Frenchman Mine

The Frenchman Mine was - ultimately - a promotional scheme concocted by Paul Watelet, a Belgian who was mistaken for French (hence the name), and C.W. Hillegas. Watelet apparently had earlier fraud charges in Ohio, but arrived in Las Vegas around 1905 and started the South Nevada Gold Mining Company with Hillegas as president. By 1912, news was broken of a rich strike east of Las Vegas, and a 100-ton mill was built the following year. A boom was expected, and the towns of Winterwood (at the nearby Winterwood Ranch) and Hillegas were planned as was a railroad spur. In 1914, the Company was sold to the Winterwood Land Company for $500,000, and Watelet and Hillegas both left town. The proposed townsites were never realized, and it was later discovered that no ore had ever been produced.