Ronald James

Italianate Style Architecture in Nevada

The Italianate style drew its inspiration from informal Italian villas. It began in England as part of the Picturesque movement, which was a reaction to the formal classical ideals in art and architecture. In America, the style was popularized by architectural pattern books.

Italian and Swiss Immigrants: Nineteenth-Century

The 1860 federal census reveals thirteen Italians and three Swiss Italians in the part of Utah Territory that would become Nevada. All of these immigrants were men and ten were miners. It was an inauspicious beginning for an ethnic group that would eventually play a dominant role in the state.

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.

Humboldt County Courthouse

Established in 1861, Humboldt County took its name from the Humboldt River, which runs through the territory. The river itself was named after Baron Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt. Although the first county seat was located in Unionville, officials did not build a permanent courthouse until the seat of government shifted to Winnemucca in 1873.

Herman Schussler and the Comstock Water System

Hermann Schussler is famous for designing the Comstock water system, one of the most extraordinary engineering feats of the West, but his influence on the state exceeded even that astounding achievement. He was born in what is today Germany, in Rastede in 1842. Schussler attended the nearby Prussian Military Academy at Oldenburg between 1859 and 1862. In the fall of 1862, he left to study civil engineering at universities in Karlsruhe and Zurich and worked for some time as an engineer in Switzerland.

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."

Hank Monk

In 1859, noted eastern journalist Horace Greeley visited the region he promoted with the oft-quoted recommendation "Go West young man." During his travels, he came to Genoa, the period's chief settlement on the eastern slope of the Sierra. Pressed to arrive in time to give a speech in Placerville, California, across the mountains, Greeley boarded a stage and made his needs known to Hank Monk, the driver. The ensuing incident was eventually recounted throughout the nation.

Hamilton and Treasure Hill

A mineral strike in January 1867 resulted in the "White Pine Excitement" and the founding of Treasure City (originally Tesora) perched on Treasure Hill. Silver ore assayed at as much as $15,000 per ton. The astounding figure was over three times greater than some of the best ore from the Comstock Lode, which was slumping into a depression in the late 1860s. A rush to the region depleted the population in other mining towns including Virginia City and Austin.

Greek Revival Style Architecture in Nevada

In recognition of the legacy of democracy the United States inherited from the ancient world, classical architecture repeatedly became an inspiration for design in the American Republic. Architectural historians refer to one of the earliest phases of this borrowing as Greek Revival, with eighteenth-century roots and archaeological inspiration. The style was spread by carpenter's guides and pattern books, and its greatest popularity was between 1820 and 1860. Early settlers built Greek Revival houses throughout northern Nevada during the 1850s and 60s, and many survive.

George Hearst

George Hearst, born on a Missouri farm in 1820, was a shrewd investor who turned a small investment in the Comstock Lode into the foundation of an American empire. He was seeking his fortune in California when news of the 1859 Comstock Lode discoveries rippled through the western mining camps. Hearst was one of the first to cross the Sierra, hoping to purchase claims before prices inflated. He agreed to pay $3,000 to Patrick McLaughlin for his one-sixth share of a Comstock mine.


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