A Great Plain lie: The many fraudsters of Kansas’s goldless rush – by Cecilia Keating (CIM Magazine – July 19, 2018)


Despite no concrete evidence of mineable gold deposits in Kansas, far-fetched stories of riches have enticed adventurers, prospectors and mining investors to the state since the 16th century. But the frenzy for non-existent gold culminated at the turn of the 20th century, when a string of fraudsters capitalized on investors’ gullibility and greed with false promises and fake assay results.

Inspired by an 1851 map that revealed a tin mine on the Smoky Hill River in central Kansas, railroad magnate Cyrus Holliday sent prospectors to investigate the area’s geology in 1884. The map was a hoax, but the prospectors’ efforts piqued the interest of a high-ranking military official named Henry Artz.

Artz formed the Smoky River Mining Company in 1895, claiming to have found zinc. Two years later, he reported gold and silver. Despite many prominent assayers’ reports saying the shale contained nothing of value, Artz selectively worked with those who assured him of the opposite.

Denver assayer Aron Beam wowed Artz with his testing results, which showed that the shale promised $15 in gold and $3 in silver per ton, on top of 20 per cent zinc. He alleged he could easily extract it with the “Beam process.” As a result, prospectors flooded the area and businessmen bought options on farmland, formed mining companies and sold shares to city investors. Smoky Hill City was founded.

But Beam was a prolific fraudster, denounced regularly in mining journals and motivated by sales of his process. Kansas state geologist Erasmus Haworth repeatedly reported that state assayers could not find more than negligible gold or silver in samples.

For the rest of this article: http://magazine.cim.org/en/mining-lore/a-great-plain-lie-kansas/

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