December 27, 2005
Nevada's Online State News Journal
[From Thompson & West's History of Nevada 1881, With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches Of Its Prominent Men And Pioneers, pp. 55-61]
1859—GOLD HILL DISCOVERED. 55
1859—GOLD HILL DISCOVERED.
The Comstock Lode Discovered, June, '59—An Article of Agreement—Sierra Nevada Mine Located—First Notice—Gould & Curry Located—Bill of Sale—California Mine—Union Consolidated Mine—Names of First Locators on the Comstock—Virginia City Laid off in Lots—Carson Valley Quartz—Rich Discovery—The First Quartz Mill—Silver Found in the Comstock Ores—Rush from California.
As before stated, the miners all rendezvoused at Johntown, when the winter frost of 1858 rendered further placer mining impossible around Mount Davidson (at that time known as Sun Peak), but in January, 1859, there came a thaw, that started water in the gulches, and parties went to the head of Gold Cañon prospecting, on the twenty-eighth of that month. Arriving at the point they had started for, at a rocky knoll on the west side, near the head of the Cañon at the north end of what now is the town of Gold Hill, they tried for gold and found it. John Bishop, one of the party, gives the following account of the discovery:—
*Where Gold Hill now stands, I had noticed indications of a ledge, and had got a little color. I spoke to " Old Virginia " about it, and he remembered the locality, for he said he had often seen the place when hunting deer and antelope. He also said he had seen any quantity of quartz there, so he joined our party, and Comstock also followed along. When we got to the ground, I took a pan and filled it with dirt with my foot, for I had no shovel or spade. The others did the same thing, though I believe that some of them had shovels. I noticed some willows growing on the hill-side, and started for them with my pan. The place looked like an Indian spring, which it proved to be.
I began washing my pan. When I had finished I found that I had in it about fifteen cents. None of the others had less than eight cents, and none -more than fifteen. It was very fine gold ; just as fine as flour. Old Virginia decided that it was a good place to locate and work.
The next difficulty was to obtain water. We followed the cañon along for some distance, and found what appeared to be the same formation all the way along. Presently Old Virginia, and another man who had been rambling away, came back and said they found any amount of water which could be brought right there to the ground.
I and my partner, meantime, had a talk together, and had decided to put the others of the party right in the middle of the good ground.
After Old Virginia got back we told him this, but were not understood, as he said if we had decided to " hog" it we could do so, and he would look around further ; but he remained, and when the ground was measured off took his share with the rest.
After we had measured the ground, we had a consultation as to what name was to be given the place. It was decidedly not Gold Cañon, for it was a little hill ; so we concluded to call it Gold Hill. That is how the place came by its present name.
At first the new find was looked upon with favor only by the owners ; but when the pay dirt became richer and richer, as the miners worked in the decomposed quartz towards the covered up ledge, and
*See " Big Bonanza," by Dan De Quille, page 42 and 43.
56 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
the yield increased from five dollars per day, to twenty per man, the Johntown unbelievers became excited, and moved en masse to the new locality. At first they camped under trees, then erected temporary huts, or shanties, that gave way eventually to log houses. In this way was started the town of Gold Hill, that is built over that portion of the Comstock Lode, known as the Belcher, Crown Point, Yellow Jacket, Imperial, Empire, Kentuck, and numerous other mines that have since yielded to the world the value of a nation's ransom in gold and silver.
THE LODE DISCOVERED JUNE 12 OR 13, 1859.
On the north and south sides of Mount Davidson a wash comes down from the west that, reaching the mountain's base, passes out through the foothills eastward to the valley by the Carson River. Both of these washes have cut their way through and over the Comstock Lode, and the waters that made them picked up the gold freed by the decomposing quartz ledge and deposited it all along the way as far as the valley below. These washes, after they leave the mountain and quartz ledge, cut deep into the hills, and are called cañons; the one to the south being known as Gold Cañon, the other just north of it, over the ridge, the Six-mile Cañon. The miners who had since 1850 been gradually approaching Mount Davidson, as the diminished supply of pay-dirt in Gold Cañon forced them to seek new ground further up, were consequently, without knowing it, nearing the quartz vein from which it all came. When some passed to the north, over the ridge, and commenced working in Six-mile Cañon towards the main mountain, they were gathering gold distributed from the same general fountain of the royal metals, and were unconsciously trailing from another point to the same great treasure-house that nature had secreted.
Emanuel Penrod, of Elko, under date of October, 1880, gives the following account of the discovery of the Comstock Lode, and other incidents of early history:-
I left Illinois in 1852, bound for California, and stopping, mined with success for one month at Gold Cañon, and in November continued my journey to the Pacific Coast. In November, 1853, I went back to that cañon, where I mined until June, 1854. I then visited Illinois, and returned again in 1856 with my family, and have resided in this State since, following in summer the occupation of farming, and that of mining in the winter.
I was on the jury when William Thorrington (Lucky Bill) was hung. It was not, as "Dan De Quille" has it, by a Vigilance Committee, but by a peoples' court. A Vigilance Committee was organized afterwards. * * * I was in Gold Hill when Peter O'Riley and Patrick McLaughlin were prospecting at what is now the Ophir mine. They had just found a good prospect of gold when Comstock, came to them, and said, "You have struck it, boys." He then told them that Old Virginia, James Finney, Jo Curby, James White and William Hart claimed this ground, and that they, O'Riley and McLaughlin, had better buy it or the old claimants would drive them off. O'Riley and McLaughlin sent for me, and wanted me to buy the old claimants out, as Comstock and myself owned nine shares out of ten of the spring that furnished water for working the mine; Comstock was to buy the other share, and we four were to be equal owners in the claim. We thought it was only a continuation of the placers that had been worked lower down on the flat, where the Ophir hoisting works now stand. I got a bill of sale from Finney, White and Curby for the whole of the ground. Hart had left the camp. I paid fifty dollars for it, I think, and Comstock gave an old blind horse for the share of water. There were about six inches of pay-dirt after stripping off about three feet of surface. This streak, or stratum, of pay increased in thickness as we worked up hill. We found the gravel all decomposed quartz, some of it black as soot. When it became known that we had good pay—for we were taking out $300 a day to the rocker, and were running three of them—Joseph D. Winters found we had not Hart's signature to the bill of sale. He, Winters, found Hart and got a bill of sale of his interest, and to save trouble we took Winters in as a full partner. About this time, June 12 or 13, 1859, our pay-streak turned down into a lead about four feet wide. I contended it was a quartz lead, and the rest of the boys laughed at me. Comstock finally sided in with me, and we measured off our claim-1,500 foot as the law allowed-300 feet to the man, and 300 for the discoverer. This was a day or two before Winters came in. After Winters came into the company we took in a man by the name of Orsburn, in consideration of his building and stocking two arastras, making six men in the company. After it was known to be a lead, our company gave Comstock and myself 100 feet of it, joining our work on the north, for staking off the claim, and saving it to the company. This 100 feet was the original "Mexican."
In a short time the news reached California of the richness of this mine, and then followed a great rush of excited people. Threats were made to cut down claims to two hundred feet, so we each six of our company selected his man, and deeded off fifty feet each, making 300 feet in all. This 300 feet came off the north end of the Ophir. This was afterwards called the Atchison. Some of the company, I believe, got their part of this 300 feet back. I, from the first, considered it a bona fide sale, and still do. A majority of our company soon sold their interest in the Ophir, when the buyers proposed to build a $200,000 mill and to keep from being froze out, I sold my one-sixth for $5,500 to James Walsh. I sold my fifty feet in the Mexican to Meldonado for $3,000. Of the six original locators, or company, Comstock died in Montana, O'Riley was taken to Stockton, McLaughlin, I heard, died in Southern California, Orsburn went to the States I believe, Jo. D. Winters was in California when last I heard from him, and all except Orsburn I believe quite poor.
After many ups and downs I am located in Elko County, and propose to camp.
In 1858 I, with others, mined in a little gulch we called Cedar Ravine, just below where Virginia City stands, then from the head of the ravine working the flat where the Ophir Hoisting Works now are, and to within three or four rods of the lead, where there was so much clay it could not be worked. O'Riley and McLaughlin were running a cut in this clay in June, 1859, when they struck the croppings of the lead broken over and covered three feet deep.
Later Mr. Penrod, in answer to a letter in which
1859—GOLD HILL DISCOVERED. 57
his attention was called to an incident mentioned by Dan De Quille in " Big Bonanza" regarding the Comstock Lode discovery, wrote as follows:
On page 52 of the " Big Bonanza," Dan De Quille says: " Comstock next demanded that 100 feet of the ground on the lead should be segregated and given to Penrod and himself for the right to the water they were using," which is incorrect. The 100 feet of ground referred to, afterwards called the Mexican, was given Comstock and myself, as I wrote in my first letter, as follows: About a week after we four, i. e., O'Riley, McLaughlin, Comstock, and myself, were all in company and working, following the pay up the hill, i. e., the croppings of the lead, broken over when it turned to go down. I was the first to claim that it was a quartz lead; the rest of the company laughed at me and said it was only a crevice washed out by a current of water.
I said it would do no harm to locate it for a quartz lead, and did so. I wrote out the notice claiming 300 feet to the man and 300 feet for discovery, four men, 1,500 feet in the claim, as was the law, and signed the four names to it. Comstock then sided in with me and helped measure off the ground. O'Riley and McLaughlin laughed at us all the time. In a few days it was proven to be a lead, and all the country taken up.
In consideration of the location in time, and putting their names in the location, O'Riley and McLaughlin gave us the 100 feet, to take it at any place we wished. We took it on the north from the discovery. Comstock and I owned the water that supplied the mines. We then gave it to the company.
The following copy of a contract entered into within less than ten days after the location of the Comstock Lode as a quartz vein, will throw some light upon the condition of affairs at that time:
NOTICE OF AN ARTICLE OF AGREEMENT.
This indenture, made and entered into this twenty-second of June, 1859, between Emanuel Penrod, Henry Comstock, Peter O'Riley, Pat. McLaughlin, of the first part, and J. A. Orsburn, J. D. Winters, Jr., of the second part, witnesseth. That the first party above named do agree to sell and convey to the second party (J. A. Orsburn and J. D. Winters, Jr.) two-sixths of fourteen hundred (1400) feet, of a certain quartz and surface claim lying and being located on Pleasant Hill, Utah Territory, for and in the following considerations to wit: The said second party (J. A. Orsburn and J. D. Winters, Jr.) do agree to build two arastras and furnish stock to run the same, worth the sum of $75 each, and the number of horses or mules are to be two. It is further agreed by the parties that after the completion of the first arastra, the proceeds from the vein and claim shall be equally divided between the members of the company, after all debts settled [line worn off] copartnership. It is also agreed that the second arastra shall be built as soon as possible after the completion of the first. It is also agreed by the first party, that the second party, J. A. Orsburn and J. D. Winters, Jr., shall have an equal interest in all the water now on the claim, for the use of working said claim and arastras. It is further agreed by the members of the company that, if any member of this company propose to sell, he is to give the members of the company preference in the sale. We do further agree that if there is any surplus of water that is not used by the above claim, that it may be used by Messrs. Comstock and E. Penrod, on the _________. We do further agree that no member of this company shall sell, convey, or transact any business whatever for the company, unless he is authorized to do so by a majority of the company. In testimony whereof, we, the parties herein mentioned, do cause seal to be made.
J. A. ORSBURN,
JOSEPH D. WINTERS, JR.,
Attest, B. F. LITTLE.
Recorded this day. V. A. HOUSEWORTH, Recorder.
The following copies of mine locations and other transactions, are the first entries in Book A of mining records at Virginia City. It will be observed that the miners put upon record within ten days after the discovery, their acknowledgment that it was yet a doubtful question as to there being a quartz vein, and the credit of discovery is given to Messrs. Penrod, Comstock & Co.
SIERRA NEVADA MINE LOCATED.
We, the undersigned claimants, have this day located the supposed quartz vein, discovered by Messrs. Penrod, Comstock & Co., commencing with the second ravine north of Penrod, Comstock & Co., and running north through the hill and with the vein three thousand six hundred (3,600) feet, with all its depths, angles and spurs.
June 22, 1859. HENRY MILLER,
C. C. GATES,
J. F. STONE,
B. A. HARRISON,
E. C. ING,
T. SCHAMPS, (abandoned.)
H. M. TRAND,
H. M. TRAND,
J. STURTEVANT, (abandoned.)
F. G. MURPHY,
Recorded this day.
Fee paid $3. V. A. Houseworth, Recorder.
That we, the undersigned, do claim these springs and streams, as designated by notices and stakes. June 23, 1859. PETER O'RILEY,
Recorded this day.
Fee paid. V. A. Houseworth, Recorder.
That we, the undersigned, claim six hundred feet of this quartz vein, commencing with the south end of Finny & Co., and running south six hundred feet and two claims (or chains).
June 23, 1859. Recorded, etc.
*Names of L. C. Porter and Joseph Gifford scratched off.
58 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
GOULD AND CURRY LOCATED.
That we, the undersigned, do claim from this notice, six hundred (600) feet south, on which we claim all leads, dips, angles and spurs. Also all the placer diggings and waters on the same, with right of way to run dirt or metal to the ravine taken by us for water.
J. E. CLARK,
H. F. CLARK,
C. W. CURRY.
Recorded, May 12, 1859.
NOTICE OF BILL OF SALE.
This is to certify that I, V. A. Houseworth, have this day bargained and sold to B. F. Little, one-half of my interest in a quartz vein discovered by Penrod, Comstock & Co., situated on Pleasant Point, U. T., for the sum of one dollar to me in hand paid, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, this twenty-fifth day of June, 1859. V. A. HOUSEWORTH.
That the undersigned claim nine hundred feet (900), including quartz and surface, commencing at this notice, running north.
G. W. AURGIN & CO.
Recorded, June 27, 1859.
The three following locations embrace
THE PRESENT CALIFORNIA MINE.
That we, the undersigned, do claim one claim of this quartz vein of one hundred and fifty feet (150), commencing with Messrs. Panrode & Co.'s claims on the south end, and running south one hundred and fifty feet, and one claim. JOHN BISHOP.
Recorded June 22, 1859.
That the undersigned claim one claim of one hundred and fifty feet of this quartz vein, commencing with the south end of Jno. Bishop's claim, and running south one hundred and fifty feet, and one claim.
Recorded, June 22, 1859. H. B. CAMP.
That I, the undersigned, claim one claim of one hundred and fifty feet of the quartz vein, commencing with the south end of H. B. Camps' claim, and running south one hundred and fifty feet, and one claim.
Recorded, June 22, 1859.
UNION CONSOLIDATED MINE.
That we, the undersigned, claim this spring for mining purposes, and also six hundred feet of this quartz vein, commencing at the Comstock & Co. vein and running northward.
June 10, 1859. — COOK.
NAMES OF LOCATORS ON THE COMSTOCK, ACCORDING TO
RECORD BOOK A, UP TO SEPTEMBER 1, 1859.
Thos. Winters, M. L. Powell,
James Webber, F. Leary,
John S. Butler, W. P. Morrison,
G. F. Rogers, P. T. Really,
John Bishop, H. Johnson,
H. B. Camp, John Havens,
A. G. Hamack, A. Thornton,
A. White, John Correr,
Joseph Curly, W. B. Boyden,
W. Henderson, A. Lovewell,
James Finey, E. Scott,
John Berry, Melville Atwood,
L. C. Savage, A. Delano,
A. O. Savage, W. K. Spencer,
W. Sturtevant, A. H. Walsh,
C. Chase, Richard Tibbals,
R. Crall, Jos. Woodworth,
B. Abernather, A. E. Head,
L. S. Bowers, W. P. Morrison,
Jno. Murphy, M. S. Powers,
James Lee, W. W. Caperton,
James Buchanan, Joseph Webb,
Abe Field, A. Richard,
A. Cower, R. Wilkins,
Ephraim G. Scott, W. Gill,
W. W. Capen, I. I. Collin,
F. McNeil, G. Wilson,
Geo. C. Rosenbaker, Nick Mellon,
John Carter, D. H. Rule,
A. Bell, Fred Miller,
S. P. Randall, Edward Connor,
M. Guinness, T. J. Atchison,
S. Stogie, H. Jacobs,
G. A. McBride, D. F. McNiel,
J. McConnell, John Blackburn,
T. A. Reid, Geo. Stead,
L. S. Pickering, Thomas Stead,
H. Bacon, Arthur E. McHugh,
E. T. Martin, John Braclim,
A. R. Jenkins, S. P. Lord,
S. S. Penry, John Vignot,
J. S. Crenshaw, Stephen Wood,
Chas. Whitehead, John Black,
David Ebaugh, D. E. Rice,
Ellen Cowan, J. W. Rice,
Benj. Cahoon, I. W. Rice,
J. E. Squires I. Green,
Edw. C. Morse, John Carter.
M. Benham, L. Green,
N. Pearman, Ed. R. Bucklin,
W. Ross, T. P. Mallone,
D. R. Loyd, Nelson Brobrant,
Hiram Eckert, Michael Daley,
P. C. Van Horn, Michael Cloona,
Alex. Gilmore, G. S. Fisher,
John Lowe, G. H. Ingersoll,
Jos. H. Gardiner, G. Kenny,
A. B. Cole, F. Eaton,
Robert Johnson, John Becker,
S. M. Beard, M. B. Thompson,
William Justice, D. S. Blanding,
I. W. Hastings, G. A. Whitney,
G. W. Heperly J. Spitzer,
A. D. Allen, Wm. Vaughn.
This list of names is not complete, owing to the fact that the book is badly worn, and many names are so poorly written that they cannot be deciphered.
In his "Big Bonanza," Dan De Quille, in reverting to this subject, artistically sketches the following outline picture:
V. A. Houseworth, the "village blacksmith," was the first Recorder at Gold Hill, and the book of rec-
1859—GOLD HILL DISCOVERED. 59
ords was kept at a saloon, where it lay upon a shelf behind the bar.
The "boys" were in the habit of taking it from behind the bar whenever they desired to consult it, and if they thought a location made by them was not advantageously bounded they altered the course of their lines, and fixed the whole thing up in good shape, in accordance with the latest developments.
When the book was not wanted for this use, those lounging about the saloon were in the habit of snatching it up, and " batting" each other over the head with it.
The old book is now in the office of the County Recorder, at Virginia City, and is beginning to be regarded as quite a curiosity. It shows altered dates, places where leaves have been torn out, and much other rough usage.
The majority of the notices of location recorded by the early miners are very vague. The first notice recorded in the book is one of the location of a spring of water by Peter O'Riley and Patrick McLaughlin. It reads : " We, the undersigned, claim this spring and stream for mining purposes." Nothing is said about where the spring is located. For aught the person reading the record can discover, it may be in California or Oregon.
In the book are scores of locations made and recorded in the same loose manner. Many of the recorded notices read: " We, the undersigned, claim 2,000 feet on this quartz lead, ledge, lode or vein, beginning at this stake and running north." Not a word is said about where the stake is to be found. No wonder that the lawyers drove a thriving trade in the early days of Washoe.
During the progress of a mining suit in the early days, the lawyers quarrelled for nearly two days about a certain stump from which the parties to the suit desired to begin the measurement of their claim. They produced witnesses who said they could identify the stump. The next morning the Court adjourned, and the jury and all concerned went out to take a look at the landmark in question. No stump could be found. The parties of the opposite side had dug it up the night before and packed it away. Not even the spot where it was supposed to have stood could be found, so completely had the ground been leveled in all directions.
I give the following verbatim copy of the original location notice of the Yellow Jacket mine—a mine that has yielded many millions of dollars—as it stands on the old Gold Hill records:
That we, the undersigned, claim twelve hundred (1,200) feet of this Quartz Vain, including all of its depths and spurs, commencing at Houseworth claim, and running north, including twenty-five feet of surface on each Side of the vain. This Vain is known as the Yellow Jacket Vain. Taken up on May 1, 1859 —recorded June 27, 1859. H. B. CAMP,
J. F. ROGERS.
The claim was called the Yellow Jacket, because of the fact of the locators finding a nest of yellow-jackets in the surface rock while they were digging about for the purpose of prospecting the vein. Future developments proved this claim to be on the Comstock Lode.
What the locators meant by " depths " in their notice, was dips; no matter in what direction the " vain " might dip, they desired to put on record their right to follow it.
Many notices read, "The vein with all of its dips, spurs, angles, and variations." The word " variations " was presumed to capture everything in the vicinity.
JUST BEFORE THE RUSH FROM CALIFORNIA.
It will be learned by reference to the history of Ormsby County, in this work, that Abraham Curry had, in September, 1858, laid out the village site where now is located the State Capitol; that his partners in the enterprise were B. F. Green, F. M. Proctor, and J. J. Musser, and that Jerry Long of Dayton, was the party employed to do the surveying. The valley population had been gradually increasing all along the eastern base of the Sierra, from Honey Lake to Carson Cañon, and in response to the exciting news of rich gold discoveries around Sun Peak (Mount Davidson), many of them hastened to locate in that vicinity. It this way, the place that a few weeks before had been a monotonously quiet one, where a few men eked out a tame existence, was suddenly populated with an excited, vigorous, energetically enthusiastic throng, that houseless camped at night on the ground, and through the day rushed about the vicinity over the hills and country, hoping that chance would make them equally as fortunate as the original discoverers were deemed to be.
Dr. O. H. Pierson in August, 1870, writes the following to the Carson Tribune :-
I visited the spot then vacant, known as Virginia, and found not a house, but two tents on the ground, one owned by * * * John L. Blackburn, who died by the assassin's knife in the Old St. Nicholas Hotel, at Carson, and the other kept by a person whose name is now forgotten. I saw the mine, and formed the acquaintance of Mr. Comstock, the man whose name is perpetuated wherever the mines are known, throughout the world ; and Old Gentleman Virginia, whose name lives in tie mineral lots, and for whom the city is named ; Joe Woodworth, Judge Walsh, and Pat McLaughlin. * * * On that day in June, the writer saw $1,900 in black gold, value, $11 to the ounce, washed out of the surface ground of the Ophir. * * * * Although not thinking extravagantly of the place, Comstock gave me the land, and I laid of the then unknown city in lots ; yet in coming to Carson and meeting an old friend, Major Ormsby, for whom I had done business in Sacramento City ten years previous, just after arriving over the plains in 1849, he induced me to become a resident of what I supposed must be the main and greatest city ; offered me a lot on the corner of what is now Carson and First Streets, where I at once commenced the erection of the rude hut which afterwards, from the rapid influx of people from California, attracted by the notoriety given of the silver mines, became an actual necessity, the " St. Nicholas Hotel."
The following extract from the Semi-Weekly Observer, of Placerville, dated July 2, 1859, is the earliest notice of the gold quartz ledge discovery that we have been able to find in any Californian newspaper. Wm. Frank Stewart, who is now called Professor, was editor of the Observer at the time, and to him has
60 HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA.
erroneously been given the credit of having first discovered that the Comstock Ledge carried silver :-
CARSON VALLEY QUARTZ.—We saw a specimen of the Carson Valley gold quartz yesterday. The rock is very different in appearance to the quartz in this vicinity. It has a bluish, cast, and looks more like common blue limestone than anything else. The sample which we examined was full of gold, however, and if the lode is as extensive as has been represented, the owners have doubtless found a good thing.
It was the following September 28th, before the existence of silver in the Comstock Lode was hinted at in that paper, and Mr. Stewart had ceased to be its editor the previous August 3. The item then crept into the Observer, as an extract from the Territorial Enterprise.
This first notice was followed by others calculated to create an excitement over the mountains, of which the following are samples. They are also taken from the Observer of July 6, 1859:—
J. S. Child, of the Walker River Express, returned to this city on Monday last. The news which he furnishes in relation to the new diggings at Gold Cañon is most encouraging, and eminently calculated to produce an excitement. It will be remembered that we have before had occasion to mention the probable richness of these diggings. Our correspondents have constantly and uniformly predicted that when the mines were properly prospected they would prove surprisingly rich, and it appears they were not mistaken. Child states that the new diggings are apparently in the debris of an old quartz lode, which is so effectually decomposed that the quartz is rotten, and crumbles like pipe-clay. Several of the claims which are now being worked in this old lode are yielding from fifty dollars to five hundred dollars per day to the hand. The best part of the matter is, that the vein has been traced a considerable distance, and there is good reason for believing that the diggings are extensive as well as marvelously rich.
Some idea may be formed of the richness of these mines by the following:
Comstock & Co. are working two common gold rockers, and are averaging $500 per day with each rocker.
Bishop & Co. have struck dirt in their claim which will pay forty dollars per day to the hand, but unfortunately they have now no water to work with.
The California Company, a party of miners who recently left Placerville, have a claim which averages $250 per day to the band with a rocker.
W. Knight & Co. are crushing the hardest of the quartz with arastras. At present they are running two, which yield an average of $400 per day each.
At Walker River the miners are all doing well, the only drawback to their prosperity being a scarcity of provisions. It is strange that our business men do not keep them better supplied.
And again from the same paper of the ensuing August 13th :—
MORE G0LD.-The excitement about the Washoe and Gold Hill mines continues unabated. Comstock & Co., at the latter place, are literally digging gold by the panful. Another company known as the California Company, have an extremely rich claim at the same place. It is stated that this claim yields as high as $300 per day with a rocker.
Gold has also been found in considerable quantities in Honey Lake Valley, and there is every reason to believe that the eastern slope of the Sierra shortly rival the golden foot-hills of the West.
THE FIRST QUARTZ MILL.
The news of the valuable discovery of gold-fields in western Utah spread rapidly, and reaching California, Hugh Logan and John P. Holmes came over from Nevada County, in that State, to see what foundation existed for the rumors. Becoming satisfied that a mine had been discovered, these gentlemen purchased an interest in the Gold Hill location, south of the divide, on the thirteenth of July, just one month after Penrod had written out the first notice claiming the Ophir property as a quartz ledge.
Mr. Logan immediately started for Sacramento, where he purchased of the Union Foundry, a small mill, with mortar, and four stamps of 400 pounds each, with a horse-power to run it. In three days it was ready, and shipped on wagons drawn by twelve yoke of oxen and eight horses, under charge of John Black. The machinery arrived at Gold Hill the last of August; but as the water had all dried up at that place it was taken to the Carson River, at the mouth of the cañon where Dayton now is. The battery blocks and posts for it were cut just over the ridge east of Gold Hill. Early in October the mill was started by horse-power, and continued to crush quartz until closed down by the winter storms, because there was no lumber in the country to cover it.
Castings for a water-wheel, to run the machinery had been ordered from California, but coming too late were snowed in on the mountains and did not arrive until the next summer.
This was the first quartz mill put up or running between the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains, and consisted of a four-stamp battery with blanket sluices.
SILVER FOUND IN THE COMSTOCK ORES CAUSES A RUSH
None of the parties having an interest in the lode knew of its containing anything of value except gold until sometime in July, the knowledge being finally obtained in the following manner:—
A rancher named W. P. Morrison, living on the Truckee Meadows, visited the new discovery and carried away through curiosity some of the sulphurets that having bothered the miners in washing for gold they had thrown away as worthless material. Morrison's former residence had been Nevada City, California, and in response to a business call he went directly to that place, where in company with J. F. Stone, he visited the Journal office on the twenty-fourth of June, giving an account of where it had
EFFORTS AT GOVERNMENT. 61
been obtained. It all resulted in turning the sample over to an assayer, named J. J. Ott, for a test, who demonstrated that it contained $1,595 in gold and $3,196 in silver, making a total value of $4,791 per ton. Another test was made with similar results by an assayer named Melville Atwood, in Grass Valley, California, and there could be no longer a doubt as to the value of the material that was being cursed as an obstruction and cast away as worthless by the Utah miners. As to the immediate result upon the imagination and consequent influence upon the actions of those making the discovery, Dan De Quille writes:
The excitement by no means abated when they were informed by Mr. Morrison that there were tons and tons of the same stuff in sight in the opening that the Ophir Company had already made in the lead. It was agreed among the few who knew the result of the assay that the matter should for the time being be kept a profound secret; meantime they would arrange to cross the Sierra and secure as much ground as possible on the line of the newly discovered silver lode.
But each man had intimate friends in whom he had the utmost confidence in every respect, and these bosom friends soon knew that a silver mine of wonderful richness had been discovered over in the Washoe country. These again had their friends, and although the result of the assay made by Mr. Atwood was not ascertained until late at night, by nine o'clock the next morning half the town of Grass Valley knew the wonderful news.
Judge Walsh and Joe Woodworth packed a mule with provisions, and mounting horses were off for the eastern slope of the Sierra at a very early hour in the morning. This was soon known, and the news of the discovery and their departure ran like wildfire through Nevada County. In a few days hundreds of miners had left their diggings in California and were flocking over the mountains on horseback, on foot, with teams, and in any way that offered. Many men packed donkeys with tools and provisions and going on foot themselves trudged ever the Sierra at the best speed they were able to make.
When news began to be received in various parts of California from the first parties of these adventurers upon their arrival in Washoe, their reports were confirmatory of all that had before been said and imagined of the new mines, and an almost unparalleled excitement followed. Miners, business men and capitalists flocked to the wonderful land of silver that had been found in the wilderness of Washoe, beyond the snowy peaks of the Sierra.
The few hardy, first prospectors soon counted their neighbors by thousands, and found eager and excited new-comers jostling them on every band, planting stakes under their very noses, and running lines round or through their brush shanties as regardless of their presence as though they were Pah-Utes. The handful of old settlers found themselves strangers almost in a single day in their own land and their own dwellings.
There were numerous sales of mining claims almost daily, at what then were thought high prices, and the hundreds who were unprovided with money with which to purchase mining ground, swarmed the hills in search of ledges that were still undiscovered and unclaimed. The whole country was supposed to be full of silver lodes as rich as the Comstock, and the man who was so fortunate as to find a large, unoccupied vein, containing rock of a color similar to that of the Ophir, considered his fortune made.
Many who came from California knew nothing of, and cared less, for any mine except placers, and when it was found that all such had been worked before, or were already in the possession of others, they returned in the fall disgusted to the gulches they had abandoned in the rush to Washoe.
Others who deemed themselves more fortunate, having located something or purchased an interest of those who had, remained; prodigal in what means they possessed and happy in what they believed the coming summer would reveal to them, when capital should come with the spring from over the mountain for investment. They lived in tents, brush houses covered with dirt, burrowed into the rocks and tunnels by twos, half-dozen or twenty together as congeniality, interest, or necessity assorted them, and passed the most dreary, comfortless, severely cold winter ever known in Nevada, warmed by scant wood and cheered only by a golden hope in the future.
Snow commenced falling on the twenty-second of November. It continued through the day and repeated itself with slight intermission until from five to six feet of the white fleece carpeted the ground, effectually closing out for a time communication with the outside world.
Many cattle and animals of various kinds perished in the country during the winter; and though no instance was known of a white man starving, Dan De Quille affirms that the stomachs of many had frequent holidays.
Having followed in 1859 the development of mining interests in western Utah, and camped upon the " honest miner's" trail until they are securely corraled in snow, perhaps it will be safe to leave them there for awhile and return to the political history of Carson County.