Ward

Silver was discovered in March 1872 by William Ballinger and John Henry, teamsters on the Toano-Pioche freight route, and in 1873 Ward was born. Their discovery became the Paymaster mine, which would later prove to be the most successful in the district. The Martin White company of San Francisco acquired the Paymaster in 1875 and built two smelters. In 1876 the real rush began. By the following summer, the camp of 1500 was the largest in White Pine County, even having its own school district and newspaper: the Ward Miner. That same year, a $85k twenty-stamp mill with three furnaces and a tramway to the mines was erected. Within the next year, Ward also had a city hall and another newspaper called the Reflex.

In 1878, the decreasing lead content of Ward's ore led to the larger smelter being converted to a mill. A revival at Cherry Creek in 1880 lured many away from Ward, and a subsequent fire in 1883 destroyed one-third of its buildings (including the schoolhouse and city hall). Ward's decline continued, and by 1885 many of the remaining buildings were moved to Taylor, which was booming on the opposite side of Steptoe Valley. The post office finally closed in 1887.

Only small revivals have since taken place at Ward. In 1906, the Paymaster tunnel was reopened and sporadic production occured through 1917. From 1934-1942, some ore was found by reprocessing the old dumps. In 1962, the Ward mine was acquired by the Silver King Mining Company and by 1967 several metric tonnes of low-grade ore was produced. Subsequent exploration was done and reserves identified, but only small amounts of ore were taken and processed at the Taylor mill across the valley in the early 1990s. The district has been idle since. Because of flash flooding, little remains at the Ward townsite. Perhaps better known than Ward itself are the Ward Charcoal Ovens, located a few miles to the south and constructed in 1876 to provide charcoal for the camp's operations. A small cemetery can also be found nearby.

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