Aurora, Nevada

Horse-drawn hearse in Aurora, Nevada, 1920s
Horse drawn hearse used in Aurora, Nevada to take citizens to their final reward.


“Aurora, almost forgotten save by those who neighbor it, though it was once the mining sensation of the West, a municipality of some few thousand inhabitants”  [1]

Now it stands forgotten, but once it was strong and vibrant, here is the story of Aurora, one of the first big strikes in Nevada.

 Three prosperctors working east of California near Mono Lake out hunting for game in Aug 1860 found an interesting-looking quartz. [1] Thus began the whirl-wind journey of Aurora as the golden child of Esmerelda County. Aurora had an "unusally high concentration of silver present, rivalrying the richest ore of the Comstock Lode." [2]



Gravestone of William E. Carder who was killed and buried in Aurora, Nevada in 1864
Headstone of an Aurora resident with the wife calling for vengence for her husband


Due to the placement of Aurora both California and Nevada claimed Aurora as their own and dubbed it a county seat of both states. Thus they had double elections for each county until a national surveyor came and determined Aurora was four miles away from the California line, thus making it the county seat of Esmeralda, Nevada. [3]

Six major mines kept 17 stamp mills busy crushing the rich ore, and by 1804 the population reached 10,000. These mines led to silver production reaching several million dollars a year during the Civil War. [4] 

With such prosperity the town faced a significant rise in violence. With violence came the creation of a vigilante committee to help protect the city. After a robbery the committee caught the robbers and prepared to hang them at dawn. The justice the next county over sent a telegraph telling the town to wait until he could arrive. They sent a telegraph back saying they were set to hang four men in half an hour. Though swift, terrifying justice, there were no more issues of violence afterward. [5]

After producing $27,000,000 the mine dried up. What had risen to thousands dropped to 500 citizens in 1880. There was a brief revival in 1914 during the first World War, but died off by 1918. By the census of 1950 the town was empty.  "The triumph of time is nearly complete." [6]

[1] W. A. Chalfant, Gold, Guns and Ghost Towns (Standford University Press, Standford 1947) 57.
[1] Robert Silverberg, Ghost Towns of the American West (Ohio University Press 1968) 153.
[2] Silverberg, Ghost Towns of the American West. 154. 
[3] Silverberg, Ghost Towns of the American West. 154.
[4] Silverberg, Ghost Towns of the American West. 155-156.
[5] Silverberg, Ghost Towns of the American West. 157.
[6] Silverberg, Ghost Towns of the American West. 158.