The Ruth mining claim, named and discovered by D. C. MacDonald in 1897, did not show much promise in the beginning. Gold and silver turned out to be sparse, and copper deposits were of low grade and unknown quantities. But all that changed when Edwin Gray and Dave Bartley optioned the claim from MacDonald and began tunneling into the mountainside. By 1902, the partners had found staggering quantities of copper ore that would lead to the establishment of the town of Ruth and a mining boom to rival the other remarkable episodes in the industry's history in Nevada.
The Gray-Bartley discovery quickly led to the formation of the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, which organized Ruth as a "company town." Great quantities of ore were mined in open pits and shipped by rail to nearby McGill for processing. By 1905, the town employed 100 workers and had a hospital and post office.
Ruth continued to prosper, and by 1920 had a population of 1,312. The town would eventually be relocated five times because of the continually expanding mining excavations, the largest of which was known as the Liberty Pit. In 1968, the company (now known as Kennecott Corporation) began reworking the Liberty Pit, which would eventually change its landscape. But prior to that date, the pit had been one mile long, more than a half-mile wide, and 900 feet deep.
Mining activity began to slow in the 1970s because of dwindling amounts of copper ore. In 2000, the population of Ruth stood at 506.