The Misadventures of Mitch Kumstein Series
“Hey, Is That Teddy Roosevelt?
A look into Goldfield, NV history
Durin’ the mining boom of the early 20th century, Nevada was a crazy place! Towns poppin’ up everywhere. Fortunes won and lost almost overnight. And some of the craziest money-makin’ schemes bein’ hatched to take advantage of all the newfound wealth. Characters such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and even Mark Twain roamed the Nevada desert, hopin’ to make their mark on history. And one of the boldest of these characters produced one of the most promoted events in the Wild West’s most glamorous boom town!
Imagine Goldfield, Nevada, 1906; over 35,000 crazy residents, 3 newspapers, 5 banks, a minin’ stock exchange, and over $11 million in gold bein’ pulled outa the nearby hills that year! Buildin’ lots were sellin’ for $45,000! No doubt this place was the “Queen of the Minin’ Camps”. And like most mining camps, Goldfield had its share of gamblin’ and drinkin’ establishments, the largest and most famous bein’ the Northern, owned by a young dreamer named Tex Rickard. The bar at the Northern was so long that it took 80 bartenders to service all the thirsty townfolk. One of his employees was none other than Wyatt Earp, who worked as a dealer in the gamblin’ portion of the bar! Now, Tex was a born visionary, and what he envisioned turned into one of the biggest, and definitely the longest, championship boxin’ match in history – The 1906 Labor Day Brawl between Joe Gans and Oscar “Battlin’” Nelson!
Now, this was Tex’s first promotion, and he wasn’t messin’ around! The purse was $33,500, a huge payday for fighters in those days, and on fight day, over 100,000 screamin’ fans converged on Goldfield to watch the fight! And these guys were tough! The bout went an amazin’ 42 rounds, and lasted almost 3 hours! Gans finally won when Battlin’ Nelson (man, I love that name!..) was disqualified for a “vicious foul”, and Gans retained his title as Lightweight Champion of the World. You’d think after goin’ 42 rounds, he woulda just retired to the farm, but he kept fightin’, and finished his career with an unbelievable record of 120-8-9, with 89 knockouts!
But the real story is how this fight became the springboard for Tex to become one of the most celebrated boxin’ promoters in history, and eventually owner of the New York Ranger hockey team and builder of Madison Square Garden! And how does Teddy Roosevelt fit into this tale? Well, rumor has it that Teddy was present that day, and actually gave a post-fight speech from the balcony of the Goldfield Hotel (only like most political speeches, no one remembers what he said…). The followin’ year, he had to send federal troops into Goldfield to keep some irate miners from blowin’ up the town because of a labor dispute.
And Goldfield? There are now 300 or so hearty souls still livin’ there, and most will tell ya that one of these days, the town will be discovered again as part of a new national park. In the meantime, though, you just hafta look up at the old Goldfield Hotel, close your eyes, and feel the excitement of a boomin’ town, a frenzied crowd, and a promoter destined for greatness.
Mitch Kumstein Bio
“When people ask me about myself, I just hafta say I’m the luckiest dog on the planet! I was abandoned out in the desert just north of Las Vegas; left to fend for myself. After a few harrowing days and nights lookin’ for water and runnin’ from the coyotes, I stumbled onto a golf course, and was taken in by the staff. Soon, I came to the conclusion that I had a new lease on life, and there were a lot of adventures waitin’ for me out in the wild. So, I took a leave of absence from chasin’ critters at the course and struck out to follow the scent of adventure. And, I decided to write about my findings so everyone could be exposed to the unbelievable history, scenery, personalities, and wildlife that make up our natural environment. If the pics are kinda shaky, and the writin’ kinda sketchy, just be patient….Remember, I’m just a dog!!” – MITCH
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