Sandy and Eilley Orrum Bowers

Sandy and Eilley Orrum Bowers rose and fell with the fortunes of their Comstock mine, becoming the focus of one of early Nevada's more poignant stories. Scottish-born Eilley Orrum Cowan was one of a few women living in the Comstock Mining District when the 1859 strike occurred.

Saloons on the Comstock

One of the first businesses to appear in a mining camp was a saloon. These institutions addressed the need of miners seeking a drink, but most saloons also offered warm, homey settings. In the early days, saloons also functioned as courtroom, church, and community center as needs arose. The Comstock saloon followed this pattern, echoed throughout in the mining West. The businesses appeared early and diversified quickly.


The Ruth mining claim, named and discovered by D. C. MacDonald in 1897, did not show much promise in the beginning. Gold and silver turned out to be sparse, and copper deposits were of low grade and unknown quantities. But all that changed when Edwin Gray and Dave Bartley optioned the claim from MacDonald and began tunneling into the mountainside. By 1902, the partners had found staggering quantities of copper ore that would lead to the establishment of the town of Ruth and a mining boom to rival the other remarkable episodes in the industry's history in Nevada.

Round Mountain

In early 1906, Louis Gordon discovered high grade gold deposits in the heart of the Toquima Mountains in Nye County. By spring, a small camp called Gordon, after its discoverer, was established. Gordon's population was more than 400 in the summer of 1906, and the town was renamed Round Mountain. This was one of the few places in Nevada where substantial hydraulic mining took place, accounting for a significant percentage of gold production through 1928.

Richard Jose

Richard Jose was born in Cornwall in 1862. After his father died in 1876, Jose came to Nevada searching for his uncle. As an adult, Jose claimed a birth date of 1869, promoting the story of a mere child traveling alone to the American West. He also changed the pronunciation of his name, and hence his ethnicity. Jose, pronounced like "Joe's" and rhyming with "rose," is Cornish. Later in life, he added an accent, as in José (pronounced hoh-zay), to affect an exotic Hispanic heritage.

Rathole Mining

Rathole, or coyote hole, mining refers to inexpensive excavations that were technologically simpler than their larger nineteenth-century industrial counterparts. Usually only a few people undertook a rathole mine, working independently of corporate ownership.

Ralph J. Roberts

Ralph Roberts is best known as the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geologist who performed extensive regional geologic mapping in northern Nevada and published research on the geologic framework of northern Nevada that led to the discovery of the Carlin trend gold-producing province.

Placer Mining

With the California Gold Rush, fortune seekers flooded into the West. Thousands scattered into every Sierra ravine looking for widely distributed gold flakes and nuggets in placer sands deposited by creeks and rivers.

Placer miners moved from one place to the next. They used inexpensive, movable wooden boxes called rockers and long toms to wash sand away from gold. The gold pan, a cliché of placer mining, had a limited capacity and was only for sampling sites during prospecting.


Pioche, the county seat of Lincoln County, is a twice-active, now-dormant mining camp near the Highland Range of eastern Nevada. Located about one hundred and seventy-five miles north of Las Vegas near the Utah border, it is one of the Silver State's more remote communities.

Philipp Deidesheimer

Philipp Deidesheimer, the Comstock inventor of the square-set timber system, made deep hardrock mining a possibility throughout the world, thereby becoming a respected mining engineer. Deidesheimer was born to Jewish parents in Darmstadt, Hesse in 1832 before German unification. He attended the prestigious Freiburg School of Mines. At nineteen, the young mining engineer traveled to the California gold fields to work for several years. Eventually, he addressed one of the Comstock's most critical needs.


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