Silver Peak, NV – A Living Ghost Town

 

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Nevada Historical Marker No. 155

Silver Peak is small, gritty and remote but yet relevant in the modern world. Overtime, Lithium mining has replaced other mining operations and kept this town alive.

Silver Peak is one of the oldest mining communities in Nevada. In 1864, prospectors from Austin, NV discovered rich silver ore deposits in the surrounding hills.

A year later investors established a small mill and adobe village. Eventually, investors built a 10-stamp mill in 1865 and added a 20-stamp mill in 1867. This mining boom was short lived, as all mining operations ceased by 1870.

 

 

Silver Peak Road Sign

Mining Promoters Fred Vollmer Sr. and Fred Vollmer Jr. kept Silver Peak from becoming a ghost town and their faith eventually led to its long-term revival.

Folklore has it that one day Fred Vollmer Sr. came across $80 and he decided to travel 50-miles to Mina to retrieve much needed supplies for his family. Time pasted and Vollmer did not return home until 2 day later than expected with an empty wagon and a depressed look on his face. His concerned and angry wife speared him with a questioning look. His only response was “Three Queens”, as he loss their money in a game of poker.

During the early 1900s, the establishment of the Silver Peak Railroad short line in 1906 brought production and profitability back to Silver Peak as the railroad connect the town to Tonopah & Goldfield RR. The boom was again short lived as mining production ceased to be profitable and railroad was abandoned by 1918.

Boxing has always been an integral part of Nevada’s history. During the 1930’s, Vollmer inspired another mining revival that brought Silver Peak into prominence once again. On Labor Day, in 1939, a prize fight was arranged between a local miner “Big Ed” Murphy against former World Heavyweight Champion Max Baer. The two men traded punches during the main event until Max landed a right cross to the head, sending Big Ed to the canvas for the 10-count.

 

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Shifting Sands General Store in Silver Peak, NV

In 1948, the town burned to the ground and very little remains of the tough old town of the 1860s.

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Company House in Silver Peak, NV

Silver Peak experience several changes over the years as Gold mining revived, sputtered and closed down again. The population of Silver Peak has maintained a population with the discovery of lithium in Clayton Valley. In 1966, Silver Peak was thriving once again when Foote Mineral Company began extracting lithium from the dry lakebed.

 

 

 

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Old Post Office in Silver Peak, NV

Silver Peak maintained a population, however, even though it burned in 1948. It began to thrive again when Foote Mineral Company began extracting Lithium from below the floor of Clayton Valley in 1966.

Today the lithium mine owned by chemical giant Albemarle employs most of the inhabitants of Silver Peak. During the recession in 2000s, the mine floundered as the parent company concentrated on more profitable global operations. Recently the U.S. government, through a stimulus program, invested millions of dollars into the Nevada site in an effort to increase domestic lithium production. Lithium mining keeps Silver Peak from becoming another ghost town.

Do you think Nevada will benefit from incorporating this lithium mine and Tesla’s new Gigafactory?

GPS Coordinates: 37.75162 N, -117.63816 W

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