Where The "Unspiked Rail" Bested A Future Supreme Court Justice

Allen Matkins

Allen Matkins

 George Springmeyer had a storied legal career during the early years of the twentieth century as the District Attorney for Esmeralda County, Nevada and then the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada.  His service as District Attorney from 1906 to 1910 corresponded with the boom years of Goldfield, Esmeralda's county seat.  In 1907, the county finished a beautiful stone courthouse which continues to serve as the county's courthouse.  On a recent, hiking excursion to central Nevada, I stopped by the courtroom to take a look at where George Springmeyer tried all manner of cases in what was then the largest town in the state.


Walking into the courtroom, it was easy to picture the scene a century ago when George Springmeyer won a second-degree murder conviction of man named Antonini:

"Presently they filed back into the courtroom.  The spectators seated themselves with obvious anticipation.  The judge took his place between two lamps with twisted brass columns and red shades fringed with golden beads, which lent the courtroom something of an ornate Victorian parlor."

Sally Springmeyer Zanjani, The Unspiked Rail: Memoir of a Nevada Rebel 147 (1981).  As can be seen from my photo, the brass columned lamps with gold beads still are still there (I don't know when the Bighorn Sheep's head was mounted).  The defense attorney was John Sanders, a Virginia immigrant, who would later serve for nearly two decades as a justice of Nevada's Supreme Court.

George Springmeyer acquired the "unspiked rail" sobriquet as a result of his opposition to railroad interests.  The late Ms. Zanjani is Springmeyer's daughter and the author of numerous books about Nevada's colorful past.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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