The characteristics of the Comstock Lode

It didn’t take long for the experienced miners who flooded into Western Nevada from California to ascertain the facts about the new discovery. The main deposit was a lode that ran along the eastern slope of the Washoe Mountains. It was a vein that varied in width from a hundred to a thousand feet. It ran about three to four miles in length, starting just south of Gold Hill and then north beneath Virginia City. And while it got its name from Henry Comstock, he played no other significant role in the discovery or mining of the ore.

The Comstock Lode

The lode was a fissure vein, or a series of parallel veins containing original deposits, and as such was similar to the mother lode in California. But unlike the mother lode it was only a few miles long instead of sixty, contained mostly silver instead of gold, lay on the eastern slope of the Sierra instead of the western and was at an elevation of 5000 feet above sea level instead of 2000 feet. It was very unequal, or what the miners called ‘pockety’ in the distribution of its ore with large, very rich spots often lenticular in shape and known as ‘bonanzas.’

Gould & Curry mine

One of the bonanzas, a pocket six hundred and fifty feet long by one hundred feet wide and five hundred feet deep and yielding nearly thirty dollars a ton was worked by the Gould and Curry Mine. Another bonanza in the Sage and Hill and Norcross Mines yielded forty-five dollars a ton. More bonanzas were found in the Ophir-Mexican and the Chollar-Potosi Mines as well as others and these mine owners were known as the bonanza kings.

Beside the Comstock there were more silver lodes in Nevada but none so big or important, and all of them, at least until the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, contributed directly to the wealth of California. It was from the Golden State that all the supplies came, where all the bullion, when freed from the earth, was shipped and where the miners had come from and would return to. But this was just a beginning. Even in the twenty-first century gold and silver are still mined in Nevada.


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