November 5, 2005

Nevada's Online State News Journal


Nevada History:



[From The History of Nevada, edited by Sam P. Davis, vol. II (1912)]



            Lander County was called into existence by an Act of legislation approved Dec. 19th, 1862. It was created by taking portions from Humboldt and Churchill counties. It is bounded by the counties of Churchill, Humboldt and Esmeralda, and when first created occupied one-third of the area of Nevada. In 1862 it was a vast unexplored region crossed by two overland routes of travel, the Humboldt Valley and Simpson routes. The mines of Pony Canyon were the first discoveries and the name of Reese River was given to the District.

            The settlement of the country began with the Reese River excitement. The overland mail route crossed the Valley of Reese River at Jacobs Station. East of the Station was a pass in the mountains through which pony-express riders often traveled as a cut-off, and it received the name of Pony Canyon. In this Canyon on May 2nd William M. Talcott discovered a vein of rich ore while hauling wood from the Canyon. The ore was sent to Virginia City for assay, and proving very rich, the news soon spread and there was the usual rush to the "new diggins." Reese River Mining District was formed on the l0th of May, 1862. The first locators were Wm. M. Talcott, Felix O'Neil, Augustus Clapp, James Farmer, G. W. Jacobs, J. R. Jacobs, A. P. Haws, Joseph Towne, Walter Cary, G. L. Turner, and T. L. Grubb. Their locations covered a total of 2,600 feet. The first was called the Pony Ledge.

            Here Austin was located and on the 2nd of Sept., 1863, the people voted to make it the County Seat of Lander. On May 5th, 1866, a strip of territory of one degree of longitude was taken. from Utah and added to Nevada. This added three square degrees of territory to Lander County. This section became known as "The Great East" and Lander afterward gave up strips of territory here and there to other counties until it became known as "The Mother of Counties." Lander was named after Gen. Frederick W. Lander, who served in the Indian war


of 1860 and was placed by the U. S. Government in charge of the construction of a wagon-road across Nevada.

            The County Commissioners held their first meeting March 3rd, 1863. The first Court House was built by J. A. McDonald and cost $8,440. The county was divided into thirteen voting precincts. The census of July, 1863, showed 1,052 men, 110 women, and "two young children." It is estimated that about 500 prospectors scattered among the hills were not enumerated in the census.

            From J. L. Madden's account of the early discoveries the following is taken :

            In December, 1862, John Frost, Felix O'Neil, J. T. Vanderbosh and Geo. Guffet arrived in Austin. They found J. Marshall and William Cole living in a cabin at Clifton, and running a tunnel on the Highland Mary, opposite the present site of the International hotel. They located the North Star, Oregon and Southern Light lodes and returned to Truckee to spend the winter. From these claims grew the Austin Manhattan Consolidated Mining Company. Jacobsville was the first county seat of Lander County, but this was only temporary, as the county seat was moved to Austin on September 2, 1863. On February 17, 1864, Austin and Upper Austin were incorporated into the city of Austin.

            The first bullion output was from Buel's five-stamp mill, which started August, 1863. In 1883 there were 29 mills in operation, with an aggregate of 444 stamps. The cost of a mill at this time was from $125,000 to $250,000, so there was considerable capital represented in mills in Lander County. Austin has a record production of $50,000,000 extracted from an area not more than 1,500 feet square, and an average depth of not more than 400 feet. The Reese River district comprises a mineral area of over 15 square miles, which has not even been scratched as regards mining.

            Prominent among the famous producers of the Lander Hill, or Austin mines, and which were not worked to exceed 500 feet in depth, are the following : The Panamint, with a record of nearly $7,000,000. The Paxton, on which less work was done, but has produced over $1,000,000. Buel and North Star produced over $2,000,000. The London, on which comparatively little work has been done, but which has a record of over $1,500,000. Independence, production over


$1,000,000. The Oregon, which has a production of over $5,000,000. The Isabelle, with a production of over $3,000,000. The Union, production $3,750,000. The Savage and Diana, production $2,000,000. Besides various others having excellent records of production.

            At one time there were 69 shafts in operation on Lander hill, each shaft being on a different vein system. So far as known there are 100 vein systems traversing the Lander hill area. The course is east and west, the dip is north, and the pay-shoots pitch to the northwest. The formation is granulit or microgranite. Nearly every known silver ore is to be found in the different vein systems. The principal pay ores, or those which have produced the greatest tonnage, are argentite, cyrargyrite, pyrargyrite, proustite, stephanites, tetrahedrite (gray copper) and chalcocite copper (silver) glance. In reference to the gray copper ore in this camp, the antimony is replaced by arsenic, and the major portion of the copper by silver, which renders it valuable silver ore.

            Lodes Are True Fissures.—The veins or lodes are true fissures varying from one to five feet in width and cross-sected by dioritic and doleritic dykes, which become considerably altered at the intersection of each vein system, that is, the diorites graduate into an altered gabbro and the dolerites into an altered andesite. These dykes cut the east and west or general vein system diagonally, and show evidences of a second fissuring, for the reason that at each and every intersection ore shoots form in them, besides, throughout, the dykes carry an appreciable amount of pay. The ore deposits form in regular shoots and rarely are lenticular shaped.

            The character of the ore is semi-silicious sulphide base below the oxidized zone; the ores in the latter zone are chlorides and chloride bromides. The zone of bonanzas is the sulphide zone, or zone of secondary enrichment. The veins are easily and cheaply mined, requiring little or no timbering, and have a dip of nearly 55 degrees, which enables the ores to be easily drawn from the chutes by gravity.

            Austin is in a high grade district. The richest ton of silver ore that any mine ever produced was extracted from the Panamint stope in the Bodie incline, and the same is being developed in the ground of the Nevada Equity Mines Company. The ton of ore was shipped to the Centennial in Philadelphia, where it was exhibited, and afterwards


was sold to a smelter in New Jersey for $22,000. The average value received in the mills of the Manhattan Silver Mining Company, whose properties now belong to the Austin Manhattan Consolidated Mines Company, for 20 years average $245.55 per ton, while the very rich ores were not milled, but shipped away for treatment. From 19,522 tons of ore extracted from the Panamint vein and milled, gave a yield of $3,729,322.13, to which may be added fully 10,000 tons worth 30 ounces aggregate per ton, but being too low grade to be milled at that period, was considered worthless and was thrown away with the waste rock. From 4,778 tons of ore mined and milled from the Ferrel vein, gave a net bullion yield of $1,147,377. From 9,410 tons of ore mined and milled from the Independence vein gave a bullion yield of $1,809,350.60.

            Again, in 1869, the government sent as United States Commissioner of Mining, Dr. Rossiter W. Raymond of New York, who is one of our foremost mining engineers of to-day, and who for six years reported yearly the operations of this district. His "Mineral Resources of the West," six volumes, 1869 to 1875, may be found at any of the large libraries. In his reports of 1870 to 1875, he says : "I examined the prospects of the Manhattan Silver Mining Company. From 5,130 tons of ore mined and milled a yield of $828,504 was obtained. From 1,137 tons of ore mined and milled from the Oregon lode there was bullion yield of $473,560, an average of $312 per ton. From the Black lode, 187 tons yielded $51,785 in bullion, or an average of $270 per ton. From the Alida lode 103 tons worked gave in bullion $20,714, an average of $200 per ton." In his report of 1870 he says : "The Reese River district produced 7,677 tons of ore averaging very nearly $297.26 per ton, and yielding a total of $2,278,749." His report of 1875 says : "From 300 tons of ore extracted from the Silver Chamber, a yield per ton was obtained of $435, or a total of $152,282. Upon the Magnolia lode, at a depth of 125 feet, the paystreak is three feet wide and averages $200 per ton, but in places the ore will work from $600 to $1,000 per ton."

            Austin is one of the oldest camps in the West. In many ways its history is like that of Eureka which is 70 miles east. Both places have held prominence as large mining centers. Present conditions in the two places are very much the same. Each place has less than 1,000


population now. Many of the good mines are closed on account of disputed ownership and trouble with railroads over ore rates. These troubles will soon be adjusted and work will continue on some of the best mines in Nevada; payrolls will begin and business activity will increase. Austin and Eureka are both built well up in the mountains, Eureka at an elevation of 7,200 feet and Austin at 7,500 feet. The mountain scenery around these two towns is very fine and has been a factor in drawing many tourists there.

            The government maintains a forest reserve in Lander County for grazing purposes. The reserve is stocked almost to the limit now. Many thousand head of sheep and cattle are kept there. Some of the largest single herds in Nevada may be found in Lander County. Wool growing is an important industry and thousands of cattle are shipped out every year.

            The meadow lands in the valleys of Eureka and Lander counties produce an abundance of hay for feeding stock. The REESE RIVER REVEILLE, published at Austin, Nevada, is one of the pioneer papers of the State. It was founded in 1863 and the first edition was printed May 16 of that year. Lester W. Haworth is the editor and manager.