Dayton is at the western end of the Twenty-Six Mile Desert at a bend in the Carson River. Immigrants stopping there for water would consider whether to follow the river south or continue west, giving the location its first name, Ponderers Rest. In 1849, Abner Blackburn, while heading for California, discovered a gold nugget in nearby Gold Creek, one of the tributaries of the Carson River.

Daughters of Charity

The Daughters of Charity, also known as the Sisters of Charity, served the mining town of Virginia City from 1864 to 1897. They present a fascinating example of how religious women and traditional religious institutions adapted to life in remote Western towns. Led by Sister Frederica, Sisters Xavier and Mary Elizabeth traveled to the Comstock in 1864 under the directive to open a school and hospital in Virginia City.

Cortez Mining District

Nine prospectors led by Andrew A. Veatch organized the Cortez mining district in 1863 after finding silver in central Nevada's Cortez Mountains. Financier George Hearst invested heavily in the district's earliest development. After initially shipping ore to Austin, the miners constructed a Washoe Process pan amalgamation mill the following year and in 1865 installed Reese River Process equipment.

Comstock Mining Folklore

Miners possess their own oral traditions, beliefs, jargon, and customs. Mineral wealth also inspired folklore outside the occupation. Legends of lost mines, for example, belong to the general population. In contrast, only miners normally shared concerns about whistling underground or harming rats in mines. While many have studied western mining folklore, little has been done in Nevada.

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.

Comstock Lode

The Comstock Lode is one of the most important mining discoveries in American history, in output and in significance. It was the first major silver discovery in United States history: of the total ore taken out from the district, best estimates are that 57 per cent was silver, yet it was a considerable gold camp, given that the remaining 42 per cent was of that metal.

Chinese and Mining

Shortly after the news of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Fort in 1849 reached South China, Chinese gold seekers flocked to the Mother Lode in California. These men eventually migrated to the area now known as western Nevada. Present-day Dayton was originally called "Chinatown" because the Chinese had settled there in the 1850s in considerable numbers.


The town of Carlin emerged soon after the Central Pacific Railroad established the eastern terminus of its Humboldt Division in 1868. Even before the town was platted, a small group of Chinese railroad workers occupied the area on what is now the western border of Elko County.


In 1856, the U.S. Army experimented with the importation of Middle-Eastern Dromedary (one hump) camels. Lt. Edward F. Beale maintained the animals could haul materials for the military in the arid West. They could carry more than horse or mules, and they had a legendary ability to survive without much water. Beale and roughly thirty camels crossed the Colorado River into present-day southern Nevada in 1857, but his experiment eventually failed, and the army sold what stock survived.

California Gold Rush

The 1848 discovery of gold in California transformed the West. Over one hundred thousand '49ers immigrated to the Pacific Coast with the Gold Rush. The adventurers became miners and entrepreneurs. Although many successfully pursued diverse opportunities in the unfolding society and economy, few acquired immense wealth.


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