Copper Flats, White Pine County, Nevada

Copper Flat began as railroad yards for the loading and switching of ore cars coming from the Liberty Pit. Copper flats developed into a small residential section with a small area of houses which bordered the eastern rim of the Liberty Pit. 

There was a road along edge of the pit with metal guard rails between the pit and the company houses. Copper Flat was physically separated from Old Ruth by a small hill. One had to go through old Ruth to get to Copper Flats. Old Ruth was further east of Copper flat and both railroad tracks and a road separated the two towns.

Kimberly and Riepetown were on the opposite side of Liberty Pit. Some Japanese people lived in Copper Flat before they were interred in prisoner of war camps in California in the early part of WW II.

Esther Marie Versch relates, "My father lost his job when the Copper pit closed, and we had to leave our company house. My parents rented a house on the hill across from the Ruth grade school, It was great for my sister Stella and me as we no longer had to walk over the hill from Copper Flat to school.  To us, as small children, that hill was like a mountain especially in winter when it was so cold walking through the snow. We would arrive at school half frozen. My father started to work at the Emma mine in Riepetown but we stayed in Ruth until I graduated from the 8th grade, then we moved to Riepetown." 

The winters in Copper Flat were long and cold, but our little house was kept warm with the coal burning stove. On the days that my mother would do the laundry in the round metal tub, the kitchen would become the laundry room. We had to duck under the clothes that mom had hanging on a line. It was fun to play hiding o seek with my sister. We would hide behind the clothes. Some days my mother braved the weather and would hang the clothes on the outside clothes line. My dad's long johns looked so funny as they hung there stiff as a board.

When we lived in Copperflat, and when we moved to Ruth, my father worked at the copper pit. For lunch he took sandwiches. We children had soup for lunch if we were at home for school. We took a sack lunch of a sandwich and fruit. The games we played when we were outside were hopscotch, hiding o seek, kick the can and jump rope. Inside games we would play with jacks, dolls and cut out paper dolls, an empty shoe box would soon become a make believe house. We would go through the Sears catalog and cut out curtains, furniture etc. paste in the side of the box after cutting out a door and windows. Some times we would play store with empty food cans and making our own paper play money.

One Thanksgiving in Copperflat. The approaching holiday was an exciting time. In Mrs. Gooding's class we were making Pilgrim and Indian head gear out of colorful construction paper and studying about the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving in America. Mrs. Gooding had us sit in circle on the floor with our hats and feathers on and we pretended we were pilgrims and Indians. After school the kids all excited, talked about family plans for the holiday. When I arrived at home I asked my mother if we were going to have a turkey for Thanksgiving. She said no, we couldn't afford one. I was sad but forgot about it as I began playing with my sister. The next morning the ground was covered with snow. My mother was looking out of the kitchen window when she saw a live turkey walking between the houses. My sister and I ran to the window and sure enough there it was.  My mother, on seeing that no one was following it, went out and looked for the owner. No one claimed it so she took her apron off and chased it and threw her apron on it. She caught the turkey and brought it into the house. We had a great Thanksgiving. To this day I believe God had something to do with a little girls' wish.

Our neighbors in Copperflat were Italians, Yugoslavs, Greeks, Armenian, Hispanics, and Japanese. One of my memories was going to the Japanese movies, we children got in free. We sat on the floor in the front. Though we didn't understand the language, we enjoyed the thrilling sword fighting by the Samurai Warriors and the romantic sad tear jerking movies. The women would be crying and blowing their noses, the men would clap for the Warriors. After the movie they would pass a collection plate to pay for the entertainment. The movies were held in one of the wooden company buildings. There was also a Japanese small cafe that had the best chopsuey.  My parents would take us there some times. Once I ate so much of the delicious chopsuey, Boy, was I sick!!

Celebrating a Mexican holiday in Old Ruth. The Hispanics living in Ruth and Copper Flat got together and shared the cost of hiring a Mariachi band from Calif. They rented, I believe, the American Legion hall and bought food to make the Mexican traditional dishes. All of us kids of Hispanic descent were taught to sing a Mexican National Anthem. The adults would dance to the Mariachi music and we kids would try to dance but mostly skidded across the floor getting in the way. My parents came to the United States from Mexico legally in 1926 when they were hiring men to work in Calif. and later in the copper pit and the mines. 

In Riepetown and in Copper Flat there were no indoor bathrooms, only out houses. In winter you had to bundle up, take the broom or shovel depending on the amount of snow on the ground, and make a path to the out house. The walls were insulated with old newspapers or pages out of the old Sears catalog to keep the snow and wind out. It was fun to choose a pretty dress or a doll right off the wall!. In the summer a man would come to disinfect the out houses. He had a long round metal tank strapped to his back. The tank had a rubber hose with a nozzle on the end with which he would disinfect the out houses. He was called the honey dipper."

Copper Flats developed by 1907 and lasted until sometime after 1947 and by the middle 1950's. Apparently the Copper Flats homes were moved to the other nearby towns because of the extension of the Liberty Pit.  It no longer exists.

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This picture of  Esther Marie Santellanes Versch at age four, in the winter of 1931, shows the company houses of upper Copper Flat.  Courtesy of Esther Marie Santellanes Versch.

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Esther Santellanes Versch's family dog, Spotty,  in 1938 or 1939. The photo "shows part of the lower Copper Flat and to the right is part of the east edge of the pit showing and the metal railing.  That is how close the pit was to where we lived." Courtesy of Esther Marie Versch.


A special "Thank You" to Esther Marie Santellanes Versch, Stella Santellanes Del Palacio, Walter Johnson, Keith Albrandt, and Bill Sorenson for their wonderful comments and memories left on the White Pine Discussion Forum so this page on Copper Flat could be developed.


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Last Updated on 10/10/2001