While a small permanent population remains in Goldfield, it is largely a ghost town.
The town lies in the midst of a desert abounding in high-grade gold ores, and was essentially a mining camp. The discovery of gold at Tonopah, Nevada, about 28 miles north of Goldfield in 1900 was followed by its discovery at Goldfield in 1902 and 1903; in 1904 the Goldfield district produced about 800 tons of ore, which yielded 2,300,000 United States dollars worth of gold, or 30% of that of the state. This remarkable production caused Goldfield to grow rapidly, and it soon became the largest town in the state.
In addition to the mines, there were large reduction works. In 1907 Goldfield became the county-seat. The gold output in 1907 was $8,408,396; in 1908, $4,880,251. Soon after mining on an extensive scale began, the miners organized themselves as a local branch of the Western Federation of Miners, and in this branch were included many labourers in Goldfield other than miners. Between this branch and the mine-owners there arose a series of more or less serious differences, and there were several set strikes in December 1906 and January 1907, for higher wages; in March and April 1907, because the mine-owners refused to discharge carpenters who were members of the American Federation of Labor, but did not belong to the Western Federation of Miners or to the Industrial Workers of the World affiliated with it, this last organization being, as a result of the strike, forced out of Goldfield; in August and September 1907, because a rule was introduced at some of the mines requiring miners to change their clothing before entering and after leaving the mines -- a rule made necessary, according to the operators, by the wholesale stealing (in miners’ parlance, "high-grading") of the very valuable ore (some of it valued at as high as $20 a pound); and in November and December 1907, because some of the mine-owners, avowedly on account of the hard times, adopted a system of paying in cashier’s checks. Excepting occasional attacks upon non-union workmen, or upon persons supposed not to be in sympathy with the miners’ union, there had been no serious disturbance in Goldfield; but in December 1907, Governor Sparks, at the instance of the mine-owners, appealed to President Theodore Roosevelt to send Federal troops to Goldfield, on the ground that the situation there was ominous, that destruction of life and property seemed probable, and that the state had no militia and would be powerless to maintain order. President Roosevelt thereupon (December 4th) ordered General Frederick Funston, commanding the Division of California, at San Francisco, to proceed with 300 Federal troops to Goldfield. The troops arrived in Goldfield on the 6th of December, and immediately afterwards the mine-owners reduced wages and announced that no members of the Western Federation of Miners would thereafter be employed in the mines. President Roosevelt, becoming convinced that conditions had not warranted Governor Sparks’s appeal for Federal assistance, but that the immediate withdrawal of the troops might nevertheless lead to serious disorders, consented that they should remain for a short time on condition that the state should immediately organize an adequate militia or police force Accordingly, a special meeting of the legislature was immediately called, a state police force was organized, and on the 7th of March 1908 the troops were withdrawn. Thereafter work was gradually resumed in the mines, the contest having been won by the mine- owners.
After some years the gold gradually declined, and most of the population left. By 1912, ore production had dropped to $5 million. The largest mining company left town in 1919.
In 1950 Goldfield had a population of 275.
This article includes text originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.