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Northern Nevada was once home to thousands upon thousands of miners, who stared down destitution and even death, long enough to try and quench their thirst for this area’s rich ores. The many ghost towns that dot the local landscape speak to the booms and busts of mining life that were so prevalent between the middle 1800s and the early 1900s. Winnemucca is the perfect jumping off point to conduct your travel into the past. The information provided here is intended only as a starting point to your adventure.
Camp McGarry (11 miles southwest of Denio): Take U.S. Highway 95 north to State Route 140 into Denio, near the Nevada-Oregon border. Camp McGarry was established by the United States Army in 1865 to protect travelers using the trails in northern Nevada. The camp was abandoned three years later and has become a part of the Summit Lake Indian Reservation.
Camp Winfield Scott (4.5 miles northwest of Paradise Valley): Take U.S. Highway 95 north to State Route 290 into Paradise Valley. After many of the first residents of Paradise Valley were driven out by the Indians, Camp Winfield Scott was established in the northern part of the valley to protect them. Paradise Valley is far from a ghost town with about 100 residents, but many of its buildings stand empty.
Jumbo (12 miles west-southwest of State Route 140): The Jumbo Mine was established in 1910 in the Slumbering Hills. A large gold deposit was found there and the population increased quickly. Production continued intermittently until 1951. Some mill foundations and remains of a dance hall and saloon can still be seen today.
National (62 miles north of Winnemucca): National was one of the richest gold camps in Nevada. Two prospectors made the initial gold discovery in 1907. In 1909, a rich ore vein was found, bringing an incredible $30 per pound for ore that was shipped from there. Miners and gamblers flocked to National by the hundreds. By 1910, the National Mining Company bought the lease on the property, and one-year later, production reached $4 million. The mine continued until 1915, producing nearly $7 million. The mill shell, assay office, and a few wooden buildings remain.
Rochester (30 miles southeast of Lovelock): Rochester is accessible via the Oreana Exit of Interstate 80. Prospectors from Rochester, New York, started mining the area in the 1860s. However, no major finds were uncovered unil 1912. One year later, 2,300 people lived in the town. There were two newspapers, several hotels, saloons, dance halls and other buildings. The Coeur Rochester Mine, which still mines the same ore through old mining shafts, sits on a mountain overlooking the old Rochester Mining District. Some old town sites have been left undisturbed in the canyon below.
Sulphur (58 miles west of Winnemucca): A Paiute discovered this site in 1869. He led prospectors to the find, expecting a bronco, saddle and blankets in return; he never received them. By 1880, six tons of sulfur a day were mined here. In 1909, the Western Pacific Railway laid tracks through the area and named the station Sulphur. It was a major receiving and shipping point in the early 1920s.
Tungsten (24 miles southwest of Winnemucca): Tungsten was first discovered in 1916 during the World War I boom. At first, there was a mill, offices and housing for the workers. The mine closed in the 1960s and was reopened in the 1980s. Most of the tungsten used in the free world was mined here.
Unionville (18 miles south of Mill City): Once the seat of Humboldt County, Unionville flourished as a silver mining town in the 1860s. At one point, the population reached 1,500 with two 10-stamp mills and one five-stamp mill, many homes, businesses and a newspaper. Mark Twain lived in Unionville during the winter of 1861-62. The ruins of his stone cabin sit on a hillside in the upper part of the town site. His life in Unionville was depicted in his book Roughin’ It. Most of the mines played out in the 1870s, but a few people still live in the area today. Ruins extend three miles up the length of Buena Vista Canyon.
Willow Point (4 miles southeast of Paradise Valley): This tiny town used to serve travelers on the Winnemucca-Paradise Valley Road during the last part of the 19th century. By 1910, there was a hotel, saloon and livery stable.
The Winnemucca Convention & Visitors Authority asks you to please tread lightly, only take photos, and only leave footprints.