James W. Calhoun: An Oral History

James W. Calhoun and the Nevada State Museum

Interviewee: James W. Calhoun
Interviewed: 1986
Published: 1987
Interviewer: R. T. King
UNOHP Catalog #138

Carroll Dolve: An Oral History

Carroll Dolve: A Contribution to a Survey of Life and Structures on the Comstock

Interviewee: Carroll Dolve
Interviewed: 1984
Published: 1984
Interviewer: Ann Harvey
UNOHP Catalog #111

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh established his artistic reputation in Nevada with one painting. "Las Vegas Ranch," executed in 1876, was painted as the artist was resting on his way to a mining camp in Southern California. It has the distinction of being the first known painting of the Las Vegas Valley. Dellenbaugh studied art in New York, Munich, and Paris. However, it is his career as a topographer and writer that is highly regarded to this day.
Below is reprinted with permission from the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly.


Dr. Galley and M. V. Gillett discovered rich silver-lead ore in the Hot Creek Range of Nye County in 1870, but Tybo did not develop until 1874. By 1876, the population was more than one thousand. A series of fifteen charcoal kilns were built in nearby canyons to help in the smelting process. Mining slowed and by 1881, only one hundred people were left. A new mining revival began in 1916, but faded in 1922. Major mining took place from 1926 to 1937 when the Treadwell-Yukon company built a mill and hired more than two hundred men.


As prospectors dispersed from Austin, several of them discovered rich placer sands located in what is now Elko County. It was in 1867, shortly after the Civil War, and one of the miners called the place Tuscarora to honor a Union gunboat on which he had served. Area underground deposits attracted some attention, but surface placer mining was the primary focus.


Knockers were elves believed to work in Cornwall's mines. Celts generally saw elves as living in families. Because the Cornish excluded women from mines, the same restriction applied to their underground spirits, which appeared as diminutive bearded men, forever digging in abandoned drifts.

Territorial Enterprise

The Territorial Enterprise was one of the American West's most important newspapers during the 1860s and 70s. William Jernegan and Alfred James founded the publication on December 18, 1858, in Genoa. Nine months later, the Enterprise moved to Carson City where Jonathan Williams eventually became its sole owner and editor. In October 1860, he moved his business to Virginia City, then barely a year old. Within a few months, Joseph Goodman and Denis McCarthy joined Williams as partners, with Goodman becoming editor-in-chief and eventually sole owner.

Sutro Tunnel

Entrepreneur Adolph Sutro believed that a tunnel, excavated to intersect with the lower levels of the Comstock, would efficiently drain and ventilate the mines. After a failed early proposal, he incorporated the Sutro Tunnel Company with a legislative charter in 1865. His astonishing plan called for an excavation 20,489 feet or over three miles in length. It would climb one and a half percent from the Carson River Valley near Dayton, intersecting with Virginia City's mines at the 1,640-foot level.

Square Set Timbering

Comstock mining began in 1859 with open pits at Gold Hill to the south and Virginia City to the north. Within months, the Ophir Mine pit at Virginia City's outcropping became perilously deep, forcing miners to excavate underground.

The Comstock challenged traditional methods of supporting mines with timbers assembled in an inverted "U." The decomposed quartz embracing the ore tended to fold itself around wooden supports, collapsing on excavations. In addition, the ore vein expanded up to sixty feet wide. A single timber supporting such a span would snap.

Silver Bow

Rich silver deposits were located in the southern Kawich Range of Nye County in November 1904. When prominent Nevadans George Wingfield and George Nixon became involved, people flocked to the newly founded town of Silver Bow. By spring 1905, more than 300 people were living there.


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