History articles

Did you know? County Factoids

Humboldt County was designated as a county in 1856 by the Utah Territorial Legislature and again in 1861 by the new Nevada Legislature. Lyon County is Nevada’s third most populous county. It was one of the nine original counties created in 1861 and was named after Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General to be killed in the Civil War.


By Jack Harpster As a seventeen-year-old living in the bucolic Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, Duane Leroy Bliss had been bitten by the gold bug. It was 1850, and two prior stints as a cabin boy on a sailing ship to South America had roused an adventurous spirit in the young man. When news of


The Washoe Canary

By Ron James The Desert Canary, known locally as the Washoe Canary – “Washoe” was then a common term for what would later become Nevada – was a playful name for the prospector’s donkey in the late 1800s. He was a beast of burden, a stalwart companion, and an icon of the old Mining West. 


Letter to the Editor: Washoe Canary

April 9, 1865 Dear Editor, The Virginia City Chapter of the Comstock Audubon Society hereby announces it’s annual pursuit and solemnization. This year, as in all past annums, the objective of our dogmatic efforts is the elusive Washoe Canary. A rare warbler and crony to that other local rarity, the lone miner, has been spotted near


The Titanic That Sank the Twain Fortune

By Chic DiFrancia Two years after the death of Mark Twain in 1910, Albert Bigelow Paine published a three-volume biography of the famed humorist. It’s in those tomes – all 296 chapters of them – that we learn about the man who later became known as the “Lincoln of our Literature.” My favorite chapter is


Fresh Findings from Mark Twain

By Albert Bigelow Paine [excerpts from the Omaha Daily Bee, February 9, 1913] Once in the course of a conversation I had with him in Bermuda, not long before the end, Mark forgot a word and denounced his poor memory: “I’ll forget the Lord’s middle name some time,” he drolly declared, “right in the middle


The Storied History of Nevada’s Most Irreverent Newspaper

BY WILLIAM LEFKOVICS Often anointed as “Nevada’s first newspaper,” the Territorial Enterprise was founded by William L. Jernegan and Alfred James. The first edition of their new weekly publication was printed on December 18, 1858 at Genoa, Utah Territory, where “two bearded men assisted by an apprentice boy wrestled with a secondhand Washington printing press.”


The True Story of the Comstock Lode Discovery

BY ROLAND DAGGETT VIRGINIA CITY—I have returned from an expedition into the most hidden and harrowing nooks and crannies of Mount Davidson with sore feet, bruised knees, ragged clothes, and a tale about our storied past that will surely rattle Mr. Deidesheimer’s old timbers–and yours, if you have them–to their very foundations. Now, you might


Then and Now: Virginia City

BY CLAY MITCHELL, photos by MARILYN NEWTON In 1850, gold was reported near a station along the Carson River in what today is Dayton, Nevada. Mormon pioneers on their way to California had found a little “color” in their pans but continued on to California, believing tales of unimaginable riches further west. A small mining camp soon