November 27, 2005
Nevada's Online State News Journal
[From J. Wells Kelly, First Directory of Nevada Territory (1862)]
HUMBOLDT COUNTY. 235
BEGINNING at the north-east corner of Storey County, and running easterly along the Immigrant Road leading to the Sink of the Humboldt, to the fortieth degree; thence, east, along said line, to the eastern boundary of the Territory; thence, north, along the eastern boundary, to the northern boundary of the Territory; thence, west, along said boundary line, to the north-eastern corner of Lake County; thence, south, along the boundary lines of Lake and Washoe counties, to the point of beginning. County-seat, UNIONVILLE.
This county, named after the principal river flowing through it, covers an area of about twenty thousand square miles, being the largest in the Territory. So far as known, it is pretty much an entire desert, scarce capable of giving support to the savage, or sustenance to the wild beast. North of the river, and between it and the Oregon line, there is said to be a better country ; both grass and water, as well as timber, being more abundant. But, as this region has been but little explored, it might be premature to claim for it any great superiority over the balance, which is known to be a hideous waste of barren
236 DIRECTORY OF NEVADA TERRITORY.
mountains and burning sands. Only for the mineral wealth it is supposed to contain, there would be but little to attract even the most adventurous into this dreary wilderness, or to render it tolerable as the abode of civilized man. That certain portions of it, at least, do contain mines rich in the precious metals, is no longer a question to be settled—it is a well ascertained fact.
As early as the fall of '59, parties who had passed down the Humboldt came to the conclusion, after having their attention awakened by the discoveries at Virginia City, that there was silver near the great bend of that river. Louis Babo, who had driven the stage on the Salt Lake route, noticed the ledges of quartz rock cropping from the side of the mountains near that point, and mentioned the circumstance to a German named Frank Johnson, who, being of an adventurous turn, made up his mind to visit the spot. Accordingly, in the month of May following, having associated with him a fellow-countryman, they set out for the Humboldt, guided by such information as had been obtained from Babo. This was about the time of the Indian fracas ; and when they reached George Dittenrider's, at the Sink of the Humboldt, hearing of the massacre at Williams' two nights before, Johnson's companion became alarmed and went back. Falling in with Babo, however, these two went on seventy miles to Lindsey's Cañon, the present site of Humboldt City, and there filled a sack with samples of rock from different ledges. Before leaving, Babo sickened, and they were detained three weeks in the cañon. On getting back to Dittenrider's, they found the buildings burnt—only the stone walls standing, as they are still to be seen, and the place deserted. Every other station along the road was abandoned, and the whole country so completely forsaken that they did not see a living creature except an aged squaw and a dog until they reached Virginia—the Indians and whites, equally terrified, having fled in opposite directions. Before leaving the talon these men took up claims; and established a district; and thus were the Humboldt mines first discovered and brought into notice.
The rock they had obtained was tested and found to be rich in both gold and silver, yet so profound was the terror inspired
HUMBOLDT COUNTY. 237
by the Indians, that no one ventured back to the Humboldt until late in the fall, when John M. Winn and A. J. Sloan, gathering up a small party, went in, and finding the prospects highly encouraging located claims and continued working them vigorously through the winter. In the spring a large immigration set in, coming mostly from Honey Lake and Plumas County; and to such an extent had the population increased, that by the middle of August, '61, when the census was taken, they numbered four hundred and sixty-nine, as appeared by the Marshal's report. Since that time further additions have been made to the population, which now count up fully eight hundred in the several mining districts, of which there are some ten or twelve already laid out. Several small towns have sprung up—Humboldt City, with a population of over two hundred, being the largest.
As yet no mills have been erected in these mines, though a multitude of water privileges have been taken up, and mill-sites located upon the numerous streams flowing down the mountains. Various parties have made arrangements for building mills as soon as the spring opens, and there is little doubt but the next season will witness a number of these in active and profitable operation. That there are many paying—not to say exceedingly rich—quartz ledges in this section, is well established ; and although its remoteness from the great points of mining supplies may somewhat retard their development, this country is as surely destined to fill up with people, and to become a great producer of the precious metals, as any other under the sun.
The following ledges are held in good estimation in the districts where they are severally located, viz.: the Huntington, Cuba, California, Johnson, Humboldt, Edward Payne, Bennett, Louisiana, Canada, Wyoming, Wabash, Tehama, Sally Wilson, Magna Charta, Bonny Louisa, Prince Royal, Accident, Seward, King, Orleans, Sheba, Franklin, Adams, Mammoth, Cosmopolitan, Blue, St. Bernard, Washington, National, Alba Nueva, Peru, Golden Eagle, Congress, Independence, Inskip, Buena Vista, Governor Downey, Winfield Scott, Morning Star, Kossuth, and Langford.
Nearly all these ledges, and many others of perhaps equal
238 DIRECTORY OF NEVADA TERRITORY.value, have been opened by means of tunnels or shafts, some of which are extensive and costly works. From several claims quantities of rich rock have been extracted, part of which has been shipped to San Francisco, and the balance retained till such time as mills can be had for reducing it. Both assays and crushings have uniformly proved this ore to be equal to that obtained anywhere in the Territory outside of the Comstock Lead.