I can imagine a number of nicknames a stagecoach driver might want to have, one that no one would want to have. George Green was one of the most popular stagecoach drivers in the Sierra Mountain Range, driving for the Pioneer Stage Company between Placerville, California and Virginia City, Nevada in the 1860s. George had the nickname “Baldy” because of the sparse amount of hair he had on the top of his head. It was not the nickname “Baldy” that George would learn to hate, however. George was known for his good looks, standing about six feet tall with a large full mustache, but it was not his good looks or large mustache that earned him the nickname he hated either.
During his days as a stagecoach driver, Green drove many famous people including Ben Holladay, Horace Greeley, and Vice-President Schuyler Colfax. Nevertheless, Green was apparently not a very scary driver. On May 22, 1865, near Silver City, Nevada, three men robbed his stage of $10,000 in gold and greenbacks. I guess word must have gotten around, because more robberies followed that first one, and not only would the robbers not leave him alone, but the robberies were big news and the stories sold lots of newspapers. The Territorial Enterprise commented that Green had narrowly escaped scalping, and someone placed a sign near the robbery location saying, “Wells-Fargo Distributing Office, Baldy Green, Mgr.”
Green just couldn’t catch a break. Two years later his stage was robbed twice on successive days, and following another robbery on June 10, 1868, Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise stated: “Baldy Green is exceedingly unlucky, as the road agents appear to have singled him out as their special man to halt and plunder, and they always come at him with shotguns.” Two more robberies occurred the same month, and you might say that the writing was on the wall. No one came right out an accused Green of being involved, but it had come to the point that they couldn’t take the risk of keeping him on anymore. Green was fired. Whether he was guilty or not, he was the driver most likely to be robbed. While he was never given that nickname, it is rather a fitting one.
Green didn’t let that stop him, however. He then went to hauling freight in Pioche, Nevada. I guess either he figured out how to stop the robberies, or freight haulers were less likely to be robbed. Either way, he managed to have more success in that trade that the stagecoach career. Later on, he even served as Justice of the Peace in Humboldt County, Nevada.
The Gold Rush affected many states and many people. Everyone headed west to try their luck, hoping to strike it rich. While the big strikes seemed to be in California, the Black Hills, and Alaska, there were many other places where miners struck it rich…and just as many where the miners went bust. It takes a special group of people to persevere in the gold rush years, and many went home broke, or found another way to cash in on the god rush, such as stores where the miners could buy supplies, or saloons, where they could drown their sorrows.
Wyoming had it’s share of gold mines and gold strikes too. Atlantic City was located in west central Wyoming, it was one of three mining towns in the area. The others were South Pass City, and Hamilton City. These towns sprung up as a result of the gold discovery at Spring Gulch in 1867. Hamilton City is located about three miles east of Atlantic City, but it could prove very difficult to locate, because early on in the town’s history, the townspeople unofficially renamed it to Miners Delight after the area’s largest and most productive mine, which carried the same name and was located on Peabody Hill.
The Miners Delight mine was founded by Jonathan Pugh. After a while, the town was officially changed to Miners Delight, since no one called it Hamilton City anyway. At first the mine was a rich enough producing mine to warrant a 10-stamp mill to be erected to crush the rock. The first mention of the town in newspapers appeared in July 1868 with the Sweetwater Mines newspaper describing it as: “…some thirty buildings are up, and more in course of construction. Spring Gulch is turning out the bright ore in very comfortable quantities,” and continues “Ten companies are at work in Spring Gulch…and all appear content with the result of their labors.”
Strangely, the owners of the Miners Delight mine found that recovering gold is more expensive than the gold is worth. After a short few years, the town’s population fell dramatically from its peak of some 75 residents. The Miners Delight Mine shut down in 1874, but soon reopened again…only to close again in 1882. The mining camp would endure good times and bad times over the next several decades, including the Great Depression. Over the years the mine produced over $5 million in gold ore…a relatively small amount as gold goes. The town was inhabited as late as 1960, but today it is nothing but abandoned ruins.
If you go there, you can expect to see rusting iron equipment, such as this old stove, and a couple of iron box screens, around the cabins of Miners Delight, Wyoming. It all seems like nothing much, but in the town’s heyday, it was even home to a couple of famous residents. Henry Tompkins Paige Comstock, would later discover the famous Comstock Lode in Nevada, and a young orphaned girl named Martha Jane Canary, who became known a Calamity Jane. As a child, Marth was adopted and moved with her new parents to Miners Delight. She liked the wild life in both Atlantic City and Miners Delight, and then in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Today, the site is located on Bureau of Land Management property. Some preservation work has been done in order to keep the few remaining buildings standing, but the site is not being restored. Miners Delight is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site continues to preserve several cabins, one building that was said to have been a saloon, a baker, a barn, and a couple of outhouses. They are the last remnants of a long ago era.
Few people know that within the United States, there lies a sovereign, independent nation, that is located in and completely surrounded by territory of the United States. The nation is called Molossian, and while this nation is not recognized by any other nation, and certainly not by the United States, its founder, Kevin Baugh, born on July 30, 1962, has declared it a nation since 1977, when he claimed it as a micronation within the United States. It is also known as the Republic if Molossia. Its headquarters is located at Kevin’s home near Dayton, Nevada. On April 16, 2016, Baugh even hosted a tour of the Republic of Molossia, sponsored by the website Atlas Obscura. Kevin Baugh continues to pay property taxes, or “foreign aid” on the land to Storey County (the recognized local government). The county lists the property identified as being within the county as Manufactured Home Converted to Real Property. Kevin Baugh has stated, “We all want to think we have our own country, but you know the U.S. is a lot bigger.”
Molossia was a kingdom for over twenty years, followed by a People’s Democratic Republic, which then became today’s Republic in 1999 XXII. His Excellency, President Kevin Baugh is the current leader of the tiny nation. The nation encompasses a total area of 11.3 acres, Molossia is one of the smallest nations on earth, boasting just 27 citizens, but they all consider themselves citizens of Molossia for sure. A sense of humor characterizes most Molossian people, which makes sense, because you would have to have a sense of humor when you live in a nation that nobody else thinks exists. This coupled with the casual and comfortable western lifestyle, makes Molossia an enjoyable place to visit…should you ever find yourself in the area of Dayton, Nevada, about 28 miles from Reno. It is also about 28 miles from Lake Tahoe, and minutes away from Virginia City. There are some things you need to know before you decide to visit the Republic of Molossia. First, you can only visit by appointment, and upon arrival, you will have to go through customs. Another interesting fact is that the Republic of Molossia has its own currency, called the valora, which is subdivided into 100 futtrus and pegged to the relative value of Pillsbury cookie dough. Cookie dough is stored in an outbuilding called the Bank of Molossia, from which valora coins made from gambling chips and printed banknotes are sold. The Republic of Molossia also has its own Navy, Naval Academy, Space Program, Railroad, Postal Service, Bank, tourist attractions, measurement system, holidays, online movie theater, online radio station, and even its own time zone, although none of these things are recognized outside of Molossia.
The origins of Molossia come from a micronation childhood project, called The Grand Republic of Vuldstein, founded by Baugh and James Spielman on May 26, 1977, located in the same place as present day Molossia. Vuldstein was run and populated by King James I (Spielman), and Prime Minister (Baugh), although Spielman soon left “Vuldstein” and moved elsewhere, and more likely outgrew the childhood fantasy. Baugh used this name for several nomadic kingdoms as he traveled to Europe. From 1998 to 1999, Molossia was a member of the United Provinces of Utopia 3. On September 3, 1999, Baugh created the Republic of Molossia as a successor country to Vuldstein, and declared himself president. On November 13, 2012, Kevin Baugh created a petition on the Whitehouse.gov We the People website to obtain official recognition of his micronation. He declared that at the last census, held on March 18, 2012, 27 inhabitants lived in Molossia. It is the Baugh family’s primary place of residence, and the site of Molossia’s designated capital, Baughston. Baughston was renamed from Espera on 30 July 2013 to commemorate President Baugh’s 51st birthday. And true to any sovereign nation, the Republic of Molossia claims to be at war with East Germany. What is a nation without a war? The Republic of Molossia alleges that East Germany is responsible for military drills performed by Kevin Baugh while stationed with the United States Military in West Germany, and therefore are also responsible for the resulting lack of sleep. While East Germany formally ceased to exist in 1991 via the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Molossia argues that “Ernst Thälmann Island, through dedication by Cuba to Weimar German politician Ernst Thälmann and lack of mention in the Treaty on the Final Settlement or by the nation of Cuba either, is still East German land, allowing the war to continue.” I can’t say why Baugh believes that he can have a sovereign nation within the borders of an already sovereign nation, but apparently he does.
Gold brought miners from the east to multiple areas of the American west…all looking to make their fortune in the gold fields. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just gold and silver miners who flooded Nevada, or any other gold rush area, in the late 1800s in search of their fortunes. The West was indeed wild, and it and the gold also attracted plenty of outlaws and bandits, looking to make their fortune too, but not willing to do the work to mine the gold. Nevada, like other states of the Wild West, attracted its share of outlaws and bandits. One such man, named Andrew Jackson “Jack” Davis, led a gang of thieves involved in robbing stage stops, bullion wagons, and trains in Western Nevada.
Davis first arrived in the area in 1859. His plan was to lead two different lives, and he carried it out quite well. To the outside world he looked like a legitimate business man when he set up a livery stable in Gold Hill. However, in his “spare” time, Davis and his gang took to the bandit road, taking gold and bullion from any source they could find. Davis built a small bullion mill in Six Mile Canyon east of Virginia City, Nevada. There, he melted down his stolen gold, selling it as legitimate gold bars. He then buried his proceeds so people would not notice or catch on to how wealthy he really was, because after all, how rich could a livery stable owner be.
On November 4, 1870 the gang robbed the express car of the Central Pacific Railroad near Verdi, Nevada taking some $40,000 in gold coins and bullion. Pursued by lawmen, they were said to have buried the stolen cache along the north bank of the Truckee River, between Reno and Laughton’s Hot Springs west of town, near the site of the long-abandoned River Inn. The entire gang was apprehended and all were sent to the Nevada State Prison, but would not tell where they had hidden their stolen loot. In 1875, Davis was paroled but two years later, he was shot in the back during a Wells Fargo stagecoach robbery near Warm Springs, Nevada. If Davis ever returned for his cache is unknown, but many believe it is still hidden in Six-Mile Canyon or in the vicinity of the Truckee River. Treasure hunters have long searched these two locations without success. If the money is still there, it may never be found.
Another legend abounds that the ghost of Jack Davis protects his treasure in the canyon. Many who have looked for the treasure have been frightened away by the white screaming phantom that is said to sometimes sprout wings and rise into the air. I suppose some would say I shouldn’t be so skeptical, but since I don’t believe in ghosts, my guess is that people just get freaked out, and their imagination runs away with them. Nevertheless, those who think they have seen what they believe to be a ghost, would not be persuaded by my disbelief in same.
Yesterday, while coming home from a routine trip to see my sister-in-law, Brenda’s doctor in Fort Collins, Colorado, she received a phone call from her cousin, Sheila Cole. We don’t hear from her often, so we were immediately on high alert, and rightfully so. The news was bad…her mother, who is my mother-in-law’s younger sister, Linda Cole had passed away of a heart attack. Linda was the middle of three girls in their family. We were stunned. She was only 69 years old.
The phone call instantly transported my thoughts back about 35 to 40 years, when Bob and I took our girls over to the dinky little town of Kennebec, South Dakota every year to visit their great aunt and uncle, and their cousins. We always had a great time when we went. It wasn’t that we did so very much, while we were there, but we talked and laughed, and just enjoyed each other’s company. When they moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, those visits became fewer and further between, and over the last ten years, we really hadn’t been down there at all. Looking back now, I have to wonder if we would have made the trip, had we known the future. I guess we all have those thoughts when someone passes away. All of the woulda, coulda, shoulda thoughts come to our minds with regret, as we contemplate the loss of that loved one. We felt the same way after her husband, Bobby Cole passed away in May of 2014, but just thought there would be enough time for it later, or hoped that she would make the trip up here for a visit. Whatever the case may be, the time for all that had passed now, and we were simply left with our feelings of shocked disbelief, and a lot of phone calls to make.
Still, my thoughts have persisted. I remembered all the years that Linda and Bobby had spent as part of a square dance club. They made the elaborate costumes that square dancers had always worn, and looked forward to each event. While square dancing was never my thing, I could always see that they totally delighted in it. Later, when they moved to Winnemucca, they both worked in a casino, and could often be found doing a little gambling after work before heading back home. I suppose a lot of people would have wondered if they ever got in trouble for not coming directly home, but I can say that they didn’t, because they were there together. I guess that was always the most important thing…being together. That’s what marriage is all about. I know that the two years since Bobby’s passing have been lonely ones for Linda. Even though her children, Sheila and Pat talked to her often, it simply isn’t the same as being with your life long soul mate. Now, they are together again, and while our hearts are heavy, I know they are having the time of their lives. Rest in peace Linda. We love you, and miss you already.
When you are married to a college football coach, watching sports is…well, a given. Thankfully for my niece, Lindsay Moore, this is not a problem, because she loves watching sports with her husband, Shannon, especially when it is his team playing. Although, I guess she doesn’t get to watch those with him…exactly. Shannon is the Special Teams Coordinator at Florida International University. One of the nice things for Lindsay and Shannon is that he often has to travel for recruiting purposes, and obviously, football season does not run all year, so this leaves them with lots of time to travel, since Lindsay works from home, and a laptop can go anywhere. He takes Lindsay to a sporting event in any major city they go to. Which is usually baseball right now, since its the football offseason. They did get to see a Miami Dolphins vs. Minnesota Vikings game this last December, which Lindsay really enjoyed, however.
Traveling is a wonderful thing for them both, because Shannon loves to explore. His adventurous spirit has them trying new things all the time. Most of the time, this is very cool for both of them, although sometimes it can take Lindsay out of her comfort zone a bit…like riding a Zip Line in Keystone, South Dakota for instance. I almost had to laugh about Lindsay not being comfortable with that, because Bob and I did that a couple of years ago. It just seemed odd to me that a young person would be uncomfortable with it, but then my own daughter, Corrie Petersen was too, so I guess the comfort zone knows no age. Nevertheless, Lindsay said that they did it, and it was awesome!! I would have to agree.
With lots of time to travel, Lindsay and Shannon have take to going camping with their parents as much as possible. This has been a blessing for both of their families, since they live in Florida, which is a good distance from either of their families. This summer has found Lindsay and Shannon traveling in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona…so far. Shannon’s adventurous spirit is having great time, for sure.
Shannon is the type of person who really never met a stranger. He meets them, and he is their friend. He has the ability to adapt and settle in wherever his work finds him next. That is a great quality to have, since many of us have trouble meeting new people. Lindsay says of her husband, that he is seriously the nicest person ever, he has a great laugh, and that he always keeps her smiling, laughing, and feeling adventurous, but probably her favorite thing about him is his kind heart. He is a no strings attached giver…just because he likes to help people in any way he can. In other words, he continues to amaze her every day. A good thing in a marriage. Today is Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Many little girls want nothing more than to be just like their mommy, and my cousin Shirley was no different. In her eyes, her mom was the most beautiful, sophisticated, elegant, and yet strong woman in the world. Her mom, my Aunt Ruth Wolfe was her hero. She was everything Shirley ever wanted to be. Aunt Ruth was so good at so many things. It’s strange to me, that while we saw Aunt Ruth a lot when I was a kid, somehow I didn’t know about all the things she was capable of doing. I knew about some things of course, like her gardening and cooking, but that is something lots of people are good at, so it didn’t seem unusual. While those things didn’t seem unusual to me, finding out years after her passing, that she was an artist and a musician as well, was surprising to me. Aunt Ruth was one of those people who could pick any instrument and play it like she had been taking lessons for years, and yet she hadn’t. Hers was just a natural talent. Shirley remembers the old horn she found. She took it to her mom, and within two days, Aunt Ruth could play it. Shirley is pretty sure it was a Trumpet.
Shirley tells me that Aunt Ruth had the voice of an angel, but because of her shyness, very few people ever got to hear her sing. Sadly, I don’t recall ever being privileged enough to hear her sing. She could yodel too, but only her husband, my Uncle Jim got to hear her do that. I just never realized that she was so shy. How could I have not known that? I guess she just wasn’t shy around me and the rest of our family. Shy was something Aunt Ruth never was with us. Our families loved to get together, and when they lived here in Casper, we saw a lot of them. There were picnics and camping trips to the Big Horns and Casper Mountain. Another thing I never knew about Aunt Ruth is that she was claustrophobic. When camping, she had to sleep with her head outside the tent. Where Aunt Ruth went, of course, Uncle Jim went too, so when she slept with her head outside the tent, so did he. That gave their kids something to tease them about. They were dubbed the star gazers. On one trip to South Dakota, the family went to the Rushmore Caverns. They were worried about how Aunt Ruth would do there. She made it further than expected, even going through Fat Man’s Misery, but just couldn’t make it the whole way. I’m sure my sister, Allyn Hadlock could totally agree with Aunt Ruth when it came to claustrophobia.
Over the years, she learned many things about medicine, which is another thing she and I have in common. She could care for cuts, even deep ones, without scarring and without benefit of a doctor. From setting broken noses, to cuts deep enough to almost run from heel to ankle, she could do it all. I suppose that is also what made living on the mountain top in Washington state feel safe and cozy to her. While she didn’t really like the snow and cold, she did love her mountain, and being so close to her family. While Aunt Ruth loved spending time with our family too, she was nevertheless, a Gypsy of sorts, and liked to go and see new places. The gypsy in her would eventually take the family to Nevada, California, and finally to Washington state. Shirley tells me that she was the happiest when she was traveling. After they retired, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim traveled to Oklahoma, and wintered in Arizona and several other places where it was warm.
She gardened, canned, cooked, baked amazing cakes and then decorated them too, and she sewed their clothing. She was the kind of woman the Bible calls a blessing to her husband and family, and so she was. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 89th birthday. Shirley says and I agree, that her laughter is what she misses the most. It lit up her world. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Ruth!! We love and miss you very much!!
As Bob and I were on our walk on the Mickelson Trail last week, we came across an informational sign on the Homestake Mine. I was really quite surprised as some of the information it contained. Of course, I had read about the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota…who hadn’t. The exact date of the discovery is unknown, but the discovery brought many people to the Black Hills…which was in direct violation of the treaty with the Lakota and Cheyenne Sioux Indians. That discovery also brought about the Great Sioux War of 1876…also known as the Black Hills War. Most people will remember that it was during this war, that George Armstrong Custer made his last stand at The Battle of The Little Big Horn.
The Homestake Mine, near Lead, South Dakota, was founded in 1876 and while it changed hands several times, it was in operation until all the gold mines were mandatorily shut down to encourage the miners to work in more important fields to help with the war effort in World War II. The thing that surprised me the most was that most of the gold mines did not reopen after the war was over. Gold is such a valuable metal, so why would the mines not reopen? One thought comes to mind. Gold was mined underground, sometimes deep underground, as in the case of the Homestake Mine. Underground mining is dangerous as we have seen over the years, with cave-ins and blasts from the gases that can be found there. I have to wonder if the men decided that the new skills they had learned during World War II were a better way to make money and maybe, stay alive.
Nevertheless, the Homestake mine was one that reopened after the war, and then went on to continue to be a successful mine until their last production of ore in 2001. The Homestake Mine ceased production at the end of 2001, due to low gold prices, poor ore quality, and high costs. The Homestake Mine Company had merged with The Barrick Gold Corporation and they were dewatering the mine as DUSEL negotiations continued. This was a slow process and very expensive at $250,000 per month. The mining company was having great difficulty justifying the cost, and the process ceased on June 10, 2003 and the mine was closed completely.
These days, there are a number of operating gold mines around the country, but the state with the largest production of gold is Nevada. The need and desire for gold did not cease after World War II, it was probably just more that a lot of mines didn’t produce the quality or quantity that was really needed to be successful. It almost seems as if the closure of the mines in World War II had a greater impact than anyone would have ever expected. Whatever her end was, the Homestake was not a casualty of the World Wars, and went on to become the longest continuously operating gold mine in the world.
For years, Bob and I and our girls went to visit his aunt and uncle, Linda Knox Cole and Bobby Cole and their children Sheila and Pat, in Kennebec, South Dakota, where they owned and operated a hotel. One thing about visiting relatives who own a hotel, is that you don’t have to worry about where you will be staying. For many years, we really enjoyed going over to visit Linda and Bobby once a year. While we were there, we didn’t do anything special. We visited and played some cards. It was a very laid back, unhurried sort of mini vacation. The girls always liked going over, because they had cousins to play with. We didn’t always have a week or more to go on the trip, so more often than not, the trip would take place on a three day weekend, and would end with the girls having to go to school the next day. That left the trip home for the girls, in a full head of curlers. The good news, is that I hadn’t started curling their hair in socks yet, so I suppose that made it a little better for them. They never acted like they were embarrassed about being in curlers…even when we took pictures in the curlers.
One year, the trips to Kennebec just stopped. The hotel caught fire when a bolt of lightning hit it. While they knew the strike was close, they did not know it had hit the hotel until they smelled the burning wood from the upstairs rooms. The hotel was a total loss…at least the income areas of the hotel. The last time I saw the hotel, it was a charred shell of what it had once been. It was a sad time for everyone, because it was the beginning of change…a change that would end the yearly trips to Kennebec. After weighing the options, Linda and Bobby decided to move to Winnemucca, Nevada. While my in-laws tried to see Linda and Bobby during their snowbird days, with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in my mother-in-law, and the advancement of COPD in my father-in-law, their snowbird days came to an abrupt end too. After that, Bob and I saw Linda and Bobby a couple more times, and now, sadly it has been probably five to ten years since we saw them last.
During the years when we were busy taking care of my in-laws, Bobby had a heart attack. He survived and tried to make some healthy changes in his lifestyle. The one bad habit he could not give up, was his smoking, and in the end, it would be his smoking that would bring on his death. A couple of years ago, Bobby was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. They tried their best to fight the cancer, and hoped for a longer life for Bobby, but that was not to be. Bobby passed away on May 31, 2014. So much has changed over the years. Time and distance have kept family members apart, because of mounting health issues. I wish Linda had been able to see her sister, my mother-in-law, Joann, before the time came when she could not remember who she was. And I wish they had not had to go through Bobby’s last years alone too. Rest in peace Bobby. We love you and we will miss you.
My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim lived in the Casper area for a time before moving to Reno, NV and later California and finally Washington state. We used to spend time at their place in Dempsey Acres when they lived here. All of us kids had a great time out there. They had a great garden that took up 3/4 of an acre, and 100 chickens. They raised most of their own food, and added wild game to the mixed as supplement to their own animals. I remember how good that stuff tasted. You can’t get that in a store, so I will just have to supplement my store bought with the farmer’s market, I guess.
After their move, we didn’t get to see them as much, and I always wished that hadn’t been the case. When they did visit, we always had such a great time. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim were really fun people to be around. Whenever they came to visit, I remember thinking how different…sophisticated they were now, but then I would be reminded that my Aunt Ruth always wore moccasins, the kind with beads and such on them. That reminded me that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. That very much proved to be correct because after a number of years in the cities in Nevada and California, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Jim, and their entire family moved to Washington state and bought land in the mountains. Finally she would feel at home again.
Aunt Ruth passed away in 1992 and Uncle Jim is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease. It makes me sad that I can’t talk with them again on this Earth, because they always had such interesting stories to tell about all their travels and life in the places they lived. I know I’ll see them again in Heaven, but right now that time seems so far away, even though it could come at any moment.