"From the first nugget discovered in its heart, to the booming economy that Big Thunder Mountain ensures for the town of Thunder Mesa, we, at Big Thunder Mining Co., are forever grateful for Nature's Wonders." - H. Ravenswood, Founder
In the year 1849 settlers came to Big Thunder Mountain and found gold resulting in a man named Henry Ravenswood founding the Big Thunder Mining Co. as well as the mining town of Thunder Mesa. To improve efficiency the Company created subterranean tunnels underneath of the river surrounding the mountain in order to easily transport ore from the town and back.
For years the company prospered from the mountain's abundance in gold but also suffered from disasters allegedly caused by the Spirit of Big Thunder. In one incident, the entirety of Mine-Shaft No. 39 was destroyed in a dynamite blast with the miners inside; in another, Big Thunder's dynamite manufacturer Ignatius "Iggy" Knight was murdered by Henry who left him in a cavern filled with explosives and framed it as an accident as Iggy was pursuing Henry's daughter Mélanie who Henry was violently overprotective of.
The worst disaster occurred in the year 1860 when an earthquake hit Thunder Mesa, killing several miners inside of the mountain as well as collapsing a decent portion of the town into a canyon, killing everyone in it, including company owner Henry Ravenswood. After this incident the Company was terminated due to the lack of president, and dangers of the job.
In the 1880s, the Big Thunder Mining Company (whether it be the same company or a new company of the same name) was owned by a man named Barnabas T. Bullion. Bullion was a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers and he saw it as his destiny to acquire all of the gold from the mountain. His primary mining colonies however were the towns of Rainbow Ridge and Tumbleweed which were located at different ares of the Big Thunder Mountain Range.
Rainbow Ridge was known as "The Biggest Boom Town in the West" and had a peaking population of 2,015 residents however supernatural phenomenon caused by the Spirit of Big Thunder (typically in the form of Earthquakes and dynamite accidents) made the population decrease to 38.
As for Tumbleweed, Big Thunder's wrath caused the town to suffer from extreme droughts which bled out the town's population. Eventually this got so bad that a snake-oil salesman and conman named Comulus Isobar came to the town in order to exploit it by offering the service of his "Rain Making skills". Cumulus intended to leave town after declaring that rain would come but to Cumulus's surprise rain did come, in the form of a flash-flood. The flood ravaged Tumbleweed and made Isobar stuck in the ghost-town. Due to these conditions, the miners who worked for Big Thunder were required to stay in the Big Thunder boarding house where meals were provided daily and bathing, weekly.
To make matters worse for the miners, the Company's foreman Mr. G. Willikers had arranged the pay-rates so that he would make over half-as much of the money that all of the other staff earned while hiding the pay-rates from everyone except for the pay-masters.
Due to the increasing of disasters at mining sites, Bullion came into contact with his old associates from the S.E.A., namely Jason Chandler who ran the society. Chandler (who had already sold Barnabas a drilling-machine) furthermore connected Barnabas with Madame Zarkov at the Museum of the Weird who told him to abandon the operation altogether, something which Bullion refused to do.
In 1882, the a pay-roll delivery delivery for the Big Thunder Mining Company's workers was robbed by an outlaw named Milo "One-Eye" Jones who later took refuge in the presumably abandoned Ravenswood Manor. This was the last time Milo was seen and he was presumably killed by the spirits within the manor.
- Barnabas T. Bullion: Owner.
- G. Willikers: Foreman.
- Costas A. Lott: Manager of the BT Bullion Company Store.
- Liddy Stockley: A proprietess.
In the original backstory for Phantom Manor by Jeff Burke and Craig Fleming, the Big Thunder Mining Company was founded by Henry Ravenswood and his brother Arthur Ravenswood. Of the two, Arthur was a level-headed businessman where-as Henry was much more foolish with their hard-earned money.
In 1860, Henry and Martha Ravenswood both died leaving Arthur to run the company on his own. During this time he gained financial help from one Marie-Thérèse de Bourbon, a wealthy family-friend from San Francisco. Arthur became a sickly recluse and ultimately succumbed to illness in 1867.
Big Thunder Mountain/Discovery Bay
There was a proposed backstory for Big Thunder Mountain by Tony Baxter which would have tied into a proposed steampunk park known as Discovery Bay. As described by the Spring issue of Disney News from 1992:
"The highly imaginative tale includes the legend of a young inventor, named Jason Chandler, who lived in a town called International Village during the peak gold rush years in the Big Thunder region - circa 1849. According to the chronicles, "...the young inventor devised a drilling machine with the capability of boring into the very heart of Big Thunder Mountain. There, the veins of gold ran so deep, it was rumored they could produce a mother lode that would bring a man enough wealth to last a hundred lifetimes and more.
But a cave-in occurred on Big Thunder, burying 26 miners alive. They would have drawn their last breath then and there, had it not been for the inventor and his laughable drilling machine. He burrowed down into the Earth’s core, rescuing the miners from certain death. It should have been a moment of joy and celebration, but as the men scrambled to the arms of safety, a massive earthquake shook the ground and a cavernous maw opened up, swallowing the inventor and his machine whole.
The miners, as well as the citizens of the village, struggled day and night against the mountain, trying to dig the young man from his living tomb. But they never saw him, or another nugget of gold, again. Big Thunder had taken its vengeance not only on the miners, but on their wealth as well. The mountain had gone bust, and it became just a matter of time before only ghosts resided there."The Discovery Bay backstory would have elaborated that Jason and the miners escaped in secret with a heaping amount of gold which they used to found a scientific-outpost in California known as Discovery Bay.
In the Marvel comic series based on Big Thunder Mountain, the story of Big Thunder is set in 1878 in the settlement of Rainbow Ridge where Barnabas T. Bullion is desperately trying to keep his mines afloat. All the while he is being manipulated by his foreman George Willikers to cheapskate his employees into dangerous conditions.
Ultimately Barnabas abandons the mine at the requests of his daughter Abigail Bullion after she learned how inhumane the mines were thanks to a band of kindly outlaws including an inventor named Jason Chandler who became a love-interest of hers.
- It is possible that in the 1880s the remains of the company were absorbed by Barnabus T. Bullion to create the new Big Thunder Mining Co.
- Barnabus T. Bullion is visually based on imagineer Tony Baxter who was the mind behind both Phantom Manor and Big Thunder Mountain.Henry's quote regarding Big Thunder Mining Co.'s gratitude for nature's wonders is an allusion to the "Mine train through nature's wonderland" which pre-dated the original incarnation of Big Thunder Mountain attraction.