Comstock National Historic District, Nevada

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Comstock National Historic District

Though tourists wander through Nevada, they seldom take into account the importance, financially, politically and internationally, of its great history of mining. However, those that meander into Virginia City are in for some definite surprises. The Comstock National Historic District hides hidden secrets of intrigue, the future of a state, and the making of a country in ways that most would never consider. It turns out that its fame is not just about silver ore and the Comstock Lode. Read More

Comstock National Historic District in Nevada is well known for its mining history, namely the famous Comstock Lode and silver discoveries. Many visitors now have the opportunity to visit the area, a site where discoveries were not necessarily a case of 'finders, keepers' and land claims could interfere even more. In fact, it was this great find and the debate that ensued that gave rise to statehood and the needed funding to secure the eventual solidarity of one of the world's most influential countries.

Nevada's life began many years before it became a state, but its most significant turning point in history would come a decade after the rush for gold ensued. For it was by chance that two miners, Peter O'Reilly and Pat McLaughlin made a sudden discovery of gold and then gullibly fell victim to the property claims of a Henry Comstock, walking away from what could have been a future of riches. As if that was not hard enough to deal with, the find was named after Comstock, despite another miner's claims to have christened the land as his own with spilled whiskey.

In the end the reality of the find sunk in – the land would not be as forthcoming as everyone had hoped. Tools and equipment became easily bogged down in its thickish gray mud. However, one bright miner cleared the mud, making the biggest silver discovery every found in the area. As word spread, coastal gold miners backtracked, setting up ramshackled shacks and tents almost overnight, or so it seemed. Disputes were rife, and the settlement of these was still done lawlessly down the barrel of a gun. In fact, a local maid in Virginia City was reputed to have commented on the daily hail storm of bullets and bodies that were littered around, describing it politely as a "… lively place… ". Despite the run on finds and murders, many a man made his millions, bringing an air of civility to Virginia City in the form of expensive mansions, luxurious furnishings, the latest European fashions and the finest entertainment/dining around, rivaling even San Francisco.

Whilst men fought over dirt and ore, the country was in the grips of civil war. More funding was desperately needed to secure the country once and for all, and these new found riches soon drew the attention of President Lincoln himself. Ironically, though it failed to meet federal standards for statehood, Nevada was granted it anyway, a sort of reward for fuelling the wartime economy.

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