Goldfield NV 1900a (Photo credit: DB’s travels)
Life is full here in Goldfield. I fill my own time with working on the Car Forest, moving rocks, painting and burying cars, fixing up the house and hosting visitors that have come to see the cars. I also work on Chamber of Commerce projects such as our current community effort called Beautify Goldfield where our army of volunteers is hitting the streets. In a couple weeks we’ll be cleaning up the town together. Also, we’ve voted to make the town’s slogan official “World’s Greatest Gold Camp”.
A personal and creative outlet for me is producing my weekly radio show, Audio Sorgfield on KGFN. That one is all me, but today I got to use the radio show in the service of the Chamber of Commerce. I invited a special guest and we talked about an important historic Goldfield event.
The President of Friends of Joe Gans was in town this weekend. Kevin Grace is about 40 years old and full of zeal concerning all things Joe Gans. Grace formed his organization to promote the accomplishments of this historic boxer and bring his name back into prominence. Both are from Baltimore.
Out of the blue, at the Chamber office yesterday, Kevin showed up. It’s the second time he’s paid our town a visit and this time he wanted to be here on Labor Day, the fight’s 106th anniversary. Grace’s first visit was 8 months ago and he was by the Goldfield Chamber’s Vice President, Dominic Pappalardo. Angela Haag and Allen Metscher of our Historical Society showed Kevin around. We have a simple plaque in the fight’s historic location as well as a more prominent one outside the courthouse downtown.
Joe Gans was the lightweight champion of the world and back in 1906 he fought Oscar “Battling” Nelson and won the match after 42 rounds to defend his title. That was right here in Goldfield. To some, this was the most important fight of the century. 42 frickin’ rounds!?! It was one of the first sporting events ever to be filmed and gloves had been a recent introduction to the sport.
Joe Gans was the first black American sports super star and this fight was at the center of attention in the sporting world. Gans won his portion of the $30,000 purse-the biggest ever at the time-and with it he opened the Goldfield Hotel back in Baltimore. $11,000, he walked away with, invested that in building the Goldfield and is purported to be the first ever African American in Baltimore to own a car! The car’s price? $5,555.00.
Even in Gans’ hometown of Baltimore, MD he’s been practically erased from history. His historic Goldfield Hotel was demolished and replaced with a post office, which inhabits the spot today. This establishment was America’s first “Black & Tan” club. Whites and blacks dined and caroused together, enjoying ragtime music.
Eubie Blake, an important ragtime musician, got his start at the Goldfield. He has a famous tune called The Goldfield Rag.
Tex Rickard promoted the fight. He was the Don King of his day and lived here in Goldfield until he moved onward. He ended up being one of the founders of Madison Square Garden in New York City. His historic house is still standing, here, though in a shabby state of disrepair.
Talking with the owner of the land on which the Gans Nelson historic marker sits, we discussed possible future plans to name his pond, currently being constructed, after the boxing match. Grace and I would like to have a more substantial monument erected to mark the location as well.
Tomorrow, Grace will be presenting to the Chamber a beautiful banner commemorating the fight. Soon I’ll be painting a scene from the historic boxing match on one of our cars at the CarForest. I’m very interested in getting one of the artists I know commissioned to do a bronze commemorative sculpture on the site. If you saw the spot, you wouldn’t believe something so historic happened there. It deserves the most dignified marker.
I’m honored to be involved with this piece of historic significance.
Labor Day, 2012, Kevin Grace presents the Goldfield Chamber with a gorgeous banner commemorating the historic Gans Nelson fight that took place here 106 years ago to the day.
The Gans Nelson banner at the resting place of Joe Gans in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Baltimore Maryland, courtesy of Friends of Joe Gans.