Though silver was discovered in 1867, it wasn't until 1874 that the Lewis District began to develop. Two of the most profitable mines, the Star Grove and Eagle, were discovered in 1875, followed by the completion of the 10-stamp Eagle Mill in 1876. The next year the Lewis townsite was laid out, though due to the narrowness of Lewis Canyon three separate sections were developed: Upper Town (later Dean, near the Star Grove Mine), Middle Town (around the Eagle Mill), and Lower Town (at the canyon mouth). Lower Town was where the most growth occurred and where the post office would be located.

By 1880, the three sections of Lewis had a collective population of 216. With the completion of the Nevada Central Railroad in the valley below, plans were made for a rail connection to Lewis, spurring the construction of two mills at Lower Town: the 15-stamp Star Grove and the 40-stamp Highland Chief. Around this time, the Eagle Mill was enlarged to 15 stamps, and the Battle Mountain & Lewis Railway was completed April 25, 1881. By mid-1881, the population grew to 700 and Lewis even boasted its own jail, brewery, school, and newspaper: the Lewis Weekly Herald. Unfortunately, a conflagration on December 5 of that year destroyed many businesses, and Lewis began its decline.

Early in 1882, the Battle Mountain & Lewis Railway ceased operations due to financial trouble. Before the end of the year, the Star Grove and Eagle Companies also went bankrupt. In 1883, the Highland Chief too went bankrupt, and Lewis quickly emptied. A brief revival was attempted in 1885 but ended due to a labor strike, and the rails were removed by 1890. After 1894, most activity moved to Dean (formerly Upper Town), but ended shortly after the turn of the century.

Lewis & Hilltop Districts
LewisBetty O'Neal