Take it easy
  Aurora
MAP

38° 17' 14"N, 118° 54' 03"W    USGS Aurora Quad

VISITED October 16, 2004. Our Dinner: Black Bean Burrito and chili Macaroni MRE's
July 18, 2015 Our Breakfast: Eggs at Dini's Casino in Yerington
July 18, 2015 Our Dinner: Burgers at Kings Diner in Yerington
DIRECTIONS Take US 95 south from Fallon for 71.4 miles; continue south on SR 359 for 4.1 miles; turn right and head west on Lucky Boy Pass Rd (National Forest Development Rd 026) for 16.5 miles; turn right and head south on local road for 3.5 miles; turn right on local road for 4.5 miles. From Fallon: 100 miles
WHAT WAS

This is the big one. Aurora.

At one time one of the largest cities in Nevada with a population of 10,000, it was county seat for Mono County, California and later -- at the same time--Esmeralda County, Nevada Territory, until surveyors got their act together.

In August of 1860, prospectors in search of game and water discovered gold, and a camp was established (some say) a mile east on the west end of Gregory Flats, at Esmeralda Camp. However, another report places the location of Esmeralda camp south of the present site of Aurora, in Esmeralda Gulch, by "the brewery," which we're assuming is Slachler's Brewery, according to the 1862 Brady map.

This is a description of the discovery itself, from a pamphlet printed in 1878, long after Aurora's heyday:

We camped near the race track ( a grassy flat at the head of Willow Gulch), Aug. 21, 1860, late in the evening having left Cory's Peak that morning. Next morning (Aug.22) we moved camp to near where the brewery now stands ( a secluded spot at the head of Esmeralda Gulch); finding good grass and water, we stopped for the purpose of resting a day or two. After turning our animals loose, I went over the hill across the main Esmeralda lode, and found the first silver ore discovered, on the Winnemucca lode, at a point where we subsequently set the center stake of our claim on that lode.... We then went to Monoville for supplies and returned about the last of the month, about fifteen men accompanying us, when we organized the district, adopted mining laws and elected a Recorder. 'Then the trouble commenced.'

A town called Esmeralda was staked off at the original camp (The brewery site) but the drift of discovery north [italics mine- FN] soon resulted in centering the population at the junction of the three ravines created by Silver, Middle, and Last Chance Hills, where Aurora grew into prominence.
-1878, May "Bodie and Esmeralda," Jos. Wasson, Mining & Scientific Press

At the time, they didn't know if they were in California or Utah Territory. [Nevada Territory wasn't organized until March of 1861] A town site was platted a month later, named Aurora, and by the spring of 1861 there were 2000 inhabitants and an eight stamp mill, the Pioneer, crushing ore. By late Spring the Esmeralda Star began publishing and by that fall, considerable mining stock speculation was occurring.

Claimed by both Nevada and California, the town prospered to the point of attracted a young Samuel Clemens, who worked in one of the mills. By 1863 there were 10,000 people and 16 mills pounding ore. In the fall, surveyors finally fixed the boundary, and Mono County officials moved to Bodie. Crime and lawlessness were beginning to get out of hand, and in February of 1864 600 citizens formed the “Citizen’s Safety Committee.” Some desperados were hung with good effect. By 1865 the towns population was halved due to stock manipulation and speculation; and in January of 1866 a major fire burned all the buildings along Antelope Street. By this time, the population was about 800. By 1869 surface workings were exhausted and things were sliding downhill for the town's future.

In 1882 Aurora lost it's post office and the county seat to Hawthorne. By 1900 only about 75 people lived here, but during the boom of the early 1900's, the camp was rejuvenated, the post office returned, and the population rose to about 350, but it didn't last long. By 1919 the post office was closed. After World War Two, brick scavengers removed much of what was left standing, reducing Aurora to less than a shell of its formal self. In 1955 its last resident, Sigfried "Fried" Walker, passed away, and by 1960 Aurora's last brick building was destroyed.

William O. Vanderberg gives the low down from his 1930's perspective:

Veins carrying gold and silver were discovered here on August 16, 1860, by E.R. Hicks and party while they were hunting for game. Shortly after the discovery a spectacular rush ensued, and the camp of Esmeralda was established on Gregory Flats. Later, the town of Aurora was established several mines distant from the Esmeralda camp. By an act of the First Territorial Legislature, November 25, 1861, Esmeralda County, named after the mining district, was made one of the nine original counties of Nevada with Aurora as county seat. The town of Aurora was substantially built, and a number of houses and stores were constructed of brick and masonry.

At present, most of the buildings are in ruins, and the general atmosphere of the camp is one of neglect and decay. In 1864, Aurora had a population of nearly 10,000, but by 1869 the bonanza ore near the surface became exhausted and a considerable part of the population moved to Virginia City. the mines, however, continued to produce up to 1882. In the early days as many as 17 mills were operating in the district at one tie. These mills employed stamps for crushing and the Washoe Pan process for recovering the values. Compared with modern processes, the recovery in these early-day mills was low, and the tailings that were available were subsequently cyanided in 1901 and 1902. in 1912 the Aurora Consolidated Mines Co. was incorporated. This property was purchased in 1914 by the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Co which erected a 500-ton mill equipped with 40 stamps, each weighing 1,750 pounds. Primary crushing was done with the stamps and fine grinding with 3-tube mills. Countercurrent cyanidation was employed to recover the values. After about three years of operation the mill was dismantled and the equipment sold.

At present there are two small mills at Aurora. One is a 10 stamp affair erected in 1912 and owned by W.J. McKeough of Aurora. In 1935, the mill was operated for a short time by the Western Consolidated Mines Co. This company ran into financial difficulties and closed down. Mill equipment consists of two 5-stage batteries (1,050 pound stamps) a ball mill 5 feet by 4 1/2 feet, 2 amalgamation plates, a Door simplex classifier and 2 Groch flotation cells. The other mill is a kincaid mill with a capacity of 2 tons per day and it owned by Fred Walker of Aurora.
DISTRICT REPORT; PROPERTY REPORT; PRODUCTION; USBM IC 6941, W.O. Vanderberg, 1937

Through the magic of Flash, I have constructed a page where the image goes from an 1889 photograph of Aurora, courtesy of the Nevada State Museum, to a 2004 version, courtesy of me.

The following is the first known newspaper article about the area

THE MONO MINES.
ESMERALDA DISTRICT, MONO COUNTY, September 27, 1860. The Location.
Eds. Alta: Thinking you might have no correspondent in this district, the locality of some recently found and very rich silver lodes, and presuming you would like to have a brief account thereof, from a person on the spot, I send you a few facts in regard to the same. This district, which embraces by the miners laws an area of ten square miles, lies 30 miles to the N.E. of Monoville, and 80 S.E. of Genoa, from which place it is easily approached by a good trail—there being a wagon road three-fourths of the way. The Esmeralda ledge, being the first discovered, and which has given name to the district, as well at the principal mining camp, lies 15 miles north from the east end of Mono Lake, and about the same distance east from the East Fork of Walker's River. The region about is mountainous and difficult to travel over, except towards the north, in which direction a country covered with low hills stretches off towards Carson Valley, and over which a fine wagon road may be made with little trouble. Wagons also come in from the south by way of Mono Lake, keeping along its northern shore in coming from Monoville, and around its east end in coming from Owens' Lake. By the former route, what little lumber has as yet reached here was brought in, though it will in time be transported from Walker's River by a much shorter route, and when slightly improved, easier. The site of the new mines is very nearly on the water-shed between the streams making into Walker River and Mono Lake, and consequently on the highest land in this region, save the peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the west, which here attain their greatest elevation, and some wild granite ranges to the east of the Lake. With such an altitude the climate is, of course, pretty rigorous, the nights already being cold, though the days are still warm and pleasant.
Quartz Ledges.
That a number of extensive quarts ledges have been found here, immensely rich in gold and silver, is no longer questioned. How valuable they will prove for the purposes of working, under all the circumstances, remains to be shown. The assays made from the ore establish the fact that it will yield from $500 to $2,500 per ton, gold and silver included. Some of the assays give $1,000 silver alone to the ton. There are immense masses— thousands of tons of rock above the surface, from almost any part of which may be taken pieces containing both gold and silver, in large quantities, by the simplest tests.
The Esmeralda Lead.
The Esmeralda Discovery claim is considered the best for silver. It it a ledge of quartz, about forty feet wide, standing from twenty to forty feet above the surface, running north and south, with a slight tendency to the southwest. Branching off from its west side are numerous ledges, many of them very large, and all well defined. These run towards the southwest, along the side of the mountain, and, like the mother ledge, can be worked to great advantage. They all show gold and silver in greater or less quantities, and will certainly pay to be worked if they prove as rich in these metals below as upon the surface. But as they have not been opened to any extent, no one can say how this will turn out.
The Esmeralda ledge runs over the crest of a high hill, having a deep ravine on both sides. Across this ravine, to the East, a number of ledges have been found, some of them very rich In both gold and silver. To the North, also, of the Esmeralda, all along the mountain slope for nearly a mile, a succession of parallel ledges crop out, one of which, the Silver Hill, yielded $1,200 to the ton, as shown by certificate of the State Assayer I hare taken up fifty pieces of this rock at random, and have seen gold in every one, with the naked eye. It is, without any doubt, a valuable ledge. The whole area over which these ledges have as yet been found, is about one mile long. North and South, and one and a-half wide. Prospecting is going on outside of these bounds, but, as yet, without anything valuable being met with. Hence, as will be seen, the actual extent of these mines is not great, though the district, as laid out, embraces an area of 100 square miles. There are at present about 75 men in the district, and everything visible above the surface, looking like quartz, has been taken up. Owing to the efforts made to keep this discovery from the public, the remoteness of the locality, and the lateness of the season, there has as yet been no rush to this point; and as there seems little promise of further discovery being made, there probably will be no great influx of miners here this season. The speculators are. however, on hand, and are making every effort to depreciate the value of claims, pretending that they are of "no account," while they covertly endeavor to buy all they can get at reasonable prices. I do not know that many sales have yet been made, though I hear of some, and at prices varying from $5 to $50 per foot. Those who can hold over, or are not greatly in want of money, however, will not sell at these rates, and I have seen $100 per foot refused for the Esmeralda here to-day.
A Word of Advice-
I would not advise parties to pay large prices until something more is known of these leads, and however rich they may prove, it should be borne in mind that the winters here are severe, and that the mines can only be worked under many serious disadvantages. At all events, anything like getting up an excitement on the strength of these discoveries is to be deprecated. Especially should workingmen dismiss all thought of coming here this fall. Provisions are scarce and dear; the claims are all taken up, and winter is already at hand—therefore this is no place for those who expect to live by their labor, and have but little money to spend.
The Weather.
To-day, for the first time this fall, the weather is lowering, and the dark clouds, driven by a strong wind, betoken an approaching storm. For the last month there has been frost every night, ice forming sometimes an inch thick, and we may look for snow within the next four weeks. But few persons will attempt to winter here, and those will be engaged running tunnels, several of which have already been commenced. Mono.
-1860 October 8, Daily Alta California

Some descriptions from the newspapers of the day....

It looks now as if with returning Spring, the tide of adventurers would set strongly toward Esmeralda -the region lying some eighty miles S.S.E. of Carson City, along the boundary line of Utah and California, and in the Walker River basin. Last Fall it was always spoken of as in Utah, but as it fills with people, who dread a repetition of the anarchy of Washoe, the impression has so strengthened of its inclusion within the California limits, that our Legislature is loudly petitioned to erect a new county, to be called "Mono," which shall embrace all of Calaveras County that lies east of the Sierra Nevada, and snugly wrap within this coveted corner. It is now some six months since the prospectors cried "Eureka" over the silver-laden quartz lead that splits the porphyritic green stone of Esmeralda. It was too late in the season then to get much of the rock down to the distant reduction works, and Winter is no time for prosecuting investigations into the wealth or poverty of mines that lie 5,000 miles [We're sure they meant "feet" - F.N.] above the level of the sea, and within 25 miles of the base of the snowy Sierra. Still an unaccountable faith has swelled the population of the little town of Aurora from 200, as it was when Winter set in, to 800, as it is now while Winter still keeps guard over all the region. This vanguard of the restless army that is expected was housed in tents, or in cabins of turf or stone, but very rarely in houses of wood. The nearest standing woods fit for lumber are some twenty miles away, where a saw-mill will be running in less than a month. Meanwhile the Aurorans are rejoicing in the discovery of a plastic stone -- just the tiling for building material -- an article which can be trimmed easily with hatchets when first unearthed, but which hardens into a tolerable sandstone in a few days. For fuel, the scrubby pitch-pine which covers a third of all the mining district, is well spoken of; and there is water enough; so that they are talking of building two considerable ditches already, whose routes have been surveyed and pronounced feasible. The writers from Esmeralda speak very coolly of the prospects, but tell large stories notwithstanding of the looks of the rock. In the Edward Everett lodge, they say the gold is almost everywhere visible in the decomposed quartz; that "large wages can be made by pounding the rock in a mortar, while the seams, worked only with the pick, yield over an ounce a day to the hand." The silver sulphurets lie deeper.
1861 April 4, New York Times

The present town of Aurora numbers some 100 buildings, mostly canvas covered frames, and a population of about 800 persons. Although the business of the town is now exceedingly small through a general lack of money, improvements in the building line are slowly progressing around the business center. The inhabitants are collectively, a sober, industrious community, dreaming of early wealth and wondering how they can manage to raise another month's supply of grub.
Of over 500 ledges located in the district, within a space not exceeding three square miles, the number that are now thought to be valuable form but a small fractional part. As may be imagined, the sides and summits of Last Chance, Middle and Silver Hills are riddled with prospect holes and cuts.
-1861 June 21, Sacramento Daily Union

The Esmeralda Mines. — A correspondent of the Union, writing from Aurora, July 18th, speaks very highly of mining prospects in that locality. He says :
There have been several new discoveries this Summer outside of Esmeralda District, but nothing to compare in richness with Esmeralda. Men who go to these new discoveries return and say Esmeralda is good enough for them. One of the richest ledges I have visited in Esmeralda is the Garibaldi Quartz Ledge. On this ledge the company are getting out five hundred ton of rock to be ready for crushing in the first mill that has a good silver saving process. They have now seventy-five tons out, and I think every ton will pay richly. Large boulders of this quartz are rich in silver and gold. M. D. Goodman, of Sacramento county is the foreman of this company, and is prosecuting the work well. He had rock they got out yesterday at the depth of twelve feet, the richest in gold and silver I have ever seen. The gold is completely diffused all through the silver and rock. This ledge is from eight to ten feet thick.
1861 July 23, Sacramento Daily Union

A selection of general news from 1862

Esmeralda News.
The following items are collected from the Esmeralda Star, the first number of which was issued at Aurora, Mono county, on the 17th. Owing to a lack of white paper the initial issue is printed on brown wrapping paper:

A fitting tribute to the memory of the late F. A. Scott, Sheriff of the county, killed by the Indians at Owen's River, was paid on the 5th inst., at the opening of the Court of Sessions.

While Mr. Reynolds, a very highly respectable citizen of this place, was coming from Walker's Meadow to Aurora, a week ago last Sunday, an Indian calling himself a Californian, armed with a rifle, fell in and traveled some distance with him. He spoke very good English, and avowed his friendship toward the whites and his animosity towards those Indians who persist in a continuation of the present war troubles on Owen's river. While thus traveling and talking, to divert the attention of Mr. R., he instantly sprang to one side, leveled his gun and shot at him, the ball taking effect in Mr. R.'s mouth, knocking out several teeth and carrying away a portion of the upper lip. This prostrated him to the ground, but he immediately recovered and shot at the retreating Indian with his revolver, to no effect. The Indian, however, commenced reloading his rifle, and Mr. R., realizing that the Indian could outrun him and shoot at a much longer range, crossed the Walker's river, and re-crossed several times as he wended his way to the residence of Mr. March, a distance of five miles. The Indian, however, by some means overtook and fired again at Mr. R., the ball taking effect in the left shoulder, causing a severe flesh wound. Mr. R., then escaped without any further injury, and is now doing well under the care of his surgeon, Dr. Sill. Subsequently, the facts as above related, were communicated to Lieutenant Noble, by a special messenger, and at two o'clock of the morning of the 5th he repaired to the scene of trouble, where Mr. Marsh held as hostages two other Indians, and had sent a third to inform the tribe that if they did not give u p the renegade Indian they would be held to answer for the crime. But by some means not yet learned by me, they escaped; and this is, so far, the last that has been heard of the Indians in that quarter.

The owners of the First Extension of the Antelope have "struck it" rich, this week.

If it does not stop snowing in this region soon, the present inhabitants will winter here this summer, sure! The clouds that circulate about this country are mighty loose, somehow; for hardly a day passes but that a few inches of this element are sifted over the country, seemingly in commemoration of the prolific months of January and February.

Daniel Toumey, who died May 7th, in the vicinity of Walker's river, was said to be a native of Ireland, and a sober, hard-working and respectable citizen. The cause of his death is attributed to the wounds inflicted upon his person by a six-shooter in the hands of John Wheeler. We are not apprised sufficiently of the circumstances to give them publicity.

Flour is said to be very scarce in town. We trust that our enterprising merchants will see to it that we do not want for bread—at the price of $30 per 100 pounds.
1862 May 26, Daily Alta California

The border issues continued to provide problems

AURORA IN NEVADA TERRITORY
The Esmeralda Star says that it has been found by survey-- that the town of Aurora lies within Nevada Territory, being over one mile distant from the State line.
-1862 August 22, California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences

Much of the news appearing in the California papers came in the form of letters written to the editor

THE ESMERALDA MINES
Editors Alta: Aurora is quite a brisk and thriving town, the impetus being the mining, which is vigorously prosecuted in its vicinity, the greater portion of the mines, if not all, being exceedingly productive. The various mills are adding the silver process, and those which have been working in that metal are doing fine business crushing rock which pays from $40 to $00 per ton. The leads in the Esmeralda District are very numerous, most of which are well known in San Francisco.
1862 September 10, Daily Alta California

Here's one that takes the trouble to name many of the mines.

LETTER FROM ESMERALDA. Esmeralda Mining District. Sept. 10, 1862
Editors of the Alta: Business here is very lively since the raising of the fifty-foot flag on the liberty pole. The hills echo with blasts, from sunrise to sunrise again. The stage company are doing a good, business, having to run an extra daily, crowded with new comers. The ledges are turning out much better than ever I expected to see them; in fact, every one that owns in a well-defined lode, thinks he has his fortune. Some of the new discoveries are proving to be as good if not better, than many of the old ones. I think I shall remain here, instead of going back to my old horne— Washoe. I have just returned from Silver Hill. The first lode I visited on that hill was the "Federal Union." The incline that the company are running, looks more like workmanship than my other in camps; the ledge is a fine decomposed ore, and very rich in silver and gold. The next is the "Antelope," a fine, large lode, from which the company have taken out something like 1,000 tons, ready for crushing, and which, it is calculated, will pay upwards of $800 per ton. The "Utah," "which is just above," is another good lode. As we ascend the hill we come to the "Iowa," a ledge twelve feet thick; and the "United States," "Red. White and Blue," "St. Louis," " Siskiyou," "Revenue," "Church," " Black Swan," "General," "Winnemucca North," "Silver Peak," " North La Plata" and "Esmeralda," are all considered the best ledges in the district. There are many more on the same hill, of which I will write you more fully hereafter. In going on Last Chance Hill, we first come to the "Wide West," "Johnson" and "Pride of Utah" lodes. The "Wide West" and "Johnson " are now having a lawsuit in the District Court. There is strong talk, to-day, of a compromise. as just above the "Wide West" comes the "Annapolitan." the "Bell"and the "Banner:" just below the "Banner." and running parallel with it, comes the "Caspiua;" next comes the " Rochester," " Yellow Jacket," "Last Chance," "Empire," " Garribaldi," "Aurora," ".Etna," "Real Del Monte," "Jake Miller."" Lord Byron," " Wyoming," "Lady Sly," " Fresno" "Juniata," "Horatio and Darby," and the "Constellation," all of which are well delined lodes.

As for the mills, they are not the best, although what mills we have are running night and day. I understand, from good authority, that we are to have three or four 60-stamp mills in here, this fall; if so, look out for large shipments of bullion from Esmeralda. We have about 150 families here. and more are coming in daily. There have been several brick fireproof buildings put up lately, and a good many more are in course of erection. A horse race off on election day, for $1,000 a side. All I know is, that the gray horse won. They are to run again, in a few days, for a sum of $2,000. The election went off quietly, and the Union ticket made a clean sweep in this county. There is a great dearth of news here, the mail only reaching us three times a week. Why can't we have a south extension of the telegraph? Won't some of our enterprising friends take pity on us, and, in the language of the ancient Macedonian, " come over and help us?" We are ready to receive and support that enterprise. Z. P.
-1862, September 16, Daily Alta California

This one mentions several of the merchants. Note how it says "Mono County"...

OUR LETTER FROM AURORA.
Aurora, Mono County, Jan. 1, 1863. Editors Alta:— A happy New Year to you all, for I assure you we have had a very happy one here, although we have a good deal of snow. Calls were made all round, and times looked like "langsyne;" but every person behaved properly—few inebriates in town, indeed—a few of the ladies received calls, and made everybody happy. The weather is very pleasant for the season. We have had snow about six inches deep, (the walking very fair) but not enough to make any of the miners stop work, or even stop the parties who are putting up their houses. The road from Carson Valley is open, and some teams are coming in. "We have plenty of provisions to run the winter. Aurora is much, improved this year, and those who visit us are truly astonished at the progress we have made. Our stores are full, and doing a good business. Levy, Dreyfus & Co., provisions; Rhodes & Co., hardware; "Wingate's building, two stories, lower part groceries, and the upper story is full of lawyers, notaries, etc.; Harris & Co. have their assay office on Pine street, and Howard & Sanchez, bankers, are on the same street.

A good many persons left us in the fall to go to Silver Mountain; they had heard from friends there of rich strikes, and could not rest satisfied until they had seen for themselves. We hear they have struck some rich things there, and have determined to stay. We can spare them, trusting they will do well. Others have gone to the Walker River mines, and others to the Russ district and Como; but we presume we will get them back in the spring, as they will find that they had their pile in Esmeralda. if they had only stopped and done the work that they will have to do where they have gone to. A rolling stone gathers no moss. We are having a nice warm rain as I finish this, which is melting the snow, and the indications are that we will have an open winter. All hands here at present are full of hope, and seem encouraged to work with the prospect of an early spring, with big licks at the same time. You, no doubt, have a good crowd of Esmeraldians with you spending the winter at the bay. They had better have staid here and worked their claims this winter; it would have paid them better. ——X.Y.Z.
-1863 January 13, Daily Alta California

Still annoyed about the boundary

DISPUTED BOUNDARY.
The boundary line between California and Nevada Territory has never been officially established under the authority of the United States. [It didn't assume it's present form until 1899 - FN] An appropriation was made for that purpose during the last Congress in Buchanan Administration and a Commission appointed, but owing to a blunder of our own Legislature, a delay of a year was caused in expending the money. The Nevada Legislature last year authorized the line to bo run between Lake Bigler and the Colorado; it was run at least a portion of the distance, and by the Hue as established under that survey the town of Aurora is in Nevada Territory. It has heretofore been considered in California; in fact, the present Speaker of the Assembly is a citizen of Aurora. Of course, the running of that line, which really ought to have been done without the concurrence of California, a conflict of jurisdiction has been created, which threatens to be productive of serious difficulties. Mono county, in California, has been organized, with Aurora as the county seat. The acting Governor of Nevada Territory threatens to organize the county of Esmeralda, with Aurora as the county seat, after the eighth of the present month. If such an attempt is made it may result in serious collisions between the officers of the State and Territory. The interests in the protection of the law at Aurora are great, and the people ought not to be left in doubt as to which jurisdiction they are living under. To remove these difficulties it is necessary that the Legislature should act promptly. There should be prompt action in the premises by the Legislature. The acting Governor of the Territory might be requested to permit matters to remain as they are until a joint line can be run, under a pledge that California will conform to and withdraw all claim to jurisdiction outside of that line. A serious collision has heretofore occurred in Honey Lake Valley on the issue of jurisdiction, and unless something is speedily done to pre. rent it, more serious collisions are likely to be experienced at or near Aurora. Prompt and specific action in the premises is demanded.
1863 April 4, Sacramento Daily Union

LETTER FROM ESMERALDA.
What a Country-What a People.
Aurora, May 18, 1863. Eds. Alta : This is what they call Esmeralda, and the stones lying loose in the streets, in shops, bar and bed-room, they call gold and silver bearing quartz. They call this May-day, here, but if you could see the heavy flakes of snow which are fast coming down, you would have some doubt about it being a day in May. I tell you this is a great country especially since they began to fence it in, and nature has whitewashed it with snow. The town is very lively; there are ever so many whisky-shops here, and twice as many idlers; feet for breakfast and pork for dinner. A glorious country, this, if people would believe it. Every third man you meet county his wealth by millions—on paper; and when you ask the time of day, you are invariably answered: one foot to the share. Speaking of the time of day, I must inform you that no two watches in this city run alike, and almost everybody has a watch, as they are easily obtained for feet. One man has San Francisco time, which ought to be fast but is far behind Virginia [City] time, another has Carson time, and still another gives you any time at all.
1863 May 25 Daily Alta California

Aurora had it's share of crime.

A BLOODY FIGHT. On Saturday evening last, an altercation took place between two discharged State Prison convicts, who but lately had arrived in this town—about some plunder. The scene was laid in the Pony Saloon, and the names of the belligerents, Bagley and Chauncey. Bagley spit Chauncey in the face, and the latter drew his pistol and killed Bagley without a moment's warning. A year ago such an affair would have created considerable excitement, but to-day, when pistols and bowie-knives are used on very trivial occasions. Chauncey was released, after a formal hearing, on $2,000 bail, and is again at liberty. While no one deplores the untimely death of Bagley, the peace-loving citizens regret that such an old prison-bird as Chauncey should be allowed to disgrace the streets of Aurora with his presence
1863 May 25 Daily Alta California

Already complaining about people coming from California, just like we do today!

LETTER FROM AURORA, ESMERALDA.
[From an Occasional Correspondent.]
Aurora, February 9th, 1864, Cleaning Out the Rogues. Editors Alta:-—By this time the telegraph has informed you of the existing Vigilance Committee in this city. It has really done good already; Four of the roughs were hung, three of them were provided with a purse to go to rebeldom or any where else except Aurora, twelve received notice yesterday lo leave this place within forty-eight hours and never to return, and this morning orders we're issued from the Committee to close all the stores, and keep them closed, until further orders. Something is up, sure, and before many days some few will swing. There is to be no "let up" until the town is cleared of all the roughs and thieves, and a new system inaugurated. Whoever comes to this place henceforth had better make up his mind to pursue a straightforward course, or he will find it a hot place to breathe in. It was high time to take such measures, as no honest citizen was safe for even a walk across the street during the evening. Our neighbors at Virginia may not like our ex portation, but they have only to follow our example and they too, will soon get rid of them—at the same time I would advise our California friends—unless they can do better for us in the shape of honest miners—to keep San Quentin better guarded; and not to let its guests travel over the Sierras to test the ropes.
Observer.
1864 February 15, Daily Alta California

One of the more famous gravestones in the cemetary is that of William Carder, gun-fighter. Apparently he threatened the wrong man, who ambushed him as he came out of a saloon. Carder was apparently such a jerk that the man was found "not guilty."

At half-past 11 o'clock on Saturday night, the 10th instant, William E. Carder was shot through the neck and instantly killed by Moses Brockman. The weapon used was a doublebarreled shotgun loaded with pistol balls. Brockman was standing near the door of the Exchange Saloon, and discharged the contents of both barrels of his gun into Carder as he stepped out upon the sidewalk. The first charge took effect fairly on the right side of tbe neck and passed completely through, severing the jugular vein and windpipe, and tearing a most shocking hole ; tbe second charge entered the body in the region of the right shoulder. The parties were only a few feet apart, and it is thought every shot in the gun entered the body of the victim. After firing, Brockman laid down his gun and surrendered to officer Palmer, who arrived on the ground very promptly after hearing the shots. The causes of the tragedy, as we have heard them related by several parties, are substantially as follows

A short time since, Carder and Brockman bath went to Montgomery district, amd Carder, who returned first, left his own horse at the Adobe Meadows on the way up, and took one belonging to Brockman, which he brought into town. Brockman, on returning to the Adobe Meadows and finding his horse gone, hired one and came into Aurora. Carder commenced abusing him for not bringing hin (Carder's) horse, when Brockman replied, "I have no business with your horse. I think you treated me meanly by taking my horse without permission." A quarrel ensued, in which Carder is said to have threatened Brockman, and on two or three subsequent occasions, when they met, the former used very rough language, and threatened to whip the latter. Brockman, knowing that Carder's only method of fighting was with deadly weapons, in the use of which he was probably more expert than any other man on the Pacific coast, naturally enough had fears for his own safety, and took the advantage he did in order to insure his own life. Coroner Tyler held an inquest on the body yesterday, and, though we did not hear the testimony, we presume it was decidedly in Brockman'a favor, as the jury promptly returned a verdict of "justifiable homicide." Brockman is a sober, industrious miner, and has heretofore conducted himself in a very quiet, peaceable, orderly manner. Carder was one of the most desperate characters we ever knew. His quickness and proficiency in the use of deadly weapons were almost beyond belief, and his remarkable coolness and bravery rendered him the terror of the community. In the afternoon before he was killed he tried to provoke quarrels with several of our most peaceable citizens, whom be abused most outrageously by slapping them in the face, kicking them, pulling their ears and twisting their noses. He leaves a family, consisting of a wife and a step-son about eight years old.
1864 December 19, Sacramento Daily Union

Of course, while all this digging was going on, keep in mind the Civil War was raging back east.

Good News. Monday evening news was received here of the capture of Richmond, which elicited the most enthusiastic joy and rejoicing by the whole of our Union citizens, which was enlivened by patriotic speeches, songs and other manifestations, until the small hours of the morning had increased materially. Yesterday the flags were flying and happy congratulations took place, concluding by a grand ball last evening, where the ladies evinced their great joy upon the occasion by "tripping it upon the light fantastic toe." Weather. We have had more cold freezing weather the past Winter than any one previous since 1860, and as the Spring time comes it yet holds its icy power. The thermometer for the past week has stood, night and morning, at from 10° to 12° above zero, which is altogether too cold for comfort. Yesterday we had as cold and piercing a snow storm as any during the past Winter, and to-day it is cold— freezing all day. If the Summer should come to us this year, it could be truly appreciated after so much cold; but the universal exclamation is, " Now is the Winter of our discontent."
1865 April 11, Sacramento Daily Union

Things are dying down now

LETTER FROM AURORA, NEVADA.
[correspondence of tub union.] Aurora Esmeralda Co., Aug. 5, 1865. Never, since the settlement of this section of country, has business been so dull here as at present. Aurora, which two years ago contained between three and four thousand inhabitants, has now scarcely the tenth part of that number, a large proportion of those left being women and children, which makes the fact so much the more lamentable.
1865 August 11, Sacramento Daily Union

They improved the roads to and from Aurora...

WALKER RIVER ROAD
The Lyon County Sentinel says that the Walker River Road is now completed from Dayton to Wellington's Station, and affords a shorter and better transit to Aurora and the new districts to the south and east than the one now traveled by way of Carson and genoa. Below we give the distance by the new route, the accuracy of which may be relied on:
From Virginia to Hot Springs, via Dayton, 35 miles
Hot Springs to Wellington's, 10 miles
Wellington's to Aurora, 50 miles
From Aurora to Columbus, by trail from Dexter's Ranch, 55 miles
same by wagon road via McBride's ranch, 75 miles
Aurora to Silver Peak via McBride's ranch, 100 miles
Aurora to Hot to Blind Spring mines, 50 miles
Aurora to White Mountain district to McBride's, 75 miles
Aurora to Owensville via McBrides, 75 miles
Aurora to Indian District via McBride's, 67 miles
McBride's from Aurora, 45 miles
Aurora to Adobe Meadows, 28 miles,
McBride's to Adobe Meadows, 12 miles
1865 November 20, Reese River Reveille

But that didn't help much. And neither did the fire.

GREAT FIRE IN AURORA- A dispatch dated at Aurora, January 6, says:
A fire broke out in the San Francisco House, on ANtelope street, this morning, at half past two o'clock, consuming twenty-one buildings and damaging several others. Garland & Company's fruit and provision, and H. Hafkey's stationery stores, and S. Martin's saloon, were entirely destroyed; Levy and Co. D. Cohen & Co., and the Bank Exchange sustained a small loss by smoke and water. The greater portion of the buildings were unoccupied. It was with the greatest exertions of the firemen that any portion of the town was saved, as there were heavy winds at the times. Total loss estimated at about $40,000. It was probably the work of an incendiary, as the building in which the fire originated was vacant.
1866 January 9, Sacramento Daily Union

More on the fire and local goings on...

Matters about Aurora. — A correspondent of the Union, writing from Aurora January 7th, gives the following intelligence : Yesterday morning we had a more destructive fire than all others heretofore in the town of Aurora, [Recently referred to in a dispatch to the Union. — Editors.] It broke out between two and three o'clock in the morning, in a frame building that had not been occupied for a year past. . The wind was blowing fiercely at the time and the fire spread with great rapidity, burning all the frame buildings on both sides of Antelope street, between Pine and Aurora, including the stores of Garland & Co. and F. Hafky. The former saved most of his goods, though in a damaged state, by a vault in the rear of his store. The latter lost all his goods, furniture and everything. His loss is very much deplored by the citizens. The brick store of Levy & Co. was saved, goods somewhat damaged. The brick saloon of F. Schoonmaker, Kimball & Canfield, and Kohn & Co.'s brick stores, were also saved. Had it not have been for the almost superhuman efforts of the citizens and firemen the whole town would have been in ashes. The fire is supposed to have been the work of an Incendiary. The following is a list of the principal sufferers:

Davis & Trianovich, frame house, valued at $1,000;
Burns & McBride. two frame buildings, valued at $1,750;
Stewartson, frame house, valued at $1,000;
B.G.. Parker, two frame houses, valued at $1,200;
Lambert, one frame building, valued at $400;
K.D. Barker, two frame houses, valued at $1,500;
S. Martin, two frame houses, billiard tables and other fixtures, valued at $2,800 ;
Gray & Stewart, one two-story frame house, valued at $1,200;
Gray & Garland, new frame store, valued at $2,000 ;
Garland & Co., building and goods burned and damaged, $7.000;
F. Livingston, Barnnurn's restaurant, valued at $1,000;
Levy & Co., storehouse and goods burned, loss $7,000;
J. Amsler, one frame house, valued at $800;
J. Summers, brick building, valued at $1,000 ;
G. W. Parker, two frame houses, valued at $1,000 ;
F. Hafky, building, goods and family fixtures, loss $4,000 ;
P. Radovich, one frame building, valued at $1,000;
Teed & Wand, large saloon, $1,500;
Mrs. Heirne, one frame building, valued at $1,000,
Total loss about $40,000.

During the day a snow-storm set in and snow fell to the depth of about three Inches. The weather has been clear for ten days past, but rather cold, thermometer ranging from six degrees to twelve degrees above zero every night. We now have a daily mail between here and Carson, and a weekly mail from Aurora to Kearsarge. There is no Post Office or Postmaster between here and there, or at the latter place, as the news came only by telegraph; but they will doubtless soon be established when letters are received by mail.

About a dozen large mule and ox teams passed through here last week, heavily loaded with a quartz mill and machinery, from Como District, bound for Kearsarge. The Del Norte mill is crushing good rock from their mine, as are also two or three other mills In this district running. The Empire and Home Stake mills, at Bodie District, are both running. The former is crushing twenty tons of rock per day, which pays $80 per ton. The capacity of the mill is soon to be increased to crush thirty tons per day, as they have a great plenty of rock. The Home Stake mill is crushing twelve tons per day, which pays $100 per ton. About $15,000 worth of bullion was brought in here last week from Silver Peak, and a shipment will be brought in this week from Blind or Hot Spring District
1866 January 11, Sacramento Daily Union

 

LETTER FROM AURORA.
[Correspondence of the Union.] Aurora, May 16, 1866. Preliminary. The object of this letter is to give you and your numerous readers a few items of interest in regard to the more uncertain, precarious and exciting business of quartz mining for gold and silver on this side of the Sierra Nevada. Esmeralda still continues to live, and that is all that can be said about her at present; yet I believe that the richest mines that are in this portion of the State lie imbedded within the bosom of this district. Out of twelve hundred shafts or holes that have been dug, not more than twenty-five or thirty exceed the depth of 100 feet, and only one that has reached the depth of over 240; and what has been the result of this kind of mining? Let us contrast the present Esmeralda with her condition three years ago, within our mind's eye, and see if the result is in any way flattering to our present condition. Then her population numbered not less than 5,000 souls, with a city Government, and two daily papers; two fire companies, of 60 men each, with their machines; two military companies, uniformed and equipped in every particular, with commodious and comfortable armories; also a brass band of nine pieces, together with all other accompaniments which tend to make up a full-fledged city. Yet with so large and flourishing a population, and flattering prospect in regard to the result of our mines, nevertheless it is humiliating to reflect upon our present condition; but there is no use of trying to conceal the fact that Esmeralda has reached its lowest point of depression, not only in mining, but all other business, notwithstanding we have been favorably represented through the press, and our mines extolled in every way conceivable, and large amounts of money have been expended without any satisfactory result to the parties concerned. " J. S. M.
1866 May 22, Sacramento Daily Union

The Carson Times says that the directors of the Nevada and California Telegraph Company have in view the extension of their line from Aurora to Candelaria, a distance of sixty miles.
-1880 March 19, Reno Evening Gazette

Says the Esmeralda Herald: The town is scandalously healthy. No physician who thinks anything of himself would try to make a living here. As we have neither doctor or preacher the supposition is that bodies and souls are safe in Aurora.
-1880 May 12, Reno Evening Gazette

New mining methods were brought out to revive the town.

A man down at Aurora, Esmeralda county, says the Herald, has spent several months teaching two gophers to prospect for him. They are so well trained that they will burrow in any spot he designates. When they have thrown up a quantity of dirt, he pans it, and thus he believes that he will be able to prospect the whole country at a nominal cost, and find placers if any exist.
1880 May 29, Reno Evening Gazette

Apparently enough is happening in Aurora that freight is going back and forth, at least.

CARSON AND COLORADO
Another side track is being put in at Hawthorne, where stage and freight connections are made for Aurora and Bodie. A small round house is being built there, and a blacksmith and car repairer's shop. All is running smoothly on the road, and considerable freight is being carried. Passenger travel remains light. The company charges nine cents a mile for passengers, which is crowding the limit closely. The fast freight stage lines between Bodie and Carson have lately reduced their rates of fare and are getting a good deal of trade.
1881 July 2, Reno Evening Gazette

This can't be good.

Petitions for the removal of the county seat of Esmeralda county from Aurora to some point on the line of the C&C Railroad are being circulated throughout the county.
1881 August 5, Reno Evening Gazette

The beginning of the end.

A bill has passed dismembering Esmeralda county, sanctioning the removal of the county seat from Aurora to Hawthorne.
1883 March 1, Reno Evening Gazette

They put up a good fight, but in the end, money talks.

They are having considerable trouble in Esmeralda county over the removal of the county seat. It is now claimed that property upon which the buildings are to be erected is mortgaged and that by law they must have clear title to this ground.
1883 June 5, Reno Evening Gazette

The Contest over the County Seat of Esmeralda
The constitutionality of the bill authorizing the removal of the county seat of Esmeralda was under consideration in the Supreme Court at Carson yesterday. Reddy and Bennett are endeavoring to make it appear to the Court that the bill is clearly unconstitutional, while Judge Wells and Col. Ellis are contesting that point.
1883 June 19, Reno Evening Gazette

The Aurora Herald, published at Aurora, Esmeralda county, Nevada, did not long survive the removal of the county seat to Hawthorne.
1883 August 6, Reno Evening Gazette

Still, some mining activity continued and hopes ran high for some

Messers. Crowder and Alfred Ann, mining experts from England, a few days ago examined the Con. Esmeralda Mine at Aurora, and will make a favorable report on the same. Using the hackneyed expression "an old fashioned boom" is again talked of at Aurora, whence through Wells, Fargo & Co., to San Francisco there were shipped in the early days nearly $20,000,000 in gold bullion.
1887 August 2, Reno Evening Gazette

The Esmeralda News says the mines of that section have never looked better. the Silver Hill mill is kept busy crushing ore. Its capacity is not adequate to handle the enormous quantity of ore awaiting reduction. Thursday a bar of fine bullion was shipped to San Francisco. The camp is looking up and it is hoped that it won't be long before it will be booming.
1887 August 15, Reno Evening Gazette

The Esmeralda Con. Company has a small force of miners employed in the Aurora group.
1887 August 17, Reno Evening Gazette

Now that Goldfield is successful, they want the county seat. Aurora protests.

OLD CAMP AGAINST NEW
Opposes Removal of the County Seat Of Esmeralda County From Hawthorne to Goldfield-- Opinion of Aurora Paper
The old mining camp of Aurora, once a great producer and now in the dawn of a revival, has lined up with Hawthorne in opposition to the removal of the seat of Esmeralda county to Goldfield. Says the Borealis, the effervescent newspaper printed at old Aurora: The people of Goldfield are out after the county seat of Esmeralda, and from the newspapers and press reports they are going after it in a most strenuous manner. The proposition of ordering an election to vote on the matter will probably come up before the next meeting of the county commissioners. There seems to be be no defined effort made to retain it in its present location. The Borealis objects to its removal for several reasons, chief of which is the cost of an election the additional cost of removing the records, should GOldfield secure the election. And again, the stockmen and ranchers reside in this end of the county and are permanent, besides they are less able to afford the cost of going to Goldfield than are the people of Goldfield to come to Hawthorne. Let the people of this part of the county look to it that the county seat remains where it is, for the present at least, for with the revival of Aurora, the opening up of The North Canyon, Mount and big Indian mining districts and the possible opening up of the Walker River Indian reservation will make this the heavy end of the county. Now is the time to act before it is too late. Our interests demand it.
[NOTE: Esmeralda has had three county seats: Aurora until 1883, Hawthorne from 1883 to 1907 and finally Goldfield .Present population in the whole county now is less than 800, making it the least populous county in Nevada - FN]
1905 December 14, Reno Evening Gazette

WILL SELL OLD COURT HOUSE
Built In Aurora During The Early Days
The recent order of the Esmeralda county board of commissioners, authorizing the sale of the old Aurora court house, recalls to the minds of many the exciting days in old Aurora and the trouble that accompanied the removal of the county seat and the construction of the new county building in Hawthorne.

"The old court house at Aurora is still a good building," remarked James McCLeary, one of the men that went into Aurora in the early days. "It was built in the early sixties at a cost of about $75,000 and, furthermore, it was honestly built. It is a two story structure and today is better than one that was put up at Hawthorne after the seat of the county was removed. Aurora had a population of 20,000 and the people never thought the camp would be a straggling village twenty years later. The old residents of Esmeralda will distinctly recall the troubles that attended the removal of the county seat. There was a fight over the bill, but it finally carried after the Esmeralda delegation had consented to Lyon county taking a slice of territory from Esmeralda in order to get the support of the senators and representatives from Lyon. That created a row of big proportions and it did not diminish when the cry of fraud was raised in connection with the construction of the court house in Hawthorne." Mr. McCreary says that old Aurora is reviving on a big scale with the construction of the drainage tunnel and that it is apt to become a strong competitor against Goldfield in the event the seat of the county is to be taken from Hawthorne.
1906 January 1, Reno Evening Gazette

Now there is talk about bringing some of that newfangled electricity to the area.

MAMMOTH POWER PLANT
TO BE BUILT ON THE WALKER RIVER
10,000 Horse Power Station to Carry Power to Aurora, and Other Principal Camps
W. B. Settles, supervising engineer of the new Bodie Mining Company, a wealthy corporation composed of Bodie and Salt lake men, arrived at Sweetwater, Nevada and begun the preliminary work upon the erection of a mammoth generating station that is to carry electric power to Bodie, Aurora, and Masonic, three large mining districts in California and Nevada. The generating station is to be built upon the east Walker River and will cost over $100,000 when completed, according to the full plans.
1906, June 14, Reno Evening Gazette

Don't think this project ever bore fruit, since Aurora was eventually hooked up to power originating from the [Nevada-California Power company subsidiary] Southern Sierra Power Company's Lake Lundy power station.

The proposed power plant in Mill Creek canyon will be built this summer and operations started immediately. This plant will furnish power for Bodie and Aurora, and for the present will be confined to those two camps.
1910 March 25, Los Angeles Herald

ELECTRIC POWER IN READINESS FOR NEVADA MINES
"We will be ready to turn on the juice from the new Hydro-Electric plant near Mono Lake any time after Christmas, and immediately furnish power for Bodie, Aurora, and Lucky Boy," is the statement made yesterday by A.F. Dieter, secretary of the company, which is just bringing the great enterprise to a successful completion, says the Goldfield Tribune. "We have been delayed about three months by being held up by the government in the work of laying our pipeline across a portion of a forest reserve, but that difficulty has now been settled, and we are ready for business," said Mr. Deiter. "The present plant will have a capacity of about 1,500 kilowatts, or 2,000 horsepower, but we expect to double its capacity next year. Our lines are already constructed to Bodie, Aurora, and Lucky Boy, and are being extended to Rawhide, Fariview, and Wonder as rapidly as possible. We will furnish power for the mines and mills at Bodie and Aurora, the lines at Lucky Boy, and the mines at Wonder and Fairview, all of which are now getting ready to connect as soon as they can." Water for the power plant is taken from Lake Lundy, about three miles above the plant. The lake, which is about a mile long, from 500 to 1,500 feet wide and 75 feet in depth at the deepest point, is a splendid natural reservoir for power purposes.
1910 December 26, Reno Evening Gazette

Of course, there were some setbacks.

CATASTOPHE IS REPORTED IN HIGH SIERRA
SEVEN MEN AND ONE WOMAN ARE BURIED
Swept To Their Death When Snow Slips Down Mountain Side Tuesday
HAWTHORNE: An exhausted courier as just struggled into Hawthorne bringing news of a horrible catastrophe in the high Sierra to the westward. Seven men and one woman were swept to to their death by a snowslide which crashed down the mountainside at midnight Tuesday, sweeping away the homes of employees of the Hydro-Electric Company's plant at Jordan, Mono county, California. This explains the sudden shutting off of power at midnight on Tuesday, but it was believed then that the trouble was not at the scene of the plant, but further down the mountains where a slide might have carried away the pole lines, as has happened before. The plant supplied power for Aurora, Lucky Boy, Hawthorne,Fairview, and other camps.
1911 March 9, Reno Evening Gazette

Aurora got cut off from electricity around 1920, and didn't get it back until 1934.

Still, they keep digging at Aurora

NOTICE TO THE EMPLOYEES OF THE AURORA CONSOLIDATED MINES Co.
Operations will begin April first. All employees should report at works between March 25th and 28th. AURORA CON. MINES Co. L.H. Metzgar, Gen. Superintendent
1915 March 22, Reno Evening Gazette

Even in 1915, Aurora was still being written up as a possibility.

The old Esmeralda mining district at Aurora, Nev. is twenty-eight miles in an air line southwest of Thorne, a town on the Hazen-Tonopah branch of the Southern Pacific and it's nearest point. The town of Aurora is three miles east of the California-Nevada boundary, sixteen miles north of mono Lake, and one and one half miles east of Bodie Canyon. The old Esmeralda, near the southern limit of the productive area, was the first vein discovered in the Aurora district. According to Wasson, James M. Brawley, J.M. Corey, and E.R. Hicks made the discovery on August 22, 1860, and immediately located four claims. The town of Esmeralda was built in the gulch just east of the discovery, but later in the year the present town site of Aurora, one and one-half miles north, was laid out. The first mill, owned by Edmund Greeg, was put in operation in 1861, and was followed shortly by several arrastras and mills. in 1864 there were seventeen amalgamation mills in the district, the largest, which had thirty stamps, being the Real Del Monte in Bodie canyon. Up to the year 1864 the camp was very prosperous. Aurora had a population of about 10,000 and was the county seat of Mono county, Cal. During the year 1864, however, misfortunes befell the camp. The California-Nevada boundary was run and showed that the Esmeralda district lay in Nevada; the rich bonanzas in the wide west vein on Last Chance Hill became exhausted and bitter litigation over the ownership of the veins on Last Chance Hill developed. The camp, however, continued to prosper until 1882, though the supply of $75 ore, which in earlier times could not be mined, was then becoming depleted. In 1880 an English company acquired possession of the main group of claims on Last Chance Hill. It began operations in 1887, starting the Real Del Monte shaft and connections with the Durant vein on Middle Hill, but suspended work in 1892 after a vain effort to keep the lower workings of the 800 foot shaft free from water. Most of the claims in the Esmeralda district were owned in July 1913 by two companies, the Cain Consolidated Co. and the Aurora Mines Co. The Aurora Mines Co.'s chief group, containing eleven claims, lies on Silver Hill, though they own five claims on Aurora Hill. The Cain Consolidated Co. controls about forty claims, among which are some of the famous producers of the district. In the summer of 1912 these holdings were under option to certain financiers of Tonopah, Nev., which have, according to reports of the mining journals, taken up ground and started operations. Most of the productive ground of the district has now been acquired by the Goldfield Consolidated Mining Co. A 500-ton cyanide mill has been built, and there is every prospect that Aurora will once again be a producing camp.
- 1915, May 30 Salt Lake Mining Review

But by 1919, Aurora was officially declared a "ghost." Only four families were left.....

AURORA NOW A GHOST CITY
The old mining camp of Aurora has now joined the ranks of the ghost cities of the West. Four families are left in the camp where three months ago there were several hundred inhabitants. All outside communication has been discontinued and the stage has ceased to run so that the less than a score of inhabitants must depend on chance wayfarers for news. The camp was closed down three months ago when the mines ceased operations.
1919, January 22, Reno Evening Gazette

And then there was one...

ONLY ONE MAN REMAINS IN OLD BONANZA DISTRICT
Only one man remains in the famous old camp of Aurora. The Hawthorne News says that Henry Boerlin and family drove to the old camp of Aurora Sunday and returned with Charles "Shorty" jorger, one of the two remaining residents of the once-famed county seat of Esmeralda county. The absence of "Shorty" who will remain in Hawthorne for the winter leaves George Mills as the only resident in the camp. Jorger, who classes himself as mayor of the town, said that he had vested all authority in Mills and felt that the latter would have little difficulty in looking after the affairs of the town. Both men have been operating mining prospects on a small scale. A third resident, Fried Walker, recently went to Bodie to work for the winter. There is much speculation as to whether Mills will stick it out during the cold winter months that are common in the Aurora region.
1930 December 12, Reno Evening Gazette.

Activity didn't stop, however..

MILL AT AURORA IS READY FOR OPERATION
The famous old mining camp of Aurora... is gradually working its way back onto the map. Sunday night electricity was available in the camp for the first time since 1920. The Mineral County Power System has hooked up the mining property now being operated by O.D. Thomas of Los Angeles, the Mineral County Independent reports.
1934 January 27, Reno Evening Gazette

As in interesting aside, the town of Mangum was created to shield miners from the evils of Aurora, of which there were plenty.

When the Aurora Consolidated Mines Company undertook to mine and mill at Aurora in the early part of the Twentieth century, one of the original company owners, Jesse Knight, did not take kindly to all the saloons and other “businesses” that blossomed overnight in old Aurora to accommodate the influx of miners and mill men. Knight built the little mining camp town of Mangum, north and over the hill from Aurora near the company’s mine and mill, declaring that no saloons would be allowed.
When several of the Company’s mines were surveyed in 1914, including the Mangum mine, Mineral Survey plat No. 4219 showed the locations of several of the buildings the company had erected in its little village. In addition to the Superintendent’s house, there were three bunk houses, a boarding house, and a hospital building, all located northeast of the state of the art Mangum mill, close to the “Upper Road” that led to Aurora. South of the mill site were a carpenter shop, machine shop, blacksmith shop, assay office, store house and a small office building. Not a saloon in sight!
-"Aurora’s 'Red Light' District" -Sue Silver

Significant open-pit mining began again in 1987 and a large 200 ton per day mill was installed by Nevada Consolidated Goldfield. It was expanded to 350 tons per day in 1993. The Aurora Partnership began heap-leeching the Humboldt pit in 1987 as well.

POST OFFICE

2/27/1866 - 5/14/1897 Esmeralda
1/24/1906-2/10/1911 Aurora
2/10/1911-5/31/1919 Aurora

NEWSPAPER Esmeralda Star, Aurora Weekly Times, Esmeralda Union, Esmeralda Herald, Aurora Star, Aurora Borealis
WHAT IS

There's nothing much left of Aurora unless you know where to look. The two cemeteries are some of the best in the west, and have some very unique headstones. There are the remains of three or four structures still standing, while the fallen remains of many more lay hidden in the tall sagebrush.

Aside from the mill, there isn't much left at Mangum, having been bulldozed and swallowed by the contemporary mining operations there. Although they appear to be closed, their fences and gates prevented us from seeing some of what we wanted to see. But not all.

Coming into Aurora from the Bodie road is a rocky, bumpy mess with the recent storms- the mining road is a lot better, and signs towards the end will conveniently point you in the right direction. Aurora is a place where you will have to bring some old photographs and maps and use your imagination a bit- but there is still plenty to see. You will probably want a high clearance vehicle.

The mill at Mangum as you come into town is large and impressive. You can still faintly see some of the streets in town, although Pine St., Esmeralda St., and Antelope St. are still prominent. Part of another mill and the wall of the electric sub station still stand. A cabin is down the road to the east, a mill down the gulch to the south, and lots of other cool stuff. We arrived at about 8 o'clock and it took us all day to explore, and we wish we had more time.

 
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