Oddly enough, considering the mountains with which the Valley is surrounded and theamount of gold, silver and copper that have been found in other Nevada mountains, no ore discovery of any significance has ever been made in this area. Likewise, all attempts so far, to find oil have failed even though it has been found in significant amounts in Railroad Valley adjacent to White River Valley to the west. It is not that there haven't been prospectors and the region has its share of tales of lost mines that someone found and was never able to go back to. Then always in the background was the hope generated by the Will Hendrix mine in Sawmill Canyon that to this day, he claims is worth developing. The ore shows traces of gold, silver and copper and especially beryllium and for good measure, another find close by has indications of iron.
In spite of the fact that none of these hopes have ever materialized, mining and the industries that developed in connection with its have played an important part in the economy of the Valley and conversely, residents of the Valley played an important part in the development of these industries in the county in ways other than as producers of farm products or consumers of goodsand services. I will just make brief mention of some of these because they are included in otherchapters.
Mining at Ruth and Kimberly were getting a start at the same time the towns of Lund andPreston were being settled and a number of the settlers, needing money to make payments to theNevada Land and Livestock Company for their land, took their freight outfits and hauledmaterials including lumber from Duck Creek, to build the mine shafts and other necessarybuildings. Others used their freight outfits to haul material to build the railroad.
A number of White River residents or former residents have engaged in merchandising inEly. The store backed by 0. H. Snow, Arthur Snow, Mart Petersen, H. A. Comins and A. L.Parker and managed by A. R. Whitehead was mentioned in the chapter on merchandising. AndyPetersen recalls that there was a large livery stable next to this store for the use of freightersbringing in materials and supplies and his father, Mart Petersen, managed it and helped thefreighters with their horses. One freighter, J. Gilbert, drove a six or eight span outfit and wouldnever allow anyone but himself to touch his horses. He would talk to them and they seemed tounderstand him. When they were unhitched they would walk into the barn in a line and take theirplaces in perfect order at the feed bin, and when he was getting ready to leave the next morning,they would again take their places in the line-up at the wagons in the same orderly fashionwaiting their turn to be hitched.
When the Hendrix brothers were running cattle at Sunnyside they started a meat market inEly in order to get some of the profits of the middleman. Lorain Hendrix was in charge of thatend of the business and that is where he had the accident with a knife that cost him the sight ofone eye. This venture did not last very long. Grant Oxborrow, who is also part Hendrix, and hiswife, Edna Nicholas Oxborrow, ran the Ely Meat and Grocery Company for a number of years. The latest of the Hendrix family to try the meat business in Ely are Norris Hendrix, grandson ofLorain, and his wife Joy Gardner Hendrix. In 1979 they took over a meat packing company nearthe overpass which they call Hendrix Custom Meat.
Mention was made in the section on dairying of the contributions made to the dairy businessin Ely by R. D. McKenzie, Will Vance and Will Hendrix. About 1934, Rod McKenzie, with hismany interests, in partnership with George Oxborrow, was given a contract by Bill Goodman tohaul ore from the dumps at Taylor for reprocessing. They had John McKenzie, Mick and WaltOxborrow and Anthony Ashby on the crew to haul the ore. At first the ore was moved with adragline hooked up to a fresno scraper and had to be dumped by hand. Later Rod McKenziewent to Denver and found a self-load, self-dump scraper. He and Neil Gardner, Sr. rigged up adragline with an old automobile motor, set it on an automobile frame and so had a motor-drivenearth mover.
So the contributions of White River to White Pine County are varied. James Riordan was afounder of the Ely National Bank and its president for ten years.
The very successful Standard Market was started by Ern Morley, a former resident of Prestonand at present is run by his sons and a son-in-law, Gary Harrison. Gary Harrison, also the presentmayor of Ely (1979) is the grandson of Moses and Louisa Harrison who came to Lund before theturn of the century. Antone Harrison, father of Gary, was the manager of the Northern Hotel formany years. It was then the leading hotel in the city.
John L. Whipple and J. J. Gubler with Richard R. Swallow of Spring Valley were among theimportant backers who built the Nevada Hotel. Whatever it has contributed to the good life ofthe county it did not prove an immediate financial success for them and they were forced to sell.
John McKenzie, in partnership with Dick Nall, started the McKenzie Nall Lumber Company. When he sold his interest in that he started the first and only laundromat in Ely. He added a drycleaning establishment and a craft shop and he and his wife, Fay Ashby McKenzie ran thisbusiness under the name of Great Basin Laundry for many years until they retired recently.
Bud Hendrix and Marion Arnoldsen have both been oil and gas distributors and operated service stations in Ely. Loren and Beulah O'Donnell, Joe and Wanda Cazier and Harold and Harriet Ivins have all owned and operated motels in Ely. Ralph Gubler owned and operated "Ralph's", a popular barber shop, familiar to county residents for more than a quarter of a century.
Nevin Munson's construction company has built many of the beautiful homes and businessestablishments in the county. George Gardner has also been active in different aspects of theconstruction business.
While speaking of county industry I might mention the Black Jack Inn at the crossroads ofthe Ely-Tonopah highway and the turn-off toward Preston and Lund. It is a combination bar,lunch room, service station and motor court and has been run at different times by a number ofpeople among them Charles and Florence (Pody) Funk, Dan F. Halstead and at present JackTaylor. Also performing a county service is the hauling and trucking business, Dan F. Halsteadand sons (Danny and Gary) that has recently been moved from the Blackjack Inn to a location onthe highway between Lund and Preston.
The Lund Garage established by Jesse Hold in the 1960's and used locally in large part forrepair of farm machinery, assumes greater importance to the county as more and more traffic isbeing drawn over the Sunnyside Shortcut. The Highway Maintenance station recently located atLund is another link with the county in that its services are countywide.
These are some of the Valley's contributions to the business community over the years. Thepeople who have been employed by various business, industrial and service organizations are toonumerous to mention. It was obvious from the beginning that the number of people industries inthe Valley would support was limited and the mines drew many of the young people who did notgo farther afield. Many of them made homes in Ely, Ruth, Kimberly and McGill. When bettercars and improved roads made commuting a possibility quite a few of the young people who tookjobs with Kennecott, Consolidated Copper and other employers in the Ely area to make a livingor supplement inadequate farm incomes, chose to retain or build homes in Lund and Preston.
So in the numerous ways I have mentioned the economy of the Valley is closely linked withthe mining, business and political center of the county. When any part of the economy suffers asetback the Valley feels the pinch. Nevertheless there is a certain stability in a farm area and inspite of the growing struggle to maintain the small family farm Lund has remained much thesame as far as population is concerned over the years.
White River has seen a number of shutdowns, strikes and lay-offs as well as periods ofaccelerated activity at the mines. In the depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929a number of young families who had left, returned, not because the area offered any opportunitiesbut because it offered a haven to weather the storm. Since the recent local depression caused bythe shutdown of Kennecott in 1978 although, like the rest of the county a number of youngpeople have left to seek employment elsewhere, several new homes have been built or are beingbuilt in Lund and Preston.
This return to rural areas and small towns is a statistical fact that has been noted nationallyand were there more opportunities for employment and a solution to the energy problem it isconceivable that the movement would be greater. What is hard to conceive is what a suddeninflux of boom proportions accompanying construction of MX missile bases would do to thequality of life people have found in peaceful White River Valley.