Ophir Canyon

In early 1863, a Frenchman named Boulrand discovered silver ore in the Toiyabe Mountains, and lived in secrecy for a year to protect his find. After a party including John Murphy was additional discoveries in 1864 and news got out, though, the Twin River Mining Company was organized to develop the new Murphy mine. A new town of 400 called Toiyabe City (Ophir City to locals, despite the post office being labelled Twin River) quickly formed, with an $8000 wagon road into Big Smoky Valley and tri-weekly stage to Austin. The $200,000, twenty-stamp Murphy Mill was completed in September 1866, and featured eight roasting furnaces, eight amalgamating pans, and the first ever Stetefeldt furnace. $750,000 was produced over the next two years. The density of the rock, however, required much extra effort and man hours, and by 1869 a lack of millable ore forced the company into bankruptcy. The Cambridge Silver Mining Company purchased the holdings thereafter, attempting to use cheaper Chinese labor, but white protest forced its closure in 1870.

By the 1880s, new activity at the Murphy mine spurred a revival. The new Chicago Mining and Reduction Company (formerly the Twin River Co.) refurbished and restarted the old mill, and expanded their operations to the new Grizzly and Cinnamon mines. The old Prussian Mill from Jefferson was' moved in, and the town was briefly reborn. By 1890, most operations ceased, however, and before the turn of the century Ophir Canyon was deserted after producing over $3 million.

The final large revival began in 1917, when the Nevada Ophir Mining Company, under Walter Trent, purchased claims including the Murphy mine and began expansion. A small stamp mill was built, but the operations were all suspended in 1923. A cyanide mill was built in 1924, but too proved unprofitable and the company folded in 1925. Ten years later, the Ophir Canyon Mining Company was incorporated (also under Trent), and attempted for two years to make a profit. Though some exploratory work has occured, Ophir Canyon has largely remained silent since.