University of California Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Western Mining in the Twentieth Century Series
Samuel Shaw Arentz , Jr.
MINING ENGINEER, CONSULTANT, AND ENTREPRENEUR
IN NEVADA AND UTAH, 1934-1992
With an Introduction by
Dooley P. Wheeler, Jr.
Interviews Conducted by
in 1988 and 1992
Copyright 1993 by The Regents of the University of California
Samuel Shaw Arentz , Jr., 1982
Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading
participants in or well -placed witnesses to major events in the development of
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research
technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous
conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity and
clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed in
final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material,
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved,
All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement
between The Regents of the University of California and Samuel Shaw
Arentz, Jr., dated 21 June 1988. The manuscript is thereby made
available for research purposes. All literary rights in the
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The
Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. No part
of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University
of California, Berkeley.
Requests for permission to quote for publication should be
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library,
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal
agreement with Samuel S. Arentz, Jr., requires that he be notified
of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Samuel Shaw Arentz, Jr., "Mining Engineer,
Consultant, and Entrepreneur in Nevada and
Utah, 1934-1992," an oral history
conducted in 1988 and 1992 by Eleanor
Swent, Regional Oral History Office, The
Bancroft Library, University of
California, Berkeley, 1993.
ARENTZ, Samuel Shaw, Jr. (b. 1913) Mining engineer
Mining Engineer. Consultant, and Entrepreneur in Nevada and Utah. 1934-
1992. 1993, xiv, 104 pp.
Childhood and schooling in Nevada and Washington, D.C, as son of
congressman; working in mines: Mercur, Utah; Rico Argentine, Colorado; Ima,
Idaho; Pioche, Nevada; Henderson, Nevada; and Moab, Utah; developing mines
in Utah and Nevada: Butterfield, Bretz, Escalante Mines; employment of
Black miners furloughed from the Army during WWII; uranium boom in Moab,
1950s; advisor on mining education, University of Utah; recollections of
Herbert Hoover; changes in mining methods, organization, equipment.
Introduction by Dooley P. Wheeler, Jr., director of exploration and mining,
Umont Mining Inc .
Interview conducted in 1988 and 1992 by Eleanor Swent for Western Mining in
the Twentieth Century Oral History Series. The Regional Oral History
Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
TABLE OF CONTENTS --Samuel Shaw Arentz, Jr.
INTRODUCTION- -by Dooley P. Wheeler, Jr. ix
INTERVIEW HISTORY- -by Eleanor Swent xi
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION xiii
I SON OF A MINING ENGINEER/CONGRESSMAN 1
School in Nevada and Washington, D.C. 2
University of Nevada; Mackay School of Mines, 1930-1934 5
Father's Background 8
Mother's Background 10
II A MINING ENGINEER. 1934-1954 12
Mercur, Utah, 1934-1938 12
Rico Argentine, Colorado, 1938-1939 18
Ima, Idaho, 1940 19
Pioche, Nevada, 1941-1952 22
World War II; Furloughed Black Miners 27
Ed Snyder Acquires the Henderson, Nevada, Magnesium Plant 30
Moab, Utah, Uranium Boom, 1952-1954 33
III ENTREPRENEUR AND CONSULTANT AFTER 1954 39
Leasing the Butterfield Mine, 1954 39
Appraising Uranium Properties 43
The Bretz Mine Developmenmt, 1955 44
The Escalante Mine Development, 1958-1990 44
Searching for Partners 46
Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation 52
Vertical Crater Retreat Mining and End Stoping 53
Labor Relations 55
IV OTHER ACTIVITIES 56
Political Activities 56
A Family Trip Around the World, 1975 58
Other Travels 61
Regent, University of Nevada, 1949-1953 62
Advisor, University of Utah, 1973-1991 63
Educating About the Importance of Mining 65
"A Mine Has a Lot of Lives;" Historical Value of Old Sites 68
V CHANGES OBSERVED IN THE MINING INDUSTRY 70
Living Conditions and Wage Benefits 70
Organization of Work 80
Mining Equipment, Especially the EIMCO Loader 82
Recollections of President Herbert Hoover, Mining Engineer 88
TAPE GUIDE 99
APPENDIX- -Curriculum Vitae 100
The oral history series on Western Mining in the Twentieth Century
documents the lives of leaders in mining, metallurgy, geology, education
in the earth and materials sciences, mining law, and the pertinent
government bodies. The field includes metal, non-metal, and industrial
minerals, but not petroleum.
Mining has changed greatly in this century: in the technology and
technical education; in the organization of corporations; in the
perception of the national strategic importance of minerals; in the labor
movement; and in consideration of health and environmental effects of
The idea of an oral history series to document these developments in
twentieth century mining had been on the drawing board of the Regional
Oral History Office for more than twenty years. The project finally got
underway on January 25, 1986, when Mrs. Willa Baum, Mr. and Mrs. Philip
Bradley, Professor and Mrs. Douglas Fuerstenau, Mr. and Mrs. Clifford
Heimbucher, Mrs. Donald McLaughlin, and Mr. and Mrs. Langan Swent met at
the Swent home to plan the project, and Professor Fuerstenau agreed to
serve as Principal Investigator.
An advisory committee was selected which included representatives
from the materials science and mineral engineering faculty and a
professor of history of science at the University of California at
Berkeley; a professor emeritus of history from the California Institute
of Technology; and executives of mining companies.
We note with much regret the death of two members of the original
advisory committee, both of whom were very much interested in the
project. Rodman Paul, Professor Emeritus of History, California
Institute of Technology, sent a hand-written note of encouragement just a
few weeks before his death from cancer. Charles Meyer, Professor
Emeritus of Geology, University of California at Berkeley, was not only
an advisor but was also on the list of people to be interviewed, because
of the significance of his recognition of the importance of plate
tectonics in the genesis of copper deposits. His death in 1987 ended
Thanks are due to other members of the advisory committee who have
helped in selecting interviewees, suggesting research topics, and raising
Unfortunately, by the time the project was organized several of the
original list of interviewees were no longer available and others were in
failing health; therefore, arrangements for interviews were begun even
without established funding.
The project was presented to the San Francisco section of the
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
(AIME) on "Old-timers Night," March 10, 1986, when Philip Read Bradley,
Jr. , was the speaker. This section and the Southern California section
provided initial funding and organizational sponsorship.
The Northern and Southern California sections of the Woman's
Auxiliary to the AIME (WAAIME) , the California Mining Association, and
the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America (MMSA) were early
supporters. Several alumni of the University of California College of
Engineering donated in response to a letter from Professor James Evans,
the chairman of the Department of Materials Science and Mineral
Engineering. Other individual and corporate donors are listed in the
volumes. The project is ongoing, and funds continue to be sought.
Some members of the AIME, WAAIME, and MMSA have been particularly
helpful: Ray Beebe, Katherine Bradley, Henry Colen, Ward Downey, David
Huggins , John Kiely, Noel Kirshenbaum, and Cole McFarland.
The first five interviewees were all born in 1904 or earlier.
Horace Albright, mining lawyer and president of United States Potash
Company, was ninety-six years old when interviewed. Although brief, this
interview will add another dimension to the many publications about a man
known primarily as a conservationist.
James Boyd was director of the industry division of the military
government of Germany after World War II, director of the U.S. Bureau of
Mines, dean of the Colorado School of Mines, vice president of Kennecott
Copper Corporation, president of Copper Range, and executive director of
the National Commission on Materials Policy. He had reviewed the
transcript of his lengthy oral history just before his death in November,
1987. In 1990, he was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame,
Philip Bradley, Jr., mining engineer, was a member of the California
Mining Board for thirty- two years, most of them as chairman. He also
founded the parent organization of the California Mining Association, as
well as the Western Governors Mining Advisory Council. His uncle,
Frederick Worthen Bradley, who figures in the oral history, was in the
first group inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame, Leadville,
Colorado, in 1988.
Frank McQuiston, metallurgist, vice president of Newmont Mining
Corporation, died before his oral history was complete; thirteen hours of
taped interviews with him were supplemented by three hours with his
friend and associate, Robert Shoemaker.
Gordon Oakeshott, geologist, was president of the National
Association of Geology Teachers and chief of the California Division of
Mines and Geology.
These oral histories establish the framework for the series;
subsequent oral histories amplify the basic themes.
Future researchers will turn to these oral histories to learn how
decisions were made which led to changes in mining engineering education,
corporate structures, and technology, as well as public policy regarding
minerals. In addition, the interviews stimulate the deposit, by
interviewees and others, of a number of documents, photographs, memoirs,
and other materials related to twentieth century mining in the West.
This collection is being added to The Bancroft Library's extensive
The Regional Oral History Office is under the direction of Willa
Baum, division head, and under the administrative direction of The
Interviews were conducted by Malca Chall and Eleanor Swent.
Willa K. Baum, Division Head
Regional Oral History Office
Eleanor Swent, Project Director
Western Mining in the Twentieth
Regional Oral History Office
University of California, Berkeley
Western Mining in the Twentieth Century Oral History Series
Interviews Completed, June 1993
Horace Albright, Mining Lawyer and Executive. U.S. Potash Company.
U.S. Borax. 1933-1962. 1989
Samuel S. Arentz, Jr., Mining Engineer. Consultant, and Entrepreneur in
Nevada and Utah. 1934-1992. 1993
James Boyd, Minerals and Critical Materials Management: Military
and Government Administrator and Mining Executive. 1941-1987.
Philip Read Bradley, Jr. , A Mining Engineer in Alaska. Canada, the
Western United States. Latin America, and Southeast Asia. 1988
Catherine C. Campbell, Ian and Catherine Campbell. Geologists:
Teaching. Government Service. Editing. 1989
James T. Curry, Sr. , Metallurgist for Empire Star Mine and Newmont
Exploration. 1932-1955: Plant Manager for Calaveras Cement
Company. 1956-1975. 1990
J . Ward Downey , Mining and Construction Engineer. Industrial Management
Consultant. 1936 to the 1990s. 1992
Hedley S. "Pete" Fowler, Mining Engineer in the Americas. India, and
Africa. 1933-1983. 1992
James Mack Gerstley, Executive. U.S. Borax & Chemical Corporation:
Trustee. Pomona College: Civic Leader. San Francisco Asian Art
John F. Havard, Mining Engineer and Executive. 1935-1981. 1992
George Heikes, Mining Geologist on Four Continents. 1924-1974. 1992
Helen R. Henshaw, Recollections of Life with Paul Henshaw: Latin
America. Homestake Mining Company. 1988
Lewis L. Huelsdonk, Manager of Gold and Chrome Mines. Spokesman
for Gold Mining. 1935-1974. 1988
Arthur I. Johnson, Mining and Metallurgical Engineer in the Black Hills:
Pegmatites and Rare Minerals. 1922 to the 1990s. 1990
Evan Just, Geologist: Engineering and Mining Journal. Marshall Plan.
Cyprus Mines Corporation, and Stanford University. 1922-1980. 1989
Plato Malozemoff, A Life in Mining: Siberia to Chairman of Newmont
Mining Corporation. 1909-1985. 1990
James and Malcolm McPherson, Brothers in Mining. 1992
Frank Woods McQuiston, Jr. , Metallurgist for Newmont Mining Corporation
and U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. 1934-1982. 1989
Gordon B. Oakeshott, The California Division of Mines and Geology.
Vincent D. Perry, A Half Century as Mining and Exploration Geologist
with the Anaconda Company. 1991
Carl Randolph, Research Manager to President. U.S. Borax & Chemical
Corporation. 1957-1986. 1992
John Reed, Pioneer in Applied Rock Mechanics. Braden Mine. Chile. 1944-
1950: St. Joseph Lead Company. 1955-1960: Colorado School of Mines.
Joseph Rosenblatt, EIMCO. Pioneer in Underground Mining Machinery and
Process Equipment. 1926-1963. 1992
Eugene David Smith, Working on the Twenty-Mule Team: Laborer to Vice
President. U.S. Borax & Chemical Corporation. 1941-1989. 1993
James V. Thompson, Mining and Metallurgical Engineer: the Philippine
Islands: Dorr. Humphreys. Kaiser Engineers Companies: 1940- 1990s.
Interviews In Process
Donald Dickey (Oriental Mine), in process
James Jensen (metallurgy) , in process
Robert Kendall (U.S. Borax), in process
John Livermore (geologist) , in process
Langan Swent (San Luis, Homestake, uranium mining), in process
ADVISORS TO THE SERIES, WESTERN MINING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Professor Douglas Fuerstenau, Principal Investigator
Plato Malozemoff Professor, Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
Robert R. Beebe
Senior Vice President (retired) ,
Home stake Mining Company
Mr. Philip R. Bradley
Former Chairman, California State
Mining and Geology Board
President, San Francisco Mining
Professor Neville G. Cook
Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of
J . Ward Downey
Engineering and Industrial
Professor Roger Hahn, Department of
History, University of California,
Mr. John Havard
Senior Vice President (retired),
Kaiser Engineers, Inc.
Mr. Clifford Heimbucher, C.P.A.
Consultant, Varian Associates, Inc.
Mr. John R. Kiely
Senior Executive Consultant
(retired), Bechtel, Inc.
Manager, Mineral Products
Development, Placer Dome U.S.
Chairman Emeritus , Newmont Mining
Mr. Joseph P. Matoney
Vice President (retired)
Coal, Kaiser Engineers, Inc.
Mrs. Donald H. McLaughlin
Founder, Save San Francisco Bay
Professor Malcolm McPherson
Massey Professor of Mining
Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University
*Professor Emeritus Charles Meyer,
Department of Geology, University of
Professor H. Frank Morrison
Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of
Professor Joseph A. Pask
Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of
*Professor Emeritus Rodman Paul,
Department of History, California
Institute of Technology
*Mr. Langan W. Swent
Vice President (retired),
* Deceased during the period of the
The Regional Oral History Office
would like to express its thanks to the organizations
and individuals whose encouragement and support have made possible
The Western Mining in the Twentieth Century Series.
THE WESTERN MINING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
ORAL HISTORY SERIES
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers,
San Francisco, Southern California, and Black Hills Sections
Woman's Auxiliary to the AIME, Southern California and Northern California
California Mining Association
The Jackling Fund of the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Bechtel Group Incorporated
Cyprus Minerals Company
EIMCO Process Equipment Company
Homestake Mining Company
Newmont Mining Corporation
United States Borax & Chemical Corporation
Wharf Resources, Limited
Bechtel Foundation Arthur I. Johnson
James Boyd Dean A. McGee
Arthur C. Bradley Mrs. Frank W. McQuiston, Jr., in
Catherine C. Campbell memory of Frank W. McQuiston, Jr.
Barbara H. and James T. Curry, Jr. Gordon B. Oakeshott
Donald Dickey Vincent D. Perry
Wayne Dowdey Plato Malozemoff Foundation
J. Ward and Alberta P. Downey Public Resource Foundation
James M. Gerstley Joseph Rosenblatt
Mrs. Paul C. Henshaw, in memory of Berne Schepman
her husband, Paul C. Henshaw Langan and Eleanor Swent
James H. Jensen
Claude J . Artero
Bruce A. Bolt
Clemence DeGraw Jandrey Boyd
James Brown Boyd, Harry Bruce Boyd,
Douglas Cane Boyd, and Hudson
Boyd in memory of James Boyd
Philip and Katherine Bradley
Albert T. Chandler
Elisabeth L. Egenhoff
H. S. Pete Fowler
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Fuerstenau
Louis R. Goldsmith
Mason L. and Marie J.
Mrs. Bruce S. Howard,
Henry Harland Bradley
Lewis L. Huelsdonk
Ruth B. Hume
Jack M. Jones
in memory of
James C. Kimble
Noel W. Kirshenbaum
Nancy H. Landwehr
Carl F. Love
Sylvia C. McLaughlin, in memory of
Jay Kimpston Swent
Frances B. Messinger
L. Arthur Norman, Jr.
Richard W. Rees
Jane A. Rununel
Richard M. Stewart
Simon D. Strauss
John R. Struthers
Virginia Bradley Sutherland, in
memory of Helen R. Henshaw
James V. Thompson
John J . Trelawney
William I. Watson
Barbara A. Whitton in memory of
William B. Whitton
William B. Whitton
INTRODUCTION- -by Dooley P. Wheeler, Jr.
In the early 1950' s, when Salt Lake City was a major center of
mineral exploration, mining, smelting, and related service industries,
many of the numerous companies involved gave Christmas parties at the
various social clubs or at some officials' homes. It was at such a party
that the Wheelers met Sam and Mary Alice Arentz who had recently moved
from Pioche, Nevada, to Salt Lake City.
From that meeting a social and professional friendship has continued
to grow along with an increasing appreciation of the totality of Samuel
S. Arentz as an outstanding twentieth century mining engineer in terms of
heritage, responsibility, dedication, integrity, ability, experience, and
versatility in basic raw materials production and in other fields of
Sam Arentz, because of amazing memory, instant recall, a clear
strong voice, and physical stature is an outstanding raconteur. The
stories of his friend Herbert Hoover, because of their humor or
historical significance, appeared to be Sam's favorites.
One story was about an Atlantic crossing where Hoover was sitting at
the Captain's table and a Lady So-and-so from England asked Mr. Hoover
what he did. When Hoover said he was a mining engineer, Lady So-and-so
said, "Oh, I thought you were a gentleman."
Another Hoover story also started with an ocean voyage, this time
from Hanoi to Australia. During Mr. Hoover's early years in Asia, he
realized that there was more metal in use than known mines could account
for. He surmised that the surface oxide ores had been mined to the water
table and that the sulfide ores, because of water and metallurgical
problems, would still be in place. Hoover was interested in finding old
workings. On this voyage he became acquainted with a British railroad
contractor who had been hunting tigers in northern Burma, about 250 miles
northeast of Mandalay and 50 miles from the Chinese border. The
contractor told Hoover of seeing extensive and overgrown mine workings
and slag dumps on his hunting trip. Hoover was interested, and the
contractor thought he could get a concession on the workings if Hoover
would investigate the area. After coming to an agreement and getting the
concession, Hoover sent in an engineer to investigate. It turned out
that the slag alone contained about 500,000 tons of lead oxides and that
there were many mine workings in the upper oxidized portion of what was
later to become the famous Bawdwin Mine . When the underlying unoxidized
sulfides were developed, they averaged 27 ounces of silver per ton, 27
percent lead and 27 percent zinc.
Sam tells of his dog, Tripper, that could sniff out gold
occurrences, but it is best not to go into that for fear it might unduly
excite the likes of Phil Bradley, John Livermore and Ralph Roberts.
Besides, the dog died without issue some forty years ago.
When the Arentz family came to Salt Lake City from Pioche, Sam was
very much in favor of protective tariffs because of the damage inflicted
on domestic lead-zinc mines by imports. Since then it seems inevitable
that Sam would become more of a free trader judging by his social,
business and engineering conduct which follows the golden rule based upon
self respect, consideration for others, and a single standard.
Foreign exchange students have been welcomed into the Arentz family
and home where they have experienced the wide range of American life
found in our cities, farms, and forests, including football and pheasant
Mary Alice and Sam are cheerful and generous but modest. One would
not be likely to know they had financed the attractive emergency entrance
structure of Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City unless he or she had
to use that entrance and happened to notice the metal plaque
acknowledging their gift.
The first book that I recall Sam enthusiastically promoting, besides
De Re Metallica. was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Rand was a student of
F. A. Hayek and undoubtedly an admirer of Thomas Sowell, for she favors
laws inspiring opportunity and hope for anyone with a work ethic; favors
individual and local decision-making, free enterprise, increased private
property and less government intrusion into property rights, reduced
bureaucratic regulations, and judicial restraint. In other words, it is
evident to me that her ideas of how things should be are constrained in
the sense Thomas Sowell defines those with "constrained vision."
Although Sam is very well read, his family, mining engineering
training, experiences, and acquaintances from his early homestead days
through a long mining career account more than books for Sam Arentz and
his sense of how the world should work.
Sam and Mary Alice have reared a remarkable family who can be
counted upon, now and into the next century, to make a difference in a
nation struggling to hew to the constrained vision which made this nation
so very great.
Dooley P. Wheeler, Jr.
Director of Exploration and Mining
Umont Mining, Inc.
Salt Lake City, Utah
INTERVIEW HI STORY- -Eleanor Swent
Samuel S. Arentz, Jr., was selected for the oral history series on
Western Mining in the Twentieth Century because of his varied career as mine
operator, consulting engineer, and entrepreneur, primarily in Nevada and Utah.
Like so many members of this profession, he was born into it. Among the
mementos on his wall is the diploma given to his father, Samuel Arentz, Sr. ,
when he graduated from the South Dakota School of Mines in 1904. When young
Sam was born, his father was manager of the Nevada Douglas copper mine in
Sam Arentz, Jr., began his education in Smith Valley, Nevada, as the
only first-grader in a one-room school with twelve students. The next year
his father began ten years of service as a congressman, and from then on, Sam
alternated between Nevada and Washington, D.C., schools. He passed a Nevada
proficiency test exempting him from the eighth grade, so after seventh grade,
he went directly to a high school with forty-five students. After a short
time there, he transferred to a Washington, D.C., high school of 3,000
students. Throughout his life he has continued to be equally at home both out
in the field and in more sophisticated social settings.
He graduated from the Mackay School of Mines at the University of Nevada
in 1934, just before his father died of mercury and thallium poisoning
incurred while doing research on gold precipitates at Manning, Utah. This
premature death forced Sam Arentz, Jr., to assume responsibility early in life
for his widowed mother and four younger sisters.
He worked for a number of years with Ed and George Snyder of W. F.
Snyder and Sons in several of their mining enterprises; subsequently he
ventured as an independent mine developer and operator. He has worked in many
well-known mines: among them Mercur, Rico Argentine, Pioche, Butterfield,
Bretz, and Escalante.
He tells how he successfully developed the Escalante Mine and sold it to
Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation, which sold in turn to Hecla
Mining Company; he remained on the Hecla board to direct its affairs. He
recalls giving birthday parties for Herbert Hoover at the Pioche Mine, Nevada.
He also discusses the situation in World War II when black soldiers were
conscripted from the army to work in the mines of Nevada and Idaho.
His wife, Mary Alice Meagher Arentz, was one of Utah's first woman
lawyers. In 1987, Sam Arentz, as president of the venerable and prestigious
Alta Club of Salt Lake, voted to admit women members for the first time. One
of the pleasures in conducting the interviews was to have luncheon in the Alta
Club dining room as the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Arentz. They are a tall and
handsome couple, both of them gracious and affable, he coping well with
Samuel Arentz is a member of the Society for Mining and Exploration and
the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America. He has been chairman of both
the Nevada and Utah sections of the American Institute of Mining,
Metallurgical , and Petroleum Engineers . He was a member of the Board of
Regents of the University of Nevada from 1949 to 1953 and was an advisor to
the University of Utah from 1973 to 1991. In his oral history, he comments on
Interviews with Mr. Arentz were conducted in his beautiful offices in
the University Club Building, Salt Lake City, on 20 and 21 June 1988.
The tapes of the first two interviews were transcribed in Berkeley and sent to
Mr. Arentz for review; a long delay ensued because of health problems. A
third interview was held in Salt Lake on 1 July 1992 and the tapes transcribed
in his office . Thanks are due to Cathy Arentz and Gay Rokich of his office
for their help in transcribing and editing.
The introduction to the volume was written by a longtime friend and
contemporary, Dooley P. Wheeler, Jr. , director of exploration and mining,
Umont Mining, Inc.
The tapes of the interview are available for study at The Bancroft
Eleanor Swent, Project Director
Western Mining in the Twentieth Century series
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
ARENTZ, JR., SAMUEL S.
Consulting Mining and
820 Beneficial Life Tower
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
1800 Orchard Drive
Salt Lake City, UT
March 9, 1913, Los Angeles, CA
BS Mining & Metallurgy, Mackay School of Mines
1954-date Consulting Engineer and Independent Mine Operator
1956-1963 Bretz Mercury Mine, McDermitt, NV
1958-date Escalante Silver Mine, Enterprise, UT
1969-date Cinnabar Creek Mercury Mine, Aniak, AK
1941-1954 Combined Metals Reduction Co., Pioche, NV and
Salt Lake City, UT, Mine Engineer, Supt., Mgr.
1939-1941 Rico Argentine Mining Co., Rico, CO, Manager
1939 Ima Tungsten Mine, Patterson, ID, Engr., Mill Supt.
1938-1939 Rico Argentine, Rico, CO, Supervising Engineer on
Mine Development and Mill Construction
1934-1938 Snyder Mines, Mercur, UT, Assayer, Mill Operator,
Mine Engineer, Mine Foreman, Construction Supt.
1932 Bureau of Reclamation, Hoover Dam, Survey Crew
1929 US Navy, Hawthorne, NV, Survey Crew
Member: President, Escalante Silver Mines Co., Haday, Inc.;
Director, Ranchers Exploration & Development Corp. ;
Chairman, Advisory Council, Utah School of Mines &
Mineral Industries; AIME; Utah Mining Association;
Alta Club; Registered Engineer in Utah and Nevada
Regional Oral History Office
Room 486 The Bancroft Library
University of California
Berkeley, California 94720
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I SON OF A MINING ENGINEER/CONGRESSMAN
[Interview 1: June 20, 1988]
Swent: Mr. Arentz , we are in your beautiful office in the University Club
Building in Salt Lake City, with a lovely view of the Utah State
Capitol. I think we'll start, if you don't mind, by your telling
a little bit about your family and how you happened to be born
into mining, as it were.
Arentz: My father was a mining engineer, At the time I was born, in 1913,
he was manager of the Nevada Douglas mine , a large copper
operation in western Nevada. My mother was from Iowa originally.
She had been in California and met my dad. When I was born, she
had an older sister who was a doctor of medicine in Los Angeles.
So she went down to Los Angeles, and that's where I was born.
However, we returned to Nevada when I was quite young, and about
the time I was six months old, my dad changed jobs and came over
to Utah. We were in Utah until I was about four years old, and
then we went back to Nevada where my mother and father had located
a desert entry.
Swent: You might explain this desert entry just a bit.
Arentz: Well, you know, you've heard of homesteads. Under the federal
land laws, a homestead was a rather small acreage that you could
farm on and didn't necessarily have to have water. A desert entry
was for the western states where you got a larger acreage;
generally it was a half a section of 320 acres, but it generally
required irrigation, or grazing anyway.
1 This symbol indicates that a tape segment has begun or ended. A guide to
the tapes follows the transcript.
My father and mother had located a desert entry before I was
born. Then he had a modest success in a mine in Utah in 1914 and
1915, and they had the land cleared and the home built, and we
moved over there. However, he actually had another small mine out
of Good Springs, Nevada, and that's where I started school as a
kindergartner. We called it a ranch; it was actually a farm.
When dad went into the army in the First World War, mother and my
two next younger sisters were at the ranch until he got back out
of the army.
They kept it going, did they?
Oh yes, well, my mother did. We also had a foreman there.
Did you raise cattle?
As I say, it was more a farm than a ranch; we raised hay, and we
had sheep, and dairy cows, and pigs, and one thing and another.
School in Nevada and Washington. D.C.
Swent: What about school?
Arentz: I went to school there in Smith Valley, it was Lyon County,
between Yerrington and Carson City. The first school there was a
small one-room school with twelve students and at least one in
each grade. I was the only first grader. The school was about
three miles from our home , and the foreman on the ranch would
harness a horse and hitch it to a buggy, and I would drive the
buggy to school .
Swent: Six years old?
Arentz: Yes. And half way there I'd pick up the teacher who boarded at
the adjoining farm. Then when I got to school, one of the older
boys would unhitch the horse and take the bridle out and put the
horse in this little stable at the school, and when school was
out, why, they'd hitch the horse up again, and I'd drive home.
Swent: So you learned independence very young then, didn't you?
Arentz: Then I started the second grade in Smith Valley, but in the
meantime my father had been elected to Congress from Nevada, and
he took the whole family East. I went, in the second grade, from
a school that had four grades in one room to a school in
Washington, D.C., that had about forty kids in one room, and they
were all in the same grade.
Swent: And they didn't ride their buggies to school.
Arentz : No. Then we came back to Nevada on the short session, and I went
to third grade in Smith Valley. At the school out in Smith
Valley, where you'd have several grades in one room, there would
be a bench up at the front of the room. The class that was
supposed to be reciting could come up and sit on the bench, and
the teacher would talk to them and call on them, and any kid in
the room could come up as long as he didn't disrupt anything. And
so, I was very interested, and I would go up when the class ahead
of me was reciting, and that's how I happened to skip a couple of
I finished the seventh grade in Smith Valley, and I didn't go
to the eighth grade. Nevada, at that time, put out a test to all
eighth graders and all seventh graders. The seventh graders took
the test just to orient them for the one they had to take when
they were in the eighth grade. But you had to pass it in the
eighth grade or take separate tests in arithmetic and English. I
happened to pass it in the seventh grade well enough that they
said, "You don't have to take the eighth grade."
So I started high school in Smith Valley, and the high school
had forty- five students in it. I went there a month, and then we
drove back East, and I started in a high school in Washington,
D.C., that had about 3,000 in it. I was sort of lost for a month
or two because I was starting two months late, really. Then the
next year we were back in Smith Valley, and the next year back in
Washington, and then I graduated in Smith Valley.
I grew rather slowly, and so, when I got out of high school
at sixteen, I was only five feet two inches and rather immature
Swent: How tall are you now?
Arentz: I was five two then, now I'm over six two.
I stayed out of school a year. But the summer I got out of
high school, I worked as a surveyor's helper for the navy down at
Hawthorne Naval Ammunition Depot. I'd always thought I wanted to
go to Annapolis [Naval Academy] because, coming from Nevada, why,
the water seemed to be something. So when we went back East, I
was seeing if I could wangle an appointment to Annapolis.
There was a fellow by the name of Millard that had been put
out of West Point [Military Academy] in his senior year. He was
pretty much of an honor student, as I understood it, but he was
put out because of some hazing incident that attracted some
attention. My dad had helped him out, and he had set up a prep
school for the academies. A lot of the students were residents.
It was the equivalent of going to a high school boarding school.
He also had one where he made arrangements for professors from
leading Ivy League schools to come in, and you'd have a ten-day
course in English. I mean, like twenty hours a day. That's
exaggerated; they would be sixteen hours. And then the next ten
days would be in math, and the next ten days would be in history,
and so forth. He had copies of the previous exams from the
academy going back twenty- five or so years, and his courses were
oriented toward the type of questions they asked. He didn't have
any questions they were asking at that particular time, but
anyway, you'd have to be a dope not to be able to pass the
entrance exams .
Because of my dad's helping him out at one time he invited me
to take the course. When you finished it, he took everybody that
was graduating up to West Point for three or four days, and each
of us got a chance to spend one day with a plebe [first-year
student] going to classes and being in his dormitory and one thing
and another, and he pretty well sold me on changing from Annapolis
to West Point.
I got the appointment, and I was due to report to West Point
on, I guess it was the first of July. My dad meanwhile, had been
engaged on a consulting assignment to check on some properties in
the Philippines. I had been working that whole year as a page in
the House of Representatives, and I had been living at home, so I
was able to save my money. I got checking up and I told my dad,
"If you take me with you to the Philippines, I'll put myself
through Nevada. I'd rather be a mining engineer than go into the
army anyway." So that's what we did.
That summer, I went over on the boat to the Philippines, and
then, when I got back, I entered the University of Nevada. The
family was back in Washington.
Swent: How many years was your father in the House?
Arentz: Well, he was in a total of ten years, but he was in over a twelve-
year period from 1921 to 1933. He was out from 1923 to 1925
because of one election when he ran for the Senate and was
defeated, and then the next election, he ran for the house again
and was elected.
University of Nevada. Mackav School of Mines. 1930-1934
I entered the University of Nevada in 1930 and he was in
Washington until March in 1933 when Roosevelt went in. But, the
first summer, while the family was all back there, 1 worked out at
our ranch, as we called it. The second summer, I got a job down
at Hoover Dam in the tunnels .
Who were you working with?
I was working for the Bureau of Reclamation as a surveyor,
third summer, I was taking advanced military ROTC to get a
commission, and so the third summer I spent part of the time at
Monterey on active duty, as far as the cadets were concerned, for
six weeks. Then I was at Manning, south of Salt Lake, working as
a laborer on the construction of a cyanide plant to retreat the
tailings. Then I was back in school.
When my dad was defeated for re-election, he picked up again
on checking on mining properties. The Snyders here in Salt Lake,
who had operations in Pioche, and at Hailey, and at other places,
had a lease on some Manning gold tailings in the Mercur District.
They asked my dad to help them finance it. He got some of his
friends and they were able to successfully raise enough money to
build a mill at Manning. That was 1933. The mill was built, and
they started in late 1933 or early 1934.
Just about the time the price went up.
Yes. My dad wasn't actually out there doing it, he was
financially interested in it in a modest way, but he wasn't out at
the plant. But when they started producing gold, they couldn't
make a bullion that the mint would accept. This, of course, made
all the difference as to whether the thing was going to be a
success or not. My dad had run a cyanide plant as a young man
down in Wickenburg, Arizona, and so he went out to see what the
problem was. He used assay crucibles and different fluxes until
he was able to make a clean gold button. Then he and the
electrician on the job melted down all the precipitate they had on
Ordinarily, in melting gold precipitate, you use borax, and
soda ash and silica and you don't ordinarily have any toxic fumes.
You use a great big graphite crucible and diesel fuel, and it's in
a circular furnace with a hood over it, and melt the gold
precipitate down. What they didn't know was that gold cyanide
precipitates contain a lot of mercury and thallium. It came off
as a vapor, and my dad and the electrician both got badly poisoned
by it. By the time he got it all melted down and had the bar to
take into Salt Lake, he was very sick.
He came into Salt Lake and was in the hospital for several
days and then he came home. This would be in March of 1934. He
was quite ill by the time he got home, and he went down to San
Francisco and got checked. The doctor reported that the thallium
and mercury had destroyed his kidneys, and he was going to have to
be operated on. They thought they could do something. But, just
about a month after I got out of school, actually on Father's Day,
he died, as a young man.
I had a widowed mother and four younger sisters, and
actually, in those days a typical member of Congress didn't take
the job because it paid so much, it was a matter of public
service. It had pretty well depleted my dad's capital. So I had
lined up where I had a job with Anaconda on graduation, but
because of my dad's interest over at Manning and Mercur, I went
there. The only thing is, as a graduate mining engineer, my first
job was as a laborer breaking rocks on a grizzly with a
sledgehammer. In those days, of course, the mines worked seven
days a week and there wasn't any overtime pay.
The interesting thing was, as a young engineer, even though I
was a laborer there, I was responsible for the boarding house. If
a cook went out and got drunk, I had the responsibility of seeing
that the guys got fed breakfast until I could get another cook.
And you had graduated from Mackay [School of Mines] in 1934?
Yes, then I came over to Manning at the mill. Then later, I was
the assayer and then I went up to the mine at Mercur and was the
engineer there, and then mine foreman. Then we built a new bigger
mill up there, and I was the construction superintendent as well
as mine engineer.
As well as back-up cook.
Well , I graduated from that in the course of time , yes .
I think you might want to say a little something about your
training at Mackay. What sort of training did you receive there?
A very fine one .
Mackay is the school of mines at the University of Nevada and was
it a separate college within the University?
Arentz: Yes. Clarence Mackay, the son of John Mackay who made his fortune
in Virginia City, one of the Comstock Kings, was very generous in
providing funds for the Mackay School of Mines , and also at a
later time, for the stadium and field house at the university.
About the time I started he had provided funds for the science
building at the university which included math and physics and
chemistry. The classes were small, I mean like ten or so. Vince
Gianella was a professor of geology, and Claude Jones was the head
of the geology department, Jay Carpenter was the professor of
mining. Walter Palmer was the professor of metallurgy, and
William Smythe handled the assaying and accounting and things of
that sort: mine accounting and assaying and some parts of
Swent: Did you get to know your professors fairly well?
Arentz: Well, sure, with only ten students. There were only three of us
graduated when I did because it was during the Depression, and
most of them took five years. I had laid out a year ahead of time
and earned enough to take care of the first two years. Then, by
that time , I had two summers , and I had taken care of those the
third year, and my dad helped me on the fourth year, so it worked
out all right. But they were a remarkable group of professors.
Swent: In what way?
Arentz: Oh, just in their overall competence as teachers. Dr. Gianella
particularly had a happy faculty of being able to write equally
well with either hand. He also could do a very beautiful job
writing and drawing diagrams on a blackboard. So he could be
giving a lecture and writing while looking over one shoulder and
then pick up the chalk and finish it off looking over his other
shoulder. Once you got past the preliminary courses in mineralogy
and one thing and another, there would be maybe ten of us in his
office, and he had a table about twice the size of this desk piled
up with rock specimens. While you had text books to work with,
he'd pick up a random seemingly- -although he probably had planned
ahead of time- -one of those rock specimens and give a lecture on
it while they passed around the specimen.
Swent: Did you do a lot of field work and laboratory work?
Arentz: Oh yes, I took all the courses in mining and metallurgy and
geology they had and also all the courses in civil engineering
except, I think, sewage disposal and one other. In those days,
mining engineering was more "jack of all trades and master of
none" in a sense. Now there's a specialization that's quite a bit
different. But one summer I had to spend--! guess it was the
first summer when I mentioned that I was out at the farm, we had
been surveying out north of Reno, plane table work and
triangulation and things like that. Then we also did our mine
surveying at a cinnabar property towards Virginia City that was
actually operating. It created some additional problems in not
holding up a crew that was working there while we students were
doing the surveying.
Father ' s Background
Swent: It might be interesting to contrast this a little bit with the
training your father had.
Arentz : Well, as I mentioned to you earlier, my father was raised in Oak
Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His father had a small
hardware store, and my father had four sisters and two brothers,
and he was one of the younger ones. He finished at a technical
high school where he actually had more mechanical drawing and
things of that sort than most college students do. And he wanted
to be an engineer. He applied for work with the City of Chicago
engineering department. He was seventeen at the time and didn't
have a beard and seemed rather young, so they said, "Well, come
back when you've got a beard." In the meantime, he somehow met a
mining engineer. I don't know the details, but after talking to
him, he decided that's the kind of an engineer he wanted to be.
He found out that a forerunner of the International
Correspondence School had a course in mining engineering, and he
sent away for the books. He studied them and sent in the data,
and he got a certificate saying he'd completed the course. About
that time, he got a job with the City of Chicago engineering
department as a surveyor or a surveyor's helper. One day, quite
by coincidence, a mining engineer from Jardine, Montana, which is
just north of Yellowstone Park, came into Chicago, and he stopped
in the city engineering department, and said that he would like to
have them design a gold mill, and he had the information on this
property. In those days, a gold mill was typically a stamp mill
with amalgamation. They said, "We don't design gold mills," but
my father said he could design a gold mill. I think he was about
nineteen at the time. The fellow said, "Well, I'll tell you what.
Here's all the information. You send the plans out, and if I
think you're any good, I'll send you a ticket."
My dad sent the plans out and in due course he got a ticket.
As I recall, it's ten or twelve miles from Gardiner, Montana,
where the railroad is, to Jardine. Jardine's up a canyon to the
east of Gardiner. After they got the mill built, my dad had a job
working in the mine. The owner or manager called him in one day
and said, "Now, look. Because of your age, and one thing and
another, if you were to go down to Gardiner on a Saturday night,
they'd just think you were going to a dance. You take the bullion
bar down and deliver it to Wells Fargo and they won't suspect
you're carrying the bullion; they'll think you're going down to
the dance . "
Well, it was snow country and my dad had to go down on skis.
The fellows in the bunkhouse knew where he was going but they
pretended they didn't and they'd start reminiscing about how so
and so got shot getting the bullion down, or held up and one thing
and another. My dad said that every time he took the trip down,
he was sure that something was going to happen to him on the way
He left there and went back to the copper country in Michigan
and worked in the mines there. Then he went to South Dakota and
was working at the Homestake and enrolled in the South Dakota
School of Mines. Because of his past experience and his
correspondence course , he finished there in three years , both in
mining and civil engineering. Then he came out west, and was in
charge of a small gold mine out in Wickenburg, Arizona, and then
he did leasing on a lead and silver prospect at Stockton, Utah.
He was up at Silver City, Idaho, and he was in the Bingham
district of Utah Apex Mine and the Highland Boy as a young
engineer and shift boss.
While he was at, I think, the Utah Apex, the winter of 1905-
06, they had an unusually heavy snowstorm, and the superintendent
and the crew all just stayed down in town instead of going up to
the mine . My dad got some food and snowshoes and went up to the
mine and climbed down the shaft to keep the pumps going. The
directors happened to have a meeting in Bingham, and they were
very concerned as to whether the mine might be flooded, and one of
the young directors went up and found my dad tending the pumps.
In due course, he was sent over to Nevada to build the Nevada
Copper Belt Railroad which went from the smelter at Thompson or
Wabuska around to Ludwig. Once the railroad was in, he was put in
charge of the mine up in Ludwig, the Nevada Douglas mine, which at
that time, in the period 1906 to 1913 was one of the larger copper
properties in Nevada. In 1913, a related company had him come
over here to Utah and Salt Lake and build an inter-urban railroad
from Salt Lake seventy- five miles south to Payson. He finished
that in 1914.
Arentz : My mother was born and raised in western Iowa. Her father was an
attorney and had some farmland. She had two older sisters and an
older brother and one younger sister. Her father died as a young
man when my mother was only like ten or so years old. Her mother
brought the whole family out to California. This must have been
about 1897 or thereabouts.
Arentz: A cousin of my grandmother's was ambassador to Germany, and my
oldest aunt was an accomplished musician, and the next aunt was a
graduate M.D. The brother wanted to be a scientific farmer, and
in those days, Germany sort of led in all three of those fields.
My mother and her younger sister were high school students, so my
grandmother took her whole family to Europe , and the three older
ones went into graduate school , and my mother and her younger
sister were in a girls' boarding school. Then in the summer they
would travel around.
When they came back to the U.S. my mother had the equivalent
of finishing high school because she'd been in high school before
they went and a year or so of college. She taught in a girls'
school in Washington, D.C. She got word from her cousins out in
Iowa that the government had opened up Indian territory in western
South Dakota, and anybody could get a section of land if they came
out and built on it and lived there for a year. My mother was a
true pioneer, and she came charging out and joined her cousins.
They helped her, and three cousins and my mother built on adjacent
corners of adjacent sections. They helped her build a sod house,
and she became the postmistress.
Swent: Where was this?
Arentz: Out of Lemmon, South Dakota. About the time she'd finished
proving up on her land, her mother and older sister came out, and
they were heading out to California, and they asked her to come.
They were stopping in Reno where a cousin of my mother, Jay
Carpenter, was getting married. He had been at South Dakota
School of Mines with my father and his older brother who were
classmates, and my dad was best man for Jay, and best man's duties
included taking care of the groom's family. So that's how my
father happened to meet my mother.
Swent: What was your mother's maiden name?
Swent: Are any of them left In Lemmon, South Dakota?
Arentz: No, no. I think the rest of them are all named Carpenter because
that was my grandmother's maiden name. She was born and raised in
Beloit, Iowa, across the river from Canton, South Dakota.
Swent: Anybody who would homestead in Lemmon, South Dakota, is very
Arentz: [Chuckles] It was a long way out in the hills.
Swent: And she did it! That's terrible weather, summer and winter.
Arentz: Well, she went through one tornado out there.
Swent: Oh, my. Well, then was she married there in Reno?
Arentz: No. She was living in Los Angeles at the time. But my dad, after
meeting her and her sisters and mother in Reno, made a point of
going down to California on occasion. Mother was equally at home
either running the ranch in Smith Valley, or at the mining camp at
Good Springs in a corrugated iron cabin with kerosene lights, or
as a hostess in Washington.
Swent: Marvelously varied experiences.
Arentz: And she lived to be ninety-five. She was quite a remarkable
person, really. My father and I were very close. He took me with
him- -I was the eldest of the children and the only son. I had
four younger sisters. After my dad's death, I had graduated so I
helped my eldest sister get through school, and then she got a
job, and both of us helped the next one, and before we got
through, we got everybody through college.
II A MINING ENGINEER, 1934-1954
Mercur. Utah. 1934-1938
Swent: So how long did you stay at Mercur?
Arentz: After my dad's death in June, it took about a month to get my
mother straightened out and get things organized. Then I came
over to Mercur and went to work. I worked at Mercur until the
first of October in '38. I went there in July of '34.
The most memorable character, the mine superintendent, was a
little guy by the name of Owen Hickey. Rickey was not a technical
man. He was from Australia, a little short guy. He didn't think
too much of engineers, but I was such an embryo engineer, he
really didn't regard me as one, so we got along fine. I did the
engineering, and he made me a shift boss and then a foreman in the
But Owen's career- -he ran away from home when he was about
twelve and got a job as a cabin boy on a tramp freighter hauling
grain and wool from Australia to Liverpool. He finally got
promoted to where he was a stoker in the boiler room, and on one
trip coming back there was a great big fellow who was very much a
bully, and he said this bully was making life completely
miserable. This one time, it got so miserable that while Hickey
was pulling the clinkers off the grates- -using what they called a
slice -bar, which is a long bar with a hook on it that you use to
get clinkers off the grate, and it was red hot- -Hickey pulled it
out and aimed it at this guy and ran at him. Hickey missed
hitting him dead center, but he went between his arm and his chest
and burned him.
They threw Hickey off the ship in Tasmania, an island off
Australia, and Hickey said the only job he could get was working
in a mine there. After that he worked in mines in Australia, and
then he was in South Africa during the Boer War and then in this
country. He was a diamond drill contractor in Arizona, and he was
a miner all over the West and went back to Australia a couple of
times . Hickey had been mine foreman down at Pioche for Ed Snyder
back in the late twenties and then had left.
He married a very remarkable woman, Martha. She was a widow,
and ran a small hotel in Mayer, Arizona, which is just down below
Prescott. The White Horse Hotel, I think it was. During the
early days of the Depression, Hickey and Martha had a small ranch
down there , and Hickey said after his experience during the
Depression there, he felt that he could live any place where there
was a flat rock and a bucket of water. [Chuckles]
He said that he needed some help on the place, and he hired
this fellow to be the helper. The deal was that Hickey would pay
him thirty dollars a month and his board and room. Hickey said he
was able to feed him and give him a place to sleep and
occasionally get him some tobacco and a pair of shoes and Levis
but at the end of the year, he still owed him about $300. The
fellow was going to raise hell with Hickey, and he said, "No, I'll
tell you what we're going to do. I'll deed you the ranch, and you
hire me on the same basis." And the fellow said, well, all right.
So at the end of the second year the fellow owed Hickey $300 and
Hickey got the ranch back and said, "Then I fired him!"
Oh, that's a good story.
But Hickey was full of all kinds of stories. He was a rough,
tough, little guy. On one occasion, here at Mercur, as I say, we
worked seven days a week and I insisted on taking off a couple of
days at Christmas to go and be with my widowed mother and sisters
but that was about the size of it. I think the mine shut down for
Labor Day and the Fourth of July but that was about it.
What were you paid, do you remember?
Well, when I was working down at Hawthorne just out of high school
and down at Hoover Dam, I got $4 a day. When I first came over to
Manning to work, I got $3.19 a day.
And did they provide a bunk house?
Yes , but you paid a nominal amount for the bunk house .
Did they provide any of your clothes?
Arentz: No. At the boarding house, the company paid the cook's salary and
the power and the fuel, and provided the dishes and silverware.
When I spoke of how as a young engineer I was sort of responsible
for the boarding house , the deal was that we kept track of all of
the purchases of supplies. At the end of the month, we divided
the total of that by the number of meals served. They were hearty
eating sort of people . Among other things , I ' d go down and buy
several head of steers from the local ranchers on the deal that
they had to keep them in condition and slaughter them when we
wanted them. Then we had a walk- in ice box there, and for several
years, we lived pretty darn good, and meals cost thirteen cents
apiece. And the breakfasts! Why, the fellows would eat ham and
eggs and bacon and cereal and toast and hotcakes and so forth.
They generally carried a lunch.
Swent: In a bucket?
Arentz: Well, or a paper sack. And you'd have a piece of pie and some
fruit and a couple of sandwiches. It was generally that. But
then dinner, why, we had our fair share of roasts and steaks but
also stews and so forth. We did pretty good. The meals were only
about forty cents a day, and the room, I think it was about eight
or nine dollars a month. The bunkhouse was a series of galvanized
iron buildings with two or three in a room. And just sort of
cots, folding army cots, with a little stove out in the middle of
the room and a bucket of water, a wash basin, and a place to hang
a towel. But there weren't any closets or anything of that sort.
You drove some nails in the wall and hung your clothes on that,
and that was about the size of it.
Manning was where the original mill for Mercur was because
there was water there , and then later when they developed the
mines of Mercur, they put in a bigger mill up there in the old-
timers' period from the 1880s to 1912. Then when we went up to
Mercur, all of the old adits and shafts and the like were pretty
well caved in. There weren't any maps of the underground working
and the like, but I sent out notices and some ads in some of the
papers, and people started bringing maps in. What happened, when
they shut down, originally, they had a watchman there, and then
later when nothing was going on they laid off the watchman. There
were sheep grazed up there , and the office and everything was
still there, and people would just help themselves to maps and
things like that. There were maps in attics and around from all
the way down to Nephi which was eighty miles south and up to
Brigham City which was about that far north. They'd bring maps
and then I'd place them together.
Also, the company set up a policy that anybody that wanted to
could have a lease on a hundred- foot square, at very nominal
royalty. There was the depression, and things were not going so
good- -and a lot of people would come over to the mine. Somebody
had told them about the ore leases, and so there 'd be three or
four every morning, really, wanting a lease, and I'd have to go
down and survey it in and stake the corner. Sometimes there would
be several about ready to start fighting over the same piece, and
I'd have to sort of hold a court and decide who had the equities
and divide it up fairly.
The company was running short of funds a good deal of the
time, and we'd be going pretty good, and they'd have to curtail
things while they got some more funds.
Swent: What was the company?
Arentz : Well, it was one of the Snyder companies, but it wasn't Combined
Metals. At first it was Manning Gold Mines Company retreating
tailings and that paid pretty well, but the Snyders used a good
deal of those profits to put up the Triumph Mine.
Swent: In Idaho?
Arentz: Yes, and then the Lewiston Peak Mining Company was the one at
Mercur. And this Hickey, as I say, was sort of a tough guy, and
this one night, we were having to lay off quite a few men because
we had to finish a connection in order to get transportation in an
area. We had one shift boss that Hickey said he'd like to have
stick around, and he said, "You can take a lease and at least take
care of your expenses and then you can get the job back as soon as
we get going again." Oh, he didn't want to lay off this man.
Well, under where the old railroad depot had been at Mercur,
there 'd been a narrow gauge railroad in there, and we had an old
bulldozer of that era go in to do some bulldozing to expose the
outcrop of the Mercur bed. We took some samples and they ran
about two- tenths of an ounce gold, seven dollars at that time,
which was about the average of the Mercur ore, and we couldn't get
too excited about it. Particularly as some of the old maps showed
there 'd been some mining on the down dip. But Hickey took this Al
Nordell down and said, "You start working here and you can at
least make wages."
About that time, a couple of fellows came up from Lehi, and
they had hocked their cow to get some funds. They had a place
they were sure was a good one, and when I looked it over, I saw
they couldn't do anything with it so I gave them a place next to
this shift boss, Nordell, and one other group came up, and we had
three of them along there. Each had a hundred-feet line. Hickey
had to virtually force Nordell to go down and get started.
Nordell took a couple of samples, and then he went into town with
his samples to the assay office because he thought we had fudged
on the assays . But he came charging back because when they dug
down a little bit in this rather soft easily dug stuff, it didn't
go two -tenths, it went an ounce of gold. And, you know, two of
these leases each paid a thousand dollars a day for ninety days
which was a lot of money in those days .
Swent: How did the lease arrangement work? Was this recorded in the
Arentz: No, it was just, "Here's your lease and the royalty will be 7
percent and you ship it to the company mill."
Swent: This was the customary royalty, 7 percent?
Arentz: Seven or eight, yes. Or six, it varied. And then I had been
studying these maps in a different area. I told the company,
"There's a row of pillars down an incline, it's back in the hill
here, and it's not too hard to get to. I think we ought to drive
in there." Oh, no, they didn't want to do it. I said, "Then I
would like a lease on it."
"Oh, no. We can't have you in the lease."
So I said, "I'll tell you what. There's a bunch of fellows
here that are looking for work and I will have them be partners in
the lease. And I promise I won't spend any time on it except
maybe a half hour after dinner at night, and I'll line them up
with what to do." I said, "I'll have to get them a tugger hoist
and jackhammer." The compressed air line from the main compressor
plant went past where this was and I said, "We can hook on to that
compressed air line and we'll pay for the air."
And they finally agreed to it. Well, I got three miners
going on it and we split the settlements four ways. I was making,
well I never thought I would be this rich again. I mean, I was
making about six times my salary for my share of the lease. And
the miners were doing all right too. Then they sent out a new
mine manager and he canceled all the leases and replaced them with
new leases that took 60 percent for the company, even though we
were developing ore and making it so the company was doing quite
well because their milling schedule was such--
Swent: They were doing the milling in your mill?
Arentz: Yes, in the company's mill.
Swent: How did you pay them then? You sampled the ore--
Arentz: Sampled the ore and waited. They had a pay schedule, yes.
Swent: You paid them in cash?
Arentz: No, the mill paid for the ore on a schedule that included a charge
for treatment. And I guess I was making- -it seems like not very
much now- -but my salary was about two hundred and fifty a month.
My share of the lease paid twelve hundred per month. Then this
new manager decided this was haywire, and he wanted to set it up
where the company took 60 percent and the miner got 40 percent.
So I said, "The hell with that," and sold my interest for seventy-
five dollars or something like that and left.
Swent: When you are taking out pillars, that's it. It ends the business,
Arentz: Well, you hit the cave and then you'd have to spile through the
cave to the next pillar. There was a row of pillars and you'd
have to do a lot of spileing and mining through caved ground to
get to the next pillar.
Swent: Is this pretty dangerous?
Arentz: Oh, if you did it right, it wasn't. No.
Swent: What held it up once you took the pillars out?
Arentz: Well, you let it cave. But you'd put timber in to replace the
part you went through.
Swent: Where did you get the timber?
Arentz: It came from Utah here. There are some lumber mills out in
Swent: How were they doing the mining in the regular mine?
Arentz: Well, it was about the time slushers came in. And these beds were
up to sixteen feet thick and dipping on about twenty-five degrees
or something like that. You'd get a haulage level and then drive
up with an inclined raise on the bed. Then when you got to the
upper end, you'd spread out and then start stoping back.
Swent: Were these veins?
Arentz: It was bedding. Sedimentary beds.
Swent: You were just taking out everything.
Arentz : Yes .
Swent: What kind of ownership did the company have on this property?
Were they leasing it from somebody?
Arentz: Well, they were originally. Then they ended up buying it from the
old Consolidated Mercur which was originally the Dern family.
George Dern was the governor of Utah and then he was Secretary of
War under Roosevelt. The fellow that handled the metallurgy out
there was Delamar- -Delamar , Idaho, and Delamar, Nevada, and the
like- -he had it before the Derns . His mill superintendent was
Jackling. Jackling ended up building the big mill out there and
Swent: So they owned the land outright. Mineral rights and everything.
Arentz: Yes, they were patented claims.
Swent: And your father had helped arrange the financing?
Arentz: Not the Mercur part but the tailings part down below. W. F.
Snyder and Sons was the basic company but they had about twenty -
five or thirty companies. They were, by and large, very decent
men. Ed, I admired tremendously. George was a flamboyant type
that made several fortunes and lost several.
Swent: There are lots of those in mining.
Arentz: There was a consulting mining engineer in Salt Lake City, a very
fine sort of man, by the name of C. T. Van Winkle. He had come
out to Mercur on one occasion to check it out for some clients
that might possibly have been interested in investing in it, I
don't know. But he got acquainted with Hickey and myself. Hickey
and the manager didn't see eye to eye on some things, and by
Hickey quitting and getting fired at the same time, he left and
Van Winkle hired him to go up and be the mine superintendent at
the Ima tungsten mine in Idaho.
Rico Argentine. Colorado. 1938-1939
Arentz: Van Winkle was president of Rico Argentine Mining Company, and he
offered me the job as supervising engineer to complete the mine
development and supervise the construction of a mill.
Swent: That's in Colorado?
Arentz: Yes, in Rico, Colorado.
Swent: Construction of a mill? This was an old, old place, wasn't it?
Hasn't it been there a long time?
Arentz: Oh, the mines were old but there wasn't any mill. And also, we
had a lot of mine development to get to new ore areas. So I was
there from the first of October until the end of the year and we
got the mill built in that time. That was 1938. About that time,
there was a drop in metal prices, and the company decided not to
get into production right then. So Van Winkle said, "Look, I'm
the consultant for this Ima Mine where Hickey is, and they need a
mill superintendent and mine engineer up there. Why don't you go
up there and then when we get ready to start here at Rico, I'll
have you come back and take over . "
Ima. Idaho. 1940
Swent: What were you mining at Rico?
Arentz: At Rico, it was lead, zinc, gold, silver and copper. We'd been
lucky in developing a fair tonnage for a small mine of five
percent copper ore. The Ima Mine was tungsten with some lead,
zinc and silver. And so, right after the first of the year, I
drove up to the Ima Mine with Mr. Van Winkle. I got quite an
initiation there. They were having a board of directors' meeting.
The manager and president of the company had a very nice residence
in the canyon, and the directors were largely from around Idaho.
The room that I was assigned was a small room in the office where
I had a cot . I had to sweep it out and get things arranged and do
I got there, and meanwhile, the directors were having quite a
party. Finally, I found that my friend and real boss, Van Winkle,
had gone back over to the president's home where he had a room,
but the other four directors were all passed out on the floor of
the office. It got awfully cold there, I mean it was way below
freezing. I saw in this warehouse room that adjoined my office
that there were half a dozen of these stretchers and a lot of
blankets for first aid. So I got one of these stretchers that
was raised off the floor level and put blankets on it and then
rolled one of the directors on it and wrapped him up, then I got
another cot and blankets and did the same with the others, and I
got them all wrapped up.
Swent: Things they don't teach you in college.
Arentz: [Laughs] I was so glad to see Hickey again, and he gave me a big
welcome when I arrived. There was one director who was a big
Swede. Hickey was very proud of being an Irishman. He and this
director, who had been overdrinking, got into a very rough
argument. Just as I was about to go to bed, my boss, Van Winkle,
came in and signaled to me to come out. I got out and he said,
"Get Hickey to go home." I said, "I'll see what I can do."
Arentz: Anyway, I got Hickey to agree to go home. Just as he was out on
the porch of this office building, why, this one director, the
Swede, makes some kind of disparaging remark about the Irish, and
Hickey comes charging back in. They're engaged in slugging, and I
managed to get a hold of Hickey and pull him back. And about that
time, I got a hit on the side that just jarred me, and I turned
around and here's my boss, Van Winkle. He said, "Let him fight,
and let's you and me fight." [Laughs] I thought that was the
funniest thing. I started laughing.
Swent: So that was your introduction.
Arentz: I was there until October of '39 and then they were ready to go at
Rico, so I went back and was resident manager there. When I came
in from Rico originally to go up to the Ima Mine, Allen Reiser,
who had been the engineer with me out at Mercur and a life- time
personal friend who later became one of the senior men with
National Lead, we used to get together for the annual New Year's
Eve dance at the University Club here in Salt Lake. So I Wrote
Allen from Rico saying, "Let's see if we can't get together for
New Year's Eve at the University Club." And I said, "If you can,
would you see about getting me a date?"
Allen was from Salt Lake and he knew a lot of girls here and
I didn't know too many. He said, "Fine."
When I got into Salt Lake after having been over in Nevada
for Christmas, he was going with a girl who was a lawyer. His
girl twisted her partner's arm to take a blind date with this
friend of hers and so that's how I met my wife, Mary Alice
Swent: She was already in law practice?
Arentz: Yes, she'd practiced for several years before that. So I had to
do most of the courting by long distance, but I managed to get
down to Salt Lake occasionally and we were married in February of
'40, and I took her up to Rico. Then in December, when our eldest
daughter was born, Mary Alice was quite ill. It was a cesarean
[section] birth and she got pneumonia and was in the hospital for
several months . They said she could not go back to that high
altitude right off. So I looked for a different job. The first
of February I left Rico and went to Pioche.
I must say, your family has an awful lot of remarkably liberated
women in it, as well as some very accomplished men.
Arentz: Well, you know, my sisters are the ones who are really remarkable.
My youngest sister, Kit, wasn't born until I was through high
school. She was about six years old when our dad died. When she
grew up we all helped so that she got through college. Kit
decided that she was going to teach herself around the world. She
got a job teaching in Lima, Peru, at a state department school for
the equivalent of high school seniors and first year of college
students from all over South America. Her first summer there, she
and another girl went from the headwaters of the Amazon River down
about half way towards the Atlantic in a boat and then flew back
The next summer, when she had finished her assignment, her
former students asked her to come visit them. So she made quite
an extended tour all over South America. When she got to the
mouth of the Amazon and some of her Brazilian students, she said
she wanted to go up the river as far as she'd come down it. They
took her out buffalo hunting and a few things like that but they
said, "We'll get you the right boat."
She said, "No. I can't wait around. Let's go down to the
docks." And there was a boat. It had no cabins or anything of
that sort, just hammocks slung above the deck. There were two
Englishmen who were looking for a long lost brother and a
Brazilian native priest who were taking the trip up river.
Kit said she wanted to go on this boat and the captain said
no, he didn't take any women passengers. She was very insistent
and finally he reached down to a basket that was on the deck and
pulled out about a six foot snake and threw it at her. She caught
it and it wound around her arm. She unwound it and threw it back
and he said, "Okay. You can come."
Later she taught for two years in Japan, then two years in
West Germany, then Spain. When she was teaching in Spain, she met
a very fine young man from San Francisco who was in naval
intelligence stationed in Morocco. They ended up getting married,
and we saw to it that mother got over to attend the wedding since
none of the rest of us could get there.
Swent: They were married in Morocco?
Arentz: They were married in Rota, Spain, where she was teaching. They
were stationed in Morocco, where she also taught and then in
Monterey, California, and they put in a hitch in the Philippines.
They did a lot of traveling. Then he was in New York City and
then stationed at the Pentagon for quite awhile. They both
retired and they built a home on an island off the North Carolina
shore. Kit died this last fall. We are going to Nevada because
her husband and daughters are having a memorial service for her
out in Smith Valley. We are going to be there Saturday.
Pioche. Nevada. 1941-1952 ##
Arentz : I went to Pioche on February 1 , 1941 . When I went down there I
was the chief mine engineer.
Swent: What company?
Arentz: It was Combined Metals Reduction Company. At that time, Combined
Metals Reduction Company was, in effect, owned by National Lead
although Ed Snyder's company, Combined Metals, Inc., owned 10
percent. They were just starting to build a mill at Caselton.
Prior to that, the ore mined at Pioche had been shipped to the
company's mill at Bauer, Utah, just out of Tooele, west of Salt
Lake. The Bauer mill was one of the first selective flotation
plants in the U. S., or possibly anywhere. The selective
flotation process had been independently developed by Ed Snyder
and his metallurgist, John Greene.
Swent: What metals were you mining?
Arentz: Lead, zinc, and silver with a little gold. The zinc concentrates
were shipped to Great Falls and Anaconda, Montana, and the lead
concentrates were shipped to Tooele, Utah. The company marketed
its own zinc. The concentrates were smelted on toll and it
shipped and sold several grades of zinc.
Swent: Smelted on toll?
Arentz: They were smelted on toll, that is, they just paid so much a ton
to have the metals returned to them. They bought a great deal of
custom ores from different mines that didn't have mills and milled
the ores on a custom basis.
This was just before the war.
imminence of the war?
Were you conscious at all of the
An interesting thing. There was an American Mining Congress
meeting in Salt Lake in 1939. They had quite a party in Salt
Lake. 1 was dating Mary Alice, my wife, and I asked her to go to
the parties with me and we became engaged during the Congress at a
party at the Salt Lake Country Club. The final night banquet they
did an unusual thing, and as far as I know, the only time its been
done , they had the dinner in the lobby of the Hotel Utah with the
speaker's podium facing towards the street from in front of the
elevators . Then they had tables in the lobby and all the way
around the mezzanine. The speaker of the evening was Senator Key
Pittman of Nevada who was the Chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee. His talk was on the imminence of war in
Swent: That was in 1939?
Arentz: Yes, in September. He was quite an accomplished orator, and he
built up to a climax where he said, "I can almost hear the guns
going off in Europe." With that, a truck going down South Temple
Street outside the hotel started backfiring and everybody jumped
as though they heard the guns. The next morning was when Hitler
moved into Poland. So we were familiar with the fact that there
was a potential for war.
Swent: Were you thinking of critical materials?
Arentz: Not at that time. I had received a second lieutenant's commission
in the Army Reserve when I graduated from college . I had done
some of the correspondence work and gone to camp so that I had a
first lieutenant's commission and was due for a captain's
commission about the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. When we got
word of Pearl Harbor, within the week I was ordered to active
duty. I moved the family to Salt Lake and got the missing parts
to my uniform because when I finished college, an infantry officer
wore English riding boots, spurs, bloomer sort of trousers, a Sam
Browne belt and a long blouse. By this time it had changed
I got a ticket to go to Camp Roberts, California. Just
before I was to leave, I received notice that there had been a
change, and I was to hold everything and that the final orders
would come through that I was to go to Aberdeen, Maryland, to the
proving ground, which would have been a very fine assignment.
Apparently, the company had written somewhat overstating my
qualifications in getting strategic metals out. So I held up and
just before I was to go to Fort Aberdeen, I got word to report to
the commanding general here in Salt Lake for the third military
area. When I went in, he greeted me by saying, "Are you related
to the Secretary of War?"
I said, "No, sir."
"Are you related to the president?"
I said, "No, sir. Why?"
"Well," he said, "This hasn't happened before, but orders
have come transferring you to the officers' reserve pool, and
you're to go back to that mine in Pioche."
And I said, "Well, general, I have the highest regard for the
office of the president of the United States. But if the present
incumbent knew how I felt about him personally, I'd probably go to
I went back to Pioche. We were doing a lot of exploratory
drilling and were successful in drilling out a rather substantial
tonnage of good- grade ore in a new area, but it was a highly
faulted area where it was a real problem hitting the blocks of ore
between the faults. For some time, the company lost money as
often as it made money. Ed Snyder and National Lead didn't see
eye to eye and finally he went back East and told them either to
buy him out, his 10 percent, or give him an option to buy their 90
percent. It was during the period when white lead was the big
paint pigment in Dutch Boy Paint, but they were switching over to
titanium dioxide as a white pigment for paint and getting out of
the lead business. And so they said, "We'll give you an option to
buy us . "
Ed went into New York and he'd been a long time admirer of
Herbert Hoover. He went in to see Mr. Hoover and explained how he
had these ore reserves, and he had this option to buy out National
Lead, and did Mr. Hoover know of anybody who might put up the
money to buy out National Lead. Hoover thought awhile and said,
"Yes." He set up an appointment for lunch for Ed Snyder with
Jeremiah Milbank, a leading financier in New York. As I
understood it, Mr. Milbank' s grandfather had been the one that
backed Borden on the development of evaporated milk and
established a very major fortune. At the time that this
conversation with Ed Snyder occurred, he was a leading person in
buying an interest in companies where he'd put in new management
if it seemed that would help. Among them were Allis-Chalmers , at
one time and, as I understood it, Southern Railroad and a bearing
company and others .
Anyway, during the lunch, Ed outlined things and Milbank
said, "Well, the thing is, I don't like to own 90 percent of a
company where the fellow who's going to run it owns 10 percent.
Subject to Mr. Hoover having some engineers go down and check what
you say about your ore reserves and the potential and so forth, I
would exercise the option to buy the National Lead interest, and I
would take bonds for the amount I have to pay National Lead. We
would leave 10 percent of the company in preferred stock for the
original people of Combined Metals, Inc., and the voting shares of
Combined Metals Reduction Company we'll split 50/50. You have
half and I'll have half, and we each give 5 percent to Mr. Hoover
for bringing us together." Ed thought that was wonderful, so Mr.
Hoover arranged to have several geologists and engineers come out,
and he came out himself.
So he was still active in the mining world at that time?
Yes. Although his expertise was actually in organization more
than it was as a geologist or a production man. But he had a
tremendous amount of experience. So when he came out, I had all
these plans of where we had the drill holes in the ore reserves.
What was your title at this point?
I was the mine engineer and geologist at that point. I noticed he
was not paying too much attention to what I was saying. At least,
I thought that. And he said, "My, you were lucky to hit those
blocks between the faults."
That challenged me, and I had, I thought, done a very good
job, in that I'd made prisms, and I'd worked on the sections until
everything matched. So I got those out and started again, giving
a lecture on it, and I noticed he was looking out the window. I
stopped, and there was silence for a few minutes.
Finally he turned and said, "I withdraw the use of the word
'luck' and substitute 'good management'."
Subsequently, because of the reports that his people had
turned in, as well as his own, Milbank proceeded to buy out
National Lead and I was made mine superintendent. At the time I
went to Pioche, they were quite behind in mechanization.
Expand on that just a bit, if you don't mind. What was the status
of equipment at that time?
They used column- and- arm supports for hand crank liner machines.
They'd gone to rubber- tired wheelbarrows from metal-wheeled
wheelbarrows and they'd hand shovel the ore and tram it in a
rubber- tired wheelbarrow to a chute. That was about the extent of
the mechanization. The company had been losing a very substantial
amount of money for months .
Swent: What about safety?
Arentz: They didn't have too bad a safety record. In fact, rather good
really. But you still wore the ore out getting it out of the
Swent: What sort of exploration drilling?
Arentz: That was with churn drills primarily, although we did a lot of
diamond drilling underground. The drilling for blasting, as I
say, was done with column- and- arm mounted drifter machines, hand
cranked drifter machines. Previously, I'd gotten some slusher
hoists down there.
Swent: They were new?
Arentz: Relatively, yes. And we got some automatic drifters. They didn't
have jackleg machines at that time, but we used jackhammers with
what they called a "Mexican set-up", which was where you had sort
of an S- shaped hook and you'd put one end of the hook in the side
bolt of the jackhammer and the other end in the top of a piece of
drill steel. It sort of acted like a jackleg, although you had to
keep different lengths of drill steel to put the hook in to get a
Swent: Did you do anything about dust abatement?
Arentz: You used water and you had ventilation fans and things of that
sort. It was sort of standard procedure at that period of time.
Swent: How deep was it?
Arentz: Well, they had a shaft in the Pioche end that was twelve hundred
feet deep and then three miles west of there, they had a shaft at
Caselton that was fourteen hundred feet deep and they were
connected underground with a raise that was about three hundred
feet high that connected the twelve hundred level of the number
one shaft with the fourteen hundred level of the Caselton shaft.
The mill was going regularly, and by this time, the war of course
was on. This was '43.
Swent: So you had your own mill down there?
Arentz: Yes. We brought in ore from other mines, as well as what we
produced at the Caselton mines.
Swent: Did you provide housing for your miners?
Arentz: At the start, no. But during the war, the government came in and
built a lot of temporary housing that was better than the usual
housing at the mining camps in that era. They built about a
hundred apartments at Pioche and about sixty or so at Caselton.
And also a big bunk house.
World War II: Furloughed Black Miners
Swent: Which branch of the government did this, I wonder.
Arentz: Well, I forget. It was under the defense plant business, I think.
And they had been drafting our miners. Then they came out with a
policy that they would furlough miners out of the army who were
already in the army. And the order came out from Washington to
unit commanders, if they had a miner in their unit, why, he was to
be released as a reservist and go to the mine. Well, the unit
commanders did what you or I would do. If they had a
troublemaker, they said, "You're a miner, aren't you." And we
got, I guess we got three hundred, mostly from back East,
Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Some of them had been coal
miners but the number of metal miners from out West we had were
Then Eleanor Roosevelt got into it and said that they weren't
furloughing blacks . So the order went out that they were to
furlough black miners. Well, the unions out West, while they
always insisted that there should be no discrimination on account
of race, creed or color or so forth, they came and notified their
various employers that the first black that showed up, they were
Swent: Which union did you have?
Arentz: I think at the time it was probably Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers
which later became quite communistic, and ours was the first union
local to break away from that at Pioche. They joined first, of
all things, out in the middle of the desert, the Marine Workers
Union, and then later, they switched over to the Steel Workers
Union, which is what most of the Western miners are in now.
But the deal was that when black miners were sent out, faced
with the threat of a strike that would disrupt getting the ore
out, the various mining companies came up with what they thought
was a temporary solution, but it wasn't the right solution. They
decided to make some of their mines totally black. In the case of
Combined Metals, they made the Triumph Mine at Hailey, Idaho,
totally black, except for the supervisors and engineers. In the
case of Anaconda, they made the Victoria Mine outside of Wendover,
Nevada, a totally black mine.
Neil Snyder, Ed's younger brother, was the manager up at
Hailey. When they sent out these black miners, they came to Fort
Douglas here in Salt Lake. The various company representatives
drew numbers, sort of like the national football draft, where they
got first choice and then second round and so forth. Neil Snyder
got the first choice and he picked a big black sergeant who seemed
to be pretty heads -up. Neil said to the sergeant, "Now, you pick
the rest in our draft." Meanwhile, the white miners at Hailey and
the white miners at Victoria and, I'm sure, at other mines, had
been reassigned to Butte or Pioche or wherever.
After Neil had his full crew picked for Hailey by the
sergeant, he called the sergeant to one side and said, "Now,
Hailey hasn't seen any blacks, as far as I know. And we don't
want any incidents up there that's going to disturb the people.
And the company has the boarding and bunkhouse so you don't have
to get tangled up with the town and we're perfectly willing to
hire a couple of black waitresses for the boardinghouse . "
And the sergeant got a big smile on his face; that was just
wonderful , he had a girl friend that would love to come out there .
And Neil said, "Well, that wasn't exactly what I had in
And the sergeant said, "Well, I know what you have in mind.
My girlfriend isn't a prostitute but she is broad minded."
Al Wundershek, a friend of mine I'd known out at Mercur, was
a superintendent for Anaconda at the Victoria Mine. He had a
fully black crew.
Were any of these people experienced miners?
Some of them were coal miners, yes. But you still had to run a
school for the type of mining we had.
Victoria Mine is about halfway between Wendover and Ely. And
over on the highway, about maybe twenty miles from the mine is the
Ferguson's Hot Springs. And they had a swimming hole there, I
wouldn't call it a swimming pool, but a swimming hole and a bar
and the like. Once a week Al Wundershek would take the whole crew
over to Ferguson's Hot Springs. He would take over being the
bartender and they could each have two drinks, no more, and when
they had their two drinks that was it. Then they could go
swimming in the hot springs and then head back to camp.
Down at Pioche the funny thing was, as far as union men went,
if a black said he was a Cuban or a Filipino or something else, it
was all right. But if he said he was from Alabama, that was no
good. And we had, as I said, about three hundred enlisted
reservists to staff the mine along with the others we had. Then
to keep our labor priorities, which were high, we had to keep a
recruiter in Oakland and Portland and Reno and Salt Lake. And we
took almost anybody that the U. S. Employment Service Office
referred to us.
Swent: This recruiter was on your payroll?
Arentz : Yes. Then we'd have to get a bus ticket for them and transport
them, and, if they had a family, transport their family, to
Pioche. Some of them would jump the bus in Ely or somewhere along
the line. They would arrive- -you can't believe it- -they would
arrive without anything. I mean, they might have a baby but no
change of diapers for the baby and no blankets, no dishes, no
household goods at all. We'd have to equip them with that. A lot
of them were the men that Kaiser had brought out to the shipyards
in the Oakland or San Francisco area. They would have payroll
stubs, check stubs, that indicated that between the husband and
wife both working they were making more than the miners were. I
don't know what they did with their money.
As I said, the government had built these apartment houses,
and they were nice. They were better than most mining camps had
at that period although they were dry-wall construction, and they
weren't built to last for fifty years. They had electric stoves
and refrigerators and running water, nice baths and the like. And
some of these people from back in Oklahoma would just go in and
destroy them. I mean, we'd outfit them with kitchen ware and
blankets and the like, and they would draw circles on the wall and
start using it for a darts game with butcher knives and cut a hole
right through the wall. It convinced me, and I subsequently found
that some of this went on in big housing projects constructed at
great cost to the taxpayers in New York and other places, that all
this crying about housing, while there are many, many deserving
people, there are enough of them that destroy things as fast as
you can make them, that if we were to supply adequate housing for
everybody in the United States, it would take most of the rest of
us building the houses to replace the ones they destroy.
Anyway, within a couple of months, instead of having losses,
because of some changes that were made, we started showing very
good profits. That continued for quite a period of time, ten
years. We enjoyed it. We were somewhat isolated. The mines, to
start with, worked seven days a week and then later went six days
Swent: You moved your family back down there?
Arentz: Oh, yes. Mary Alice and our eldest daughter, who was then about
six months old, came down in August of '41. At first we rented a
little old house in Pioche that had been a stop on the stagecoach
going through fifty years before, and it was in shambles. But
later the company built me a home over at Caselton near the mill
and the mine. We ended up with quite an enclave of staff houses
there, as well as these government houses. There were about sixty
or so. Then we had a nice bunkhouse and the like.
The thing that surprised me about these enlisted reservists
from back East was that in the bunkhouse we had games and a
library. The WAAIMES [Woman's Auxiliary of the American Institute
of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers] sent books
until heck wouldn't have it, and things like that. But these
fellows from back in the coal fields weren't interested in games,
they weren't interested in reading, and the fact that there was
only one change of shows at the one show house [movie theater] in
Pioche once a week was a tremendous pain to them. So I had to
organize various things like softball teams. They were great for
spectator things, but they didn't care much to participate.
The first year that we had a bunch of them there, Mary Alice
and the wife of our plant engineer decided that on Thanksgiving
they should have some of these enlisted reservists over for a
Thanksgiving dinner. She asked me and the plant engineer to
select about eight or nine. They used up a whale of a bunch of
their ration stamps to put on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
The boys came over, and in general their reaction was, "No,
thanks. I don't go for that." Our wives had supplied the candied
sweet potatoes, pie, turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and
gravy, carrot and celery sticks, olives, pickles, and other
things. It was a disaster as far as the ladies were concerned
because they'd worked like hell. I don't know what the problem
Ed Snvder Acquires the Henderson. Nevada. Magnesium Plant
Swent: That must have been very disappointing.
Arentz: Yes, it was. But the scope of the operations were extended and
one of the principal things accomplished there at Pioche was the
government had spent a huge amount of money building the Henderson
magnesium plant, Basic Magnesium for war purposes and the town of
Henderson, Nevada, which was at that time, I guess, about the
fourth largest town in Nevada. It included a tremendous amount of
power from Hoover Dam and water from Lake Mead. Then they decided
to dispose of the defense plant facility. The Colorado River
Commission of the State of Nevada wanted to acquire it for the
state and the governor arranged to acquire the plant.
Ed Snyder was the chief negotiator, in effect, for the state
and I was his assistant. The deal was, we were dealing with the
defense plant corporation which was General Services, and Jess
Larson was the General Services Administrator. He was one of the
truly fine government bureaucrats, if you want to call him that.
He was just a top-notch man. And we ended up being able to buy
the whole thing: the town, the water, the power and the plant for
23 million dollars --one dollar down. Meanwhile we'd arranged to
have Titanium Metals come in and take some of the units for
producing titanium metal. Stouffer Chemical took over the
chlorine plant and a lime company took over the lime plant, or
preparation plant. We got the whole town of Henderson. Then the
state started selling the homes to individuals, and the fire
department and the water system and the power system were also
sold. Combined Metals took on two of the units that had formerly
been the pot line for making magnesium and refinery. The company
had a lot of zinc carbonate ores.
Arentz: We had a lot of zinc carbonate ores and Ed Snyder 's ambition was
to get an electrolytic zinc plant for processing these ores. New
Jersey Zinc and Phelps Dodge, as I remember, had indicated an
interest in joining in on it. With this very substantial power
contract at low-cost power, the power from Hoover Dam was
delivered to Henderson for less than a third of a cent per
Swent: Had this already been negotiated? You simply took over this
contract for power?
Arentz: Yes, it was the government's power and it was Nevada's share of
Swent: Right. But you didn't have anything to do with that arrangement
except to just take it over?
Arentz : Yes. And about that time, between the Marshall Plan and just
before the Korean War, the price of zinc went down. Both New
Jersey and Phelps Dodge decided they didn't want to participate in
the zinc plant. There's a lot of manganese at Pioche and the
price of manganese was up. Ed Snyder had an idea that he could
use these facilities and the cheap power for producing
f erromanganese . He had long had an idea of developing reagents
that would do for oxide minerals what xanthates and other reagents
did for sulfide minerals. His son had just graduated from
Michigan Tech, where Ed Snyder had finished, as a chemical
engineer, and he put his son to work along with a couple of other
research men on following up on his ideas for developing these
reagents, particularly for producing a manganese concentrate
because the ores in Pioche only ran 8 or 9 percent manganese. To
get a feed for a f erromanganese plant, you had to have 40 percent
or at least approaching 40 percent manganese.
They went to work and came up with their reports that they
could do it. If it had been somebody else, I think Ed would have
insisted on a pilot plant, but he had this beautiful power
contract and the facilities at Henderson and plenty of reserves,
so he went full scale on it. He and Milbank set up Pioche
Manganese Company and started putting in electric furnaces at
Swent: How far is Henderson from Pioche?
Arentz : About two hundred miles .
Swent: That's quite a haul.
Arentz: Well, it's on the railroad. They built a big extension onto the
mill at Pioche, put in a big kiln for nodulizing the manganese
concentrate, and started sending concentrates down to Henderson.
I never worked so hard in my life to make something work, but the
thing is that if you made a good grade concentrate, you didn't get
much recovery. If you got good recovery, the grade of the
concentrate wasn't very good. It didn't work out and the company
lost a lot of money on it.
About that time, Mr. Snyder asked me to come up to Salt Lake,
this was in late '52. In January of '53 I moved the family to
Salt Lake and I was still looking after Pioche, but I also had
extended responsibilities in other things. That's when I got
involved in uranium.
Ed Snyder 's son-in-law, Mitch Melich--when he got out of law
school in the early part of the Depression, the standard thing for
a young lawyer graduate was to go to work as a clerk in a law firm
where he was lucky to get enough money for lunch, to say nothing
of a salary. Mitch came in to see his prospective father-in-law
one day before he and Dorrie were married and he said, "I have a
real problem. "
And Ed said, "What's the problem?"
"Well," he said, "I have a chance to go to Noab where I can
get the job of county attorney which pays a salary, and also I can
have a private practice."
"Well," Ed said, "what's your problem?"
Mitch said, "Your wife, Dorrie 's mother, said that she's
going to stop the wedding if I take Dorrie down to Moab."
And Ed said, "I'll tell you what we'll do. I'll make it easy
for you. I'll stop it if you don't take her down there."
[Chuckles] So Mitch went to Moab. He was a rural attorney in a
small town but then the uranium boom came.
Moab. Utah. Uranium Boom. 1952-1954
Swent: When was the uranium strike there?
Arentz : About '51 or '52. Mitch was the leading attorney down there, and
he was also into politics. When Charlie Steen really hit it,
Mitch was his attorney.
Swent: Charlie Steen was the one who found the uranium bonanza at Moab?
Arentz: Yes. And he was written up in Time and Life and various other
magazines and he had an idea. He got in a lawsuit with his mother
because he insisted that he wanted to have his own mill. He had
no experience in metallurgy or milling. He had actually been an
oil geologist down in Venezuela as a young man when he first got
out of El Paso, and then had come back. He was broke and he had a
wife and, I think, three sons. He decided that with the
government guarantee program, the best chance of getting a fortune
was to get into uranium. He came up to Utah, and he and his wife
got a small --it was really a shack in the real sense of a
shack- -tar-paper shack in Cisco, Utah. And he had a jeep, and the
family subsisted on the bare minimum of things. His mother helped
him a little and he went out prospecting.
Out in the Lisbon Valley, at the base of a cliff on the west
side of the valley down near the floor, there were some claims
located on a show of carnotite dipping down into the west.
Charlie went up above on top of the cliff, and there was a canyon
sloping down in the same direction as the beds were. Beyond the
original claims, which only went in fifteen hundred feet, he
located a series of claims going on down dip.
With the help of some local people, he acquired a diamond
drill and started drilling a hole to explore for the down dip
extension of the mineralization showing at the foot of the cliff.
I understand that the estimated depth of his target was 300 feet.
It appears that he lost the hole at about 200 feet. In examining
the core, some dark mineral was observed at about 60 feet down the
hole. The uranium ore on the Colorado Plateau to this point was
the yellow mineral carnotite. It was found that the dark mineral
in the core was a high grade uranium mineral and Charlie had
discovered a bonanza at a shallow depth.
The AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] had established a buying
station in Moab where they would weigh and sample each delivery of
ore. As Charlie Steen developed and started producing ore from
the ore body discovered by his drill hole, and substantial
reserves of similar ore were blocked out, it became evident that a
mill for treating ore from the Moab area was required. Several
large companies indicated an interest in constructing a mill if
Charlie would make his ore available to it. But Charlie wanted a
mill of his own. Since he was a geologist and had no milling
experience the AEC was reluctant to enter into a milling contract
with him and Charlie reportedly did not wish to deal with the
At this point his attorney, Mitch Melich, pointed out that
his father-in-law, Ed Snyder, operated mills in Utah and Nevada
treating lead-zinc-silver ores. Mitch suggested that Charlie
might like to meet Ed. Ed was invited to Moab and he and Charlie
seemed to like each other. Ed asked me to go to Moab to check on
the indicated ore reserves . After checking the reserves at
Charlie Steen' s property, Ed suggested that I might check for
other ore reserves that Snyder 's company might acquire. We had a
prospector on the payroll at Pioche who was one of the keenest
observers that I've run into. And I said, "Have Owen Walker come
over, and I'll send him out prospecting."
I had a bunch of these photogeologic maps and when Owen got
to Moab , I'd send him out here and out there . He came back and
said, "Too late, it's staked as far as the eye can see."
At that time there was only one phone line out of Moab, and
there were all these people using the phone system. They had a
little office about 10 feet by 10 feet. It was a case of first
come, first served, but you might have to wait six hours before
your call went through and when it did go through, there wasn't a
phone booth, there was just a phone on the wall. Everybody could
hear your end of the conversation. If you didn't wait and were
out when your turn came, that was tough. You had to come back and
start over again.
One day I was in there and there was a whole bunch of men
waiting, and it looked as though it could be as much as an hour or
two hours wait, when a fellow came in with a two weeks growth of
beard and tears streaming down his face. He went over to the
operator at the desk and said he just got word that his brother
died and he had to call his mother. Well, she looked around and
everybody, by common consent, said to give him priority. So his
call went right through, and then he got to the phone and started
selling uranium claims. [Laughs]
There was one mining engineer from over in Colorado that I
had known, and he was doing exploration work at the south end of
the Lisbon Valley. There was only one restaurant in Moab at that
time, and we'd each get in just before it closed at nine o'clock
at night. Since we were the only customers there, we'd sit down
and visit. He had some drilling program going down on this
property that he had under lease, and this one evening he said,
"Say, when do you stop exploration?"
I said, "Well, that's a good question. As far as I know,
there's only two times. One is when you've found an ore body and
the other is when you've run out of money."
He said, "Well, we're about to stop exploration and we
haven't found an ore body." [Chuckles]
Finally, this one time I sent this Owen Walker out to another
spot. He came back the next day and said, "This looks like we
might have something." Owen said, "I need a trailer house and a
bulldozer and a crew to do staking."
I said, "Okay, we'll have those. But how do you know it
won't be staked by the time you get back there?"
"Well," he said, "I had to go down this long canyon to the
end of where a new road had just been put in, and then I turned
off that and got over to where the outcrops of the beds were . "
I said, "How about when you got back. Weren't your tracks
going right out there?" "Well, yes they were but," he said, "I
wiped them out with sagebrush and sprinkled dust on them so that I
don't think they could be seen. They'll think I turned around
right there . "
So I got the stuff he wanted and the crew. They went out and
were busy staking. They no sooner got there than other people
came down and starting to stake off on different sides. The first
day, Owen had to go back into town and get some supplies. This
one outfit that had been staking off to one side from him took off
and headed for town ahead of him. The canyon that came down went
through an area owned by cattle ranchers, and they had these wire
gates, what we call Mormon gates --and the car ahead of him didn't
even slow up for these gates, it just tore through them and took
them out. They thought, "My gosh, that guy must have hit
something so hot that he was just rushing to get it recorded in
After they got back, it turned out the next day, he's back
there. They went over to see what the hell he's doing. And he
has a case of beer and is opening the cans and pouring the beer
out on the ground. They said, "What are you doing that for?"
"Well," he said, "yesterday I was locating and I was drinking
the beer. But I was locating faster than I could handle the beer
and I got drunker than a lord. That's what happened when I drove
in last night, so today, I'm dumping the beer on the ground
because I need these empty cans to put the location notices in."
Subsequently the Uranium Reduction Company was organized.
Howard Young of American Zinc was a close friend and ally of Ed
Snyder and Charlie Steen. That was all in '53 and '54. But
toward the end of '54, the price of lead and zinc had dropped off,
and I was having to shut down mines. That's a difficult thing
because you're laying off a bunch of your friends and one thing
Excuse me, the claims that Owen Walker staked were good claims
then? You found ore?
I think maybe one of them had some ore but there were a lot of
them that just showed a little ore.
But you did go ahead with the mill?
Well, we had Charlie Steen' s mine, the Mi Vida ore, and others.
Part of the deal with the government was that they would give you
a contract but you had to allocate a portion of the capacity of
the mill for custom milling from other places.
Swent: All right. So you were having to close down some of the lead- zinc
Arentz: Yes, in Utah and Nevada. Ed Snyder was very much a patriarch, and
during the Depression years, to the detriment of the company's
financial position, he kept staff on, and as many workmen as he
could working part-time. I noticed that some of the men who had
lived through those days where they had been on a part-time
tending basis never really got back on the ball. I mean, a couple
who'd either quit or had been let go, were prepared. Whereas the
others who had been sort of milk- fed during that period never
really got back to where they developed their full potential.
So one day 1 went in to see Ed and I said, "Now Ed, to save
the company money, here's a list of about forty people that you're
going to have to let go, even though you regard many of them as
your key personnel or longtime associates." And I said, "I can
give you this list because my name leads all the rest." He didn't
want to do that. Well, I said, "Ed I'll tell you what, I'm going
to resign at the end of the year." This was along about October.
"And I still think that you should let the others on this list go.
I think, in the long run, you will do them a favor as well as
yourself and the company."
And I said, "Not only that, but you have several mining
properties that I think I could do something with. One of them is
the Butterfield Mine." The company had it for twenty odd years,
and they'd mined ore and shipped it over to the Bauer mill. They
had one shaft that needed a lot of maintenance.
About that time Buck Grant, who had been the general
superintendent for U.S. Smelting out at Bingham, had resigned. I
told Ed, "Buck has been out there for twenty years. He's been a
geologist and superintendent of an adjoining mine that owns
property on both sides of the Butterfield Mine, and I would hire
him as a consultant."
Ed said no, he didn't want to do that because Combined Metals
was buying ore in competition with U.S. Smelting at Midvale and Ed
figures he had an edge on the metallurgy. He said, "If I hire one
of their guys, they'll start talking to our metallurgist."
I said, "Ed, Buck resigned and he's not working for them."
"Well, no, but I'm sure he's still tied in some way."
So with that I said, "I would like to get a lease and option
on the Butterfield Mine. I'm leaving anyway at the end of the
Samuel S. Arentz, Jr. with zinc slabs from Caselton Mine and Mill,
Metals Reduction Company, Pioche, Nevada, circa 1943.
III ENTREPRENEUR AND CONSULTANT AFTER 1954
Leasing the Butterfield Mine. 1954
Arentz: Ed Snyder didn't like to let properties go any more than he liked
to let people go, but finally he told me that I could negotiate
with the company's attorney and with Otto Berries who was the vice
president, and see what I came up with. In the meantime, I went
to see Buck Grant and said, "Buck, I'd like to have you answer
three questions for me. You've been out at Bingham for twenty
years and you know the Butterfield Mine and adjoining property;
are you at liberty to tell me about it? And would you do it for a
piece of a lease, and option? I think I've got a lease and option
And he said yes to all questions but he said, "For heaven's
sake, don't let anybody know you're negotiating because I've been
recommending to U. S. that they deal with Combined Metals on
acquiring that property for the last ten years."
Ed was a close personal friend as well as my boss- -and I went
in to see him on New Years Eve. '54. By that time, I had the
lease and option agreement drawn up and about six o'clock while we
were visiting he said, "Well, what are you waiting for?"
I said, "I'm waiting for you to sign this damn thing."
"Oh, all right," he said.
And that evening I took Mary Alice and we went to the
University Club's New Year's Eve dance. Buck Grant was there
along with a lot of the other mining people that used to belong
there, and I told Buck, "Well, we've got it all signed up."
He said, "We'll get to work on it right away then."
On the second of January, Ed Snyder called me and said that
U.S. Smelting wanted to come in and talk about the Butterfield.
And he said, "Sam, we need the cash. If they make a reasonable
proposition, would you relinquish the lease and option?"
I said, "Hell, Ed, if it will help you, sure."
Well, he called me the next day and said they came in. He
said, "They must have ice water instead of blood. We just put a
new compressor out there for sixty thousand and that's what they
offered to buy the whole thing." So he said, "Your agreement
Well, I'd previously talked to a group of rather well-to-do
people in Nevada and told them I was going to need some financing
to do the development that I'm talking about. I'd known them for
a long time, and they knew me down at Pioche, and they said,
Being rather naive at the time, I told them, "Don't put up
anything until we get the report put together- -Buck Grant is
working with me on it- -and we'll know just how much we need and
what we propose to do with it and what we hope to accomplish.
Then you can size up whether you want to proceed."
So Buck and I worked a couple of months and meanwhile both of
us were doing other consulting work. We finally got everything
put together, and we went back to see them. It turned out that
they had some inside information that an embargo on Mexican cattle
was going to be lifted because of hoof and mouth disease, and they
put a bunch of their money down there, and they couldn't do
anything about the Butterfield.
Meanwhile, I had expenses to maintain things out there, and I
was close to going broke. Then Buck came in, and he had just been
offered the job of assistant general manager for Kennecott in
Chile. He said it was too good a job not to accept. So he said,
"Just deal me out and you don't have any obligations to me."
I said, "You've helped me a lot to this point." Well, I'd
located some claims down in the Moab area and I was able to sell
them at a price that would have gotten me out of hock so I could
go look for another job and relinquish the lease and option. But
I thought, "No, by God, it's worth a final try." So I took eight
copies of my report and I went to New York.
In two days, I saw the presidents of eight of the leading
mining companies in the United States. I didn't know New York too
well at that time, so it turned out by coincidence I had an
appointment at eight o'clock uptown and an appointment at ten
o'clock downtown and then an appointment at two uptown and an
appointment at four downtown. I was having to take the express
Arentz: It became readily apparent that these presidents had given me a
courtesy fifteen minutes or so. But before the fifteen minutes
was up, they'd say, "Just a minute," and they'd call in their
chief geologist or head of exploration or somebody like that and
say, "Start over."
I told them that I was seeing others, where I was staying,
and that the first one that indicated an interest in following up
on this, I'd call everybody else up so they didn't waste any time
looking into it further. By the end of the second day, I got a
call from Jim Boyd, 1 and he said Kennecott would be interested.
Swent: Was this a copper mine?
Arentz: No, it was lead, zinc, and silver, but it had some copper too.
But it doubled the acreage that Kennecott owned in Bingham. It
was over three thousand acres of patented land. I went in, and
Boyd and Frank Milliken said they wanted to buy it. "Well," I
said, "I was actually interested in the lease end of it. The
thing is that actually, I misled you a little." I didn't have the
option to sell right then- -I got that option a little later- -but I
did have the lease option.
Swent: Now just for clarification, this is the Butterfield that you're
talking about and it was owned by Combined Metals, but they for
some reason didn't operate it.
Arentz: Well, they'd shut it down. And I had urged them to do some work
on it which at the time they didn't want to undertake, and it was
costing them a fair amount just to hold it on stand-by.
Swent: But they were willing to lease it?
Arentz: Yes. And then later I got an option to buy it. But I had to pay
them a very substantial sum of money. So in talking to Boyd and
Milliken, I said, "I can take a long-term capital gain if I sell
you the lease but the option would be shorter; the short-term and
the taxes will be considerably different. Not only that, but
1 James Boyd, Minerals and Critical Materials Management: Military and
Government Administrator and Mining Executive. 1941-1987. Western Mining in the
Twentieth Century series, Regional Oral History Office, University of California,
since I don't think you're interested in the lease on the lead,
zinc, silver, I 'd like to have it back in a reasonable period of
time after we've completed this deal." I said, "We can't have
that in writing or it will nullify the sale end, but I'd like a
gentlemen's understanding that in the course of time, I can get
the lease back."
They said, "Fine."
Now they said, "We'll arrange to have our geologist come out.
In the meantime you go back to Salt Lake and give all the title
data to Charlie Parsons, our attorney, and have him review the
title. Then we'll have Bill Burgin come over from Denver and
check on the geology."
So I got back to Salt Lake, and I went out to the airport to
meet Bill Burgin after giving Charlie Parsons the title data.
Bill was on the United Airlines plane from Denver coming over that
had many of members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, among the
others. The plane hit the top of the Medicine Bow Peak and
everybody was killed.
My option was running out, and I said, "We've got to hurry on
this." So finally they had another geologist come, and Parsons
approved the title, and they gave the checks. I gave a
substantial amount to Combined Metals which paid off some notes
they had, but I got enough so that it was equivalent to about ten
years salary or thereabouts. It put me in business.
I'm interested in how you reached the decision to do this:
resign your job at Combined Metals and take this leap for
Well, I could see that the way things were going, I was shutting
down mines, and the company was going to be in bad straits if
something wasn't done. And I had a good deal of confidence
particularly after talking to Buck Grant because the U.S. Mine
next door to Combined Metals' Butterfield Mine had mined down
twelve hundred feet below the lowest level of the Butterfield
So it was the particular property that gave you the confidence.
It's a very big step though. Did you talk it over with Mary
Oh yes. And we recognized that it was going to be very serious
business, but it worked out well.
Swent: Yes, indeed.
Aocraislnc Uranium Prooerties
Arentz: Meanwhile, I was doing quite a bit of consulting work but the
thing was that when I first went into business for myself, I
thought, "Well, I'm pretty well known in the mining industry, and
I should be able to get clients." As it turned out, initially the
only clients I had were these mini-stock outfits that were
promoting uranium properties. I was rather naive and didn't
demand a down payment , and I ' d go out and come back and report
truthfully that they didn't have a damn thing. They'd get mad and
say they wouldn't pay me because I wrecked their chances of
floating their stock.
The only satisfaction I got was that a year later about five
of them came in and paid their bill. And they said, "You know,
when we were trying to get our stocks sold, you pretty near
wrecked us with your report, but we got some other people to write
a favorable report, and we raised the money. But you were right,
it wasn't worth a damn, and now we're talking about buying some
properties and we'd really like to know what they're worth."
Swent: So honesty does pay sometimes.
Arentz: Yes it does. There was a promotional outfit from New York that
had acquired leases on some claims out in McDermitt, Nevada, on
the Bretz Mine which back in the thirties had been operated by the
Bradleys . 1 Jay Carpenter of the Mackay School of Mines , who had
retired but was doing consulting work and had been retained to
supervise some exploration drilling, found that there was some ore
there. He told me, "I don't think this outfit is going to do
anything, they're just a bunch of highbinders. Why don't you see
if you can make an agreement with them?"
Read Bradley, Jr., A Mining Engineer in Alaska. Canada, the
Western United States. Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Western Mining in
the Twentieth Century series, Regional Oral History Office, University of
California, Berkeley, 1988.
The Bretz Mine Development. 1955
Arentz: I took his advice and went back to New York and saw them. They
were a bunch of highbinders; I think some of them finally went to
jail. But anyway, I made a deal on the Bretz Mine, I did some
more drilling, and then I put in what subsequently became the
first successful flotation plant on the low-grade cinnabar ore.
We built a mill and it operated on and off, depending on what the
price of mercury was, for nearly ten years. That was 1955.
I was looking at a lot of other properties all the time, and
we didn't know about the tie-in between mercury and gold. So at
one time, because I was operating a mercury mine, a lot of mercury
prospects were brought to may attention. At one time, I was
checking on Paradise Peak, which turned out to be a fantastic gold
property, also the McCoy Mine and the Ivanhoe. I investigated
about five of what are now tremendous gold properties in Nevada,
but of course at that time, the price of gold was such they
wouldn't have been worth a damn anyway.
Swent: The technology just hadn't been developed?
Arentz: Oh, the technology is pretty much the same. But the price is what
made the difference. You win some and you lose some, you know.
One day in early February '58, a fellow that I'd helped out who
was an independent lessee --he was out at Tempiute, Nevada, at the
tungsten property where Wah Chang later had an operation--! had
helped him out a time or two. He came in and gave me a somewhat
wild story about how he had a verbal option from a ward of the LDS
[Latter Day Saints] church on some patented claims down out of
The Escalante Mine Development. 1958-1990
Swent: A verbal option is rather risky isn't it?
Arentz: Yes, well, he said he knew that sometime in the past, twenty or
thirty years before, some diamond drill holes had been put down
below the water table and hit high-grade silver ore. I said, "Do
you have any drill logs or engineers' reports or core or
anything?" Oh, no. He didn't have that. Well, I said,
"Everybody that comes in the office has a deal like that. Every
old shaft in the country, if you just take out four feet of
water- -" .
Anyway, he was most insistent that he knew what had happened,
even though he had nothing to back it up. So finally I said,
"Okay, I'll come down."
And in February of '58, I met him down at the property. It
was just on the edge of the valley, in an ideal spot as far as
being accessible goes. It was just off two hundred feet from the
main county road and two and a half miles off the main highway, on
a very low little foothill. The day I got there, there was a
blizzard going on and if you faced into the wind, you were covered
with snow from head to foot.
But there was a very strong outcrop that was quite noticeable
and stood up a little that went for fifteen hundred feet or so.
At various places along the outcrop, I took some chip samples, and
at one end there was a pit maybe ten feet deep and twenty feet
long. Near the hanging wall of the vein, the vein was ten or
twelve feet wide; there was a small place with a lot of copper
stain. I wouldn't call it a sample, but I took a specimen of it.
The samples I took along the outcrop generally were quite low- -two
or three ounces of silver at the maximum. But the specimen down
in the pit went seventy- five ounces of silver, and that was a
little interesting. I kept looking at rejects from the others and
decided that I could see where there had been some leaching and
possibly there was silver in the rejects too.
Swent: Who did the drilling work?
Arentz : Oh, a local guy. He happened to have a drill available. I'll be
darned, the first hole, which was a vertical churn drill hole, at
about a hundred and fifty feet went through ten feet of true width
vein assaying twenty -five -ounce ore. To back up a bit, by the
time I was manager down at Pioche and superintendent , the fellows
were all getting vacations. Sometimes a fellow can get a mistaken
impression that the operation won't run without him so I wasn't
taking vacation except maybe we'd go on a Sunday over to Zion Park
or Bryce Canyon. Mary Alice and I would get to Mining Congress
But the children and Mary Alice all put the bite on, "When
are we going to take a vacation?"
At that time, our eldest daughter was thirteen and our
youngest was three, and I said, "Now if everybody will just keep
calm, when Mary Kay, our eldest, gets through high school at
seventeen and Peggy, our youngest, is seven, I promise I'll quit
whatever I'm doing and we'll take a real vacation." Well, that
seemed like forever to me. That was in 1953.
In 1957, they said, "Next year."
So I said, "Maybe we had better have a practice run." We
took off and drove up through Butte and Yellowstone and Glacier
National Park and Banff and up to Jasper Park and put the car on
the train and went across to Prince Rupert, then on the boat and
came back down the Inland Passage . Everything worked fine so I
said, "All right. Next year."
Quite by coincidence, the next year, I had an opportunity to
check on a mine in Norway. I invited my widowed mother and the
children and Mary Alice to fly over to Norway. Mary Alice and I
would go to the mine, and my mother and eldest daughter would sort
of look after the rest. Then we would take three months, and I
arranged to get a Volkswagen mini -bus, and we'd drive around
Europe. Well, this was due to start in June and I had just
finished the first drill hole at Escalante.
Searching for Partners
Arentz: At about that time, a friend of mine, Cecil Fitch of Chief
Consolidated Mining Company, heard about it, and he asked if I
would like a partner. Well, I said, "I've got enough for this
trip or for doing some more drilling and exercising the option,
but I don't have enough funds for both. And so if you'd care to
join me, I'll retain the management of it and we'll go fifty-fifty
on expenses and see what we can do."
So I lined up a series of diamond drill holes, and I had Roy
Hickman, the superintendent I had in charge at the Bretz, come
over. Roy was also a pilot. I turned my plane over to him and
said, "Now, you go down and look after things."
Swent: By this time you were flying?
Arentz: Oh yes, I started flying in '57.
Swent: Was Cecil Fitch a brother of Manny and Albert Fitch?
Arentz: No, he's a brother of Jim Quigley and Harry Spencer's wives.
We drilled and when I got back, I went over all the drill
core and eight of the ten holes that had been put down had hit
damn good ore. Some of them had hit very good ore. So I went
ahead and exercised the option to buy it.
Meanwhile a fellow had been sending me letters in the leading
towns wherever we were going to be, in Paris or Rome or wherever.
"We've hit another good hole."
So when I got back I thought, "Boy, we've got Comstock Lode
or something." Well, we exercised the option and bought the
property and then started looking to see what we could do.
Harry Spencer's brother, Frank Spencer, was a leading man
with Cerro de Pasco. Cec contacted him, and "Well, they said they
might be interested." So we went back and worked out a deal with
Cerro de Pasco where they would promise to do the additional
exploration and development and put the property into production
and we'd go fifty-fifty on it. They came out, and they drilled
seven more holes . That meant that we had eleven holes , and they
had seven. Actually they were between ours to more or less
confirm what we had, rather than additional ore reserves.
We also re-timbered a hundred-and- thirty-foot shaft that was
on the property and got set up to sink further. Later we sunk it
down to a hundred and eighty feet, and by that time, we hit the
water table. The valley right adjacent to us was irrigated.
There were twenty-odd thousand acres with pump wells and there was
a lot of water. About that time Cerro de Pasco needed to spend
some more money down in Peru, and they had an interest in a cement
plant in New York, so they thanked us very much and dropped out.
In an arrangement like that did you have to pay them at all?
No, no. That was their contribution. Meanwhile, we were spending
money too, looking after the property.
If they had stayed in, they would have had a share of it?
Oh, they would have had half and control of it. The next company
we contacted was Placer-Amer, Placer Development Corporation.
Ed Schultz was their lead man, and they decided they had
better check on the water. So they put up the funds for drilling
a well and bringing in a diesel pump and bringing in a
hydrologist. They brought in Halpenny out of Tucson and put down
a well and put a pump on it and pumped for about three months .
Halpenny came up with a report that we'd have to pump fifteen
thousand gallons a minute for an extended period of time to de-
water the ore body. With that Placer decided no, thanks.
So I did some more work down there, and meanwhile I was
selling my mercury from McDermitt to Englehard Minerals, Phillip
Brothers. They got excited about silver, and they wanted to know
if I had a silver property anywhere. I told them about Escalante,
but I said, "We've got this water thing."
Well, they said, "If we can have another hydrologist check
out the water and reconfirm what the first one said, why, yes. We
can go with that."
I checked, and we found Bill Guyton, a hydrologist out of
Austin, Texas, who was favorably recommended. We had him come in,
and he had an assistant come in and check all the wells in the
valley as to whether they were going up or down. Meanwhile, I
made arrangements with Placer to lease the pump that they'd
bought. And we started the pump to check it out. After we'd
pumped for a period of time, I talked to Guyton, and over the
phone he informed me that while he didn't agree with Halpenny's
methods of computation, he generally agreed with the result, and
he thought that would be confirmed.
I thought, we're in business because Englehard said that if
another hydrologist confirmed Halpenny's results, they would go.
But when Guyton wrote his finished report, he put in a caveat that
if the geology was as I had stated, fourteen or fifteen thousand
gallons a minute would take care of it, but if it was different
and there were a bunch of breaks or fractures going out into the
valley, it could be eighty thousand gallons a minute. Of course
that would be completely uneconomical. That just shot holes in
the whole thing.
Meanwhile Englehard read about the use of the Defense
Exploration Project where the government would put up a certain
part of the funds for doing exploration for gold and silver and
other metals. And they thought we should apply for some
government funds .
Swent: Was there any possibility of selling the water or doing anything
Arentz : You could give it to the farmers out in the valley, but that was
only for a portion of the year, and you had to keep the mine dry
So we put in for an exploration project, and we drilled some
more holes in the south and the results were mixed. We didn't
appreciably improve the total ore reserve. Englehard wanted to
know how we could prove whether it was the eighty thousand or the
fourteen thousand gallons of water.
And I said, "Well, the only way I know is to drive a drift
along the vein just above the water table and see what breaks
there are coming in from the valley. Also, we could establish
whether the ore between the drill holes is continuous or if we
just happened to hit some high spots." So the deal was that if I
put up half, they'd put up half, and we'd drive this drift. We
drove over two thousand feet of drift. And it appeared that we
probably had some ore above the water table .
We didn't have enough to warrant a mill, but Kennecott had
taken over the ASARCO smelter at Garfield. ASARCO used to buy
siliceous ore for flux for their copper concentrate. I checked
with them as to whether they would buy ore from Escalante for use
as flux at their smelter. They said, "We don't have any sampling
facilities at Garfield. We took out the ones that ASARCO had
there, and the flux must meet certain specific standards."
They finally gave me a purchase order for twenty thousand
tons or so on the basis that it had to be no more than 7 percent
lime and over 70 percent silica, and it had to average eleven
ounces of silver. If it went below 11 ounces of silver, I took a
penalty, and if it went above that, they took it themselves.
There would be no umpire assays or anything like that, and we'd
have to set up a facility for crushing and sampling the ore at the
mine. They would send a man down to do the sampling, and we had
to pay his salary.
It was a very onerous sort of thing. It was a flat price per
ton as long as it averaged at least eleven ounces. If it went
over eleven ounces, why, we still got the flat price. If it went
under eleven ounces, why they deducted from the flat price. Then
the 7 percent lime- -I told them all the time it went 10 percent
lime. So that blew that out of the water. But I went down, and
crushed some of it and screened it, and I found that the calcite
in the ore, which was lime, was more friable than the quartz. By
crushing and screening it, I could take out the lime to a certain
extent and I didn't reduce the grade because the silver was
actually associated with the quartz.
So I said, "Okay, I'll take that." And I moved in a portable
crushing plant and arranged for them to send down their fellow.
We shipped about sixteen or eighteen thousand tons to the
Kennecott smelter. But we weren't making any money on it. I
ended up with a loss.
We stopped the mining operation and Englehard said, "Let's
see if we can get somebody to lease the property." They had
acquired, by virtue of what they had put in, which was not that
much, a half interest in it.
I had 25 percent interest and Chief [Consolidated Mining
company] had a 25 percent interest. So I said, "Well, we'll see
what we can do . "
It turned out that John Hall of Callahan Mining Company
indicated an interest. So I went back and met with the Englehard
people, Phillip Brothers actually, which was part of Englehard.
They said, "Now, we want you to do the negotiating."
And I said, "What will you agree to?"
"Well, it's got to be a 10 percent royalty and certain other
things . "
"Well," I said, "That's high, but we'll do the best we can."
So we went in, and they had two of their men go with me, and we
met with Callahan' s people.
When we said 10 percent royalty, they said, "No, we don't go
"Well, that's all I'm authorized to talk about."
"Well," they said, "our directors are here, and we'll have a
meeting. Meanwhile you fellows go to lunch and come back after
lunch." When they came back after lunch, why, he said,
"Reluctantly, we'll go ahead. We'll accept that."
So the understanding was that I was going to be coming back
to Salt Lake; this was on a Friday. Englehard' s people and their
attorney would meet with Callahan' s attorney on Monday and
complete an agreement.
On Monday about noon, I got a call from New York from John
Hall, so mad he could hardly talk. He said, "They came in and
wanted to change the deal, and I literally picked them up and
threw them out of my office. And I won't have anything to do with
you until they're separated from you."
About five minutes later, I get a call from the Englehard
people saying they've never been so insulted in their life.
I said, "Well, you changed the deal."
"Well, that's right. But after you got that 10 percent, we
figured we could get more."
"Well," I said, "that's a dirty damn thing."
"Well," they said, "it's all right, we'll find somebody
In due course, they called and said Anglo-American
Corporation of South Africa would be interested but I would have
to sell them on it. So their chief geologist and a couple of
assistants came out, and they ended up saying okay, they would
take a lease on it. But the thing was that Englehard, who owned
half the property, would be half owner of the lease and
Anglo-American would be the other half owner of the lease. So
that Englehard was on both sides, both as a half owner and a half
The Anglo-American group sent over a very keen young engineer
from South Africa and a very good geologist. They drilled five
big wells and put on big pumps, and fourteen miles of canal to
carry the water. They brought in a bigger power line and did a
bunch more drilling that showed that they could un-water. Then
they took a bunch of ore back to South Africa for metallurgical
testing, and they sent men over here and had an engineering group
here design a mill and things like this. Then at the last minute
they decided there weren't enough ore reserves. So they backed
By this time Englehard, who had a half interest in it, said,
"Well, we'll just dump the thing and sell it for whatever we can
I said, "No, don't do that because you're going to end up
being responsible for back filling the canal, and you won't be
able to get much for the pumps. There's a number of environmental
constraints and things like that. If you'll give me an option on
the interest of both your stock and your bonds and an option to
buy the pumps, I will assume all the responsibilities for it."
Meanwhile there had been a proxy battle, and Cec Fitch had
been thrown out of Chief and some highbinders in New York had
taken over Chief. So I asked Cec if his fellows want to put up
their half of the cost of maintaining the property. And they
said, no, they didn't.
So I said, "All right, give me an option on your interest
too," which they did.
I ran a regular ferry service which I had already been doing
to a certain extent, flying people down and landing on the road
right adjacent to the mine and taking them over to look at the
property. I had twenty of the mining companies of the United
States, their geologists and exploration people go down and look
The first one that took a real interest in it was Midwest Oil
Company, which was controlled by Amoco Oil Company, and Jeff Snow,
who later became head of exploration for Noranda, and their chief
geologist. They decided they'd like to take a crack at it.
This is when the oil companies were beginning to want to get into
To a certain extent. But this Midwest Oil was sort of in the
mining end anyway. So I worked out an agreement with them, and
they came down and did some more drilling. They deepened some of
our holes and added substantially to our ore reserves. There had
been a flat fault that had shifted the vein, and we thought that
originally there were two veins, but they proved that they were
the same vein, just offset. They also got a bunch of
metallurgical test work done and a mill design over in Denver.
They were all ready to go. It was a basis where I would buy out
Englehard and Chief, and we'd be in business, when Amoco decided
to absorb Midwest Oil. The Amoco directors didn't want to be in
the mining business. So that shot that out of the water.
Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation
Arentz: Then Maxie Anderson [of Ranchers Exploration and Development
Corporation] who I was doing some other things with, got
interested, and he worked out an agreement with me.
Swent: What other things were you doing with him?
Arentz: Well, I was on a geothermal project that we were fooling around
with for geothermal steam power. And also I had been doing some
consulting work. Then he decided no, he didn't want to continue
with Escalante. Finally ASARCO, who I'd already had dealings
with, came back to me and said they'd like to work out a deal for
Escalante. And so I worked out a lease arrangement with ASARCO.
They're another company that did mill design and all this--in fact
the place was so over engineered in metallurgical test work and
the like (this was in '71) --and they were about ready to go when
they got sued for disturbing the water table down in Tucson at one
of the mines down there. Charles Barber, who was the chairman of
ASARCO, immediately got concerned (he was an attorney), that they
would be sued for disturbing the water table in the valley with
all these farmers out there. So they decided they didn't want to
go forward with Escalante.
About that time, oh, it was two or three years later, Maxie
Anderson came back and asked if it was still available. 1 said,
"Well, I'm sure we could work out a deal to take over ASARCO's
interest in it." So we did, and we worked out a deal with Maxie.
Vertical Crater Retreat Mining and End Stoping
Arentz : I had been arguing all the time that it was ideally designed for
trackless mining and diesel equipment, and all of them wanted to
go back to cars and track and battery locomotives and stoper
drills and shrinkage stoping or whatever. Finally I got Mark
Welch, who was the mining engineer for Ranchers, and the fellow
that they had designated to be the superintendent up at Escalante.
We went up in Canada where this vertical crater retreat system was
being used, and decided that it would work at Escalante. That we
would drive a decline and use trucks and so forth. So that was
the way the mine was developed. It was a new development in
Canada, and then later Ranchers improved on it.
Initially this vertical crater retreat was a system under
which you had drifts on the ore the full width of the vein at 150-
and 200 -foot vertical intervals. You also, at those intervals,
would have a footwall drift for haulage and getting ore out and
supplies and equipment in. You would drill six- inch-diameter
holes for 150 to 200 feet on the vein, where the vein was twenty
feet wide, which was about the average at Escalante. You'd have
three holes: one near the hanging wall, one in the center, and
one on the footwall. And you'd drill these six- inch holes down
until they holed through to the drift down below, then you'd hang
a wooden block in the holes, say, three feet above the back of the
drift down below, and leave the broken ore piled up there.
From the footwall drift that you had for haulage at about
every forty feet, you'd drive a short crosscut into the stope, and
you'd have a front-end loader that would load just this broken ore
into trucks for hauling to the surface. The only thing was that
you had to keep repeating this all the way up until you got up to
the upper drift. The repetitive blasting in the hole would
sometimes wreck the holes so that you'd have to redrill and also
the Escalante ore was tight enough that we weren't getting the
breakage on the powder- -we used more powder than we planned.
One of the fellows down there came up with the idea of
getting a channel cut up through from one level to the other, and
then loading these holes the whole height of the hole with
stemming or sand in between charges, and then you shot it. They
called it end stoping--just laying out the whole thing and
breaking a couple thousand tons with each row of holes. They'd
have rows of holes along the strike of the vein about ten feet
apart. It became a very cheap way of getting the ore out.
Maxie and Marvin Kaiser were very clever on selling their
products --both uranium, and at Escalante, the silver. They would
deal in the futures. Before they ever started at Escalante, but
when they knew they were going to start, this was during that
price rise when the Hunts were fooling around, Maxie started
selling silver forward with the idea that he would deliver it when
the mine was in production. Under the terms of our agreement, I
could take my royalty under the same forward selling plan. When
the crash came, Maxie was able to offset his forward sales, and I
think Ranchers came up with six or seven million dollars to apply
on putting the mine into production that they made out of their
future sales on silver. I came out pretty well too on the small
part I was playing in it.
Anyway, he also was able to finance it to a large extent with
borrowed silver from some of the banks and commodity exchanges,
which he could sell and then repay with silver from production.
They ended up spending a total of about thirty-seven million
dollars to put Escalante into production. After it was going
pretty well, Maxie and I reached an agreement- -well, it was after
Maxie 's death, I guess--! had an agreement with Maxie that I could
take the royalty in silver if I wanted to. (I took some that
way.) We'd been talking about the business of taxes on my part
where I would turn the property over to him for stock in Ranchers.
Afterwards, I worked out the same arrangement with Lee Erdahl. So
I ended up becoming a major stockholder of Ranchers.
First, when I made the deal with ASARCO, I got enough down
payment from them to buy both Englehard and Chief's interests so
by that time, I owned it all. Over the years it has proved to be
a very worthwhile thing.
Swent: It certainly has. You may be interested in a couple of documents
that I ran across yesterday.
Here's a letter from Samuel Arentz to the Industrial
Commission of Utah on May 12, 1964.
"Gentlemen: This letter is to advise you of
our starting mine development at our Escalante
Mine situated in Iron County, Utah."
Then here's a report from Colonel All Gronning, Chairman of
the Industrial Commission of Utah Safety Division, from an
inspection that was made in 1966 and some recommendations. And it
says, "The management and employees are commended for the good
housekeeping being practiced."
So there were a couple of little things that they found that
should be improved but they commended you for "good housekeeping."
Arentz: One thing that I somewhat pride myself on, over fifty years of
mining, no operation that I've been connected with has had a
strike, and we haven't given the show away either. We've retained
the management and yet we've dealt fairly with the employees, and
they've generally been happy.
Swent: Was Escalante unionized?
Arentz: No, but they were unionized toward the end out at Bretz, and
Pioche was unionized. In fact, one of the things that they took a
great deal of pride in at Pioche --we were the first of the
hardrock mining companies that were under the United Steelworkers
union. They went into this job evaluation study and
classification that was common in the steel industry but was
completely foreign to the mining industry out West. It became a
sort of model that most of the others ended up following, but it
was quite an experience negotiating with these characters out of
Pittsburgh who represented the Steelworkers union. They were used
to a very adversarial way of dealing with people.
We didn't have any trouble putting together a lot of the data
on these classifications, but it ended up that there were five or
six classifications where we were very substantially opposed in
our views. The fellows from back East, who were doing the
negotiations but with our local officers attending, started
getting very abusive and acting the way they did back East.
Finally our local officers just stopped them and said, "Now look,
you guys shut up. We don't deal that way here. We're going to
take over and do our own dealing with Sam, and we'll come up with
an answer. But we don't want to hear another word out of you
fellows . "
IV OTHER ACTIVITIES
Arentz: I didn't mention that in 1951 when Mr. Hoover was out, he asked
who I was interested in for president in the Republican nomination
in '52. I said Bob Taft.
Well, he said he was too. And he said, "I'll tell you what,
If you can get to be a delegate to the convention, try to get on
the credentials committee: that's where all the fighting's going
And I said, "Well, I'll see what I can do."
The only way I could be sure of being a delegate was to be
chairman of the state convention that selected the delegates. So
I did some finagling, and I became the chairman of the state
convention. Nevada was entitled to twelve delegates, and I was
able to get eleven Taft delegates. The lady that was the vice
chairman of the State Central Committee was entitled to be a
delegate if she wanted to be, and she was for Ike [Eisenhower]. I
got back there early, and I attended the hearings of the contested
delegations. One of the ploys that Dewey and Ike's backers used
was to have rival delegations from a whole bunch of states that
were selected by their group, where the regular state organization
had selected Taft delegates. These conflicts were heard by the
National Committee first. I listened to those hearings.
My wife's sister, Kay, had married a mining engineer, and
they were up at Iron River, Michigan. I had taken Mary Alice and
the children back, and they'd gone up to visit her sister while I
was in Chicago. Once these hearings were completed, I got on a
train and went up to join them before the convention started. I
was only there a day when I got a call saying, "Hurry back.
There's a lot of problems."
I said, "I can't get back today; the trains don't run that
They said, "We'll have a small plane pick you up and get you
back here." I got back, and it turned out that there was a
proposal to change the rules so that none of the contested
delegations could vote on anything about seating them.
Previously, Governor Dewey had the rules set up that any
delegation that was seated by the National Committee could vote on
any contest except their own. And they were doing away with that
and saying that no contested delegation could vote on anything.
They had deliberately set it up that way. So the first business
of the convention was a debate on changing the rules .
The manager for Taft got hold of me and said, "Each side has
twenty minutes and we'd like to have you take five minutes of our
And I said, "The place is full of politicians and attorneys."
He said, "We'd still like to have you take five minutes of
our side." He said, "I'll signal for you to come up to the
rostrum when we are that far along."
So I sat down and started trying to figure out what I would
say, and I had some notes scratched out. Finally, I saw the
signal, and went up.
He said, "Now, former governor John Bricker, who was also the
vice-presidential candidate with Dewey, is going to be our leading
speaker, and you listen to what he has to say because we all want
to be arguing along the same lines." So I had to tear up the
notes on what I was going to say.
You're finally introduced to go out on this long walk like a
Miss America kind of thing to a podium. It's in the stockyards,
and there's maybe twenty thousand people there. Anyway, we lost
on that. California was the deciding vote. Ike got nominated.
But an interesting thing was: the Minnesota delegation was seated
right in front of the Nevada delegation, and Warren Burger, who
later became chief justice of the Supreme Court, was seated right
in front of me. He was, at the time, the attorney general for
Minnesota. They were all pushing for Harold Stassen but when they
came in on the day the votes were taken they still had all these
Stassen banners, but under their arm, they had all these Ike
things. I said, "Well, you hypocritical bunch of so and so's."
Hoover was coming out to Pioche and on the way back on the
train he said, "Does Nevada have a Republican candidate for
I said, "I don't know. I'll have to check." It turned out
it was a friend of mine from Las Vegas who was an accountant.
Mr. Hoover asked, "What are his chances of getting elected?"
I said, "I don't think they're very good."
The next day, Mr. Hoover and Ed Snyder came in and said, "We
can't do anything in the way of financial help, but we can give
you a leave of absence if you care to run for the nomination and
election to congress. If you're not successful then you've got
your job back. "
I said, "Well, I'll see what I can do." So I checked with
the state, and nobody else had filed. The fellow who had planned
on filing said that he would do everything he could to support me
and he wouldn't file.
So it turned out it was the last day so I had to arrange for
a plane to come down from Ely and pick up the application forms.
I called the governor in Carson City and said that these would be
in, and he said fine, he'd take care of them. It turned out that
some friends of mine in Reno, who I couldn't get hold of, had
convinced a young attorney up there , who had been three or four
years behind me in school but was a fraternity brother, to file
before my papers got there. That meant there was a primary
campaign. He called and said he would withdraw. I said, "No, he
shouldn't do that."
Because of the controversy I had stirred up in Reno over
firing the president of the university- -and Reno's the Republican
stronghold in Nevada--! lost the vote in Reno. I won the other
counties, but I still lost by about eight hundred state -wide.
Which was just as well.
A Family Trip Around the World. 1975
Swent: Tell me about the trip in 1975, please. That's too good not to
Arentz: Well, I was just mentioning that back in 1975, I planned ahead of
time, and wrote letters to my children and grandchildren and
nieces and nephews--
Swent: You have five children: I don't think we've mentioned that yet.
Arentz: --and two sisters and brothers-in-law and the like. I said,
"Let's have an adventure. See if you can arrange to stop whatever
you're doing for three months this summer and we'll get together
in Los Angeles on the Fourth of July and head out." I'd arranged
the trip with a travel agent. Originally, he said he would like
to be the escort. When he saw that we were having teenagers and
even young ones, he said that he had two children that he would
take at his cost. So actually when we arrived in Los Angeles
there were forty- three of us. We took off and headed to Tahiti,
and they sort of got their feet on the ground there. Then to
North and South Islands of New Zealand. I saw some mines and
Swent: One of your sons is also a mining engineer.
Arentz: Oh, both of them are really.
Then we went over to Australia to Melbourne and Sidney. My
wife and I and a couple of others went out to Ballarat, the old
gold mining area. My two sons went with me up to Mount Isa, and
we spent a couple of days there . Then we went on to Japan and
spent some time there, then down to Taiwan and to Hong Kong and to
Singapore; then over to Bangkok and had a delightful time there,
and on to New Delhi and down to Agra.
Swent: Were you visiting any mines at any of these other places?
Arentz: Not after Australia so much until we got to Johannesburg and
Brazil. After we left New Delhi, we went to Teheran; the shah was
still there. Then we went on to Beirut, and one of my
daughters-in-law was concerned because she read in the newspaper
that they were shooting people on Main Street in Beirut. She
said, "What are we going to do about that?"
I said, "We'll just stay off of Main Street for one thing."
We had a delightful time there. It was one of the most
interesting places in the whole trip. The Bekaa Valley and that
area- -the ruins there are every bit as interesting as anything in
Greece in my opinion.
We went to Istanbul and finally over to Athens and then to
Cairo. Then we flew down to Nairobi and went out on an animal
safari, picture taking at Ngoro-Ngoro crater. Then we went on
down to Johannesburg, and I did get a chance to visit some mines
there, and then across to Rio. A longtime friend of mine had a
placer diamond operation at Diamantina, north of Belo Horizonte.
I went up and spent some time with him on his diamond operation.
Then we flew on over to Lima, Peru, and up to Bogota, and then
home. I had become well acquainted with the people from Anglo-
American when they had interest in the Escalante Mine so when we
were in South Africa, I was able to renew some of those
We had one of these foreign exchange students some years
before from Bogota whose family we'd had contact with before, and
we had a very delightful visit there with the former foreign
exchange student and his family.
Then in Hong Kong, with Mrs. Wah, the little Chinese lady
that had the boarding house at Pioche , she had an adopted son in
Hong Kong, and he had married and had two sons and two daughters.
I looked up the family and arranged for the sixteen-year-old
daughter to come over on a student visa to the United States to
live with her grandmother down at Pioche and go to high school.
When her granddaughter finished high school , we arranged for a
scholarship for her at Westminster College here in Salt Lake, and
she came up and lived with us for a year.
On one of her trips with her grandmother, they went from
Pioche to San Francisco and she met a very fine young Chinese man
who was a graduate of Berkeley. His family had some stores in
Chinatown, and they had apparently kept in contact and decided to
get married. I tried to get the parents over on a tourist visa to
attend their daughter's wedding, but the American consul in Hong
Kong was the most arbitrary s.o.b. I've run into in a long time.
He wouldn't let them come on the grounds that they didn't have
enough possessions in Hong Kong to assure their return. I said,
"I'll post a bond; they'll be back," and I sent the tickets over
for them but no, they couldn't come.
So I went down to Pioche to assume the role of father of the
bride and gave the bride away when she got married. She now lives
in San Francisco. Her name was Wah Ling, her husband's name is
Stanley Chow, and they have two children. The eldest has a
typical Chinese name, Angelique Chow. [Chuckles]
So you've kept in touch with them?
Oh yes, and tomorrow night, we're going down to southern Nevada.
Mrs. Wah died, just a day or so ago, at ninety- five, so we're
going down for the services.
Swent: So you visited them in Hong Kong too.
Arentz : Oh, yes. And then on repeated visits when we've gone to
Indonesia, we generally go by way of Hong Kong and we have another
visit with them. Then another time, some of the family went with
Mary Alice and me, and we went over to Scotland and traveled on
the Royal Scotsman's train. That's a real experience. This
spring we went over to France and went on the barge trip on the
canals over there. That was a delightful experience. Then a few
years ago, Mary Alice and I went with People -to -People on Vernon
Scheid's trip to South Africa. We spent several weeks and visited
some fourteen mines. Mary Alice went with me when we went down
the Western Deeps to the 11,500 foot level.
Swent: So these were all mining people that went?
Arentz: Yes, geologists and mining engineers and metallurgists. It was a
delightful experience. We travelled pretty well all around South
Africa and visited, as I say, some fourteen mines. Then we were
down in Capetown, and you can't help but be tremendously impressed
with the mineral reserves and resources of South Africa. Mary
Alice has also traveled with me on the trips to Indonesia.
Swent: Yes, tell a little more about those, won't you?
Arentz: Well we were asked to come over and advise them on a couple of
properties on Java and another one on the island of Suliwese which
is over east of Borneo. We found them the most delightful people.
I made two trips down there, and they've been over here.
Swent: What kind of mines were they?
Arentz: Both of them were complex base metal: gold, silver, copper, lead
and zinc mines. They'd done a good job on exploration and partial
Swent: It's a very rich country, isn't it? Has great resources.
Arentz: I think so, yes. Now, of course, there's big gold properties, and
copper and nickel and the like. But we found that extremely
Reeent. University of Nevada. 1949-1953
Swent: You haven't yet mentioned your activities with the universities.
Arentz: I graduated from the Mackay School of Mines at the University of
Nevada, and along about 1948, the then-president of the University
of Nevada got off on a tangent where he thought mining engineering
was sort of like a trade school thing, and to heck with it, it
cost too much per student and one thing and another. He was going
to do away with the School of Mines. And also, he was spending a
great deal of the school's budget on trying to make Nevada a
football power on a par with Notre Dame or Fordham or some place
Swent: Where were you living?
Arentz : At Pioche .
And at that time, under the state constitution of Nevada, the
university was run by a board of five regents selected at large
from the whole state. They were generally filled with retired
professional people or business people from Reno, which was the
metropolitan area of Nevada up until about that time. There
wasn't too much competition. But I got so provoked by this
situation that I got permission from the company and ran for
regent on the platform that if elected I would fire the president
and do away with their football program as it was then
constituted. I'll be darned if I didn't get elected.
We had a little Irishman who was safety inspector at the
mine, and when he saw me out campaigning and working to be elected
regent he said, "What does that job pay?"
I said, "Dewey, it doesn't pay anything."
He said, "Hell, anybody can get a job like that." [Chuckles]
Well, I managed to convince three of the other four regents
that we should follow through on my promise regarding the football
program. I was successful, and we got a very fine fellow to come
in as president after a year. Unfortunately, the one hold-out on
the board of regents that didn't go along with us was the chairman
of the board, and he was quite an influential fellow in Reno. He
was doing his damnedest to make life difficult. The president
that we got in was offered a top job as president of the
University of California at San Diego, which he accepted. It was
a real loss to Nevada. But we did save the School of Mines and we
brought in Vernon Scheid as dean, and it's worked out very nicely.
In the early forties or before World War II, as I recall,
there were some forty-four schools of mines in the United States.
By the late sixties, it was down to seventeen. The demise of most
of the schools was due to the fact that a mistaken policy was
initiated by many universities or schools to combine mining
engineering with civil engineering. The result was that the
scientists who are part of a school of mines, the geologists and
the geophysicists and the mineralogists and people like that,
don't regard themselves as engineers; they regard themselves as
scientists. And while they are perfectly content, at least the
bulk of them are, to be part of a school of mines, as soon as you
say you're part of an engineering college in civil engineering,
they say, "The hell with this, we're going to transfer to a
college of science. We belong with the mathematicians and the
physicists and the chemists and the like." And as soon as that
happens , you no longer have a school of mines .
Advisor, University of Utah. 1973-1991
Swent : Then you moved to Utah.
Arentz: Yes, I was on the advisory council for the School of Mines here
and we went to see the president of the university at that time
and the board of regents here at Utah. They have a system here
where they have a state board of higher education over all of the
state universities. We also went to see the governor, and we got
nowhere with him. They said, "No, this is the way we're going to
do it." They kept saying that to educate a mining engineer was
We pointed out that it wasn't nearly as costly as a doctor or
a lawyer as far as what they were doing.
"Well," they said, "the federal government finances those,
but we have to do that out of state money."
At one of the meetings where we'd gotten nowhere, I happened
to mention, "Well, we'll have to go to the legislature."
And I didn't think anything more about it, but when 1 came
back from a Christmas vacation, somebody called and asked, "Have
you got the bill written for the legislature on the School of
And I said, "No, I hadn't even thought of doing it."
"Well, you're the one who mentioned it."
So I said, "Well, I'll see what I can do." So I got hold of
my attorney and asked if he would look up the legislation. It
turned out- -in common with the other Western states- -when Utah
became a state, certain school sections were set aside by the
federal government for the state for use to fund a school of mines
or mineral industries. One of the first laws passed by the Utah
legislature was to set up a school of mines and dedicate these
school sections to that purpose. So I got my attorney and
suggested that he just make an addition to that: that it would be
a separate college with its own dean. And then I got hold of--
well, there were plenty of other fellows working on this
situation. It wasn't just me- -but we got hold of all the mining
companies , all of the equipment and supply houses that furnished
things to the mining industry, and the law offices that had mining
companies as clients and the like and were successful in getting
members of the senate and house in the state legislature to
sponsor the bill. When it was apparent that it was going through,
the then governor said he would approve a joint concurrent
resolution of the two houses of the legislature and the governor,
which would have the same effect, but asked that we hold up making
it a law. Apparently he was under a great deal of pressure from
the education lobby.
After we'd arrived at what was agreeable wording of this
resolution, I talked to the sponsors of the bill in the two houses
and said would they table it for the time being and see how this
resolution went. We were up against the fact that the governor
presumably could veto the bill if it went as a bill. So we got
the resolution passed, and about that time, the legislature was
adjourning. When it got up to the governor's desk, he refused to
sign it. He just deliberately lied, in my opinion.
Well, anyway, we got so much support that the then-president
of the university, a fellow named Emery, and his vice-president,
named Anderson, who were actually from the law school, both
resigned and went back to teaching in the law school. The state
board of higher education and the regents decided that there was
so much support for a separate school of mines that they were
going to have a meeting. I got Vernon Scheid to come over and we
got a whole bunch of other people here to get up at this hearing.
They decided that yes, they would maintain the School of Mines,
and we got Larry Lattman to come in as dean. And he is just a
whiz; it's just too bad that New Mexico hired him away to be
president of the New Mexico School of Mines at Socoro.
Educating About the Importance of Mining
Arentz: The thing is, the minerals industry has been sort of remiss in
educating people about the importance of mining. A lot of
teachers are sold on this environmental thing, and they teach
students how terrible mining is, it's polluting, and it's
degrading everything and destroying the earth. And so I found in
recruiting students, the university up here would have some
instructor, not one of their senior professors, go and meet with
the career counselors at some of the Wasatch Front high schools to
see about recruiting students. Thanks to the Browning Foundation,
the Utah School of Mines has a very liberal scholarship fund.
I said, "I think you're doing it the wrong way. One of your
senior faculty members should go and take along somebody from
industry and maybe a student or a recently graduated student." I
said, "The industry could do it, but they don't have access to
high schools, whereas a professor from the university does." And I
said, "Don't ask to see the career counselor. Get to the
principal or somebody like that and ask if you can't have a
meeting with all the fast-track students, those who are taking
science and physics and chemistry and math, and then put on a
And I said, "As a matter of fact, I think some of the rural
high schools from other areas in the state might be more receptive
than students living here in the Salt Lake valley. Because you're
more apt to find students who are outdoorsmen and the like." And
I said, "What's more, I'll fly you if you'll make the schedule so
we can see, say, three a day. And we'll fly out and meet with
them. And if the professor will outline what the curricula are,
and if a student can talk about what it was like and somebody from
industry can talk about the various fields ranging from
laboratories to management to geophysics and exploration and so
forth, I think you can find some interest."
Arentz: So we started doing that. We'd fly out to, say Vernal and then
down to Moab and on down to Blanding in one day. Then another day
we'd make another tour. The thing that was most impressive: we
finally got to where teachers would come to attend these , and I
would point out to the teachers that in the school districts in
the state where there was a minerals industry- -whether it was oil
fields out in the eastern Utah or Bingham here in Salt Lake or
whatever- -the taxes that were paid made it so those school
districts could pay teachers' salaries and buy school buildings
and things of that sort. They were overlooking that when they
were trying to run down all those facilities and close them up
because that was what was paying a large portion of their salary.
I think it did some good.
Swent: Did you get more students then?
Arentz : Oh yes, we got first rate students. Before that, because they had
these scholarship funds, there were a lot of students from the
Wasatch Front here who would sign up for the scholarships, and
they'd get a nice scholarship fund for the first couple of years
and then they'd switch courses but they'd have the first couple of
years paid for. So among other things, we made it so the first
couple of years , the scholarships were on a graduated scale . Not
too much the first and second year but the third and fourth year,
they got a real fancy scholarship if they stayed in the field and
were doing well. And that worked fine.
Swent: What is the enrollment?
Arentz: Well, it's down in all of them now, of course.
Swent: But it's still a separate school with its own dean?
Arentz: Oh, yes, And different schools have different fields within the
college. Here at Utah, they have mining engineering, geology,
geological engineering, geophysics, fuels engineering, extractive
metallurgy, and of all things, meteorology. In Nevada, they don't
have meteorology, but they have geography and chemical engineering
as part of the School of Mines.
Swent: Are you still in touch with the Mackay School?
Arentz: Oh, yes.
The Utah Mining Association put together a movie that I think
is one of the better films for high school students to interest
them in a career in the minerals field. We take that along and
show it too. Then they have a business here in Utah where they
have people from different fields in the industry make
presentations to kids down to about the third grade. I
participated in quite a few of these presentations where you go
and meet with a whole bunch of students and their teachers
anywhere from the third grade through the eighth grade.
Swent: Those are really very effective, I suppose, aren't they?
Arentz: Well, they find some interest in it, yes.
Are you still involved in that?
Are you still on the advisory
The present dean shifted the advisory council to where the mining
engineers have one division and the metallurgists another, which I
think is a mistake but I'm on the mining engineering one.
In Nevada, they've done a lot better job. Dean Kerr is on
the Nevada advisory council from his experiences when he was out
in Ely. There the council is appointed by the board of regents
and the president of the university, and they report to the
president. They have a very interested group, not necessarily all
from Nevada. They have been quite successful in furthering the
interests of the School of Mines of Nevada. First they got a
large appropriation from the state for new building facilities.
Then Senator Laxalt was able to get an appropriation of, I think,
fifteen million dollars for adding to the building and setting up
Mackay School of Mines as the center of excellence for strategic
minerals and things like this. The old Mackay building, which was
the School of Mines when I went there, was getting in pretty bad
shape, so they're saving the facade and the historical part of it
but they're completely redoing the building.
That's a lovely old building.
What about the environmentalists? Are they bothering in
Well, for a while, up until the second or third year of Reagan's
term, the general feeling I got from the field officials of the
BLM and the forest service was that the public lands were their
personal property and private individuals who wanted to encroach
on them were trespassing, and they were going to make it tough on
In more recent years, I've found that there's a considerable
change in attitude where they're interested in saying, "Well, sure
we want to follow the law and preserve things, but on the other
hand, we realize you have rights too," and we found them quite a
bit more cooperative. Here in Utah, they were quite provoked
because when the oil and gas industry was going like crazy up to a
few years ago, and the mining industry was active, the Utah Oil,
Gas, and Mining Board had only about eight employees. They
processed applications for mining permits and things like that.
Now with everything pretty near dead, or up until a short
time ago it was with Kennecott down and oil and gas down, they've
increased the division to where they have eighty people. They
spend all their time writing regulations which are sometimes very
onerous, and completely stupid. They spend a lot of money. Where
one person could go out in the field and check on where somebody's
applied for an application, they send a station wagon or two with
six or eight people to do something that one person could do very
That's one of the things I hold against our present governor.
He brags about having curtailed the employment in the state
agencies, but that one has just exploded with a factor of about
ten. Some of them are very difficult to deal with; others are
responsible people who are trying to do the job. I've always
tried to leave a place as good as I found it. Not the same way, I
mean it's stupid to fill in a mine shaft or blast in a portal of a
tunnel or an adit.
"A Mine Has a Lot of Lives;" Historical Value of Old Sites
Swent: I thought what you mentioned to me yesterday on the tape was very
interesting about the historical value of old mining properties.
Arentz: Well, you know, except for a very few of these gold properties in
Nevada where it's very low grade, and the big open pit operations,
and the uranium properties during the uranium boom, practically
all the mines brought into production in the past seventy years in
the United States have been indirectly the result of some
prospector having done some work a hundred years or less ago, and
where, by virtue of that little work he did near the surface, he
exposed some structure or he exposed alteration, or
mineralization. With modern exploration and our advanced
technology, people have gone in and at least been able to say,
"Well, maybe there's a chance for something here."
Now, the ultimate environmentalists want you to cover all
that with top soil and try to grow something on it. And they also
want you to make a headframe and a shaft look like a juniper tree
or something of that sort. If you abandon a mine or shut it down,
they talk about wanting you to fill in the shaft and cave in the
portal so nobody can get hurt. I'm in favor of bulkheading the
thing and locking it so that the casual person can't get
themselves killed falling in the shaft or doing something of that
sort, and I think the main requirement should be that they do
adequately bulkhead them and lock them. The keys and an up-to-
date map should be given to the state Bureau of Mines or the state
geologic survey, and anybody with a legitimate interest can get a
copy of the key and a copy of the map and go and examine it to
find out whether there's something that can be done.
As Hoover said, "A mine has a lot of lives." What isn't
practical for this generation because of metal prices or
refractory metallurgy or they've hit a fault or something of that
sort; the next generation will find that they've got a new
metallurgical process or they've nailed a new technique for
finding the continuation of the ore body or metal prices are up or
something of that sort, and the mine starts all over again. I
think, if you started from scratch, to replace the results of
early prospecting and operations of this country would cost many
billions of dollars.
The other thing is that in spite of all these hardened
environmentalists that say, "Oh, you're destroying everything,"
there's an equal number of people that get a whale of a kick out
of going to explore ghost towns and things of that sort. It seems
to me that the signs of former people who put their energies and
their money and their time and their effort into trying to make a
mine somewhere and had the faith that maybe they could, is an
encouraging thing. I mean, I welcome it very much.
Swent: I've always thought that headframes are really very dramatic and
Arentz: Yes, you go on that road, the so-called Million Dollar Highway,
from Ouray to Silverton, and those gigantic big timber headframes
up there on Red Mountain and the like are really something to see,
V CHANGES OBSERVED IN THE MINING INDUSTRY
[Interview 2: July 1, 1992]
Living Conditions and Wage Benefits
Swent: Mr. Arentz, we haven't talked for quite a while now and there were
several things that you had said that you would like to expand on.
Arentz: Let's start with the change in mine labor in the Western mines.
Swent: Change in mine labor, all right.
Arentz: Prior to the Depression, at least in the smaller Western mines,
hardrock mines, the typical miner was a single bachelor or on
single status at the mine, lived in the bunk house and ate at the
boarding house and was an itinerant. He would go from Arizona to
Montana in the summertime and back down to Arizona in the winter
time. He was a skilled artisan because he knew everything you did
in a mine from drilling and blasting to moving the material, to
sorting to make sure he kept the ore and waste separate and to a
very real extent timbering and safety things, but as I said, no
family visible, at least at the mine. His chief recreation was
the bars that were generally associated with mining camps.
Swent: Were these generally members of unions?
Arentz: No, not necessarily. In fact, it would depend on what area you
were talking about. There were some very unionized mining
districts and there were some that didn't have unions at all. For
example, I worked for C. T. Van Winkle, a consulting engineer, for
a number of years at Rico and at the Ima Mine. One of the stories
he told about is when he was mill superintendent at Silver Lake
above Silverton, Colorado, as a young man. The whole crew would
be snowed in for several months during the winter , and the miners
and mill men would let their checks accumulate in the time office.
They could get credit for tobacco and clothes in the company
store. There was one man who was particularly responsible and
capable, so Van Winkle told the time keeper, "When he comes in the
spring to get his checks to go out, I want you to send the checks
into my office; I want to talk to him."
So in due course, the fellow came in to get his checks and
went into Mr. Van Winkle's office. Van Winkle told him "We have
appreciated the fine job you have done. We would like to have you
back after you go on your spree. What are you going to do now
that you have a nice check and some free time?"
The fellow scratched his head and said, "I'm going to town to
get drunk and gosh, how I dread it."
Swent: He felt he had to do this?
Arentz: Yes, that's right. But at the same time there was a great deal of
loyalty among them. If one of them got hurt they all contributed
funds for helping.
Swent: You mentioned they were skilled men in drilling and blasting and
sorting and timbering, and you did mention safety.
Arentz: I said they were safe but at the same time there were a lot more
injuries than there are today.
Swent: Where was the responsibility put for safety? Did the employer
feel responsible and how did they transmit this to the workers?
Arentz: Oh sure, you know if you aren't safety conscious to start with if
you are in charge of any kind of operation, construction, or a
mine or whatever and you have a fellow seriously injured or killed
on the job, you become safety conscious right then. Because the
problem of explaining to any relatives or friends, or fellow
workers regardless of what you do, you are almost invariably
blamed for it if you are running the job. There is nothing makes
a fellow more safety conscious. Following up on what we were
talking about , the change in the type of laborer that worked in
the mines, most of these I was talking about were either
immigrants or first generation of immigrant parents.
Swent: Did they already come with mining experience?
Arentz: Some of them did, but some of them went to work as laborers in
mines and built up expertise. Later mining became more settled
and family people became involved. There was housing in the
mining area. There was substantial change.
Swent: What countries had these people come from?
Arentz: The Scandinavian countries and from Italy, and the typical
American miner 100 years ago was a Cornishman from Cornwall, a
'cousin jack' .
Swent: You were still getting 'cousin jacks'?
Arentz: Yes, I'd say so. The miners I was particularly familiar with were
some Scandinavians who worked for my dad for a long time.
Swent: And had they been miners in Scandinavia?
Arentz: Not to my knowledge. They could have been but I don't know.
Swent: Were they Finlanders?
Arentz: I think Swedes. But Pete Nielsen and John Langburg were their
names. Pete was a great big husky guy and John was a little
short, and not that husky, but John is the one that took the lead
in doing things and was extremely loyal and faithful while working
for my dad, as was his partner Pete.
Swent: Which mine was this?
Arentz: Different mines. My dad had some prospects where they would have
to go and to start with, use handsteel and rather primitive tools,
but they would make out very well. And then, as I say, following
the Depression there were family men and there was housing made
available and it was very much different. There was a tendency to
cut out the patronizing the saloons and the sporting houses and
things like that.
Swent: Did the company still provide the housing?
Arentz: Sometime and sometime not. But generally they had to do something
about co-operating to make housing available. During the war
years at Pioche the government built a bunch of housing that was
better than most of the housing available in isolated mining areas
at that time. They were dry-wall construction but they were two-
and three -bedroom apartments. They had refrigerators and electric
ranges and full bathrooms. It was quite a different thing.
Swent: Do you think it was the war that made the change?
Arentz: Not necessarily; they were already starting to change before the
war. It was during the period when I was out at Mercur from 1934
to 1938. While we didn't have any families living there the first
couple of years , a good number of the crew were married and their
families lived in Grantsville or Tooele and places like that, and
it was only from the period from 1936 on that some housing was
made available or they made housing available for themselves and
brought their families up to the mine.
Swent: So that was perhaps a change because the Depression was easing up?
Arentz: Yes. But even then, at Mercur the boarding house was an old brick
house that had been a substation for power before 1912 when the
mine was operating. About once a month during the summer months
particularly, the men would all get together and chip in a few
dollars apiece and get an orchestra to come out. They would clear
all the furniture out of the main dining room at the boarding
house and spread some stuff on the floor to make it a little
slippery. At 7:00 p.m. there would not be a female within twenty
miles of the place, and by 8:00 it would be filled up and they
would have a real dance until 1:00 in the morning.
Swent: And the men did this on their own. The company didn't sponsor it?
Arentz: That's right. The superintendent was there and all the staff
worked at it too. But it was something that was pretty well
Swent: Had a good time?
Arentz: Yes. And then we organized softball or baseball. We had a
baseball team, and we would have games scheduled with Ophir and
Tooele and Cedar Fort and Fairfield and the like, and generally
when we would play at one of their places they would have a dance
after the game . When they came up to our place , the same thing
Swent: What about drinking? Did you allow liquor in the boarding house?
Arentz: No, we tried to restrict it.
Swent: How effective were you in doing this?
Arentz: I think as far as the boarding house we were quite effective.
Swent: This was after Prohibition, wasn't it?
Arentz: Yes. The thing is, some of the men drank but you saw to it that
anyone that had been drinking and came to go on shift, didn't go
Swent: And you were able simply to make a judgment on this?
Arentz: Pretty much. You would have to make a judgment on it.
At Pioche we really worked on safety. But you ran on to some
unusual things. We had a couple of fellows, this one year, who
died of heart attacks. One man had a heart attack on the job at
the boiler plant where we heated our mill solutions. The
superintendent that preceded me was down visiting. He had gone
through the mine during the day with me and was staying at our
staff house when he had a heart attack and died in his bedroom.
Not long after that, I was working late at the mine office which
was only a couple of hundred feet from the collar of the shaft.
Our top man came and rapped on our window at about 8:00 or 9:00 at
night and I went to answer the door and asked what was the matter.
He said, "Bill is sick." Bill was one of our best miners. He was
considerably overweight but was just a top-notch miner. I went
out and talked to Bill and he told me he had a pain in his chest.
I told the top man to take him into the change room right then and
start getting his clothes changed and I would call a doctor.
Our doctor was over in town which was about eight miles away
by highway. I said, "Doctor, I think I have a man with a heart
attack and I'd like to know if you will come out here or if I
should bring him in there. I've got him in the change house with
the top man helping him get his boots off."
He said, "You'd better bring him in so I can do something
with him. "
About that time the top man came in and said, "Bill's passed
I said, "Doctor, come on over just as fast as you can."
I went in and did artificial respiration, but Bill was dead.
By the time we called the coroner about an hour had passed and it
was getting to be about 10:30.
So I said, "Doctor, we are going to have to stop over and see
the family and I would like to have you come with me." He came
with me to town where Bill lived and the family were all asleep.
We knocked on the door and the wife came and Doc and I explained
to her that her husband had died of a heart attack. They had two
teenage children. The widow was understandably very upset but she
was still quite a strong woman.
About that time, however, a woman came out of one of the
other bedrooms. She was obviously expecting a baby. She went
into hysterics --she was Bill's sisterand she wasn't married and
Bill and his wife had told her to come down and have the baby and
they would adopt the baby and the parents weren't to know. As it
turned out the parents came down to their son's funeral and their
daughter was in the hospital delivering an illegitimate baby which
even fifty years ago was a sad thing for a family- -today it seems
sort of standard.
Swent: Not quite. But it was devastating at that time.
Arentz: It's situations like that that really made it tough.
Swent: What sort of arrangements did you have with the doctor? Was he on
some sort of retainer?
Arentz: Yes, he gave all of the pre- employment physical examinations, and
then we set up a health insurance program in effect at Pioche ,
where the company would charge a small fee , but they would put up
most of the money to the local hospitals. We helped the doctor
and he originally set up a hospital that was made of lumber. It
was actually a conversion of a bunch of CCC camp buildings. They
were destroyed by fire. We saved the bulk of the equipment and
nobody got hurt. Then we went to work and had our construction
crew build a concrete, fireproof hospital.
Dr. Fortier, who was a very capable sort, was from back East.
He wasn't married and he worked all hours. Sometimes he would
show up at 2:00 in the morning and things like this. And in his
back yard he might have horses or a cow, along with having the
place filled with patients in the hospital.
One time when Ed Snyder was down the Union fellows said they
wanted to talk to him about the health plan. He was afraid they
were going to tell him he wasn't providing the services required.
Instead they came in and said so-and-so was in the hospital and
the doctor diagnosed he needed his appendix out and the fellow
wouldn't have it. A couple of pay days later he got in a fight in
a bar and got pretty well beat up. The fellows had to take him
down to the hospital to get some stitches and while he was there
the doctor took out his appendix. So if anything the doctor was
doing too much. That was in the days before they had malpractice.
Swent: A little overzealous.
Arentz: On one occasion our daughter Cathy, the one who works here, had a
bad cold- -a real high fever- -and I called the doctor and asked him
to come over at his convenience. Cathy was sleeping with Mary
Alice and I was on a couch in the living room, waiting for the
doctor to come, but I had gone to sleep. I woke up about 2:00 and
the doctor was just about to give me a shot of penicillin. I
said, "No, it's for Cathy." He was quite a remarkable person.
Swent: Did he have a hospital or did you have to send people into a city?
Arentz: He had a hospital and he did all kinds of things. We built this
hospital after the fire destroyed the first one.
Swent: It was more than just a first aid station?
Arentz: Yes, it was a hospital. He did all kinds of things. When I first
went to Pioche, there was a Doctor Hastings and a Doctor Hutchings
there. Dr. Hastings had an infirmary in his house, where he had
an x-ray machine and an examination room and beds for maybe two
patients. The rest was his residence for his wife and himself.
And he had this assistant doctor, Dr. Hutchings. Early in the
war, Dr. Hutchings was drafted and Dr. Hastings decided he wanted
to retire. So I had to look for a doctor, and we managed to get
Dr. Fortier to come in. He was a bachelor and very energetic. He
had the whole house filled with patients. Since he didn't have a
family and the house was full, I one time caught him sleeping in
the utility room on top of the washer-dryer.
Swent: They doubled as a bed also?
Arentz: When we built this new hospital, he said he wanted to have a
cornerstone. He said he would talk to the Episcopal bishop of
Nevada and ask him to come down and lay the cornerstone for the
building. He asked if I would arrange to have a notch in the
concrete wall to put the box in. Then he said he would like to
have a plaque to cover the hole and he would like to have a box in
there that people could put things in that could be opened at some
future date .
I arranged to have the high school band up for that occasion
and a bunch of chairs and there was an old switchboard in one of
the offices and I had them cut a piece out of it and we had one
fellow that was pretty clever. He carved the cornerstone data
into the limestone -marble switchboard and then we got a box made
We notified all the people that wanted to come for the
cornerstone laying and the bishop showed up and he said could he
come over and join us for lunch. Our program was set for 2:30. I
said I hoped he knew about cornerstone laying because I was not
familiar with that kind of thing. Dr. Fortier assured me the
bishop was familiar with it.
So the bishop came over and I took him to lunch at the
boarding house and I said, "What do you want to do?"
He said, "I haven't laid any cornerstones either but we can
surely write up something for a cornerstone laying." So we went
through and wrote up a ritual for it. When the time came we went
over and had the band play. We said how wonderful it was to have
a hospital in town and invited the various organizations, if they
wanted, to put something in the box. There were the Elks, the
Masons, and the County Commissioners, and newspaper who all wanted
to put something in the box and make some comments. Then it got to
the actual laying of the cornerstone. The metal box with all
these things was put in the notch in the wall and then the marble
face piece was cemented in place.
Our construction superintendent had been brought in ahead for
a meeting. After we had the ritual worked out with the bishop we
gave him his instructions. He came to the hospital equipped with
all the proper tools. One was a level, and the bishop would say,
"Is it level?" and he would put it down and say, "Yes, it's
"Is it plumb?"
He'd get a plumb bob and size it up, "Yes, it's plumb."
"Is it square?"
He'd put a square on the corner and say, "Yes it's square."
So under those circumstances the bishop blessed it, and that was
the cornerstone laying.
Later, I was on the State Planning Board in Nevada which was
responsible for any state office buildings, and they built a big
state office building down in Las Vegas. As has been traditional,
going back to George Washington's time, the Grand Lodge of the
Masons laid a cornerstone for that building and after reviewing
that, I thought ours was the more effective cornerstone laying.
Swent: I think that sounds very appropriate to do it your way. Has that
ever been opened?
Arentz : I believe the box could still be there.
Swent: That's very interesting.
Arentz : You run into unusual things .
Swent: Yes, indeed. You sort of need to improvise when you're out there.
Arentz: Being in charge of a mining operation in the West is like being
the commandant of a military post. You're responsible for a lot
of different things. Pioche was about 50 percent Mormon, LDS, and
they are good people but they tend to organize and set their own
programs for entertainment and one thing and another. Another 25
percent of the mine crew were itinerant miners, of the kind I was
talking about and they weren't interested much except in the
gambling joints and saloons. And so it left the other 25 percent
who had to work for the whole community on recreation and any
other kind of events .
Swent: How large was the community in Pioche in those days?
Arentz: Oh, about 2 ,000 --some thing like that.
Swent: So you had your own post office?
Arentz: Oh yes, we had our own post office, bank, and everything of that
sort. It was a town that had gone back about 1870, something like
that. At one time there were more mines in Pioche paying
dividends on the San Francisco stock exchange than there were at
the Comstock lode. More numbers of mines. They didn't pay that
much in dividends , but particularly during the war years when we
had those enlisted reservists that were furloughed out of the
Army, we had to organize something to amuse them. As I think I
mentioned earlier we had a game room where they could shoot pool
and play cards and the WAAIMES sent us books all the time so we
had a pretty good library, but they weren't interested in that.
They were mainly from back in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Vest
Virginia. The movie house only had one film that would come in
and play every night for a week and that was the end of it. So
they didn't get a new movie more than four times a month. We
would organize Softball teams and they were great spectators but
they didn't particularly want to play. So it was a continual
business of trying to keep them happy.
Swent: You had a lot of responsibilities beyond just mining.
Arentz: You had the business sometimes of family counseling and I had to
conduct several funeral services for those who were not LDS and
weren't affiliated with any particular church there.
Swent: I didn't realize that was part of your job too.
Arentz: It can be. And we carried life insurance, a modest policy on each
employee. One time a fellow was killed in an industrial accident.
He had a wife there, so it was a case of seeing she received any
industrial compensation and life insurance, and when that was done
we also got her a job. About that time another woman came in and
she was the real wife .
Swent: So you had to sort that one out?
Arentz : Yes .
Swent: How much were you paying workers?
Arentz: We had most of the things on the mine end anyway on an incentive
bonus system but where they could earn up to two or three times
their wages if they were able to do a first rate job.
Swent: Is this similar to contracting?
Arentz: Yes, bonus contract.
Swent: Was this based on the grade of the ore?
Arentz: No, it was based on the quantity or cubic feet of excavation, or
advance in a drift, or things like that. I forget what the exact
wages were. They weren't that high actually. When I got out of
school a newly graduated engineer typically earned $120 per month
or something like that and it moved up of course. I would say our
shift bosses were getting about $300 per month and the miners
weren't that far behind them.
Swent: This was in the middle 1930s.
Arentz : No , this was more in the 1940s .
Swent: You were competing with other local mines for laborers?
Arentz: To a certain extent, although a lot of our better miners were
qualified to do many things like carpentry and welding, so we were
also in competition with Henderson.
Swent: That was when they started building the magnesium plant at
Henderson, Nevada. This was during the war, wasn't it?
Arentz: They were paying really fancy wages there; not only that, they
were paying time and one-half and double time for a lot of things.
We were paying time and one-half for time over forty hours, but a
lot of our better miners went to Henderson because a good miner
could serve as a carpenter, pipe -fitter, or things like this.
They got a bunch of our miners down there and one of them went to
Sears Roebuck and got a set of carpenter tools and picked up a box
like they generally carry to put their tools in and hired out as a
carpenter, but nobody assigned him to a specific job. It was a
huge plant down there that went for a mile or two and he would
walk around not doing anything but carrying this box of tools, and
then he noticed there was a fellow following him. After about the
second day of being followed, he stopped and went up to the fellow
and said, "1 surrender, I haven't been doing anything." The
fellow turned to him and said, "Keep your mouth shut. I've been
assigned as your helper and I haven't been doing anything either."
You ran into a lot of unusual things during those times.
Organization of Work
Arentz: The business of organization- -typically in underground mines at
the time prior to the mid- 1930s or even prior to the 1940s, a crew
of two men or three men would be assigned to a particular heading,
a drift or raise, or stope. The first thing when they went on
shift, there would be the muck pile from the previous shift that
would have to be loaded out and then there would be scaling down
and getting any loose rocks knocked down and the timber in, if it
required timber. Then, if there was a matter of laying track or
pipe, they had to do that, and drill the holes for the next round,
loading the holes and blasting. And the same two or three men
would do all of that until they made the muck pile for the next
The first time I ran into a change in that sequence was at
the Grand View Mine near Spokane, Washington. Howard Young of
American Zinc was a very close friend of Ed Snyder's and I had
been invited to visit the mine on a couple of occasions. The
first time I went up they were using slushers and tripod or
column -and -arm mounted drills and doing the same sort of sequence.
And they had, as I recall, 128 men working six days a week,
divided between two shifts to get out a certain tonnage.
Dale Hayes and John Currey went to work and came up with what
they originally called the Gizmo; later a modification of it
became load-haul-dump, LHD units, which are in common use today.
But their Gizmo was mounted on a small Allis Chalmers tractor and
then they had a jumbo for drilling and machines that could drill a
10- or 11- foot hole without changing the seal. The ground was
such that they could use a long jumbo, one of these pneumatic ones
like they later came out with for everything.
They divided the crew up so a couple of men would be on the
jumbo drilling the entire day; they didn't do anything else.
Another fellow would be on the Gizmo which would load and haul the
ore to the closest disposal point, to be loaded into the chute and
then into mine cars. Another crew would do the scaling down and
getting the area safe. They didn't have to timber since it was a
hard rock mine in competent rock. They would load the holes in
the afternoon and do the blasting so that everybody was a
specialist: a couple in drilling, a couple in loading the holes
and scaling down the loose rock, and another man on the Gizmo.
They had it so the shift boss could see virtually everybody
at the same time, the way the stopes were. He would fill in at
lunch time. They took turns taking lunch so the operation kept
They also made a modification of the haulage level. They had
a long adit going in from the mill and then they had an incline
shaft going down and the skip hauled the ore up the incline shaft
and dumped into big bins at the collar of the underground shaft.
Then it was loaded into mine cars to go out to the mill.
Originally they had a couple of men on the train hauling the
cars out and it took a while to dump it while they were out there.
Then they shifted to bottom-dump, automatic discharge cars. They
had trolley locomotives and they put a controller for moving the
locomotives right near where the chute loaded into the cars. They
had one motorman and when he came in they would take the trolley
off the main line and put it in a short stub line that fed into
controller. He would set the brake a little on the locomotive and
then he would go back to where there was an air-operated chute
gate. He would sit there with one hand on the controller and the
other hand on the operation of the gate and he could move the
train just by turning the controller. He could load the whole
train and then he would go back and change the trolley onto the
main line and go shooting out to the mill and the cars would
automatically discharge into the mill bin and he'd be back in. So
one man handled that.
The last time I was out there when they were operating in
this manner, they had, as I recall, twenty-eight men working five
days per week, all on one shift, instead of 128 men, and were
getting out the same tonnage as they had before.
Swent: And this change happened within just twenty years?
Arentz: Oh, less than that. They developed that in a matter of three or
four years. I didn't visit while they were operating in
Telluride, Colorado, but I read quite a bit about it. The Idarado
operation in Telluride had shrinkage stopes on relatively narrow
veins like five to six feet and traditionally a two-man or
three -man crew would have to pull enough broken ore from the
previous blast to make room to work on top of the fill and then
they would have to get the stoper drill out of the raise. They
had a raise at each end of the block, say 300 feet apart; they
would have to get the drill and get the hoses strung out and that
took a lot of time and then drill a round which would break maybe
twenty-five to thirty tons, and then they had to get the thing
torn down and get the drill and the hoses back into the raise.
Then they would load the holes and blast. What they ended up
doing, as I understood it, is they would have a crew do nothing
but drill the whole 300 feet. Then the drilling crew would be
moved to another block and the loading crew would come in and load
the holes and shoot them. The service crew would draw down the
chutes to where they had open clearance for the miners to come
back in and they would change it from where it was a two -man crew
getting twenty or thirty tons per shift out, where as I understood
it, the actual mining crew would get fifty tons per man shift out.
It convinced me that the organization of the work was as important
as anything else you could get. The equipment was important but
there wasn't any particular change in equipment at Idarado, it was
just the organization. For a long time there was very little
improvement in underground equipment after they got to where they
had a liner drill and a jackhammer where previously it had been
single and double jacks.
Minine Equipment. Especially the EIMCO Loader
Swent : When did that come about?
Arentz: In the days of the Comstock lode, they had piston drills which
were like a liner drill. They were a forerunner of the liner
drill back in the 1800s but I'd say that the liner drills and the
jackhammers were in regular use before 1920 or before World War I,
There wasn't much addition to it and it was still a case of hand
loading the ore with a shovel into a mine car or a wheelbarrow.
Then they developed a slusher hoist which scraped the ore into a
chute using a little air or electric double drum hoist.
Swent: Did they usually just make the slusher?
Arentz : They made the scraper. But the machinery houses --Joy and
Ingersoll Rand- -made the hoist.
Swent: But the scraper itself, they usually just fabricated on the spot.
Arentz: Yes. At the mine, although later they made cast steel scrapers
which in many respects were a little more efficient and withstood
the wear and tear better because they were made with abrasion
Swent: And those you had to buy?
Arentz : Yes , and you would buy plates that went down to where they scraped
against the rocks and you could replace those and that way the
things lasted a lot longer. There at Pioche we made the smaller
ones but we bought the bigger ones for the bigger hoist.
Swent: Where did you buy them from?
Arentz: Well, there were different houses that made them. I forget who
they are. And then they made the automatic liner machines where
you didn't hand crank them. They fed in with the air that ran the
machine. But you still had to change your seal every two and one-
Then finally came the air leg for the jackhammers and the
jumbo for the liner machines.
Swent: What innovation did the jumbo bring?
Arentz: It brought a hydraulically controlled leg that would raise up and
down and go this way and that way and you could put a ten- to
eleven-foot shell on top of it so that the machine could drill a
ten- to twelve -foot hole without changing. You could control the
thing from some distance back of the drill and the hydraulically
controlled legs were mounted on rubber tired carriages so you
could drive them in and have two or three on one jumbo. One man
could operate all the drills, or at least two men could, because
one could change the steel while the other one was operating the
Swent: What kind of steel were you using then?
Arentz: Drill steel? Most of those liners took round drill steel with
lugs on it and then the change of bits. You first got detachable
bits and then they screwed on instead of having to forge a bit on
each piece of steel. The steel had threads on the end and you
could screw on a bit that you could buy, and then they started
making tungsten-carbide inserts in the drill bits that would last
a lot longer. They were making throw- away bits that were so cheap
that once you had ground them up and sharpened them two to three
times on a grinding wheel they were used up so you would just toss
Swent: Before that you were doing your own sharpening? Did you forge
Arentz : Yes , and that made a hell of a difference .
Swent: You didn't have to have that kind of shop backup then.
Arentz: The EIMCO loader 1 was one of the first things that really made a
difference. That was designed by a fellow down at Tintic
district, a foreman down there. He took it to EIMCO and they made
the loader. It became standard all over the world.
Swent: Was it a Mr. Royal or a Mr. Finley?
Arentz: Mr. Finley.
Swent: Did you ever know him?
Arentz: No, but his son worked at Mercur. I knew his son.
Swent: Did you have an idea at the time how revolutionary this machine
Arentz: We got one. Since I was foreman at the time and the engineer, I
had the job of practicing to run it until I got proficient enough
that I could educate the miners .
Swent: When was this?
Arentz: Oh, about 1936 I guess; 1937 maybe.
Swent: What did you think of it?
Arentz: Oh, it was a big help, I'll tell you.
'Joseph Rosenblatt, EIMCO: Pioneer in Underground Mining Machinery and
Process Equipment. 1926-1963. Western Mining in the Twentieth Century series,
Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley, 1992.
Swent: This was at Mercur?
Arentz: That's where we had the first Finley I saw, or EIMCO.
Swent: You had mentioned Manning.
Arentz: Manning was where the first mill was, but it was for treating
Mercur ore. It was actually retreating the tailings from the old
Mercur mill that was at Manning because that's where the water
was. And then we moved the mill and built a bigger one up at
Swent: So that was your first experience with the EIMCO equipment?
Arentz: Yes, it was just recently out at that time.
Swent: How much did they cost, do you remember?
Arentz: I would think it was in the order of $3, 000- -something like that.
Swent: That was a tremendous investment when you're paying your shift
bosses $300 a month.
Arentz: A young engineer got $120 a month.
Swent: So your miners were making less than that?
Arentz: They were making $4 - $5 a day at that time.
Swent: So to invest $3,000 in a machine was a major decision?
Arentz: That's right. They got up to where they were costing a lot more
than that before they were through, but in 1914, when my dad had
the mine on Promontory Point, I think his capital investment was
$1,500, and that was for a couple of tents, two miners for two
months, each getting $120 a month, and some explosives and hand
tools, a single jack and a double jack and some boxes of powder
and some grub and he went out and camped there . He was
superintendent, the lead miner, the cook and whatever. Today, of
course you couldn't register to get a mining permit for ten times
Swent : No .
Arentz: The capital cost investment for a regular mine in those days in
hoists, compressors and mine cars and things like that was- -I
don't recall exactly the figures, but I would assume it would be
in the order of $5,000 to $7,000 per employee. Today it's more
like $50,000. When they started getting the trucks down in
Escalante and the front-end loader and the drill for drilling the
down hole for the VCR and things of that sort, you're talking each
item of equipment was well over $100,000--the jumbo drill and
Swent : VCR?
Arentz : Vertical crater retreat mining.
Swent: You had mentioned when we were talking earlier about your
connection with the EIMCO loader that it was introduced at the
Arentz: No, not the loader. What it was, EIMCO was working over some of
the equipment they got from some salvage operations from abandoned
or shutdown mines, and they were refurbishing the equipment and
selling it as used milling or mining equipment. Then they got
into the business of contracting to build a mill. That was what
they were doing for Mark Requa at West Dip, building a mill.
Swent: What was your connection with that?
Arentz: The construction superintendent that was on the job building the
mill got sick and his boss also worked for the Snyders and was
general manager of the operations at Mercur, where I worked.
Swent: This is Bill Franklin?
Arentz: Yes, Bill Franklin. So when his brother-in-law Dan Coakley got
sick on the job there at West Dip, Franklin had me go over and
finish the job which had just gotten a good start at the time. So
I stayed until the job was finished. Later EIMCO built a mill
down out of Lordsburg, New Mexico on the same basis, and one up
north of Dell, Utah, and another at Lead, South Dakota. The story
with the mill located at Lordsburg was that Bill Franklin was a
very fast driver and a pusher type, and this one time he was going
from Lordsburg to Silver City and there was a Chinese merchant who
he did business with. The Chinese merchant wanted to go the same
way Bill was going, and they headed out and Bill missed a turn and
the car rolled and threw them out. When they got out and were
dusting themselves off, Bill asked the Chinese if he was all
right. His answer was, "If I'd known you were in such a hurry, we
could have left yesterday."
Swent: That story must have gone the rounds,
mill at Dell.
You said they built another
Arentz: North of Dell, Utah.
Swent: Did you have any connection with that?
Arentz: Yes, I went out and made a topographic survey of the mine site and
mill site so they could do the design of the mill and the
foundations. It was in the winter and there was snow all over the
place, it was sort of miserable working there, and the thing is
that part of the way going out you had to go over an area covered
with water in the summertime and in the wintertime it was frozen.
As long as you went out in the early morning or late at night the
ice would hold a car and it was all right. But the last time I
came out it was in the afternoon and the ice had softened up and
my car went through the ice. The water wasn't very deep, only
about three to four inches but it turned everything under the ice
to mud and I had one hell of a time getting back to the highway.
But, that's the only thing I had to do with EIMCO at the time.
Swent: But it did make a big difference in mining methods, didn't it?
Arentz: Yes, it did. They had developed mechanical equipment for the big
stopes back in the Tri-State area where the rock was very
competent and they didn't have to timber. They would have stopes
that would be 100 feet high and very large, and they did get the
equivalent of power shovels in there. In these Western mines you
were mining veins and narrow widths and the EIMCO loader made all
the difference, because you couldn't get the other equipment in.
Now where it's so cheap to move broken rock with LHD's and trucks
and diesel equipped underground loaders, you can afford to make
the size of openings that you can run that equipment in, where
before when it was all hand shoveled, it was impossible. I think
that covers what we were talking about.
Swent: Did you have anything to say about the Getchell?
Arentz: No, I just mentioned that the ore at West Dip was like the
carbonaceous ore at Getchell and Mercur.
Swent: It was very difficult ore, wasn't it?
Arentz: It was refractory ore. A lot of these Nevada mines are getting
into what they call a sulfide ore which is full of carbon and they
have their problems milling it.
Recollections of President Herbert Hoover. Mining Engineer
Did you want to say anything more about your contact with Herbert
Just that when he first came out, I was the mine engineer at
Pioche and I had been lucky in developing or locating a bunch of
very good ore in fault blocks. It was difficult to make sure that
you didn't go through a gap in the faults instead of through the
ore. Mr. Hoover sent Lawrence Requa and several others out to
check up on the project we had started for Mr. Milbank. Then Mr.
Hoover came out himself and I showed him our plans and sections
and the like, and his observation that we were lucky to miss the
fault gaps and hit the blocks was quite correct. This sort of
stunned me because I thought I had done a very fancy job. I'd
made a bunch of cardboard prisms about a foot high and where each
corner of a triangular prism was a drill hole and then I'd put the
section where the faults were on each side of these. I'd have to
do it experimentally until adjoining prisms would all match up and
fit and I got these out and was giving a very impassioned talk
about how this was done. All of a sudden I noticed he was just
looking out the window and I was somewhat embarrassed so I stopped
talking and he didn't say anything for what seemed like quite a
while but actually was a few seconds. Then he turned and said, "I
withdraw the use of the word luck and substitute good management."
What a compliment. When was this?
That was in 1943. As I said, he came every year and sometimes his
sons and their wives and on at least one occasion, some of the
grandchildren, and Jeremiah Milbank and his wife and sometimes
Milbank' s son and daughter would come with Mr. Hoover.
You entertained them when they came?
Yes, and it was generally around Mr. Hoover's birthday so we would
have a birthday party for him. He would be on his way from the
East to the Bohemian Grove in California.
What was his birthday?
August 10, I believe. And the thing that was interesting, we
started out with just some of our staff at a barbecue. One of the
evenings he was there, we were out in the hills and where the mine
water was discharged, it was good water. In fact we had one area
where we collected mine water free from contamination and put it
into the culinary water system for Pioche and Caselton and Prince.
We planted trees along the ditch and then I had some dams put in
the ravines to make ponds and we would stock the ponds with fish
and when anybody went fishing in the mountains above Cedar City,
they would gather up a bucket full of the stream flora and insects
and things and bring it back to put in the stream or ponds. I
gave the Boy Scouts the brick and steel work so they could make
barbecues and we made tables for picnics. It was available to
anyone in the county or anywhere to come and have an outdoor
picnic and barbecue. Then we built a big one that could take care
of 200 to 300 people. Mrs. Wah, who operated the boarding house,
and her Chinese help would come down to put on a real barbecue
when Hoover was there. I guess it was about the last time, or
after he had been coming for some years anyway, that we had this
really big barbecue. Every time we had a dinner for Hoover I'd
give each person who came a piece of paper about the size of a
calling card or business card and they could write a question on
it. While we were eating, Mr. Hoover would sort the questions
into related subjects and then he would talk for up to an hour and
one -half on the subjects raised by these questions.
How generous of him.
He was better informed, I think, on most of the things going on
than most of the people in Washington, because he had
correspondence in virtually every country in Europe on both sides
of the political fence.
Arentz: He had five secretaries that he kept fairly busy. On one
occasion, the University of Nevada contacted me and said that
there was a gentleman that was a very staunch fan of Mr. Hoover
and they knew about our barbecues and parties and the like and
asked if this gentlemen could be invited to come down and meet Mr.
Hoover. He had indicated that he would be willing to donate the
money for a Student Union building at the Nevada-Reno campus.
So I asked Mr. Hoover if that would be agreeable and he said,
"Fine, that would be just swell." So on the appointed day a
number of officers from the university and this perspective donor
came to Pioche . Mr. Hoover treated him royally and had him sit
with him. The man was the son of the founder of Greyhound Bus
lines, which was originally founded in Austin, Nevada. He ended
up giving the money for the University of Nevada's student union
Swent: Wonderful, and what was his name?
Arentz: Jot Travis, I believe.
Swent: So that was a good ending to that.
Arentz: Yes, we did so enjoy these meetings.
Swent: Did Mr. Hoover limit the areas of discussion?
Arentz: Not too much.
Swent: There weren't questions that he refused to talk about?
Arentz: He wouldn't give away any military or security secrets. But
anything else he would discuss. He told us about his trip with
Hugh Gibson to Europe in 1938 when he was very interested in what
the European governments were doing in the way of public housing.
He said that when he was in Berlin the U.S. ambassador got in
touch with him and said that Hitler wanted to see him. Hoover
said that he really didn't want to see Mr. Hitler. The American
ambassador said, "I wish you would accept the invitation because I
would have a chance to see him and I haven't seen anybody above
the foreign secretary." So Hoover said that under those
circumstances he would meet with Hitler.
They went and he said he was quite surprised because, in
common with many people in America, he regarded Hitler as just a
front piece for an establishment that was actually running things,
and the general assumption was that Hitler was not too well
educated. He said Hitler spoke with remarkable information on
what they were doing in public housing and on various other
things . The only thing is , certain key words would come up and
Hitler would just go wild, like "Jew" and they would have to quiet
Hitler down, and then the word "Communists" and he went wild
again, and then "democracy" and Hoover each time had to sort of
quiet him down a little. But on other things they were interested
in he was well informed.
Then later, Hoover said they had an invitation to attend an
informal luncheon at Herman Goering's hunting lodge on the
outskirts of Berlin. Hoover said he and Gibson went there and he
said it was like a Wagnerian opera. The building was a U-shaped
building with several hundred feet on each leg of the U. As the
car drove in to this U-shaped area a group of very tall men
dressed in medieval costumes with great horns came out and played
a trumpet as a welcoming. Mr. Hoover said that when he went in,
although he was not an expert in art, there obviously were several
million dollars worth of sculpture and paintings in the lodge.
He was seated at Goering's right and he found out Goering was
interested in getting some idea what the mineral resources of
Russia were because they were planning on doing some exploration.
They knew Hoover had worked in Russia for years. Hoover said the
centerpiece right in front of him on the table was a life-size
head and bust of a woman and it appeared to be gold. Goering saw
him looking at it and told him that it was a bust of his first
wife and that it was solid gold. Probably even at that time with
the low price of gold it was worth at least a million dollars.
Hoover said he encouraged them very much to go toward Russia. He
saw they were going some direction and he thought it would be
better to go that direction than to go west.
They spoke through interpreters I
suppose . Did Hoover speak
No, but he was able to understand the language pretty well. He
had been administering relief and at times he would be in Belgium
and then in Berlin dealing with the Germans and next he would be
in London dealing with the English. They all had enough
confidence in him that he wasn't spilling the beans to either
He told how after the war, he went over for Truman.
Roosevelt wouldn't let him participate in any way even though he
was the acknowledged expert in those fields . As soon as Roosevelt
died, Truman, by executive order, changed the name of the dam on
the Colorado from Boulder Canyon back to Hoover Dam, which is how
it was when it was originally legislated. Truman asked Hoover to
go over and make an assessment of the food requirements of Western
And Hoover found there was more required than we could supply
from Canada or the U.S. and the ships and the distance and time
required from New Zealand or Australia were such that they weren't
really going to be in time. The best chance of getting food for
Europe was from Brazil and Argentina. Hoover decided the best way
of getting their cooperation was to go to Rome and talk to the
pope and get him to use his influence on the cardinals in those
countries and see what could be done . He arranged to fly to Rome
and had an appointment with the pope.
A couple of the young military people that were the crew on
the plane said they were Catholic and asked Hoover if, when he was
through his discussions with the pope, would it be possible for
them to be introduced. Hoover said he would see what he could do.
So after he had his meeting with the pope, he mentioned that there
were these young military personnel who would treasure the
opportunity of being presented, and the pope said fine, where are
they? Hoover said he thought they were just outside. So the pope
sent someone outside and it turned out these two young
fellows --Rome was full of U.S. military personnel, and they had
bragged about what was coming off and when the representative from
the pope went out to get them, there were forty instead of the two
and they were all brought in. They would give their name to
Hoover and he would present them to the pope and the pope would
give them a blessing.
He noticed this one fellow who kept dropping back in this
long line until he was at the end of the line, and finally he was
introduced and he blurted out, "I'm a Baptist." The pope said,
"Any young man can use an old man's blessing." Hoover had a lot
of stories like that.
Swent: That must have been a wonderful experience to be his host.
Arentz: Yes, it was. And he liked to play bridge on occasion, and so we
would have games of bridge in the evening. Ed Snyder liked to
play bridge too.
Swent: You were telling me Hoover offered his apartment to you.
Arentz: Yes, while we attended the AIME annual meeting in New York. The
only thing is they shifted the meeting to San Francisco so we
didn't get the opportunity to use his apartment.
Swent: But he had offered to let you stay at their place at the Waldorf?
Arentz: Yes, because he was going to be in Florida and there wouldn't be
anyone there and we were welcome to use it.
Swent: How disappointing that you couldn't.
Arentz: Yes, it was.
Swent: And you were state president of the AIME in Nevada?
Arentz: Yes, and later of the AIME in Utah.
Swent: So you have been president of two sections of the AIME?
Arentz: Yes. We have had a lot of fun, and those experiences with Hoover
were quite remarkable. Then one of the other things of interest
is when I started up at the Bretz Mine producing mercury, I
started checking around to find out where we could sell mercury.
Swent: When was this?
Arentz : In 1956. I found Phillip Brothers were brokers for ores and
concentrates and metals all over the world. Mary Alice and I had
gone East to attend her brother's wedding in Boston and after the
wedding we stopped back to New York and I called Phillip Brothers
and said I would like to talk to them about selling the mercury.
They referred me to a young fellow named Mark Rich. I talked to
him and asked if he would be available that afternoon.
He said no, but he would be available first thing in the
morning. I told him we had tickets for an 8:30 a.m. flight out in
the morning and I might not have a chance to see him. He said if
I would come by about 7:00 a.m., he'd see me. Their offices were
down in the Wall Street area. Mark said, "You can get a cab right
there and we can get the thing done in a hurry." So I went down
and in a matter of a few minutes we worked out an agreement where
they would buy my mercury, and the basis on which they would buy
it. Then we came on home.
That summer he came out and spent the Fourth of July with us
and then went over to the mine with me. Our relationship was on a
very friendly basis. In 1958, when I was taking the family to
Europe on a vacation, I mentioned it to him and he said he would
like our itinerary.
I gave him a copy of it and when we got to New York, he said,
"I've notified all our offices over in Europe and they would be
happy to extend any courtesies to you," and he said, "I notice you
are coming back on the Queen Elizabeth." I said yes.
He said he would like to hear our impressions of Europe and
asked me to give him a telephone call from the Queen Elizabeth the
day before we were scheduled to dock, so he could meet us. I
said, "Fine." Some of the personnel in their offices in Europe
were extremely helpful on a number of occasions. I called him the
day before we were scheduled to dock and he met us .
"Your phone call yesterday raised hell in our
I said, "What happened?" I knew that almost everyone in
their office spoke six or seven languages because the phone calls
were coming in from Spain or France or Italy or someplace else all
the t ime .
He said, "When your call came through, we had a new girl on
the switchboard and she just dropped everything and went running
through the office saying, "Guess who's calling Mark RichQueen
Swent: She thought the queen herself was calling.
Arentz : I think Mark's father was German and his mother was French and
they were Jewish as almost everybody in Phillip Brothers was and
they got out of Germany about the time Hitler first got control
and went to Belgium. They got out of Belgium before he started
moving there and got to the U.S.
Mark was really a brilliant fellow and he was well on his way
to becoming a top man there. Then during the 1970s he was made
the man in charge of their Madrid office and until then they
hadn't dealt with oil. They had dealt with all kinds of minerals
but not oil. During that oil scare he started dealing in oil and
in no time at all he had built up his commissions for that year as
I understood it, of course a lot of this is hearsay, that amounted
to a million dollars. And they said, "We don't pay anybody a
million dollars a year."
So he quit, and took about three of their men with him and
set up Mark Rich and Associates. Unfortunately people can become
greedy at a certain point. He was extremely successful with Mark
Rich and Associates, but charges were filed against him. I don't
know if it has been proven or not, but the charges were that when
the government went through several years of oil price levies, for
new oil, it was a fancy price, for old oil it was way down to
pretty near nothing, and in between it was something else. He had
the oil production from countries like Nigeria and the like pretty
well tied up and he started selling old oil for new oil. Since
then he left the U.S.A. and now is in Switzerland and has his
headquarters there but, his fines in this country got up to where
they were $50 million or more.
Phillip Brothers became Englehard, and then they split up and
the Phillip Brothers division became a half owner in Solomon
Brothers brokerage. The fellow that was the president of Phillip
Brothers, which is what Mark Rich would have been had he stayed
with them, became a co-chairman of Solomon and then Solomon got in
all this trouble. It wasn't a happy situation.
Swent: When you sold your mercury to these people, did they take delivery
out here at the mine?
Arentz: I would deliver it to a bonded warehouse in Winnemucca.
Swent: The concentrates from your mill?
Arentz: No, the metal. It was pure virgin quicksilver.
Swent: You had it all refined at the mine?
Arentz : Yes , at the mine .
Swent: And then delivered it to Winnemucca? How were you paid?
Arentz: All I had to do was tell them I had so many flasks in a bonded
warehouse in Winnemucca and they would send me a check.
Swent: A flask was the unit you sold?
Arentz: A flask of mercury is seventy-six pounds of mercury and it's in a
flask of steel that weighs about eight pounds, so that they weigh
about eighty- four pounds counting the mercury and the flask
weight. I would tell them that I had just delivered twenty or
thirty flasks down to Winnemucca and they would send me a check.
Swent: Did the price vary?
Arentz: Yes, whatever the market price was. It varied from a low of $175
a flask to high of $300 or $400. At one point, for a short time
it reached $700 a flask.
Swent: How did you determine the market price?
Arentz: Well, it's published in the Wall Street Journal as of the day of
delivery. Then we had a mercury operation up on Cinnabar Creek in
Swent: I didn't realize you had done mining in Alaska too. Where is
Arentz: Cinnabar Creek is out about 250 miles west of Anchorage, about
seventy miles from the Kuskokwim River.
Swent: Everything in Alaska is pretty big, isn't it?
Arentz: Nome is about 1,000 miles from Anchorage. More recently, we had a
heap leaching operation on some tailings down at Sonora, Mexico.
Swent : For mercury?
Arentz: No, this was for gold.
Arentz: The state of Sonora, about forty- five miles south of the border.
Swent: What was the name of the place?
Arentz: It's just a place. There had been a mill there because we were
retreating old tailings. More recently, we have been working on
tar sand out in Vernal, Utah.
Swent: What is the tar sand used for?
Arentz: Asphalt paving.
Swent: So you're dealing with construction people there?
Arentz: Well, it's mainly for roads and parking lots. The Forest Service
gets some from us , the counties , and the people that have
driveways or things like that. We ship it as far east as
Steamboat Springs in Colorado and as far west as Heber, Utah. The
freight is the big problem.
Swent: Yes, that determines your cost, doesn't it?
Arentz : Yes .
Swent: Do you have to do much in the way of processing?
Arentz: It all depends. A lot of it we crush with stone so that you have
an aggregate and to others we sell just the tar sand the way it
comes out of the ground.
Swent: Do you get into many problems with permitting?
Arentz: Yes, that's a pain in the neck. Surface water, wet lands, you
Swent: Are you active in politics any more?
Arentz: No; my daughter Cathy is very active. She is on the central
committee and the executive board of the central committee here in
Utah for the Republicans and does a great deal to helping organize
the county conventions and recently the state convention, making
out the identification badges, providing security for the
credentials and things of that sort. She spent a lot of time
Swent: So you passed the torch to her?
Well, she has picked it up at any rate. I believe that sort of
This has been very, very good. I'm glad we could get further
I just had Mary Alice reread the first volume of Hoover's memoirs
that he prepared for his children, called The Years of Adventure
Starting with his birth, it goes through the peace conference in
Versailles during the First World War, and his organization that
was providing food for 15,000,000 children in Europe between the
armistice and the peace conference which went from November 11
until mid- July the next year.
Fifteen million children.
A lot of his stories in that book are extremely interesting. It's
well worth reading. A lot of the countries wanted to load him up
with various kinds of honors and it turned out the only honors he
would accept was maybe an honorary degree from a university or
something along that line. He didn't care for legions of honor
and all those kinds of ribbons.
And I believe he would not take pay for any of this.
No, he didn't.
Nor when he was president or secretary of commerce,
back all of his pay.
I think when he was secretary of commerce, in order to get good
men, he added what would have been his salary to the rather meager
salaries the government allowed so that he could pay his
appointees enough to have them sacrifice their time for what they
were doing. But on all these other things he used his own money,
even to fix up the White House. He told us stories about mining
in Russia and then Burma, and Australia and things like that. He
would amplify what was in his memoirs on our visits. At one time
he was managing director of mines all around the world, mines that
employed close to a million menover 150,000 in Russia- -over
80,000 in Burma, things like that.
Yes he was. His IQ was over 200. And he did it all at such a
young age . When he went over to China he was only about
twenty- six, and at a salary of $20,000 per year, which in those
days was fantastic. It would be like half a million dollars
Swent: He also had a remarkable wife.
Arentz: Yes. When we were in Washington during one of the periods we were
just a block down the street from where his home was when he was
secretary of commerce and his wife was head of the National Girl
Scouts. They frequently had groups of scouts visit her and they
would have picnics in their back yard and such.
Swent: I think we must stop now. I'm certainly grateful to you for
sharing your many interesting experiences.
Transcribed by Anne Sutton and Gay Rokich
Final Typed by Shannon Page
TAPE GUIDE- -Samuel Shaw Arentz, Jr.
Interview 1: June 20, 1988
Tape 6 ,
Tape 7, Side B
ARENTZ MINING ENGINEERS
136 EAST SOUTH TEMPLE
UNIVERSITY CLUB BUILDING, SUITE 1750
SALT LAKE CITY. UTAH 841 1 1
SAMUEL SHAW ARENTZ, JR.
1/1/55 - Present
2/1/41 - 1/1/55
10/1/39 - 2/1/41
1/1/39 - 10/1/39
9/1/38 - 1/1/39
7/1/34 - 9/1/38
March 9, 1913
Los Angeles, California
B.S. Mining and Metallurgy, 1934
Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada
Professional Mining and Metallurgical Engineer,
Land Surveyor, Nevada - #332, Since 1945
Professional Mining Engineer, Utah - #2029,
Consulting Mining and Metallurgical Engineer
and independent mine operator. Consulting
assignments, in all parts of the United States,
Central America, Canada, Indonesia and South
Africa. Mining operations in Utah, Oregon,
Alaska, Nevada and Mexico. Office in Salt Lake
Mining Engineer, Geologist, Superintendent and
Manager, Combined Metals Reduction Company,
Pioche, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah
Manager, Rico Argentine Company, Rico, Colorado
Mill Superintendent and Mine Engineer,
Ima Mines, May, Idaho
Supervising Engineer, Mill Construction and
Mine Development, Rico Argentine Company,
Assayer, Mill Operator, Mine Engineer, Mine
Foreman, Construction Superintendent, Snyder
Mines, Mercur, Utah
- 2 -
1929 - 1930
Mill Construction - Manning, Utah
Surveyor, USER, Hoover Dam
Page, U. S. House of Representatives,
Surveyor, USN, Naval Ammunitions Depot,
Society of Mining Engineers - AIME
Chairman, Nevada Section - 1947
Chairman, Utah Section - 1982
Mining and Metallurgical Society of America
Utah Mining Association
Board of Regents of the University of Nevada
Nevada State Planning Board
Advisory Council, College of Mines and Minerals
Industries, University of Utah (1967 - 1987)
Chairman, (1975 - 1987)
Alta Club, Salt Lake City, Utah
Index- -Samuel Shaw Arentz, Jr.
AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) ,
American Zinc Company, 36, 80
Amoco Oil Company, 52
Anaconda Copper Company, 6, 22,
Anderson, Maxie, 52-54
Anglo-American Corporation, 51,
Arentz , Harriet Keep (Mrs . Samuel
S., Sr.), 1, 2, 6, 10-13, 21,
Arentz, Kit (sister), 21, 22
Arentz, Mary Alice Meagher (Mrs.
Samuel S. , Jr.), 20, 23, 30,
39, 42, 43, 45, 46, 56, 59-61,
74-76, 79, 88, 91, 93, 97, 98
Arentz, Samuel Shaw, Jr.,
entrepreneur and consultant
after 1954, 39-55
family and schooling, 1-11
mining engineer, 1934-1954,
travels and civic activities,
Arentz, Samuel Shaw, Sr. , 1, 2,
4-12, 18, 21, 33, 34, 60, 72,
Arentz children, 45-46, 56,
59-60, 76, 96
ASARCO, 49, 52-54
Basic Magnesium plant, Henderson,
Nevada, 30-32, 79-80
Black (African American) miners,
Bauer, Utah, mill, 22
Boyd, James, 41
Bretz Mine, Nevada, 43-44, 46,
Burgin, Bill, 42
Butterfield Mine, Nevada, 37-42
Callahan Mining Company, 50
Carpenter, Jay, 43
Caselton Mill, Nevada, 22, 26-27,
Cerro de Pasco, 47
Chief Consolidated Mining Company,
46, 51, 54
Combined Metals, Inc., 22
Combined Metals Reduction Company,
15, 22, 25, 28, 31, 37, 39, 41,
Dewey, Thomas E. , 56, 57, 62
EIMCO loader, 82, 84-87
Eisenhower, Dwight, 56, 57
Englehard Minerals, 47-51, 54, 94
Escalante Mine, Utah, 44-49,
52-55, 60, 86
Fitch, Cecil, 46, 47, 51
Fortier, Dr. , 75-77
Franklin, Bill, 86
Grand View Mine, Washington, 80
Grant, Buck, 37, 39, 40, 42
Greene, John, 22
Guy ton, Bill, 48
Hall, John, 50
Henderson, Nevada, Basic Magnesium
Plant, 30-32, 79-80
Hickey, Owen, 12, 13, 15, 18-20
Hickman, Roy, 46
Highland Boy Mine, Utah, 9
Homestake Mine, South Dakota, 9
Hoover Dam, 5, 13, 31, 91
Hoover, Herbert, 24, 25, 56, 58,
69, 88-92, 97
and Goering, Hermann, 90-91
and Hitler, Adolf, 90
Ima Mine, Idaho, 18-20, 70
Ivanhoe Mine , Nevada , 44
Jardine Mine, Montana, 8-9
Kennecott Copper Corporation, 40,
41, 49, 67
labor unions, 27, 29, 55, 70
Larson, Jess, 31
Lewiston Peak Mining Company, 15
Manning, Utah, 5, 6, 13-15, 85
McCoy Mine, Nevada, 44
Meagher, Mary Alice. (See Arentz ,
Melich, Mitch, 32-34
Mercur Mine, Utah, 5, 6, 12-15,
18, 20, 28, 73, 84-87
Midwest Oil Company, 52
Milbank, Jeremiah, 24, 25, 32, 88
Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers
mine management ,
environmental concerns, 68-69
equipment, 25-26, 53, 80-87
safety, 26, 68, 71, 74
Bretz, Nevada, 43-44, 46, 55,
Butterfield, Nevada, 37-42
Castleton, Nevada, 22, 26-27
Escalante, Utah, 44-49, 52-55,
Grand View, Washington, 80
Highland Boy, Utah, 9
Homestake, South Dakota, 9
Ima, Idaho, 18-20, 70
Ivanhoe , Nevada , 44
Jardine, Montana, 8-9
McCoy , Nevada , 44
Mercur, Utah, 5, 6, 12-15, 18,
20, 28, 73, 84-87
Nevada Douglas , 1,9
Paradise Peak, Nevada, 44
Pioche, Nevada, 5, 13, 21, 22,
24-32, 34, 40, 45, 55, 58,
60, 72, 74-76, 78, 83, 88,
Rico Argentine, Colorado,
Silver City, Idaho, 9
Silver Lake, 70
Stockton, Utah, 9
Triumph, Idaho, 15, 28
Utah Apex, 9
Victoria, Nevada, 28-29
Wickenburg, Arizona, 9
mine workers ,
Black (African American) ,
labor relations, 27-30, 55,
labor unions, 27, 29, 55, 70
living accommodations, 14, 19,
27-30, 70-73, 88-89
medical care, 74-77
working conditions, 13-14,
Moab, Utah, 33-35, 40, 65
National Lead Company, 22, 24, 25
Nevada Douglas Mine , 1,9
Paradise Peak Mine, Nevada, 44
Phillip Brothers, 47, 50, 93, 94
Pioche, Nevada, 5, 13, 21, 22,
24-32, 34, 40, 45, 55, 58, 60,
72, 74-76, 78, 83, 88, 89
Placer Development Corporation,
Ranchers Exploration and
Development Corporation, 52-54
Reiser, Allen, 20
daughter's participation, 96
national convention, 1952,
nomination for Congress , 58
Rich, Mark, 93, 94
Rico Argentine Mining Company,
Colorado, 18-21, 70
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 27
Silver City Mine, Idaho, 9
Silver Lake Mine, 70
Smith Valley, Nevada, 2, 3, 11,
Snyder, Ed, 13, 18, 22, 24, 25,
30-34, 36, 37, 39, 40, 47, 58,
Snyder, Neil, 28
Steen, Charlie, 33, 34, 36
Stockton Mine, Utah, 9
Stouffer Chemical Company, 31
Taft, Robert, 56, 57
Titanium Metals Company, 31
United Steel Workers, 27
University of Nevada, 4-7, 62, 89
Mackay School of Mines ,
5-7, 43, 62, 66, 67
University of Utah, 63-66
Uranium Reduction Company, 36
U.S. Smelting Company, 37, 39
Utah Apex Mine, 9
Van Winkle, C. T. , 18-20, 70, 71
Victoria Mine, Nevada, 28-29
W. F. Snyder and Sons, 5, 15, 18
Wah, Ling, 60
Walker, Owen, 12, 34-36
West Point Military Academy, 4
Wickenburg Mine, Arizona, 9
World War II, 23-24, 27, 72, 79
Wundershek, Al , 28
Young, Howard, 36
Eleanor Herz Swent
Born in Lead, South Dakota, where her father became chief
metallurgist for the Homes take Mining Company. Her
mother was a high school geology teacher before marriage.
Attended schools in Lead, South Dakota, Dana Hall School,
and Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Phi Beta Kappa.
M.A. in English, University of Denver. Assistant to the
President, Elmira College, New York. Married to Langan
Waterman Swent, mining engineer.
Since marriage has lived in Tayoltita, Durango, Mexico;
Lead, South Dakota; Grants, New Mexico; Piedmont,
Teacher of English as a Second Language to adults in the
Oakland, California public schools. Author of an
independent oral history project, Newcomers to the East
Bay, interviews with Asian refugees and immigrants. Oral
historian for the Oakland Neighborhood History Project.
Interviewer, Regional Oral History Office since 1985,
specializing in mining history.