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PLEASE NOTE: I am in the process of revamping our Virginia City pages bare with us as we continue to conduct local research and gather content in Jan/Feb 2017 thanks

Virginia City at one time was known as one of the largest and richest cities in the west coast. When you think of this city you often think of the Comstock Lode where early pioneers came here to hit it rich. Like any town of the wild west you had your shootouts, murders, gambling, brothels, saloons and ghost. The Virginia City Hub on this portion of the site is to connect our viewers with a variety of historically haunted sites that we have done research at or investigated for the paranormal.

I consider our paranormal group fortunate as we are based near Virginia City which means in the future will have the opportunity to spend allot of time here working with its ghost and its in depth history. Some say that this town is the most haunted location in NV and in all do honesty it is a world away from another world nestled in the mountains above Carson City.

The reason I put so much effort into this location is that Virginia City is a living piece of history. You can go into a saloon drink a beer and see a big old dog next to a barstool. Just as you can go into the shooting gallery or take a mine tour. Although this city is set up like a tourist attraction today it has some of the best beer in the state and many genuine ghost stories if your willing to take the time to delve into them.

If you were to walk down some of the alleys and streets it is easily noticeable that many artifacts from the 1800's are seen everywhere. It does not cost a dime to tour the city however I have to admit I enjoy visiting the shops. Many of the shop owners have given me discounts such as on a dagger or even fossils for my kid. Its a warm friendly atmosphere that my girlfriend and I enjoy.

So far I have talked to more then 100 people who have told me stories about this semi ghost town all the way from ghost to cool places that our team can check out. This is not a location that can be rushed their is a plentiful amount of history here as well as tragedy.

The Comstock Lode is home to hundreds of miles of underground tunnels some even connect to others towns hundreds of feet below Virginia City. Many of those mines suffered from floods and fires those miners took their last breaths in them. Just as thousands of them were homeless when the Fire Of 1875 burnt down most of the town. Despite the tragic occurrences this place bounced back numerous times despite its tragedies.

Despite its downfalls today one can enjoy parades, chili cook-offs, brew, gambling, hiking, museums and cakewalks. Its not uncommon to see a donkey walking down main street or someone dressed like a cowboy.

My goal with Virginia City is to investigate a large proportion of the region as I find its history fascinating and aside from the city itself I can guarantee you guys will find in other parts of the area on our site as well. This addition to our site is more of an introduction to Virginia City so that in the future our viewers can see where we are based at near and the type of paranormal investigations that we will be involved with.

In 1851 gold and silver was found in these parts which created a rush then from that point on the city grew as some of the richest mines in the country were discovered in the Comstock. Many of those mines today can be seen throughout Virginia City and some residents have debris piles in their own backyards. Virginia City was the first industrial city in the western part of the country and some say it grew to almost 30,000 people during its hay day. Some of those mines were over 3000 feet deep which in my opinion is phenomenal at that depth it would get 132 degrees and each miner had to have at least 95 lbs of ice on him to keep his body temperature down. Their was allot of miners in this boom town so some might wonder how they were fed well its simple livestock and crops grown were often imported on in from the Ranching towns of Stillwater and Dixie Valley Nevada which today are long gone.

Virginia City was also a place of hangings one such instance was of a man by the name of John Millaim who was convicted of murdering a very well known prostitute named Julia Bulette. She did not work at the brothels actually she was free lance which in turn made it all the more dangerous. Unlike your hookers of today this was a lady who was involved in 4th of July parades and even was an honorary members of the fire dept. In her short time of escorting the gentlemen of Virginia City she was found strangled 6 years later in her home. All her furs and jewels were found missing. When the day of her funeral came the entire Comstock Lode shut down with 16 carriages of the towns prominent men following the hearse to the cemetery. A year later Millan was sent to the gallows just a mile outside of town. Sadly the wives of the miners treated Millan like some hero baking him pies and bringing him wine jail. This is only one of the thousands of stories that have been passed around the city for many decades.

Mark Twain spent sometime here to worked for the newspaper also known as Samuel Clemens. Where has Twain not been serious? I grew up in Buffalo NY and even back east they had one of his homes in the historic section of the city. But again this is just another example of the rich history that surrounds this region besides presidents and other notable figures who spent time here.

Even today visitors can take a ride on the Virginia City & Truckee Railroad which today has been restored and still operates locally. I plan on taking the ride however all my photography will be in another section of the site since this train travels all the way up to California. Its an adventure in itself which deserves to be shared with our viewers as we relive history. With history comes ghost with ghost comes hauntings and with hauntings comes a new learning experience everytime. Our purpose is to educate the public and rather then me do a fancy write up below are some very great historical articles on Virginia City. I am sharing them for educational purposes only since overtime I am opening our own case files in the region which are going to be stellar and we will make believers out of some of you.

Even Abraham Lincoln rushed NV to statehood just to take advantage of the metals and wealth of the Comstock to finance the Union in the Civil War. More then a billion dollars of gold and silver were mined here. This area was so wealthy that at one time the city had its own stock exchange and some of the miners dug deeper here then most places on the planet. George Hearst made his fortune here and many politicians spent time up and around the city.

Despite that only about 1000 residents now reside here each year a few million people travel or tour Virginia City. I have seen other paranormal groups as well around the city but most of them are into the whole cash in on the ghost tours type of thing. On the other hand our group is not here to cash in on anything in Virginia City we just want to be able to apply some of our paranormal talents and share a bit of history with the locations in the region.

Strangely many of you read about its ghost but in one strange incident you can free of cost at the Delta Saloon view a cursed poker table. Just as some of the most beautiful cemeteries in the state of NV are also found here. Not to mention the fact many movies been filmed here for example in Back To The Future III, Mary, had a distant relative named Martin McFly who was stabbed with a knife in one of Virginia Cities saloons! Just as many bands started their careers here such as Janis Joplin and The Charlatans. Then you have notable people such as John Brayshaw Kaye a well known poet and politician of Virginia City and Albert Abraham Michelson who became the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1907. These are just a few facts in relation to the town.

No matter what the story is every place has a tale here and that is what makes Virginia City a top contender for uniqueness. I highly recommend that if you have not visited here its definitely worth the trip out here. I have spent a few times just hiking on foot around town to tour Pipers Opera House and the monolithic St. Mary's church just to name a couple places. The work we will do here will be ongoing so that our viewers can enjoy for years to come some really eerie ghost hunts.  Not to mention that the many shops have some really great items such as shark fossils, old fashioned fudge, candy, leather, gem stones and even mystical items. I love Virginia City and we hope that they love us for the hard work we do in the region.  

If you are located in the Virginia City area and would like our team to investigate your business contact me at AngelOfThyNight@aol.com we are also looking for members to join our team. Their are many benefits for businesses who give us permission to investigate their property. For example all our work goes up on our site therefore that draws in new business for some of the local venues in Virginia City. Bringing in tourism is the best thing for any semi ghost town more business means more restoration and it ensures that the town continues to thrive. We also our a very thorough paranormal research team using a variety of equipment and methods other groups do not use. We produce results as it is a learning experience for not just our team but for others who view our site.

Our plan is to investigate all of Virginia City and slowly we been accomplishing it because it truly is a wonderful place for historically related hauntings. Some of the places we have been to so far include the Mount Davidson and Ophir Hill, Territorial Enterprise, Chollar Mine & Mansion, Comstock Gold Mill & Savage Mansion, Old Storey County Courthouse & JailPonderosa Saloon & Belcher Mine, Comstock Lode, American Flats, VC Hebrew Cemetery, Fourth Ward Historic School, Virginia Cities China Town, John Mackay Mansion, Silver Terrace Cemeteries,  Julia Bulette Red Light Museum,  Tunnel #4 & The Virginia Truckee Railyard,  Saint Mary's Louise Hospital & Art Center, St. Mary's Church, Sugarloaf Mountain and Mill, Flowery Mountains Mining District, Washoe Club and The Union Mill & Mining Company.

  These are some just to name a few of the many haunts we have specialized in and historical projects with many more on the way.

You can also download these PDF files which contain a large in depth history of the region it well worth the read Click Here: Part 1 PDF History and
Click Here Part 2 PDF History enjoy!

Copyright By
Lord Rick aka AngelOfThyNight
Author, Talk Show Host and Producer

A History of Virginia City, Nevada
By: Visit Reno

To many of us, "The Comstock" brings immediate visions of sudden wealth, gold, silver and all that goes with becoming a man of substance. The dance halls and saloons were a welcome haven to the hardy breed of miners who labored day and night and were often discouraged. But, when they did find gold, and later, vast amounts of silver, they headed for town to tell of their successes. They shared their good fortune with the dance hall girls and courtesans who appeared almost miraculously shortly after any report of a big strike. Many fortunes were attained in one day, only to be lost that same night over a poker table. The women, who were readily available whenever lucky miners came to town, took a fair share of the wealth in return for their favors. Some of the courtesans became wealthy women as a result of being "camp followers". A favored few were the cause of many brawls and even murders because they were thought to "belong to" this man or that, usually the one who bought her favors with the most gold or silver. That was all part of the "Old West", the good old days. Yes, they were exciting, often very rewarding, but it didn't come easy to most, and not at all to some. This is the story of some of those brave souls.

In the spring of 1850, a party headed for the California Gold Fields, stopped to camp one night close to the Carson River near what is now Dayton, Nevada. Later, they named their encampment Gold Canyon. Will Prouse, one of the party, panned a little gold that night, but apparently not enough to cool his enthusiasm for his quest for riches in California. After the discovery of gold in California in '49, men hurried from all over the country to seek their fortunes in what was to be known as the Gold Rush. Will Prouse was one of them, along with John Orr and Nick Kelly, who also unearthed small amounts of gold in Gold Canyon. However, they had "gold fever" and left their camp and resumed their trek to California. Almost a decade later, in 1859, some of these same men came back over the High Sierras to get in on the newest bonanza, this time in silver.

Several years earlier, two brothers, Ethan and Hosea Grosch had uncovered a rich vein of silver on the eastern slopes of Mt. Davidson (later to be known as Sun Mountain). Both brothers died before any real mining was begun and their secret died with them. In the fall of 1859, two prospectors searching for gold uncovered the first significant deposits of silver. Peter O'Riley and Pat McLaughlin were more annoyed with it than pleased, for it was in the form of heavy blue clay, which made getting the gold separated very difficult. Some of the heavy blue stuff was still clinging to the gold that they sent to be assayed and an alert assayer in Grass Valley, California realized this was an extremely rich silver find in an unfamiliar form. Almost immediately, a blustery character named Henry Comstock appeared on the scene, stating the O'Riley and McLaughlin had jumped a claim on which he held title. Claim jumping was not taken lightly in those days, so the unfortunate two were satisfied with Comstock's agreement to let them work the claim. He was the con man of his day, and fast talked himself into being co-discoverer of many diggings in that area. That first big silver strike was called the Ophir. These men were not aware of the vast amounts of silver that would someday be brought to the surface and gave a third of it to a couple of fellows who supplied some crude equipment to separate the precious metal from the sand and dirt. The Ophir was divided into sixths with Comstock's "partner", Emanual Penrod making up the sixth person involved in the original claim. Because of his glib tongue and blustery persuasive says, Henry Comstock became co-owner of almost every mine in sight, and the whole area came to be known as the "Comstock Lode".

Almost simultaneously, James Finney (called Old Virginny) and his partners dug into a rich deposit where some years later the Gold Hill mines would be located. It is Finney who is credited with giving Virginia City her name in honor of his home state. They had it made - they lived only for the day and what it would take to buy entertainment and the good things in life. Their shortsightedness didn't bring comfort for the rest of their days. Comstock sold his sixth of the Ophir for a mere $11,000, and a few short years later ended his life with a revolver. O'Riley and McLaughlin fared little better. O'Riley, after selling his sixth for $40,000 died some time later in an insane asylum. Pat McLaughlin worked for $40.00 a month as a ranch cook and died without enough for a decent burial, and was laid to rest in a pauper's grave. His share of the Ophir was sold to a then little-known family. George Hearst paid $3,000 for it, and is rumored to have been the beginning of the fabulous Hearst fortune. James Finney is rumored to have sold his share of the Ophir for a bottle of whiskey and a blind horse, and was also buried in a pauper's grave.

Of the prospectors who was there in 1859, Sandy Bowers was the most fortunate. More conservative than his fellow miners, he didn't throw his findings away on passing fancies, but kept his small claim intact with dogged determination. He lived at a respectable boarding house run by Eilley Orrum, who also did the laundry for the more prosperous of the early miners. With her earnings from the rooms, meals and chores, she managed to buy a section of a claim right next to Bowers'. It seemed rather natural that Sandy and Eilly would get together. She was the best cook in the area, a good homemaker and knew a good catch when she saw one. They were soon married and consolidated their claims, taking $100,000 a month from them. They traveled widely, spent years in Europe and the mansion he built for Eilley between Virginia City and Lake Tahoe still stands as a monument to those splendid days.

One man's misfortune is often anothers gain, as was the case with four capable and intelligent mine operators. In the heart of the Comstock Lode two mines seemed to be played out and the owners were unloading stock on the San Francisco Stock Exchange. These four men played a cagey game and bought up the stock whenever it appeared on the market. In 1873, they sank an exploratory shaft into the Consolidated Virginia with the fervent belief there was more to be had from the claims. After several false leads, they hit a vein of unbelievable proportions, fully fifty four feet wide and undetermined height and depth. They were rich beyond their wildest dreams, and with careful management, the value of their holdings soared from $40 million to $160 million. The four men who were to go down in history as Kings of the Comstock were James Fair, James Flood, John Mackay and William S. O'Brien.

William Sharon arrived in 1864 and loaned money to mill owners on their holdings. When hard times came, Sharon and his associates controlled all of the leading mines and mills in the area. He could foresee the need for an efficient and economical means of moving the ore from nines to mills, and urged two of his associates, Darius Mills and William Ralston, to join him in building the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. The V.&T.R.R. served the miners and mill owners for over eighty years. It was both a workhorse and the conveyor of some of the most luxurious private railroad cars in the world. Sharon and his partners shared $100,000 a month from the profits of this brainchild and their other holdings.

William Wright, who took the pen name of Dan DeQuille, was the journalist of his day, and much of the credit is due to his mining reports that had worldwide circulation in the Territorial enterprise. He was quite a storyteller, and had as his apprentice, a young man named Samuel Clemens. We know him as the beloved Mark Twain. These two made their mark in the literary world, and both had their start in the "Queen of the Comstock Lode".

It wasn't only men who made their mark in the history of this area. Julia Bulette was the "talk of the town" in Virginia City. Men showered her with gifts - jewels, furs, champagne and fresh flowers, which were a tribute unheard of in the Comstock. Julia's Palace brought what little culture was to be had in those early days. Her lavish dinners featured fine wines and French cuisine. A "Madame" with a bevy of beauties on hand to entertain her gentlemen clientele, she prospered and enjoyed the favors of only the wealthiest and most charming customers. Julia's story came to a sad end when she was found strangled to death in her bed by a maid.

With the newly affluent came the desire for more cultural pastimes, and John Piper soon took his place as King of the entertainment world, bringing world famous stars of the theater and opera to Piper's Opera House. Box seats were reserved for such notables as John Mackay and Adolph Sutro on opening nights. They were entertained by Maude Adams, Edwin Booth, the Georgia Minstrels, Lillie Langtry, Adah Isaacs Menken, Madame Helen Majeska and Emma Nevada, to name just a few.

The "Queen" remains today a nostalgic reminder of what used to be, still with traces of grandeur on her weathered and wrinkled face. Although there are many charts and figures, it is estimated that from 1850 to 1920, the Comstock Lode yielded nearly a billion dollars in gold and silver, and a history that is priceless.

History of Virginia City, Nevada and the Comstock Lode

By: http://www.vcnevada.com/history.htm

Virginia City holds a special place in the history of the West and America. The first truly industrial city in the West began in the late 1850's. Gold was found at the  head of Six-Mile Canyon in 1859 by two miners named Pat McLaughlin and Peter O'Reilly. A fellow miner, Henry Comstock, stumbled upon their find and claimed it was on his property. The gullible McLaughlin and O'Reilly believed him and assured Comstock a place in history when the giant lode was named.  Following the gold up the canyon an outcropping of gold in quartz was found. Another miner, James Finney, nicknamed "Old Virginny" from his birthplace, is reported to have named the town during a drunken celebration. He dropped a bottle of whiskey on the ground and christened the newly-founded tent-and-dugout town on the slopes of Mt. Davidson "Old Virginny Town," in honor of himself.

    The biggest problem in this grubstake paradise was the sticky blue-gray mud that clung to picks and shovels. When the mud was assayed, it proved to be silver ore worth over $2,000 a ton - in 1859 dollars! Gold mixed with high quality silver ore was recovered in quantities large enough to catch the eye of President Abe Lincoln. He needed the gold and silver to keep the Union solvent during the Civil War. On October 31, 1864 Lincoln made Nevada a state although it did not contain enough people to constitutionally authorize statehood.

    The resulting boom turned Virginny Town into Virginia City, the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco; and the grubby prospectors into instant millionaires who built mansions, imported furniture and fashions from Europe and the Orient, and financed the Civil War. With the gold and silver came the building of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad,
which ran from Reno to Carson City to Virginia City and later to Minden. The investments made in mining on the Comstock in the 1860's, 1870's and 1880's fueled the building of San Francisco. Wm. Ralston and Crocker, founders of the Bank of California made their money in Virginia City. Names like Leland Stanford, George Hearst, John Mackay, Wm. Flood and many others made their fortunes in Comstock mining.

    At the peak of its glory, Virginia City was a boisterous town with something going on 24 hours a day both above and below ground for its nearly 30,000 residents. There were visiting celebrities
, Shakespeare plays, opium dens, newspapers, competing fire companies, fraternal organizations, at least five police precincts, a thriving red-light district, and the first Miner's Union in the U.S. The International Hotel was six stories high and boasted the West's first elevator, called a "rising room.

    Today, many mansions such as the Castle, the Mackay and the Savage stand as monuments to the opulence of life on the Comstock. The Virginia & Truckee Railroad runs again from Virginia City to Gold Hill. The largest federally designated Historical District in America is maintained in its original condition. "C" Street, the main business street, is lined with 1860's and 1870's buildings housing specialty shops of all kinds.

Don Bush 1992


From Wikipedia
Virginia City is one of the oldest established communities in Nevada. Folklore indicates that the town got its name from a man named James Finney who was nicknamed "Old Virginy". Finney was credited with discovering the Comstock Lode. His real name was James Fennimore, and he had fled his home state of Virginia after killing a man.

Like many cities and towns in the state, Virginia City was a miningboomtown; it appeared virtually overnight as a result of the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859.

During its peak, Virginia City had a population of over 30,000 residents and was called the richest city in America.During the 20 years following the Comstock success "about $400 million was taken out of the ground."

When the Comstock Lode ended in 1898, the city's population declined sharply. Most of the miners who came to the city were Cornish or Irish.

Mining operations were hindered due to extreme temperatures in the mines caused by natural hot springs. The miners would snowshoe to work and then descend into the high temperatures. This contributed to a low life expectancy. Adolph Sutro built the Sutro Tunnel in support of the mining operations. The tunnel drained the water to the valley below (Carson City). Conceived in 1860, it was not completed until many years later, after much of the silver had been mined. From its creation in 1859 to 1875, there were five widespread fires. The 1875 fire, dubbed the Great Fire of 1875, caused $12 million in damages

Virginia City and Mark Twain

Virginia City could be considered the "birthplace" of Mark Twain, as it was here in February 1863 that writer Samuel Clemens, then a reporter on the local Territorial Enterprise newspaper, first used his famous pen name. Virginia City historical documents state that Clemens was mugged on November 10, 1863 as he walked over the hill from the south while returning to Virginia City. The muggers relieved Clemens of his watch and his money. The robbery turns out to have been a practical joke played on Clemens by his friends, to give him material to write about. He did not appreciate the joke, but did retrieve his belongings - especially his gold watch (worth $300) and which had great sentimental value as well. Clemens mentioned the incident in his book Roughing It, (published Feb 1872) – and was still sore about it.

Comstock Lode

Above Henry Comstock

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. Certainly it is the most dramatic event in Nevada's nineteenth century history, and, without it, Nevada could not have attained statehood when it did.

The initial discovery was in 1859, and soon the "Rush to Washoe" was in full swing. For the next twenty years the Comstock was the dominating event in Nevada history, and for that matter, of considerable importance in American history. Its history can be broken down into three main periods.

1859-1865: The Years of Litigation. Miners and corporations went to court to fight over mining claim boundaries and whether the lode consisted on only one, continuous vein of ore or splintered into many veins. During this six year period, miners removed an estimated $50 million in ore from the earth, but about $10 million of that sum was spent on litigation. The leaders of the Comstock, such as William Stewart
, a politically active mining lawyer who went on to be a U.S. senator, were involved in the ensuing court battles.

1865-1875: The Bank Crowd
. Representatives of the Bank of California, based in San Francisco, achieved dominance over the Comstock. Buying on a declining market, the bank, represented by its man in Virginia City, William Sharon, gambled on the district's future and won. It lent out money at two per cent a month, undercutting smaller, less capitalized banks, and when the borrowers defaulted, it acquired mines and mills and hence controlling influence in Virginia City. The Bank Crowd also built the Virginia and Truckee Railroad from the mining area, drastically decreasing transportation costs, and practiced vertical integration, much like such eastern industrialists as steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie and oil titan John D. Rockefeller. Under Sharon's influence, the Bank Crowd took over or started land, water, and freighting companies, cutting costs and increasing profits.

1875-1881: The Bonanza Group
. Four Irishmen led by mining superintendents John Mackay and James Fair discovered by far the richest ore bodies in the Comstock in 1873. In the next few years, they imitated Sharon's policies, although Mackay managed to retain the personal popularity in Virginia City that Sharon lacked. After 1878, the bonanza discoveries rather rapidly petered out, and, although the Comstock was to produce ore until the 1940s, it was at a greatly reduced rate.

In total, we are told that from 1859 until 1882, the official amount taken out of the Comstock was $305,779,612.48. But the vast majority of the companies did not prove profitable for the owners. Stockholders received dividends of $115,871,100, but out of 103 mining companies reporting, only fourteen were responsible for this payout. Against that, 102 companies assessed $61,715,535 from shareholders, leaving a net of only $54,155,565 remaining to stockholders. Of the 103 companies, only six ever paid more dividends than they demanded in assessments, and ninety-seven never paid a dividend at all.

Against those overall statistics, the hugeness of the Big Bonanza stands out. From 1873 to 1882, two of the Bonanza Group's adjacent mines produced $105,168,859 worth of ore, of which the four owners received $74,250,000 in dividends. Simply put, only a small portion of the fabulous Virginia City mines was ever particularly profitable.

Another way individuals could become rich (or poor) from the Comstock was through the stock market, where the San Francisco exchange listed the leading stocks. The stocks, to put it mildly, were quite volatile. The Belcher mine illustrates the stock gyrations: a share of Belcher, which listed for $430 in April 1868, had soared to $1,525 in April 1872. By September 1878, the same share was a nearly worthless $2. In 1876, the Comstock's total stock valuation was worth more than the total assessed value of the City of San Francisco, which had over a quarter million people. A few years later the stock was worthless. Certainly one of the Comstock's distinguishing characteristics is that it illustrates the spottiness of the American dream and the variations between rich and poor in nineteenth-century Nevada.

The 1870 and 1880 censuses
proved similar, with the 1880 count ranking the various ethnic groups by size: Chinese, Irish, English, Welsh, Canadians, Germans, and Italians. To understand the polyglot population of the Comstock, it is necessary to separate the foreign-born into two discrete groups—the Europeans and the Chinese. Their motivations for coming to the United States were completely different, as were the opportunities and experience they confronted.

European foreign-born dominated mining employment. According to the 1880 census, of 2,770 men involved in the mining industry on the Comstock Lode, only 770 were American born. Of the 2,000 foreign born, Irish led with 816 miners, and 640 were English and Welsh. The Chinese were forbidden because of the universal racism vented toward them to work in the Comstock's mines, which meant that for Virginia City and Gold Hill
, they formed a lesser percentage of the population than was true for the rest of the state.

The mobility of the European immigrants in Nevada is astonishing. It is easy to apply eastern stereotypes of anti-immigrant attitudes to the West—stereotypes that include the existence of the Know-Nothing Party in the 1850s, signs in the popular imagination such as "No Irish Need Apply here," and the intense anti-Catholic sentiment prevalent in most areas of the United States. But in Nevada these anti-immigrant attitudes were applied mainly to the Chinese. Many of the most important Comstock leaders and politicians were European by birth. For example, Adolph Sutro
was born in Prussia, John P. Jones was born in Wales, and three of the four leaders of the Bonanza Group were born in Ireland.

Why this great mobility where from the beginning the European foreign born could reach the very top of society? From its discovery, the Comstock was an instant society with instant mobility. Thus, no encrusted old guard lived in Nevada (unless one considers Native Americans) to keep the new arrivals down. Nor was there the deep-seated resentment toward Roman Catholicism that so typified the attitudes of the dominant Protestant denominations in the East and South. Nevada, and the Comstock, from the beginning was basically an unchurched, secular society and the biggest denomination by far was the Catholic, because of the great Irish immigration.

The Comstock, in its years of growth, also had a skewed imbalance between the sexes. No state had a greater sex disparity than did Nevada at its beginnings. In 1870, for example, males outnumbered females in Nevada, 32,379 to 10,112, meaning that females numbered only 23.6 per cent of the population. Yet this underemphasizes, in many ways, the discrepancy in the proportion of the population that was male and female, because it includes children. Taking out children (4,394 males and 4,240 females) and the elderly (3,223 males and 579 females) leaves an overwhelmingly male society. Young people and older people were astonishingly underrepresented in the Nevada population. The majority of people were young, single, adult white males.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the Comstock was that it was at the forefront of technological innovation and advancement in its time. Developing the Lode represented a major achievement of applying ideas and inventions of the Industrial Revolution to the age-old practice of mining. This was necessary due to the nature of the ore deposits, buried as they were deep underground, and because Virginia City and Gold Hill were built in an arid region, far from necessary resources on the steep hillside of Mount Davidson. The ore also ran deeply underground. Consequently, grappling with these difficulties required a totally new technology. By 1880, Virginia City's mines were as deep as 2,100 feet below ground level, deeper than any mines anywhere up to that time. The soil of the area does not support itself, so in order to keep the soil from collapsing upon the miners, the brilliant concept of square-set timbering
, invented by Philipp Deidesheimer, represented a new way of thinking for shoring up the mines. This concept, unpatented, was to go all around the west. Since Virginia City was too arid to support large forest reserves, necessary wood had to be imported from the Lake Tahoe region, and hauled to the top of Spooner summit by narrow-gauge railway, allowed to float down to the intervening valley floor by J.W. Haines's invention, the V-flume, where water helped flush the timber down. Once it was on the valley floor, the wood was transferred to the Virginia and Truckee Railway, itself one of the Comstock's engineering marvels, where it was transported to supply the square set timbering. Necessary water arrived through pipe laid from the Sierra Nevada into the valleys and then up over the Virginia Range to slake the thirst of the Comstock. The Sutro Tunnel was a brilliantly conceived scheme for draining the excess water found in the mines. When it was finished, its almost four miles of tunnel linking the underground mining with the Carson River valley was an important and most impressive technological achievement.

But from the standpoint of the Comstock and of Nevada, all of this outstanding achievement was quite transitory. The governing principle of the Comstock's owners was to take the ore out as rapidly as possible, to use their financial strength to gain high political office and influence, and, when the ore was gone, to leave the scene permanently. Those leaders of the Comstock who were politically ambitious ran for the United States Senate, rather than local office. It was, after all, far easier and cheaper to bribe a limited group of legislators to gain election to the Senate than to run a statewide race before Nevada voters. Several Comstock leaders went on to the United States Senate: John Jones represented his state for thirty thoroughly undistinguished years; William Stewart, a far more controversial type, for twenty eight. William Sharon was senator for six years, although he rarely showed up for meetings, and was represented on only two per cent of roll-call votes. As historian Russell Elliott notes, Sharon's "only visits to Nevada during his incumbency in the Senate came while passing through the state on his way to or from the east." James Fair was also a U.S. Senator for six years.

And when the ore was gone, the leadership departed. Almost none of the leaders remained in Nevada—rather they took their money and headed elsewhere. After 1880, all of the state's mining centers—not only the Comstock but also Austin
, Aurora, Pioche, Eureka, and Treasure Hill—declined with only Delamar, in the southern part of the state, to take their place. With a total population of perhaps 25,000 people at its height, Storey County, which encompassed the Comstock, by 1900 had only 3,560 souls. From 1880 to 1900 the state lost a third of its people, a calamitous loss, especially considering its limited population to begin with. By 1900 Nevada had only a third as many people as the next least populated state—Wyoming. Outside resentment toward Nevada for having two United States senators was one of the factors that led even such a friendly critic as William Smythe to ask, in the Chicago Tribune in 1897, "Should Nevada Remain a State." Certainly, by 1900, the state was an economic and social wreck, destroyed by the precipitous decline of the industry that had given it sustenance to begin with.

Jerome Edwards
Last Updated: 2011-05-03 10:19:45


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