Thursday, June 21, 2012
History: Prospectors discovered silver in Silver City in 1859. Later that year settlers created a camp in the district. Silver City never attracted the same interest from Comstock mining companies because the ore was low-grade. By 1861 the town survived as a boarding place for animals used in hauling ore wagons from Comstock mines to the mills in Carson River. Silver City also had Nevada's first iron works in the state along with 8 mills with a total of 95 stamps.
The town started to decline in 1869 but just like Dayton it has never become a true ghost town for a number of reasons. While the building of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad robbed Silver City of its freighting business, the town still had a number of important mills processing the ore. Also companies continued to mine silver in the district. In fact, the Silver City is the only Comstock town which has seen milling or mining continuously since 1860.
Crumbling building in town
Below: Abandoned car
Directions: The cemetery is located a couple of miles to the south of town. There are signs showing the route. Inquire at local businesses to get directions.
Throughout the Comstock Lode are cemeteries which hold valuable information and insights into what life was life in the 1800s. First, immigrants from overseas played a critical role in the development of the American West. Second, accidents and deaths were common at turn of the century mining camps. Many miners died horrific deaths. Third, disease was rampant in these mining camos. When I visited, the Gold Hill Cemetery was beautiful, sadly; it has been vandalized and left in a state of disrepair. There are pushes by local groups to repair the cemetery; however, people need to be respectful of our nation's heritage. The following are some of my favorite pictures I took in the Gold Hill Cemetery.
Directions: I continue my journey through the Comstock Lode with a stop at Gold Hill. Gold Hill is located 3/4 of a mile south of Virginia City in the Comstock Lode Historic District. The town is easy to get to from Highway 50.
History: In 1859 as news of the discovery spread throughout the west, large groups of settlers arrived at Gold Hill to make money. At first the new arrivals lived in temporary shelters made from canvas tents, potato sacks and blankets. It wasn't until much later that Gold Hill had permanent structures.
Gold Hill soon rivaled Virginia City because of the construction of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad as well as the opening of more mines to the south. The construction of the railroad facilitated the transport of ore to mills along the Carson River. Ore no longer traveled by wagon trains. Increased mining activity directly to the south at the Crown Point, Belcher and Yellow Jacket mines cemented Gold Hill's importance to the Comstock Lode. By 1873 Gold Hill had public and private schools, a town hall, banks, lodges and churches. These mines continued to produce until 1878 when production slowed and the town started a slow decline.
Today there is an increased push to mine in the area. In fact a strip mine is opening near Silver City, Nevada. Talking to folks in town it is widely known that there are still rich deposits left in the hills. The new mine has become a source of controversy to the area residents with some supporting it while other residents oppose strip mining. (Information from Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by Stanley Paher).
Downtown Gold Hill today
Historic structure in Gold Hill
Mining remains in Gold Hill
Mine hoist near Cabin 18; reportedly haunted
Picturesque mining structure
Mine that you can walk up to. Respect property and do not climb on anything.
Below: Ladder to nowhere
Directions: Dayton, Nevada, is located on Highway 50 about 12 miles northeast of Carson City. It close to Virginia City and Gold Hill making it possible for a day excursion to all the historic towns.
History: The discovery of gold in 1849 in Gold Canyon led to the creation of a tent trading post. For the first ten years of its existence Dayton was a struggling community known as Chinatown because of the large number of orientals in the area. Communities nearby attracted more residents for a long time.
By 1861 Chinatown, renamed Dayton, becamea milling and shipping center for the Comstock Lode. the Pony Express had a station in town and many shippers had warehouses in the area. There were at least a dozen prominent mills on the Carson River among them the Rock Point, Woodsworth and Douglass mills. At the heighth of milling in the area Dayton mills collectively had over 180 stamps to process ore.
The population dwindled in 1878 but a population managed to remain in town for a number of reasons. A decline in Comstock mining in 1878 led many residents to move to other strikes in the state. The town never attained ghost town status becuase of the Carson and Colorado Railroad which maintained Dayton as a shipping center. In 1929 a revival occurred with placer mining in 1929 formally ending in 1941. Today Dayton is a small community with historic buildings and interesting mill ruins along the Carson River.
Historians have long argued whether Dayton or Genoa, Nevada, is the first settlement in the state. What the argument centers around is whether a lose group of tents or small group of prospectors can be considered a settlement. (Information from Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by Stanley Paher)