When you are tooling down the Interstate between Lovelock and Winnemucca, at about Mill City exit, look northward to the side of Eugene mountain, and what do you see?” A lot of nothing.

A ghost road winding up the landscape to the mountain. If you stop at the Unionville Road exit, and look northward, you will see an old paved road that looks about 80 years old. Where the crumbling quaint road disappears into the mountain, there once was a community that was larger than Imlay. At night, it looked as big as Lovelock, because of all the company buildings and outside flood lights. Welcome to “Tungsten Mine,” a town that never had an official name, other than Tungsten Mine. Most just called it Tungsten.

During WW2, it was the biggest producing tungsten mine in the world, and stayed so until the early American “entrepreneurs” discovered Chinese slave labor, and slowly Tungsten mine withered away, the victim of cheap labor overseas, In the 1950's Tungsten mine closed, they could not compete with slave labor. Sound familiar, even today? The hard rock miners at Tungsten were earning the humongous sum of almost three dollars an hour, the Chinese workers were tickled to get paid three dollars a day. So, the greedy American “entrepreneurs” started a trend that's still popular today. Otherwise. today's Tungsten Mine might be a large prosperous thriving community, with a four-lane highway to it instead of a ghost road, and a ghost town at the end of the ghost road.

Tungsten, as most called the community, had a post office, store, barber shop, large school, first through 8th grade. Upper Camp consisted mainly of company buildings and mining equipment, shops, company offices, the mine entrance, the rock crusher, smelters, water treatment plant, and a lot of one room cabins where the single workers housed. Lower Camp had the post office and store, the school, the water storage tank, baseball field, and a community of company houses, where the married workers lived with their families. A school bus carried the high school kids to Pershing County High School in Lovelock. There were six high school girls, Emma, Beverley, Pat, Gloria, Betty, Janiece, and one boy named Roy. The bus also picked up students in Mill City, Imlay, and Oreana. And Peggy Lamb from Lambs service station and store near Oreana. The famous girl named Gwen Hefner got on at Oreana.

At night, driving past Imlay and Mill City on old two-lane Highway 40, Tungsten looked like a big city up on the mountain, mainly because of the big outside company flood lights. Winnemucca and Lovelock were about the same size back then, and neither would have looked more impressive on that mountainside at night than Tungsten. Tungsten had all that, and they also had the meanest guy in town, some said the meanest guy in Pershing County. Remember, hard rock miners were known for their toughness. And some for their meanness. A boy in the eighth grade by the name of Rich had for his father, the meanest guy in town. The old guy was so mean, no one in town liked him, including his wife and kids. I'm glad Will Rogers didn't know him. That could have created a problem for Will.

The old meanie couldn't associate with anyone. When he went to the bars at Mill City, no one could singly whip up on him, like they wanted. They would gang up on him, beat the daylights out of him. So, he had to do his serious drinking at home, and beat up on his wife and kids. He kept the County Constable living at Tungsten busy. Louie Lay was constable.

One of his main enemies lived a few houses away from him. The man had an absolutely beautiful Model A Phaethon Coupe, showroom condition. It had chromed wire spoke wheels and white sidewall tires. The guy kept the Model A parked in his yard, and not on the street like everyone else. Late one evening, when the Model A owner was at work, and Old Meanie was home, something bad happened to the pristine Model A Coupe. It was blown to bits by a mysterious bomb some meanie had placed under the hood, and on the motor. One guess who was the prime suspect. Since a bomb was used to do the dirty deed, the FBI was called and investigated. They never charged anyone with the crime, though everyone knew who did it.

You will have to come back next week to read of another incident involving Old Meanie. About the night a boy named Roy tossed an M 80 firecracker through his open bedroom window, while he was lying on his bed reading a dime novel. Exciting times in Old Tungsten Town, circa 1947. Stay tuned.

Roy Bale can be reached at roybalemail@yahoo.com.