| Author's Note
This is not intended to be a history of White Pine County, McGill Nevada, or of
the YMCA Industrial Department, but in order to understand how and why the
McGill Clubhouse came into existence, these subjects must be briefly
White Pine County events and the birth of McGill Nevada
On November 17, 1904, the Boston and Nevada Copper Company merged
with the White Pine Copper Company, forming the Nevada Consolidated
Copper Company, under the laws of Maine, with a capitalization of
$5,000,000, with shares at 5 dollars par value. James Phillips Jr., a New York
financier, was appointed as President and Mark Requa, son of a prominent
Comstocker, was chosen as general manager. The company thus formed had
control of tremendous ore reserves, but was at a loss for the huge amounts of
capital still necessary to construct railroads to move the ore, and reduction
works to process the ore. Mark Requa obtained financial backing for the
Nevada Northern Railroad, organized May 29, 1905, from the firm of Hayden,
Stone and Company, and quite possibly through the influences of the
Guggenheim Exploration Company.
In 1905, William Boyce Thompson and George Gunn, acting as individuals but
most likely agents of the Guggenheims, obtained options on a group of claims
known as the Veteran group and several smaller claims on the boundaries of
the Nevada Consolidated claims. The Cumberland-Ely Copper Company was
then formed by Thompson and Gunn on November 28, 1905, with control of
the company immediately falling into the hands of the Guggenheims who
owned 51 percent of the stock, and once again Hayden, Stone and Company
agreed to finance the company. Shortly thereafter, Gunn obtained the water
rights to Duck Creek Valley and optioned the McGill ranch in Steptoe Valley
with the intent of establishing a mill and smelter at that location.
By 1906 the Guggenheim brothers, with a controlling interest in the
Cumberland-Ely company and with 40 percent of the Nevada Consolidated
stock, unsuccessfully attempted to effect a merger of the two companies. The
Nevada Consolidated Copper Company was able to block the merger, but its
directors were also aware of the fact that they needed the financial input from
the Cumberland-Ely Copper Company in order to build the smelter and
reduction works. The result of this effort was a joint meeting of the directors of
both companies in New York City during the first week of October 1906, the
directors of both companies coming to the agreement that a separate
company would be formed, the Steptoe Valley Smelting and Mining Company,
to construct and operate the smelter and reduction works in what would
become the town of McGill. The Steptoe Valley Smelting and Mining Company
was controlled by the Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. and the
Cumberland-Ely Copper Co. through a stock ownership plan by which each
company held one-half interest. By December 1, 1906, all three of these
companies were under the directorship of Pope Yeatman, and under the
control of the Guggenheim brothers.
The townsite of McGill was built on property formerly owned by W.N.[Billy]
McGill, prominent politician, rancher and entrepreneur. Originally McGill was
just going to be the site of the smelter and reduction works with some office
buildings and minimal housing for employees, the thought being that the
employees would live in East Ely and commute by train to the smelter. Later
the company decided that it would be better to have the employees on site,
and the town of McGill began to take shape.
The town of Mcgill was designed as a segregated community, not just
ethnically, but economically as well. The bottom of the ladder being Jap town,
then Greek and Austrian towns, then the part of Lower town occupied by
"Whites", the Upper townsite and finally, the pinnacle of success, the five large
houses on the "Circle", which were reserved for the upper echelon of
management. The "Circle", is in reality, only a half circle with the Clubhouse
residing in the most enviable position, the center.
McGill was a strictly controlled company town, thus there were no red-light
districts, businesses were only able to operate in McGill with the company's
approval which could be revoked, and there were very few saloons in
comparison to typical mining towns. In addition, an employee could lose his
home upon termination with the company, and men or women who had
non-respectable occupations were escorted out of town on several occasions.
All of the companies that ultimately controlled McGill until the 1960's, did so in
a paternalistic/patriarchal fashion. That the directors of these companies
wanted McGill to be a clean, wholesome, family community is quite evident in
the way the company exerted its control and also explains the willingness of
the company to support the YMCA programs and the ideals which they hoped
to achieve by uplifting the workingmen to Christian standards.
The YMCA Industrial Department
The YMCA Industrial Department was formed in 1902 as an extension to the
work done by the YMCA Railroad Department. Charles C. Michener was
appointed General Secretary of the Industrial Department in 1902 and was
instrumental in organizing industrial associations and laying the foundations
for the departments programs. In 1907 Charles Towson was appointed
General Secretary of the YMCA Industrial Department and represented the
driving force behind the association's programs for industrial workers until
On the surface, the YMCA Industrial Department's work was an attempt to give
the working men, particularly those in the more remote communities, a more
wholesome source of activities than was provided by the saloons, gambling
halls, and red light districts and ultimately to save souls. The early efforts of
this concentrated on mens social groups and prayer meetings, as the
"games", particularly billiards and bowling were considered the"evils" of the
saloons and gambling halls. It was not until the early part of the 20th century
that it was realized that by allowing these games in YMCA establishments, the
men could more easily be drawn in, and then they could find salvation, thus
further enriching the world. On a deeper level, it could be argued that the
YMCA Industrial Department was a tool of corporations and an experiment in
In launching programs aimed at workingmen, the YMCA benefited from
employers concerns with labor strife and interest in new ways of handling
workers and shaping their behavior on and off the job. The YMCA conducted
such programs, often in conjunction with newly emerging company welfare
policies [welfare capitalism] to subject work, the workers and the community to
more rational planning to insure the employees allegiance to the corporation.
The YMCA officials believed that by building working mens allegiance to the
company , thus resolving labor conflict, lay not with wages, hours, or working
conditions but with developing proper standards of manhood among
workingmen. From the YMCA's viewpoint, proper manliness was simply
irreconcilable with political radicalism, class conflict, and labor unrest. Relying
on the premise that proper leisure activities in an appropriate environment
would foster moral conduct, the YMCA aimed to raise workingmens standard
of manliness. Building the right standards of manhood would subdue the
destructive impulses of a potentially restive working class. The YMCA hoped to
overcome social tensions and to direct workers toward desirable standards of
manhood by involving them in a wide range of activities, such as shop Bible
classes, English and citizenship classes for immigrants, thrift classes, and inter-
factory athletic leagues.
The composition of the Industrial Department's leadership clearly indicated its
close ties with industrial management as virtually all of the national Industrial
Department's committee members held executive positions in major industries.
The YMCA and its industrial financiers had the belief and perception that the
employer and employee were engaged not in a conflict, but in a relationship of
mutual service based on a shared concept of manhood. The YMCA officials
and the company executives sought to replace the worker's communal ethic,
which had been the backbone of artisinal craft culture, by culturing a new idea
of manhood, they could displace class conflict and assert their cultural
leadership through paternalistic governance, thus instilling loyalty and service
to the company. Ultimately, the YMCA and its corporate benefactors believed
they could harness the forces of industrialization to their own means, thus
creating a society in which Christian manhood would serve as a matrix for
social order. The goal being, a society in which moral, pious men, regardless
of social standing would self-sacrificingly cooperate in the production of
industrial wealth, while bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth.
While the workingmen the YMCA served shared some of the associations
beliefs, the response to the ideas and programs presented varied. Quite
frequently the workingmen remade the YMCA branches to reflect their leisure
preferences, often in defiance of association standards of propriety and good
behavior. In defying YMCA expectations about appropriate behavior in the
building and by challenging company control over associations during strikes,
workers contested the purpose of YMCA programs and activities that aimed to
turn them into more loyal servants of the corporation. The contest over use of
YMCA facilities escalated during strikes, situated at the critical junction
between workers and management, the YMCA was trapped in a no-win
That the YMCA Industrial programs did benefit the communities they touched
is still evident today. Many mens lives were substantially altered in positive
ways and the teachings of the YMCA allowed many immigrants the opportunity
for social advancement in a difficult period of American history, but in reality,
the records indicate that although the YMCA facilities and activities were
widely patronized by the communities they served, the number of actual
converts remained low. The height of the YMCA Industrial Departments
activities was in 1918 with its major focus being the war industries and
government arsenals. After 1920 many of the corporations involved with the
YMCA decreased their support of the programs and by 1929 the YMCA
Industrial Department was dissolved.
The Lincoln Highway
When the Lincoln Highway Association issued its "Proclamation of Route of
The Lincoln Highway" on September 14, 1913, the town of McGill was given a
coveted spot on the Lincoln Highway and the Clubhouse was given a front row
seat on the beginnings of an economic and social revolution. Whether
travelling west or east on the Lincoln Highway, the stretch of road between
Salt Lake city and McGill was universally considered the most desolate and
forbidding section with the furthest distances from civilization, and more
importantly, water. Travellers headed west would no doubt have been relieved
when they saw the massive smelter works in McGill in the distance, and
certainly many stopped for their first drink of something cold and refreshing
after over 200 miles of dusty alkaline roads, and for travellers heading east
McGill was their last chance for supplies. From the birth of the Lincoln Highway
in 1913 until it's name was stripped away in 1925, the name McGill Nevada
was known by anyone that had driven or ever seriously contemplated driving
the Lincoln Highway from coast to coast.
History of the McGill Clubhouse
From the "Copper Ore"
March 25, 1909. "Club House is coming up soon" For some time the
question of innocent amusement for the employees of the company has been
an important issue. Finally a bunch got together and formed committees. One
of those is from the staff quarters another from the concentrator and another
from the smelter. The smelter committee is as follows; Ben West, E.E. La
Rose, W.A. Jennings, C Huggins and Peter Gruse, which is a representation of
not only those on operation but those of construction as well.
A petition has been circulated by the committee around the camp which reads
We the undersigned employees of Steptoe Valley Smelting and Mining
Company do hereby petition said company for a new Club House equipped
with bathrooms, gymnasium and reading rooms and agree that after same is
constructed to maintain it by membership fees of $1 per month, same to be
deducted from each members check monthly. Also an entrance fee of $3.
This is a very important and necessary move on the part of both the company
and the men. Anyone who has even been in a mining district far away from the
usual attractions and amusements, can appreciate the importance of the
The smelter committee not being willing to wait for the other committees to
organize and make some movement, took the matters in their own hands and
waited upon C.V. Jenkins, business manager of the S.V.S.& M. Co., and had a
very pleasant session with that progressive and up-to-date gentleman. He
heartily approved of the scheme and said that while he is not empowered to
grant the request he would submit the question to the New York office with his
recommendation. This fact, fellows, assures you beyond a doubt that within 60
or 90 days you will have some place to go evenings. Three cheers and a tiger
November 18, 1909. With ground broken for a new school house and the
people of McGill assured that they will soon have a school we will all be proud
of, let us start to boost for the older ones and get the much talked of Y.M.C.A.
building started. Such a building is badly needed in McGill and some good
boosting by every one will do more towards having it than anything we know of.
December 9, 1909. The much talked of Y.M.C.A. building for McGill is
beginning to look like a certainty instead of a myth. It is the intention of the
company to erect a two-story concrete building, and fit it up with gymnasium,
reading room, bowling alley, shower baths and lunch counter. Such a building
will be welcomed by every employee of the company and provide a much
needed place where they can all go and be able to find a few hours rest and
at the same time keep posted on the topics of the day through the periodicals
which will be on file.
January 27, 1910. The new school house will also be completed and then the
much talked of Y.M.C.A. building will be next on the list. It is understood that a
first class restaurant building is being considered which will meet the
requirements of all.
February 24, 1910. A fine Y.M.C.A. building will not hurt any and then McGill
will be the center of attraction in this district.
September 15, 1910. Grading for the Y.M.C.A. building has been commenced
and work will be pushed with all possible speed with the view of having it
completed this winter. The new structure will have a frontage of 95 feet on
Main Street with a 65 foot depth and will be built of concrete blocks.
September 29, 1910. Excavation work for the Young Mens Christian
Association building is being pushed right ahead.
October 27, 1910. The swimming pool and foundation for the McGill Club
House are almost completed and the work is being rapidly pushed with the
view of having the building completed as soon as possible.
November 10, 1910. Work on the Young Men's Club is being rushed as fast
as possible and it will not be long before the building assumes proportions.
The cement swimming tank is completed and filled with water to avoid any
possibility of the blocks drying too rapidly. When the structure is turned over to
the young men of McGill, they will have one of the very best club buildings in
the state and the action on the part of the big company in having such a
structure erected for its employees is most commendable.
November 24, 1910. The concrete window sills for the Young Men's Club
have been installed and it will not be long before the building will be assuming
proportions and when it is completed, the employs[sic] of the big plant will
have one of the best club houses in the state.
January 5, 1911. Work has closed down for the winter on the Club House, the
weather being too cold for the setting of the concrete. The eight concrete
pillars around the swimming pool are all up and solid. Work will be resumed in
the spring and the building rushed to completion.
June 29, 1911.The plunge at the Club House was opened up on last Saturday
night [June 24, 1911] and a number of the boys went in for a swim. Chief
Engineer Sorenson was down at the opening, and had a rare sport throwing
half dollars into the pool, and watching swimmers dive for them. And none of
the halves were lost either. Since then the McGillites have been reveling in the
cool and refreshing waters; and there is great joy in store for the men on
these hot summer days. The pleasure of the plunge is extended to the
youngsters, and later, will be to the women and children.
July 6, 1911. On Sunday evening after the ball game the band gave a concert
on the roof of the Club House, and not less than 700 people turned out in the
promenade. It looks as if that dream of Guggenheim Avenue were coming true.
August 10, 1911. Mrs. C.V. Jenkins has on the cards for Saturday night a
swimming party in the Club House. This will be one of the most novel features
of entertainment which has yet been given, and promises to be a most
enjoyable affair; and in consequence there have been numerous orders
placed for the new bathing costumes. After the water fete in the Club House
the evening will be completed at the Jenkins home where the delights of a
Dutch lunch will be mingled with music and dancing. Those in the swim will be
Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, Miss Lakenan, the Misses La Von Duddleson, Mrs. Haff
and her two sons Ray and Frank, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, Mrs. Rose Hurley and
August 17, 1911. The swimming party of Mrs. Jenkins was replete with
surprises in the way of bathing costumes. In the first place nobody had any
costumes, so they all had to get some. Having a weeks start on the party there
was time to send out for them, and most of them were ordered through
Compton's. The costumes came in the latest creations of voilles, and
marquisettes, and were flanked by the most beautiful shades of hosiery, black,
yellow and chrysanthemum colors. And the most beautiful dive that was made
by anybody was that of C.B. Lakenan who made a pidgeon cut from the
springboard and came up smiling at the other end of the tank.
August 17, 1911. Mrs. C.V. Jenkins was the hostess of a merry swimming party
in the plunge at the Club House last Saturday night, the event being given in
honor of Miss Lakenan. Quite a number of guests came down from Ely and
East Ely, and a most enjoyable time was had. Several automobile parties came
down from the other towns and the majority of the guests awaited for the
return by the special train.
August 31, 1911. Article on planning for Labor day events contained this line-
From 7 to 9 o'clock Schillers High School girls will give a concert at the YMCA.
August 31, 1911. Labor Day in McGill advertisement.
September 28, 1911. Saturday is now ladies day at the swimming plunge, and
on the last Saturday the tank was well patronized by the ladies and children of
the village. All day was theirs, and the best was made of the occasion. The
morning and afternoon was, for the most part, that of the little ladies and the
evening was taken up by the "grown ups". Everybody enjoyed herself to the
utmost with swimming and diving, and jumping and plunging, and the day was
certainly made a memorable one for the hostesses of McGill. The plunge has
made a mighty hit among the young and the old of both sexes; nothing like it in
the way of fun and pleasure having ever been conceived.
September 28, 1911. Miss Katherine McGill, Miss Lavon Duddleson and Miss
Loreta Duddleson came down on Saturday in the McGill machine to visit with
Mrs. Jenkins and made a very pleasant day of it. After luncheon the three
ladies with Mrs. Jenkins went for a plunge in the big tank. Mrs. Jenkins
returning with her guests in the machine in the early evening to Ely.
April 11, 1912. "Egbert Has New Duties" Arthur Egbert, the star punter on last
years football team, is now in charge of the swimming pool, succeeding Tip
O'Neil, who has gone to the new camp of High Grade.
July 18, 1912. "Shower at the pool" The swimming pool is a popular resort
these hot days, particularly since the showers have been installed. Dressing
rooms have been provided and several pieces of exercise apparatus will be
put in. Wednesday and Saturday have been set aside as ladies days.
August 15, 1912. "Gave Choir Boys An Outing" Rev. J.W. Gunn of St.
Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, Ely, and Prof. Bernard W. Street, chorister,
came to McGill, Tuesday, with ten of the choir boys, and enjoyed an outing at
the smelter town. The program included a visit to the YMCA swimming pool,
where the youngsters had opportunity for a plunge and instruction in
swimming for such as needed, and it is needless to state, enjoyed themselves
to the utmost. It took the united efforts of the rector and the choir master to get
the boys away from the aquatic delights of the swimming pool and rounded up
in time to catch the 5:20 train home. Such outings are pleasant and of benefit
to the boys in more ways than one.
July 31, 1913. Miss Margaret Jenkins was hostess of a very pleasant party of
young people at her home Saturday evening. The evening program was
commenced with a merry session at the swimming pool, after which the party
returned to the Jenkins home for dancing. Refreshments were served. Those
present were Misses Maude and Madge Smith, Genevieve Stevens, Mable
Wheeler, Tom Smith, W.R. Brown, H.C. Wallace, Gus McKay, R.D. Rocklidge,
July 31 1913. Mrs. C.B. Lakenan entertained a party of East Ely friends,
Saturday evening, a splash by all hands in the swimming pool at the Club
House being followed by cards and dancing at the Lakenan residence. Guests
for East Ely came over in the private car Ely. Those present included Col. and
Mrs. Cannon, Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Chandler, Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Stevens, Mr. and
Mrs. M.H. Patton, Mr. and Mrs. C.V. Jenkins, Miss Austin, Waldo Duddleson.
Nov.20, 1913. Jack Devers is officiating as merman at the YMCA swimming
pool, and giving swimming lessons on ladies day to those of the fair sex who
are desirous of learning this useful accomplishment.
February 5, 1914. "McGill is Dippy About Bowling", "TEN PIN ENTHUSIASTS
HAVE MONOPOLIZED CENTER OF CALCIUM AND ALL OTHER SPORTS ARE
IN DISCARDS" While other communities are crazy about the Tango, McGill has
a mania peculiarly its own. The residents of the smelter town are dippy over
bowling. Since the new alleys were opened, the ten pin enthusiasts have been
swarming around the alleys in the basement of the Y.M.C.A. building like a
bunch of flies around an upturned sugar barrel.
The loud mouthed baseball yap who is usually much in evidence at this
season of the year, has not awakened from his long sleep. The tapering off of
the basketball and highball season has left the ten pin artists in the glare of
the limelight. The bowling fever has not been monopolized entirely by the men,
as the members of the gentler sex have proven themselves to be ardent
devotees of the new form of sport. The alleys were installed by the Steptoe
company, and the cost of bowling renders it possible for rich and poor alike to
enjoy the recreation as the price has been definitely fixed at five cents a game.
The smelter team was composed of Bowen, H. Maier, Watson, Kim and L.
Maler, defeated the quintet selected from the business men by a score of
2026 to 1835. The members of the defeated aggregation were Engelke,
Holmes, Muellar, Norris, and West, Slim Addelman substituted for Bown at the
end of the first game. Nye Brothers offered a pair of shoes to the person
making the highest score. H. Maier was the lucky bowler, rolling 465 for the
With some changes in their line up, the smelter aggregation won their first
victory on the local alleys last Thursday night, humbling the team from the
concentrator to the tune of 1957 to 1881. The millmen were represented by
Hawse, Scott, Phillip, Steel and Blair. Tip O'Neal substituted for Maier on the
smelter team. Kime enjoys the distinction of being high man on the alleys, his
record being 195.
February 12, 1914. "Bowling Still Has Many Enthusiasts" Bowling is still the
most popular form of amusement at McGill, and all efforts to bring other sports
under the glare of the spotlight have proven futile. Baseball remains a topic
that but few enthusiasts care to discuss. The most enjoyable event in the life
of the devotees of ten pins was a performance of William Hawse of the
concentrator who broke the high record on the local alleys, rolling 212,
eclipsing the efforts of Kime, who held first honors with 195 pins to his credit.
A newly organized quintet from the office attempted to take into camp the team
from the concentrator last Thursday night, but came out on the short end of a
2170 to 1907 score. Earl emerged with the honors of the evening with a
record of 509 for the three games,
getting away with a roll of 191 in the third engagement, Kinnear was low man,
his total being 337.
The concentrator was represented by Hawse, Long Phillips, Nink, and Earl,
while Hunter, Clark, Butler, Kinnear and Morgan battled hard to uphold the
honors of the office force.
The contest between the business men and the office crowd, which was
scheduled to occur last Monday night was postponed until this evening.
Considerably rivalry exists between the opposing teams, and it is anticipated
that there will be a large attendance at the alleys when the two teams settle
February 19, 1914. "Office Men Win" Butlers ten pin artists defeated the
businessmens quintet at the local alley last Tuesday night, the score being
1928 to 1795. The office bunch annexed the first two games, and had the
laurels of the evening stowed away, before the business men emerged
victorious in the third clash. Hunter, Butler, Morgan, Clark, Whitney and
Kinnear composed the office five, while Engelke, Muellar, Blair, Holmes and
Norris represented the businessmen.
February 26, 1914. "Bowling is Still Favorite Sport", "Smelter Team Holds First
Place in League Tournament Although They Are Closely Pressed by Mill"
W L Pct.
Smelter 8 4
Concentrator 5 4
Business Men 2 4
Office 3 6
Shops 0 0
Although Butler's bowlers accomplished the noteworthy feat last Monday night
of humbling the champions from the smelter end, the smoke shovelers still
retain first position in the bowling tournament by a slight margin over the
quintet from the concentrator.
The clash between the office and the smelter was not productive of real classy
bowling. All the participants rolled below their usual form, and the total number
of pins knocked down was smaller than in any previous game on the schedule.
Fred Butler emerged from the mix-up with the honors of the evening, having
an average of 147. Kime and other bowlers of reputation around the plant
failed to live up to their past reputations on the alleys.
The following schedule has been arranged by Manager Watson: Concentrator
and shops, February 26; business men and office, March 3; shops and
business men, March 5; office and shops, March 16; concentrator and shops,
March 19; smelter and business men, March 23; shops and office , March 26;
concentrator and business men March 30 ; smelter and office, April 2 ;
business men and shops April 6.
The shops team was admitted to membership in the bowing league during the
week, and will participate in the tournament game next Thursday.