NEVADA   Bad Men Buried Alone

Harry Oliver’s DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK   4

The Murphy mine was the only producer of any importance in this district, located on the east flank of the Toiyabe range, about 50 miles south of Austin, but in Nye County. A party of French prospectors wandered into the area in 1863. It was a costly operation, with supplies hauled in from Austin over the summit of the Toiyabes at over 10,000 feet. The Murphy mine is credited with a production of $750,000, but the mine paid no dividends. An enormous mill building, built of brick, and ruins of several stone houses on the side of the canyon above the mill are about all that remain today. Ophir Creek, a small clear stream of tumbling water, is a favorite trout stream, and dozens of fishing parties visit each year.

At the mouth of Ophir Canyon, placer gold was discovered a few years ago, but nothing has come of the discovery. On the side hill where the canyon breaks down into Smoky Valley is a small cemetery with perhaps 25 graves, many containing children. Names of most of those buried there are now forgotten. Below the main cluster of mounds are several isolated graves. In one of these a gunman, name now unknown, was buried. “Rutabaga Tom,” and old Indian, still living, tells the following story of this lone grave:

“One bad man, nobody like, buried there, because nobody wants him close to good people. He mean man, killum man just for fun. One time he pick fight with young fellow called Black Bart. They promise fight battle. Each take gun, stand back to back, then walk off thirty steps, but this bad mans he walk only take twenty steps, then he turn quick like rattlesnake striking and shoots at Black Bart. Mebbyso he excited, for he miss target. Black Bart he walk 30 steps, turn, and bad man he is running off. One shot — and he fall — dead. Dead all over. Good people bury bad man all by himself, so he won’t go to happy hunting grounds, with other mans.”—From 50th Anniversary Edition, Tonopah Times Bonanza