Silver Peak

Silver Peak, sometimes spelled Silverpeak, first came into being during the 1860s. Prospectors from Big Smokey Valley arrived in 1864, searching for salt to use at the Reese River district, and discovered ore worth $180/ton. Their find attracted attention, and additional gold ledges were found during the fall on Mineral Ridge, leading to the establishment of the Red Mountain district. The Great Salt Basin Mill & Mining Company, which erected a three-stamp mill. Around the same time, silver discoveries led to the formation of the Silver Peak district; the two were eventually consolidated. In 1865, a ten-stamp mill was moved in from Jacobsville by Samuel Martin, and the first Silver Peak camp was born.

During 1865, one of the first new companies established in Silver Peak was the New York & Silver Peak Mining Company, which in 1866 built a new twelve-stamp mill. It is unknown whether the mill was ever actually operated, but in 1868 Colonel Catherwood took over and moved the mill to Palmetto.

Meanwhile in 1866, eastern interests led by prominent men including Samuel Tilden, John Blair, and the aforementioned Mr. Martin acquired the Great Salt Basin Company, and On October 17th of that year incorporated the Silver Peak & Red Mountain Gold & Silver Mining Company. That company soon purchased additional mines and began making plans for a forty-stamp mill. Martin's inefficient ten-stamp mill was shuttered in June 1867, but the new mill was not in operation until September 1868, and even then only actually had twenty stamps and two 'steam stamps' which were supposed to be as powerful as ten stamps each. The mill was quickly found faulty, and for another four months underwent repairs and adjustments before finally being placed into operation in January 1869. Another ten stamps was added, and the mill processed 45-tons per day for about two years, until it closed in January 1871 due to burned out boilers and a lack of repair engineers. Soon Silver Peak was all but abandoned, and less than a handful remained for the next few years.

For about thirty years, a few companies and lessees attempted to operate at Silver Peak unsuccessfully. Among these was John Chiatovich, who built a cyanide mill about 1893 - one of the first in the nation. In 1906, the Pittsburg-Silver Peak Gold Mining Company laid out the company town of Blair a few miles north, and Silver Peak further declined, even losing its post office. In 1915, the Blair operations came to a close and Silver Peak again became the main community in the area, with the post office reopening the following year. Even so, a lack of activity left the population at only 78. By 1928, a new revival began when mining restarted on Mineral Ridge, and three reduction mills were built at Silver Peak, bringing the population up to 1200. Later closure of the mines after 1940 again brought a decrease, and only 59 remained by 1950. Part of town was destroyed by fire in 1948.

Despite the continual opening and closing of mines and mills, Silver Peak never completely faltered, and by the 1960s some mining and milling was again underway. In 1966, a new mineral brought new life to town: lithium. Today, mining of lithium keeps Silver Peak alive, and the town's lithium mine is the largest (and only) producer of the element in the United States.

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