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University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Lincoln County


Inquiry Questions

  • What roles did the Caliente hot springs play in the town’s short life?

Caliente was originally settled under the name Clover Junction in Lincoln County, near the Dutch Flats, north of present day Caliente.  Charles Culverwell, a settler, bought a section of land and was unofficially regarded as city mayor.  The city became known as Culverwell’s Ranch until a hot spring, located on Culverwell’s property, was found in 1901.  From the period 1901-1903 the city was referred to as Calientes, which is Spanish for hot.  In 1903 the name officially changed to Caliente.  The town boomed when the San Pedro, Los Angeles, Salt Lake Railroad built its line through Caliente.  In anticipation of the coming of the railroad, Culverwell built a hotel that bore his surname, and several other shops, homes, a livery stable, and a blacksmith opened.  On August 3, 1901, the city’s first post office opened.  In 1906 a violent flash flood surged through the town destroying the city and washing out the railroad tracks, but the railroad and the city rebuilt.  In 1907 Lincoln County Bank, as well as a new extension of the railroad to Pioche, opened in Caliente. Unfortunately, in 1910, a second, larger flash flood once again leveled the city and washed out the tracks. Before the flood, Caliente’s population was estimated at 1,700, but in the aftermath of the flood, the town rapidly declined. 


Inquiry Questions

  • Why did silicosis affect miners in Delmar and not in other boomtowns?

Delamar is located 16 miles west of Caliente.  Farmers discovered gold in Pahranagat Valley in 1890, leading to the development of the Ferguson District, or “Gold City,” in 1891. In 1893 Captain John De Lamar of Montana bought the principal claim for $150,000.  In 1894 the Delamar Mine’s principal components were the Hog Pen, the Glory Hole of the Mine, and the April Fool vein. By 1895 the Delamar mill was producing 260 tons of ore daily.  In the following five years, production soared and Delamar’s output accounted for over half of the state’s total production.  However, improper ventilation in several of the local mines led to the fatal disease silicosis.  The dust from these mines, referred to as “Delamar Dust,” became known as “The Maker of Widows.” Despite the high number of silicosis cases, the mines had a constant labor force because miners were paid an average of $3 a day.  By 1897 the population was over 3,000 citizens, but a fire destroyed half the city in 1900.  In 1902 Captain De Lamar sold his mine for $8.5 million in gold.  The new owner, Simon Bamberger, renamed the mill the Bamberger-Delamar Mine and installed another 400-ton mill.  With the addition of this new mill, production boomed, and Delamar soon became the third largest producer after Goldfield and Tonopah in 1906.  The mining district closed in 1909 with an estimated $13.5 million in total production.


Inquiry Questions

  • What roles did Native Peoples and Mormons play in the identification of mining locales?
  • Why have fires and flash floods had such negative long-term affects on mining towns?

Paiutes disclosed the location of silver in the vicinity of what later became Pioche to a Mormon missionary in 1863, in return for food and clothing.   The town was developed by San Francisco financier F.L.A. Pioche in 1868, who bought several claims and erected a smelter. In September of 1869, the city’s first newspaper, the Record, began advertising for the mining district and subsequently drew thousands of people to the city.  The most important mining camp in Lincoln County, Pioche became the county seat in 1871.  Pioche was ravaged with violent flash floods in 1873 and 1874, in addition to a devastating fire in 1874 that raged through the commercial district.  In 1907 the Salt Lake Railroad extended their line from Caliente into Pioche, and within five years the mines were producing regularly. In 1926 the Combined Metals Mine and Mill was producing over 4,000 tons of ore a month.  The Great Depression in the early 1930s closed the mines, but by 1937 the mines had re-opened, and Pioche was a leading producer of lead-zinc.  The majority of the mines within the district ceased operating by 1958.


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