A Landing a Day

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Ruth, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on February 7, 2009

Never been here before?  Check out “About Landing,” above. 


Dan –  So I root for the end of the “tedious” pattern, and what happens?  Four OSers in a row, that’s what.  Today’s OSer . . . NV; 61/59; 4/10; 6; 167.9. 

As for watersheds, this was one of those non-events.  My watershed entry reads “ut; Internal.”  (The little unnamed tributary I landed beside flowed north for a few miles, and then just ended . . .)

Anyway, I landed near (if you call 26 miles “near”) the town of Ruth, pop 400, (which itself, or herself, isn’t far from Ely).  Here’s a map:


And a broader view:


It turns out that Ruth has always been a company town.  From Wiki (mostly):

The town of Ruth began in 1903 when it was founded as a company town for workers employed at nearby copper mines. The owner of the mine named the settlement after his only daughter Ruth.  Within a year, the town had a post office, a hospital, and several boarding houses. All of the houses in Ruth belonged to the company.

With the opening of the  Nevada Northern Railway in the year 1906, copper production began to boom.  In spite of the boom times, saloons and bordellos were forbidden.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, in neighboring Riepetown (whose remnants were demolished in 1995), there were 16 saloons; although knifings and robberies were common.  Labor disputes often became bloody.  October 1912 saw shootings increasing and three strikers killed.  Nevada’s Governor proclaimed martial law for Ruth, in order to terminate the strike.

At the beginning of the Great Depression, Ruth had 2,300 inhabitants.  The company that had founded Ruth changed ownership in 1956.  The old city Ruth was demolished because of expansion of the open pit mining.  The new owner, Kennecott Corporation, offered the building of a new city with houses to the inhabitants for favorable prices.  The new settlement was turned over to the administration of the County.

Due to the frequent relocations through the years (because of expansion of the mine), Ruth got the name traveling town.

The mining of copper and the railway were shut down in 1999.  The current size of the out pit is 3.2 km long, 1.6 km across and 1000 ft. deep.

Here’s a picture of a portion of the abandonned open pit:


Here’s a picture of Ruth today, with a huge pile of tailings (waste rock left behind after separating out the copper) in the background:


Here’s another tailings shot:


Here’s a picture of some trains in Ruth back in 1909:


And a shot of some miners back in 1940:


From a photo exhibit entitled “Imaging a Shattering Earth” (click HERE), comes this picture and the environmentally-oriented write-up below:

Open pit

Opened in 1911 in Ruth, Nevada, the Liberty Pit is only one of many open pit copper mines in the United States. Run by the Kennecott Copper Corporation for most of its existence, the site brought success to the region for many years. However, in the 1980’s operations were closed due to “Uncle Kenny’s” inability to reach the Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The aqua marine water that appears so pristine in Peter Goin’s photograph is sadly not a place anyone would want to take a dip.  Besides creating enormous craters in the face of the Earth, copper mining contaminates ground water, causes landslides and erosion, and leaves the land ultimately unusable.

Perhaps even more intriguing than the environmental destruction of mining, is the profound impact it has on the people whose lives it sustains.  All over the country, in places like Ruth, whole cities sprung up overnight as a result of mining operations.  After years of relying on the mines, however, many of these towns disappeared in the same fashion when they were shut down.  After the Ruth Liberty Pit and other Kennecott operations closed, 2,000 people immediately left the area, school enrollment dropped 34 percent , and the unemployment rate exceeded 20 percent.

In the mid-1990’s BHP Copper, an Australian mining corporation reopened the mines, and provided a much needed economic boost.  While the restoration of mining was beneficial to the people of Ruth for the time being, the Nevada landscape was once again be submitted to the devastating effects of mining.  In June 1999, however, as a result of low copper and gold prices, BHP Copper laid off 452 area employees and left for good.  Today the mines remain inactive as the people of Ruth once again struggle to define their lives beyond the mines.

 Nothing simply about the issues raised above.  The world needs copper; people need jobs; the environment needs to be protected . . .




© 2009 A Landing A Day




One Response to “Ruth, Nevada”

  1. Mary Sorenson said

    Ruth is have a Jubilee for the 110 years year on June 23rd. 1902 was the first time the name Ruth was on our area. Love every to come.

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