During the late 1850s, miners began leaving California to look for riches in an isolated canyon in Nevada, which caused a reverse migration. Gold was discovered, but there was a problem – a bluish clay that stuck to the gold. Upon further exploration, there seemed to be more clay then gold. But, as it turned out, that clay was silver of great purity. Once the word got out, the Comstock Lode, as it was called, yielded high-grade silver and gold for twenty years. Boom towns grew up around the mines – one of the most popular was Virginia City. It was the only town that had an elevator west of Chicago! Virginia City had mansions, an opera house, churches and a school – it even had the first newspaper in the state called the “Territorial Enterprise” and two of its reporters were Brete Harte and Mark Twain (both became famous writers). It was a bustling town that went full tilt 24/7 – below and above ground. Instead of getting rich quick, the miners worked for the mine owners and had brutal jobs. The thick veins of silver were easily removed with shovels, but with excavation into the soft earth came plenty of cave-ins. And, as the miners went deeper to open up new veins, boiling groundwater hot enough to cook an egg (and the miners) was released. Since the silver veins were deep, some to a depth of 3,200 feet, a worker met with extreme heat the further down they went. At the entrance to the mines, the air was about 92 degrees, but at the bottom levels, it was around 172 degrees. The Comstock Lode yielded over $200 million in silver, and $148 million in gold during its productive years. If you are curious to learn (and see) more, take a trip to Virginia City – it is still an active town. But, today, it is more attuned to tourism with hotels, guided tours, stagecoach rides, museums and historical buildings.
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.