White Pine Group

54 Ward Mining District

on U.S. Highway 93, twenty miles south of Ely

The ghost town of Ward, in the foothills of the Egan Range, lies some eight miles west of here. Booming from 1876 until 1882, with a peak population of 1,500, Ward was somewhat of a lawless mining camp. Early killings did occur, but justice was meted out by the vigilante committee and the hanging rope.

A million dollars worth of silver was taken from a single chamber of the Ward mine, yet an abandoned house was used for the first school and no movement was ever started to build a church.

The town was abandoned by the late 1880s, but new discoveries and better mining methods prompted a resurgence of activity in 1906 and again in the 1960s.

53 Hamilton

on U.S. Highway 50, thirty-sevem miles west of Ely

The mines of the White Pine district were first established in 1865. Between 1868 and 1875, they supported many thriving towns including Hamilton, Eberhardt, Treasure City, and Shermantown. These communities, now all ghost towns, are clustered eleven miles south of this point.

Hamilton and its neighbors thrived as a result of large-scale silver discoveries in 1868. Experiencing one of the most intense, but shortest-lived silver stampedes ever recorded, the years 1868-1869 saw some 10,000 people living in huts and caves on Treasure Hill at Mount Hamilton, at an elevation of 8,000 to 10,500 feet above sea level.

Hamilton was incorporated in 1869 and became the first county seat of White Pine County that same year. It was disincorporated in 1875. In this brief span of time, a full-sized town came into bloom with a main street and all the usual businesses. A fine brick courthouse was constructed in 1870.

On June 27, 1873, the main portion of the town was destroyed by fire. The town never fully recovered. In 1885, another fire burned the courthouse and caused the removal of the White Pine County seat to Ely.

52 Cherry Creek

at the end of State Route 489, forty-five miles north of Ely

Here, at one time, was the largest town in White Pine County. Part of the Cherry Creek mining district, Cherry Creek’s greatest gold and silver production was between 1872 and 1883. At the peak of its prosperity, the town had an estimated population of 6,000.

Five miles south of here is Egan Canyon, where one of the oldest gold mines in Nevada was located. As early as 1850, American Indians mined gold there. A stage station was located by Major Howard Egan in 1859 for Woodward and Chorpenning’s California Mail Co. In 1860, it was used by the Pony Express as a change station and from 1861 to 1869 was an overland stage station.

In 1864, a five-stamp mill-the first in eastern Nevada-and a small mining camp were constructed here. Most activity had ceased by 1883, but in 1897 there was a revival of mining, which lasted into the early 1900s. During this period, prior to the completion of the Nevada Northern Railroad in 1906, freight and passenger traffic was via long strings of massive freight wagons and stagecoaches from Toano and Wells. In 1933, the old mine was reopened and a new camp was built. Production from the Egan mine over the years was approximately $3,000,000.

51 Schellbourne

at the junction of U.S. Highway 93 and State Route 2, thirty-nine miles north of Ely

Schellbourne, in the foothills of the Schell Creek Range, was a Shoshone village site long before it began its more recent career in 1859. Captain James Simpson passed through the area, looking for a short route across the Great Basin. That same year an overland stage and mail station was built at Shellbourne. In 1860, the Pony Express company used the same facilities, and when the telegraph arrived in 1863, it passed over this same route.

During the rush to the Virginia City mines in 1859 and 1860, it became necessary for the army to send troops to this point to protect participants in the resulting western pilgrimage.

Silver ore was discovered in the mountains immediately to the east of Schellbourne in the early 1870s, and it became part of the Aurum Mining District in 1871. An active mining camp developed with a population of over 500 people. By 1885, the ore had been mostly depleted and the camp abandoned. The district and adjacent valley were then acquired by “Uncle Billy” Burke as a ranch. Schellbourne was subsequently operated as the headquarters for various ranches since that time.

9 Copper Country

on U.S. Highway 50 west of Ely

The famed open-pit copper mines of eastern Nevada, including the Liberty Pit, largest in the state, are located two miles south of this point. Through the first half of the twentieth century, this area produced nearly a billion dollars in copper, gold, and silver. The huge mounds visible from here are waste rock, which was removed to uncover the ore.

Two miles east of here, near Lane City, was the Elijah, the first mine discovered in the Robinson Mining District. Lane City, originally called Mineral City, was settled in 1869 and had a population of 400. At Mineral City was the Ragsdale Station, one hotel, and a stage station.