Long before A.B. Perkins was recording the history of the Santa Clarita Valley, he was busy making history in the central Nevada desert.
The dawn of the 20th Century brought on one of the nation's largest mining booms with Jim Butler's discovery of silver in central Nevada at Tonopah. Soon afterward, gold discoveries followed, and the new town sites of Goldfield, Columbia, Bullfrog and Rhyolite sprung up overnight in the Nevada desert.
It was during this boom that a teen-aged Arthur Buckingham Perkins followed his brother P.V. Perkins, leaving his home in Vermont in hopes of cashing in on the incredible wealth generated by the gold discoveries out West.
Young A.B. made the rounds through the gold camps and eventually found some success in mining, although it wasn't gold. The Perkins brothers had found marble in the Nevada desert. They were very familiar with marble, as it was native to their home state of Vermont.
In 1912, P.V. Perkins formed the American Carrera Marble Co. A town site, Carrera, was laid out a vigorous stock promotion of the company was marketed to investors in Ohio. A.B. joined his brother at Carrera and took on a variety of tasks: running the newspaper and an engineering office, a boarding house for 80-plus men, and the marble company office. A.B. also found time to own and operate the Hotel Carrera.
Carrera as a town site boomed in 1915-16 with several hundred residents. Competition with marble from Vermont proved to be Carrera's downfall, and by December 1916 the town had died as quickly as it began.
A.B. did not let this time go unrewarded, as he had met a young Irish lass, Marguerite O'Brien, the daughter of the most respected mining assayer at the gold camp of Rhyolite. A.B. and Marguerite were married at Rhyolite in 1915. After the demise of Carrera, Rhyolite and the other boom towns, they arrived in Newhall in 1918.
A.B.'s father-in-law, Judge O'Brien, stayed in central Nevada, living in the former gold camp of Beatty, which remained a sleepy village. The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society's resident bard, Tom Frew IV, remembers traveling to Beatty in the 1930s with his parents to visit the O'Briens.
Much of central Nevada's geography remains almost identical today as it was when A.B. Perkins left his mark there in his youth. Only cellars and foundations remain at Carrera, while at Rhyolite some outstanding skeletons of buildings still stand in memory of its historic past.
David Desmond, of Palmdale, is a member of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.