When Jim Butler discovered silver ore in the desolate location called Tonopah Springs in the spring of 1900, he and his wife Belle filed claims for eight mines. The largest, called the Mizpah, produced the most silver of all. It continued producing long after the other mines had petered out.
'Mizpah' has several meanings. It is Hebrew for "Watchtower." It also means an agreement between two people, and an emotional bond between people who are separated by long distances.
Before construction began on the Mizpah Hotel in 1905, the site was occupied by the Mizpah Casino, a one-story ramshackle place mostly populated by miners, gamblers, and 'working girls.' The hotel as envisioned by the wealthy mine owners and investors who funded its construction was to entice those with power, money, and prestige to Tonopah.
Once it was opened for business in 1907, the Mizpah Hotel did indeed fulfill its mission, attracting politicians, bankers, stage and screen stars, and a host of other well-heeled guests who marveled at the luxury and comfort of such a palatial hotel in the middle of nowhere.
Meanwhile, the mine that gave the hotel its name continued producing prodigious amounts of silver ore. Finally, not long after World War II, the Mizpah mine was closed along with the other original mines. Today, visitors to the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, just behind the Mizpah Hotel, can see the Mizpah and other mines for themselves. We'll be discussing the mining park in a future post.