The City of Goldfield became a modern metropolis with the arrival of electricity and water hookups. Real estate in those early days was going at $210 a foot, a hefty price in 1905.
Another rich discovery in 1906 boosted the prices even higher, with lots selling for as much as $45,000. The city had everything except enough water, and the threat of fire was extreme.
A 12,000-gallon water tank was constructed on a hill south of town from which a 3-inch pipeline was laid to serve the residences, businesses and a lone fire hydrant in the downtown area. The pipeline and hydrant would be tested on March 4, 1905, when a gas lamp exploded near the Nye and Ormsby Bank, quickly spreading to Dunn’s Saloon and a nearby store.
There, the fire was stopped, thanks to the pipeline. The city wouldn’t be so lucky the next time.
The county commissioners banned the storage of explosives within the town and restricted the sale of gasoline. They also ordered a hose cart and other firefighting equipment.
But it was too little too late.
Jus’ four months later on July 8, a fire broke out in the Bon Ton Millinery. Volunteer firefighters arrived within moments, only to find the hydrant had no pressure.
Residents in the area, fearful that the flames would reach them, began filling all the containers they could find, depleting the water supply.
But an improbable hero came to the rescue: Bert Ulmer of the Little Hub Saloon arrived on the scene with an unlikely fire suppressant — two large kegs of beer. He and bartender Frank Heaton soaked blankets and sheets in the beer, then nailed them to the walls of surrounding businesses.
Meanwhile, volunteers saved a restaurant by throwing buckets of the brew on it. Soon other saloons did their part, contributing both kegs and bottles, the latter being used to quench the thirst of the tired firefighters.
The beer brigade was successful, and within an hour, the fire was contained.