies
the town’s cemetery.
Today, Goodsprings’ some 200 residents, many of whom are Las Vegas commuters,
currently enjoy a quiet lifestyle in this once thriving desert town. However,
one of their biggest concerns (with good reason) is that Las Vegas developers
will soon move in, wiping away their quiet existence.
To reach Goodsprings from Las Vegas, travel southward on I-15 to the Jean-Goodsprings
exit, then turn west on Nevada Highway 161 for seven miles.