Gold Hill

Gold Hill was established in early 1859, following gold discoveries. By April, placer operations had begun and most of the residents of Johntown (further down Gold Canyon) moved up to the new town. One of the first buildings in the town was a log boarding house and restaurant, built by Eilley Orrum - later the wife of Sandy Bowers. In June 1859, the Comstock Lode was discovered and the 'Rush to Washoe' was on. Virginia City was founded to the north, and Gold Hill continued to grow as a result. By August 1860 Gold Hill had 179 permanent structures and a population of 638, only 14 of which were women. Five months later, nearly 1300 people were in Gold Hill and on December 17, 1862 the community was incorporated.

By 1865, Gold Hill was a bustling city. A large business district flourished, and Gold Hill was also home to three foundries, two banks, four stage offices, and three churches. A newspaper, the Gold Hill Daily News, was in its second year of publication. In 1869, the Virginia & Truckee Railroad was built, passing through and above Gold Hill. To cross the Crown Point Ravine, a massive trestle was built on the western edge of town. The Crown Point Trestle was the longest and highest on the line, reaching a height of 85 feet and length of 351 feet.

In 1869, Gold Hill became the site of what's regarded as the worst accident in Nevada mining history. On the morning of April 7, a fire broke out in the 800-foot level of the Yellow Jacket Mine. Timbers smoldered and collapsed, flooding the Yellow Jacket and neighboring Kentuck and Crown Point mines with poisonous gas. Firefighters entered the mine, but were pushed back by smoke and flames. At least thirty-five miners were lost, though there may have been others that weren't recorded. Some were never recovered. Fortunately, the fire occured during a shift change or loss of life would likely have been much greater. The smoldering levels of the mine were sealed off, and remained hot for many years.

Throughout the early-to-mid 1870s, Gold Hill enjoyed prosperity. A peak population of 8000 was reached in 1873. Millions were produced, with the primary producers being the Belcher, Confidence, Crown Point, Imperial, Kentuck, and Yellow Jacket. Towards the end of the decade, however, the Comstock began to decline. The Daily News ceased publication in 1882, and one by one businesses and mines closed.

The twenties brought a renewed interest in mining to the Gold Hill area. A massive cyanide mill was put into operation at American Flat, and some of the old mines were reworked. In 1936, the Crown Point Trestle was dismantled for an unsuccessful open pit operation and the railway alignment relocated. The V&T closed in 1938, and the tracks were removed in 1941. After 81 years, the post office finally closed in 1943.

In more recent times, tourism has brought a new breath of life to the Comstock. Several homes were restored, and the Gold Hill Hotel saw a complete overhaul in 1987. Newer mining operations have moved into town, expanding open pit operations. The Virginia & Truckee has been restored as a tourist attraction, passing right through Gold Hill where it did over one hundred years ago. Only a small handful of original buildings remain, but nonetheless Gold Hill retains the charm of an early mining community.

I Visited Gold Hill
7.21.2006 & 3.10.2011

See Also
Silver CityAmerican CityDaytonRock Point MillSix Mile CanyonCarson River Canyon MillsGold Hill Hotel*
*Outside Link

Bibliography