Southeast Nevada Historical Markers

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

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Map of Southeast Nevada Historical Markers

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section)
Austin | Belmont | Big Smoky Valley | Candlearia | Delamar-Widow Maker | Eureka | Hamilton | Jackrabbit | Jacobsville | Jedediah Smith | Lida | Ophir | Osceola | Silver Peak | Ward Mining District

Marker Topic: Austin
Address: Hwy 50
City: Austin
County: Lander
Marker Text: Austin, mother town of mining camps, sprang into being after William Talcott discovered silver at this spot in May 2, 1862. Talcott came from Jacobsville, a stage stop six miles to the west on the Reese River, the first Lander County seat. He was hauling wood out of Pony Canyon, directly below, when he made the strike that set off the famous “rush to Reese.” A town called Clifton flourished briefly in Pony Canyon but fast-growing Austin soon took over and became the county seat in 1863. Before the mines began to fail in the 1880s Austin was a substantial city of 10,000 people. From Austin, prospectors fanned out to open many other important mining camps.


Marker Topic: Belmont
Address: State Route 82
City: Belmont
County: Nye
Marker Text: Once visited by prehistoric man, Shoshone Indians also used this site for jackrabbit drives and for celebrations. Silver ore discoveries in 1865, the convenience of wood and water and naturally fine location resulted in the attractive, tree-shaded mining and milling center of Belmont. Once the most flourishing town in eastern Nevada, it was the county seat from 1867 to 1905. Irish-English feuds flared frequently and the German-dominated merchant section of town once flew its own flag. Silver production totaling $4 million was from unusually high-grade but shallow ores. Most mines shut down by 1890.

Big Smoky Valley

Marker Topic: Big Smoky Valley
Address: State Route 376, Carvers Rest Area
County: Nye
Marker Text: Named for its hazy distances, this valley has seen a parade of famous men and stirring events. Prior to the white man, the valley and its bordering Toiyobe and Toquima Ranges were favorite Shoshone haunts. Jedediah Smith, intrepid trapper and trailblazer, was the first white man here, crossing the valley’s southern end from the west in 1827. In 1845 came John C. Fremont, accompanied by such figures of the American West at Kit Carson and Basil LaJeunesse. In 1859 Captain James Simpson located the central route across the valley’s northern end. Thus began the historic decade 1859 to 1869, which saw Chorpenning’s Jackass Mail, the Pony Express, the Overland Telegraph and the Concord Coaches of the Overland Mail and Stage Company crossing the valley. Silver strikes in Austin (1862-1863) initiated the valley’s first mining boom. A myriad of bustling mining camps sprang up; Bunker Hill, Kingston, Geneva, Santa Fe, Ophir Canyon, Jefferson, etc. Following the 1900 Tonopah silver strike, mining surged again. During this time, two new towns, Manhattan and Round Mountain, started with a brief revival of many earlier camps.


Marker Topic: Candelaria and Metallic City
Address: U.S. Hwy 95, 14 miles south of Mina
City: Mina
County: Mineral
Marker Text: Seven miles to the west lie the ghost towns of Candelaria and Metallic City. Candelaria was presumably named after a mine of that name located in 1865, and also after the Catholic Candelmas Day. Metallic City, the “Sin City” of Candelaria, and also known as Pickhandle Gulch, lies 3/4 mile to the south of Candelaria. The name Pickhandle was derived from the most popular weapon used for settling disputes. In 1880, Candelaria was the largest town in the immediate area and boasted of having three doctors, three lawyers, two hotels, six stores and ten saloons. The leading mine, the Northern Belle, was first located in 1864 (relocated in 1870). It is reported to have produced an estimated $7 million in silver.


Marker Topic: Delamar - The Widow Maker
Address: U.S. Highway 93 and the dirt road to Delamar
City: Delamar
County: Lincoln
Marker Text: Gold was discovered here in 1889. This isolated, treeless metropolis of over 1,500 residents, had a newspaper, hospital, school, churches, saloons and a stockbroker. Entertainment included brass bands, dance orchestras and stage attractions at the Opera House.
Water came from Meadow Valley Wash, 12 miles away. All other materials were hauled through the mountains by mule team 150 miles from a railroad head at Milford, Utah. For 16 years, most of the bullion was hauled out in the same manner. The dry milling processes used prior to the introduction of wet methods created a fine silicon or "death" dust which caused the deaths of many residents and gave the town its nickname. Delamar produced $15,000,000 in gold and was Nevada's leading producer of that decade.


Marker Topic: Eureka
Address: U.S. Highway 50
City: Eureka
County: Eureka
Marker Text: "Eureka!" a miner is said to have exclaimed in September, 1864, when the discovery of rich ore was made here--and thus the town was named. Eureka soon developed the first important lead-silver deposits in the nation and during the furious boom of the 80s had 16 smelters, over 100 saloons, a population of 10,000 and a railroad, the colorful Eureka and Palisade that connected with the main line 90 miles to the north. Production began to fall off in 1883 and by 1891 the smelters closed, their sites marked by the huge slag dumps seen at both ends of Main Street.

Eureka County Courthouse

Marker Topic: Eureka County Courthouse
Address: Courthouse
City: Eureka
County: Eureka
Marker Text: Built in 1879-80, of locally fired brick and of sandstone quarried nearby, the Eureka County Courthouse remains a fine example of boom town Victorian opulence. This relic, scene of many famous trials, lives on in reflected glory of the days when Eureka was the first important lead-silver district in the United States. Production began to fall off in 1883 and by 1891 the smelters closed, their sites marked by the huge slag dumps seen at both ends of Main Street.


Marker Topic: Hamilton
Address: U.S. Highway 50, thirty-seven miles west of Ely
City: Ely
County: White Pine
Marker Text: The mines of the White Pine District were first discovered in 1865 and supported many thriving towns during the period 1868-1875. The most famous of these early towns was Hamilton; but there were others adjacent, such as Eberhardt, Treasure City and Sherman Town. These communities, now all ghost towns, lay in a cluster 11 miles south of this point. Hamilton, and its nearby cities, was established as a result of large-scale silver discoveries in 1868. Experiencing one of the most intense, but shortest lived, silver stampedes ever recorded, the years 1868-1869 saw some 10,000 people establish themselves in huts and caves on Treasure Hill at Mount Hamilton, at an elevation of from 8,000 to 10,500 feet above sea level. The city was incorporated in 1869, became the first county seat of White Pine County that same year, and was disincorporated in 1875. In this brief span of time, a full-sized town came into bloom with a main street and all the usual businesses. A fine brick courthouse was constructed in 1870. On June 27, 1873, the main portion of the town was destroyed by fire. The town never fully recovered. In 1885, another fire caused the removal of the White Pine county seat to Ely.


Marker Topic: Jackrabbit
Address: Fourteen miles north of Pioche on road one mile west of U.S. Highway 93
City: Pioche
County: Lincoln
Marker Text: Local legend attributes the discovery to the locator picking up a rock to throw at a jackrabbit and finding himself holding high grade silver. Located on the eastern slope of the Bristol Mountains, the Jack Rabbit District, named for the mine, was located in 1876 by Isaac Newton Garrison. Within months the camp, at one time named Royal City, had a store, saloon, boarding house and restaurant. Early mine production was about ten tons per day, carrying native silver in flakes, yielding about $40 per ton—sometimes as high as $2000 per ton. Total production of the District is estimated at about $2,000,000 to $6,000,000. Mine production declined during the 1880s, but when a fifteen-mile narrow gauge railroad was opened in 1891 between the Jackrabbit mine and Pioche, mineral production soon increased. After 1893 the mines fell silent except for several short periods of activity in 1906-07 and 1912-14.

Marker Topic: Jacobsville
Address: U.S. Highway 50, six miles west of Austin
City: Austin
County: Lander
Marker Text: Site of the town of Jacobsville is one-half mile north. Founded on the banks of the Reese River in 1859 by George Washington Jacobs, who was the first sheriff of Lander County, farmer and businessman. It was the overland stage and mail station and became a Pony Express stop in 1860. In the early 60s it had a population of about 400 people and boasted of the first telegraph relay station, a post office, court house, three stores and two hotels. It was the first county seat of Lander County, comprising practically all the northeastern Nevada. The county seat was moved to the more populated town of Austin the same year it was established in Jacobsville. The only remnants are a few stones used in the foundations. The Reese River, just west of here, was discovered by the exploring party of John Reese in 1854.

Jedediah Smith

Marker Topic: Jedediah Strong Smith (Explorer of the Western Wilderness)
Address: Alternate U.S. Highway 50, rest areas, four miles north of Ely
City: Ely
County: White Pine
Marker Text: In May-June, 1827, Jedediah Smith attempted to find a route from California's central valley to the Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah, and he became the first European to completely cross what is now Nevada. Because Smith's journal and map have never been found, his exact route is unknown. Based on Smith's own statements about his difficult trip, modern Nevada historians and geographers have pieced together the most plausible route. Smith crossed the Sierra Nevada at Ebbetts Pass, swung southeast along or across the headwaters and the middle reaches of Walker River, and passed into central Nevada's trackless waste south of Walker Lake. He entered Smoky Valley on its southwest side in June, 1827, and crossed the valley in a northeasterly direction. He then paralleled the future Simpson Survey, route of the Pony Express and Overland Stage, along modern U.S. Highway 50.


Marker Topic: Lida
Address: Located on State Route 266 in Lida
City: Lida
County: Esmeralda
Marker Text: Known as a contact point for Shoshone and Northern Paiute Indians, Lida Valley was the site of early prospecting in 1860s. Later prospectors organized a mining district in 1867 and laid out the town in 1872. Soon stores, shops, stables and a post office were established. Some ore was milled locally, yet high-grade ore ($500-$1,000 per ton) was treated at Austin or Belmont. After 1880 mining declined. Lida revived and thrived for three years during the Goldfield boom but declined again in 1907. Mining efforts resumed a few years later, and a small community existed here until World War I.


Marker Topic: Ophir
Address: State Route 376, thirty-five miles south of the junction with U.S. Highway 50
City: Ophir
County: Nye
Marker Text: Well up into the canyon out yonder, one can still see the massive stone foundations of a costly and splendid stamp mill, as well as the stone walls of an elegant office and mansion. Here was the scene of a once busy place, now a ghost town. Ore was discovered there in 1865 by S. Boulerond and his compatriots. In 1864, the Murphy mine was discovered and became the leading producer; a mining district was organized. During 1865, a 20-stamp mill was completed costing over $200,000. Connected with it was the first experimental Stetefeldt furnace ever built. When the Murphy mill was built, a town was started and it grew to a population of 400, but work in the mines declined in the 1870s, and Ophir became almost deserted. In the 1880s, the mines were reactivated, and Ophir had another period of prosperity. By the 1890s the town was deserted, but some mining activity at the Murphy mine continued sporadically into the 20th century. Over $2 million worth of gold and silver were mined from the Murphy vein and from surrounding properties. Iron, copper and arsenic were also found in the area. Ophir managed to have all the accouterments of a large community--school, church, various lodges and, of course, several saloons.


Marker Topic: Osceola
Address: U.S. Highways 6 and 50 at Sacramento Pass
City: Osceola
County: White Pine
Marker Text: Osceola, most famous of the White Pine County gold producers, was probably the longest-lived placer camp in Nevada. The gold-bearing quartz belt found in 1872 was 12 miles long by seven miles wide. Placer gold was found in 1877 in a deep ravine indenting the area. Miners first used the simple process of the common "49" rocker. Hydraulic monitors later were used to mine the gold from the 10 feet- to 200 feet-thick gravel beds. One gold nugget found was valued at $6,000. Osceola was a good business town because of its location near the cattle and grain ranches and gardens in the Spring and Snake Valleys. Famous district mines were: The Cumberland, Osceola, Crescent and Eagle, Verde, Stem-Winder, Guilded Age, Grandfather Snide, Red Monster and The Saturday Night. The camp produced nearly $5 million, primarily in gold, with some silver, lead and tungsten. Intermittent mining continues.

Silver Peak

Marker Topic: Silver Peak (Discovered 1863)
Address: U.S. Highway 95 at the junction with State Route 265
City: Silver Peak
County: Esmeralda
Marker Text: Silver Peak is one of the oldest mining areas in Nevada. A 10-stamp mill was built in 1865, and by 1867 a 20-stamp mill was built. Mining camp lawlessness prevailed during the late sixties, and over the next 38 years, Silver Peak had its ups and downs. In 1906, the Pittsburg Silver Peak Gold Mining Company bought a group of properties, constructed the Silver Peak Railroad and built a 100- stamp mill at Blair the following year. The town, at times, was one of the leading camps of Nevada, but by 1917 it had all but disappeared. The town burned in 1948 and little happened until the Foote Mineral Company began its extraction of lithium from under the floor of Clayton Valley.

Ward Mining District

Marker Topic: Ward Mining District
Address: U.S. Highway 93, twenty miles south of Ely
City: Ely
County: White Pine
Marker Text: To the west of you, in the foothills of the Egan Range, lie the Ward Charcoal Ovens; and five miles north from there the ghost town of Ward. The six well-preserved ovens furnished charcoal for the furnaces at Ward. Pinion pine was the raw material fed to the ovens. Each oven could produce a $600 batch of charcoal which sold for 18 cents a bushel.
A million dollars worth of silver was taken from a single chamber of the Ward mine. The boom lasted from 1872 to 1882.
Ward was a typical, lawless mining camp in its early years. Imagine, if you will, this camp of 2,000 citizens then, situated at over 8,000 feet in elevation, where winter was a time of deep snow and icy winds; where hogs ran at random on the streets; and where women were known to have roamed and begged for food. A Chinatown came into being. Killings were not infrequent, and early justice was by the vigilante committee and hanging rope.
Reform Gulch, or Frogtown, was located a mile south of the city. Here, ladies of the night set up for business in tents. One abandoned brothel was used for a school house. No movement was ever started to build a church. There has been recurrent interest in the Ward Mining District as new discoveries were found and better mining methods developed.

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