Golconda

Photograph courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada-Reno Library.

Golconda, most likely in the 1930s or 1940s. This small town experienced its heyday in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the discovery of rich copper deposits nearby. By the mid-twentieth century, though, this local industry had died out and the community emerged as a rest stop for passersby. Today it still serves this purpose due to its convenient location alongside Interstate 80.

Although some mining existed in the Golconda area as early as 1866, its most important years came between 1898 and 1910 when it served as a copper processing center for the Adelaide mine. In 1907, a gold discovery just two miles away contributed to its status as a mining town, although the total amount produced from this discovery was small. Golconda's heyday lasted only twelve years, but it gave birth to a ranching community and supported a number of mining operations later in the twentieth century.

Located in southeastern Humboldt County about sixteen miles east of Winnemucca, Golconda became known to westbound immigrants of the 1840s and 1850s for its hot springs, which served as watering holes and were said to contain healing properties. In 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad was completed through Golconda, and a post office was established just one year later. By then it had become an important shipping and telegraph station, as well as a resort, which attracted passengers arriving by train to enjoy the thought-to-be curative waters at the Golconda Hot Springs Ranch.

Although miners discovered a rich copper ledge nearby in 1869, the town did not flourish until 1899, when the Glasgow Western Exploration Company completed a twelve-mile, narrow-gauge railroad from a smelter at Golconda to numerous mining claims in Adelaide. The smelter would shut down just one year later, only to be remodeled and re-opened in 1907. Despite technological advances at the mill, losses continued, and operations closed down permanently in 1910. By this time, however, Golconda had grown into a small but established community of 512 citizens.

In 1907, the discovery of gold at Kramer Hill gave Golconda a temporary boost. The claims were leased out and showed promise at certain depths, but yielded gold worth only $65,000 between 1908 and 1915. The Pinson Mining Company succeeded in extracting gold from the mine in 1990 and 1991, but it has since become dormant.

Golconda survives today, if only as a sleepy shadow of its prime. John M. Gomes, whose family members were pioneers in Golconda, writes, "The town consists only of a few businesses along I-80 and many mobile and modular homes around the old town's outskirts. Its lack of prosperity stands in contrast to the mining operations that earlier thrived in the area."

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