Peter O'Riley

Irish Immigrants: Nineteenth-Century

Popular imagination links the Irish with the building of America's transcontinental railroad. Irish track layers dominated the westward push in answer to their largely Chinese counterparts heading east from California. Nevertheless, most Irish in early Nevada were miners with no railroad experience. The Irish contributed to Nevada's earliest mining period.

Henry Comstock

By 1859, Henry T. "Pancake" Comstock accomplished little except that he was able to insinuate himself into one of the richest gold and silver strikes in history, giving his name to the ore deposit. Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1820, Comstock drifted as a trapper until he settled in the western Great Basin's Gold Canyon. There, he mined placer sands. People said Comstock was too lazy to bake bread, preferring the easy flapjack, hence the nickname "Pancake."

Comstock Mining District

In 1849 while passing through the Great Basin to California, Abner Blackburn discovered gold at the junction of Gold Canyon and the Carson River, a place eventually called Dayton. He continued on his way, but his find marked the area for future exploration. The next year, placer miners began working gold-bearing sands in Gold Canyon.

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