Now Where’d That Mule Go?
The Misadventures of Mitch Kumstein
(the dog who blogs)
Did ya ever wonder how much that 1968 Camaro ya drove around and abused as a kid is worth today? Or why ya attached a rookie Henry Aaron card to yur rear spokes just ta hear that cool noise? Don’t we all have stories of things we used ta own that we tore up or sold too cheap that are worth a ton of cash now? Well, then, this little tale is gonna be one of those “maybe I screwed up, but look at what that guy did” story, ‘cuz I know a guy that sold a $125,000 mining share for $500 and a MULE!! Yes, friends, what is about ta unfold is the sad story of Frank “Shorty” Harris, the one time half owner of the Bullfrog, one of the biggest mining strikes in history.
Shorty was what ya might call a minin’ bum, who had come west from Rhode Island in 1876, and spent the next 28 years or so chasing his luck from Leadville ta Tombstone ta Goldfield, and finally ta Death Valley. Shorty was a happy-go-lucky little guy, who loved drinkin’ and story-tellin’, a coupla’ habits that would ultimately take him down. Its weird how often opposites attract each other, and in this case, Shorty’s partner, Ed Cross, couldn’t have been more different. Ed was a quiet, sober, newlywed, who had partnered up with Shorty only after arriving too late in the area to find a real partner. As the story goes, Ed was busy cookin up sum breakfast one morning, when one of Shorty’s mules took off. Shorty takes off after ‘em, stubs his toe on a rock, falls down, looks around, and THERE IT IS, THE STRIKE OF THE CENTURY!! FORGET THE BREAKFAST EDDIE, LET’S GET TA GOLDFIELD AND GET THIS ASSAYED!! Samples come back with an incredible worth of $3,000 per ton, and our boys are in business! Our sober newlywed quickly lines up a sale for the minin’ rights, but can’t close the deal ‘cause Shorty disappears for almost a week of premature partying! When he finally sobers up, he finds out at sum time durin’ his drinkin’ spree, he had sold his half to a Mr. J.W. McGalliard for $500 in cash and a kinda shaky-lookin’ mule. Ed, on the other hand, sells his share to a San Francisco broker for $125,000, buys a ranch in Escondido, California, and lives happily ever-after.
But don’t shed any tears for Shorty. He continued to live the life he loved, and prospected in the area for almost another 30 years. When death finally caught up ta him, he had one simple request: “When I die, bury me beside old Jim Dayton in Death Valley. Above me write, “Here lies Shorty Harris, a single blanket, jackass prospector.” And ya know, Shorty didn’t need or really care about his lost fortune. In his eyes, the real gift was bein’ able ta walk around Death Valley with is lone pack mule, quietly searchin’ for that next treasure. As it should be, Shorty, as it should be.”
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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