November 26, 2005
Nevada's Online State News Journal
[From J. Wells Kelly, First Directory of Nevada Territory (1862)]
ORMSBY COUNTY. 59
BEGINNING at the north-western corner of Douglas County, and running easterly along the north boundary thereof, to a point where it crosses Eldorado Cañon; thence, down the center of said canon, to a point thereon due east of Brown and Company's dam, on Carson River ; thence, in a westerly direction, crossing Carson River at said dam ; thence, to the Half Way House, between Carson and Silver City; thence, northwesterly, to the summit of the mountains east of Washoe Lake; thence, in a westerly course along said summit, to the tops of the Sierras; thence, due west to the California line ; thence, south, along said line to the place of beginning. County-seat, CARSON CITY.
This, though one of the smallest counties in the Territory, is, nevertheless, capable of sustaining a large population, being centrally and eligibly situated, and abounding in the elements of natural wealth. The census report of eighteen hundred and sixty-one showed a population within its limits of two thousand and seventy-six, a number that has been increased by this time to at least two thousand and five hundred. The first settlement made within its borders was at the old King Ranch, which, then known as the Eagle Ranch, gave its name to the adjacent valley. A couple of houses were built about the same time on the site now occupied by Carson City. Other families located soon after at Clear Creek, Empire City, and at one or two other points in Eagle Valley, most of whom were Mormons.
Three fourths of the area of this country is covered with mountains, the Sierra Nevada occupying the western, and the Pine Nut Range the eastern portion thereof. The former is well timbered, being covered quite to the base with forests of stately pine and fir ; the latter bears no other timber than the piñon, which, though excellent for fuel, is worth little as an article of lumber. Centrally across the county, from north to south, runs Carson River, affording an unfailing supply of good water, and, an extensive propelling power, all of which has been appropriated as private property, and much of it brought
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into use. A still more extensive water-power is found in the streams coming down from the Sierra, upon which numerous mills have already been erected, and more will shortly be put up. The amount of arable land in this county is not large, being confined to Eagle Valley and a few small mountain ravines and meadows, with some narrow bottoms on Carson River. The heavy growth and superior quality of the timber, and the facility with which it can be converted into lumber, compensate in a measure for the want of farming lands—the lumber trade having already grown into a very lucrative and extensive branch of business.
Lake Bigler Lumber Company—C. R. Barrett, A. W. Pray, N. D. Winter, proprietors. This mill, now running, is furnished with a set of double circular saws, besides a muller, edging and shingle saws. It employs twelve men, and is capable of turning out twenty thousand feet of lumber in twenty-four hours, besides a large number of shingles. The company own several quarter sections of timber land adjacent to their mill, secured either by location or purchase. The trees here are large, and afford a great proportion of clear lumber, which, by its additional value, more than compensates for the remoteness of the mill from market. On Clear Creek, at a distance of from six to eight miles south-west of Carson City, are three saw mills, two of which—the Coyote, owned by Chedic & Milne, and Haskell & Co's Mill—are propelled by water ; the Clear Creek Mill, owned by Jones & Denton, being driven by steam. These mills, built at an aggregate cost of thirty-three thousand dollars, employ in various ways about one hundred hands, and are capable of cutting fifty thousand feet of lumber per day. To one of these mills a shingle machine is attached. Great numbers of shingles are also made by hand in this neighborhood, there being much timber suitable for that purpose. At the point where Clear Creek debouches upon the plains, a substantial structure has been put up, originally intended for a sash and door factory, but which has since been converted into a quartz mill. It is driven by an overshot wheel of large size, generating a power equal to thirty horse. On Mill Creek, three
ORMSBY COUNTY. 61
miles west of Carson, are two saw mills—Ashe's, driven by water, and Gregory's, by steam. The latter, built in the fall of eighteen hundred and fifty-nine, is the first steam mill of any kind ever erected in Western Utah, and was put up at a heavy cost, everything being enormously dear at that time. It is capable of cutting fifteen thousand feet of lumber per day, the other having a less capacity. Thompson & Treadwell's Steam Mill, one mile north of Gregory's, has about the same sawing capacity, besides driving a shingle and a planing machine, both of which prepare a large amount of these articles for market. These three mills employ over a hundred men, and have cost the proprietors, in the aggregate, not less than sixty thousand dollars. A large steam saw mill is about being built, the lumber and machinery being mostly upon the ground, at Empire City. The proprietors are Hobbs and Russell, who undertake the work in conjunction with the company improving the East Fork of the Carson, an enterprise already mentioned. This is to be a first-class mill, and will cost, when completed, between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars.
Besides the one on Clear Creek, there are in this county the following Quartz Mills now completed, and in operation. Childs & Hunt's, water power, on Mill Creek, two miles west of Carson City. This mill cost about six thousand dollars, runs ten stamps, and will crush from eight to ten tons of rock per day. Passing over to Carson River, on the east side of Eagle Valley, we have, first, the Silver State Mill, owned by Harrington, Atchison & Kinkead. This mill, which was built in the summer of eighteen hundred and sixty-one, is situated three miles east of Carson City, and half a mile west of Empire City. It is driven by water brought from Carson River through a ditch and flume five miles long. The ditch is ten feet wide on top, four feet on the bottom, and four and one half feet deep. This large volume of water falls upon an overshot wheel twenty-two feet in diameter, and eight feet wide, generating a power equivalent to that of a hundred horses. This ditch supplies water, also, for Mead's Mill, located a short distance below. The Silver State Mill employs nine men, contains three straight
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batteries of four stamps each, and crushes twelve tons, running day and night. Twenty-four Hungarian bowls are used for amalgamating, working for gold solely. It does custom-work, also buys rock, crushing on owners' account. Superintendent, J. M. Davis. Cost, including ditch, twenty-five thousand dollars. Mead's Mill is situated at Empire City, on the west bank of Carson River, and was built about the same time with the Silver State. It employs twelve men, has sixteen stamps, and crushes twenty tons of rock per day. The building covering machinery is forty-six by fifty-six feet. In the amalgamating department ten stone pans are used, as being more durable than iron. The cost of this mill was about twenty-five thousand dollars, including expense of bringing in water.
Two miles below Empire City, on the west bank of Carson River, is the Merrimac Mill, owned by Bryant, Ellsworth & Co. This mill is propelled by water brought from the Carson through a ditch six hundred yards long, fourteen feet wide, and four feet deep. The water has a head of twenty feet, and operating on a center discharge wheel creates an eighty horse power. The buildings are fifty-six feet by one hundred. This mill contains sixteen stamps of seven hundred and fifty pounds each, operating in four of Woodcock's straight batteries, each of which weigh two thousand five hundred and fifty-five pounds. It runs day and night, Sundays excepted, employs seventeen hands, and crushes thirty tons of rock per day. The proprietors purchase their rock, and employ the "Hatch Process," which is regarded with great favor. The machinery, which is of the most massive and perfect kind, comes from the works of H. J. Booth & Co., Marysville. The cost of this mill, including the dam, one of the most substantial on the river, is thirty thousand dollars. It was constructed by and under the supervision of Mr. Hartwell Woodcock, and is now being run under the superintendence of Mr. Ellsworth, One mile further down, on the same side of the river, is the Copper Cañon Mill—Van Vleet, Tucker, Moore, Kendrick and Clark, proprietors. It runs ten stamps, employs a like number of men, and crushes fifteen tons of rock per day. The Hatch Process is in use here, also, the Company having unbounded confidence in its efficacy for saving both gold and silver. It is believed that
ORMSBY COUNTY. 63
a saving of twenty per cent., at the lowest calculation, is effected by its employment, and that it is superior to any other mode yet devised, or at least brought into practical operation. This mill employs eight hands, cost about fifteen thousand dollars, is driven by water conducted from the river through a ditch six hundred feet long, and operating on center discharge wheel six and a half feet in diameter; building, sixty feet by forty feet. Both the building and machinery are of the best models and most substantial make, the whole being under the very efficient management of Mr. Henry Shadel. The Company are crushing their own rock, taken from the Yellow Jacket Claim, on the Gold Hill Ledge. The Vivian Mill, a short distance below the Copper Cañon, owned by Sperry & Co., has sixteen stamps, and crushes twenty-five tons per day, running night and day, Sundays excepted. It employs twelve men, and uses Wakelee's pan for amalgamating, working for both gold and silver. The company purchase rock, and also crush for customers ; power—water, taken from river through a ditch and flume four hundred and fifty feet long ; wheel, central discharge, seven and a half feet across. Their dam is of stone, and very substantial. They have water enough to carry double the number of stamps now running, and which they will ultimately employ.
One quarter of a mile below the Vivian, on the west bank of the Carson, is the mill of Stewart, Henning & Co. ; proprietors, Wm. M. Stewart, John Henning, James Morgan, and C. F. Wood. It has four straight batteries, of four stamps each, crushing thirty tons per twenty-four hours. This mill employs ten hands, uses the Wakelee pans, and the "Sage Brush" Process. It is run by water conducted from a solid stone dam, through a race fifteen feet wide, for a distance of half a mile. The wheel is of the Turbine pattern, seven feet in diameter, and weighs seven thousand pounds, being the largest in the Territory—having a head of twenty-one feet. The power is ample, with the surplus water, to drive one hundred and fifty stamps. The mill edifice, a fine, solid structure, is one hundred and sixty feet long, and sixty feet wide. A substantial stone building, thirty by forty feet, has also been erected for offices and use of hands. Taken altogether, this is one of the most complete and well constructed establishments in the country, and will have
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cost, when finished, about fifty thousand dollars. This company crush their own rock, being owners of thirty-three and one third feet in the best portion of the Gold Hill ground, besides portions of other valuable ledges.
Mines, Minerals, and Mining Operations.
Although no mines of extreme richness have yet been found in Ormsby County, both quartz ledges and placer diggings of a valuable character are met with. In the foot-hills of the Sierra, near Clear Creek, a number of ledges assaying largely in both gold and silver have been located, and expensive prospecting operations set on foot; not less than a dozen tunnels have here been commenced, some of which have already been carried in varying from fifty to five hundred feet, it being the purpose of the proprietors to extend them until the ledge is struck, which, in some instances, will require a length of tunnel from twelve hundred to sixteen hundred feet. Many shafts have also been sunk, houses for the accommodation of the workmen erected, and other expenses incurred, indicating a high degree of confidence in these ledges on the part of those engaged in opening them. Should they prove rich, as there is good reason to believe they will, their value will be enhanced by the extreme facility with which they can be worked, and the ores reduced, owing to their proximity to wood and water power. Extending from this point along the base of the mountains across the entire county, a distance of eight or ten miles, a series of quartz ledges may be traced, all more or less impregnated with the precious metals. Many of these were taken up during the fall and winter of eighteen hundred and fifty-nine, and some work done upon them, but they have never been sufficiently opened to determine their real character.
In the Sullivan District, east of Carson River, a great number of ledges were located, and considerable work done in the summer and fall of eighteen hundred and sixty, but not turning out as well as was expected, the whole, with the exception of some half dozen claims, was subsequently abandoned. Work is still being done on the Bullion, Hatfield, Phoenix, and one or two others, from which some good gold-bearing rock has been obtained. At the period mentioned over a hundred men
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were at work in this district, at present there are not more than eight or ten. Placer mines also exist in that section, which would pay fair wages with water for working them, but this being almost wholly wanting, little can be done. For a few weeks, while the water lasted, some twenty men made half an ounce a day each working surface diggings at Onion Valley, in this district. There are other points where equally good prospects can be had, but there is no water.
A variety of useful minerals and metals also exist in this county, some of them in great abundance. Iron and copper ores of good quality are found on Carson River, also to the east of it in the Sullivan District. There are extensive deposits of lime-stone at many points, one but half a mile south of Carson City. One and a half miles east of the town are Curry's sandstone quarries, unequaled for the excellence of the article and the facility with which it can be obtained. Granite and suitable earths for making brick abound everywhere, and a marble bed, yielding a very superior stone, whether for useful or ornamental purposes, is now being opened five miles northeast of the city. Chalk, gypsum, and coal indications abound, and warm springs, impregnated with various mineral substances, are met with in different parts of the county. Of these Curry's Warm Spring, near Carson City, is the most remarkable and worthy of notice, both because of the volume of water flowing from it, and its convenience to the public. At these springs, where also are his stone quarries, the enterprising proprietor has put up a fine stone hotel, one hundred feet long, thirty-two wide, and two stories high. The upper story of this spacious building was used as a ball by the Legislature during its late session. It is a substantial and costly edifice, and the first stone building of any magnitude erected in the Territory. The stone was taken from the quarry, which lies immediately adjacent to the hotel, and covers some sixty acres. It is of a soft, porous nature, working readily under the chisel when first taken out, and hardening on exposure to the air. It is, therefore, easily wrought and durable, and resists heat almost equal to fire-brick. From this point to the suburbs of Carson City, a railroad track has been laid down, over which cars run for the transportation of stone and the carriage of persons visiting
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the springs and the hotel. The spring, in its native state a deep pool, has been walled up and covered with a stone-house one hundred and sixty feet long and thirty-eight wide. The depth of water now varies from three to five feet, and being at about the temperature of the body, and very soft and limpid, affords one of the most healthful and luxurious baths in the world.
This town, the county-seat of Ormsby County, and the Capital of the Territory, is beautifully situated on the west side of Eagle Valley, in the midst of a fertile and well-watered plain, and immediately under the wooded heights of the Sierra Nevada—occupying a site with a sufficient slope to prevent overflow, and having a dry and porous soil, it is never troubled with any great excess of mud or dust. Surrounded by grand and picturesque scenery, easily approached from every quarter, by means of good natural roads and passes in the mountains; located near the geographical center of the territory, with wood, stone, and other building material convenient, it has very properly been fixed upon as the Capital, and can hardly fail to grow into a large and handsome city.
The town was founded in eighteen hundred and fifty-eight by Major Ormsby and others, who perceiving the advantages of the locality, bought the land and proceeded to lay out a city on a liberal and regular scale, the streets being sixty-six and eighty feet wide, crossing each other at right angles, and in their course conforming to the cardinal points of the compass. A plaza of four acres has been reserved in the center of the town, for a public square, and another of less magnitude set apart elsewhere for educational purposes. A school-house, theatre, and a church, have been erected, and the Capital buildings, soon to be constructed, will, no doubt, be of a character creditable to the city, and in, keeping with the dignity of a rich and growing Territory. Other public edifices will be required, and with them additional churches, academies, and other institutions of learning, and it may fairly be assumed that Carson will soon exhibit something of the air and metropolitan features of older cities.