Blair, NV – Largest Mill in the State

 

Nevada Historical Marker No. 174

Ghost towns practically hide in plain sight in Nevada’s unconfined wilderness. The words “ghost town” captivates the imagination with its battered, dated essence. With Nevada claiming to have more than 600 of ghost towns, these historic landmarks plead to be explored.

Nevada historical marker No. 174 is a monument to a project started by the Pittsburg Silver Peak Gold Mining Company and is located roughly 18 miles south of the Silver Peak turnover from US 95 along State Route 265.

 

 

 

The Pittsburg Silver Peak Gold Mining Company established the township of Blair in 1906. The town’s creation was due to the company’s refusal to pay an outrageous fortune for land surrounding the town of Silver Peak. They surveyed a site 3 miles north of town near the company’s gold mines and named it Blair.  The company built the largest mill in the state.

Ruins of the 100-stamp Mill in Blair, NV

The 100-stamp mill of heavy steel stamps and cams on a horizontal rotating shaft were used to crushes material to extract the metallic ores. The company established the mill, cyanide tanks and constructed a 17-mile railroad from Blair to the Tonopah & Goldfield main line. The short-line was named Silver Peak Railroad after the Silver Peak Mining District it serviced.  The fortunes of the Silver Peak Railroad fluctuate over its short existence with the price of the precious ore.

Clayton Valley, NV

Clayton Valley is the only location in the United States and one of the few in the world that produces commercial-grade lithium enriched brine. According the USGS, Clayton Valley is the best know lithium deposit in the world due to a number of factors such as tectonically active basin, elevated heat flow, existence of hectorite and etc. The underground aquifer the host the brine is contained by the surrounding mountains and rock.

 

Ruined Building in Blair, NV

The creation of the mill lead to the establishment of a post office that operated from 1906 to 1915. Like most boom towns of that period, miners would spend a portion of their earnings at one of several saloons and the 2-story hotel. At its peak, Blair had a population of about 700. The mine profitability decreased as it took relatively more effort to extract an ounce of silver from low grade ore and eventually production could no longer cover the operational costs, the mill closed in 1915. Three years later the Silver Peak Railroad creased operations. By 1920, the town was completely deserted.

blaircar
Old Car in Blair, NV Photo Credited to Kurt Wenner

Today, Blair is comprised of several stone and cement buildings surrounded by a combination of rusty artifacts and debris.  A building on top of the hill by the mill acts as a time capsule, as the walls are covered with names and dates of visitors to the site.

Do you think Blair is the quintessential boom town?

 

GPS Coordinates: 37.79312 N, -117.64832 W