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The first silver discovery in the Manhattan district was made in 1866 by George Nicholl. Little work was done, and after 1869 the area was deserted. In 1877, lead and silver was discovered and a camp, known now as Old Manhattan, was established, but it evidently didn't amount to much.

On April 1, 1905 ore was once again discovered by John C. Humphrey, who appropriately named his claim 'April Fool.' News of Humphrey's discovery spread quickly and before long over 3,000 claims were staked. Nothing sustainable was found by August, but nonetheless eight townsites were planned; among them was Manhattan. A discovery was soon made that reportedly assayed at $10,000/ton and Manhattan boomed. By the end of the year, around 800 lived in the town and it became the center of the district.

The following January, Manhattan attracted the attention of promoters and within a few weeks the town grew to 4000. Wooden buildings began appearing, and lots sold for $1300 to $1900. By Spring, Manhattan had three banks, competing newspapers (the Mail and News, telegraph and telephone service, water and electricity, and numerous businesses and stage lines.

Manhattan thrived until April 1906, when the San Francisco earthquake struck. Investors from the area withdrew their funds to rebuild their city and within the next month Manhattan's mines had virtually ceased production. Only a few hundred remained, and despite strikes in Fall 1906 and June 1907, many newer companies didn't survive the financial panic of 1907.

New life was breathed into Manhattan in 1909 when placer operations were begun below town. Three years later, a rich strike at the White Caps mine prompted construction of a 75-ton mill. The population once again grew to nearly 1000, with many mines and mills in operation. Manhattan continued to prosper through the 1920s, and even though production slowed it held on through the depression. In the mid-1930s, the Reliance Mine opened and became the second largest producer in the district. In 1939, a large gold dredge (nicknamed the 'Big Boat') was put to work by the Natomas Mining Company and operated until 1947. The mines remained quiet from World War II until the 1980s, when the Echo Bay Mining Company acquired the Reliance Mine and developed an open pit (now part of Round Mountain Gold Corp).

See Also
BelmontWhite Caps