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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/769

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NEVADA SILVER.

enough for a "sheep-dip," a multitude of articles never before used by miners, such were some of the contents of the Nevada mill men's witch caldrons in the early sixties. "The object appeared PSM V49 D769 Ruins of old mill near comstock.jpgRuins of Old Mill near the Comstock. to be," says an amused observer, "to physic the silver out of the rock."

Slowly, after immeasurable waste, crude methods gave way to better ones. Mills were built in Washoe Valley, in the canons, and on the Comstock, but the greater number were along the Carson River, so as to be run by water power. No less than 76 mills, costing over $6,000,000 and carrying 1,200 stamps, were in operation before the end of 1861. Some of the mills of the period are still remembered for their extravagant construction. Gould and Curry built one on a terraced hill where the mine owners spent about $1,000,000 in picturesque and useless magnificence. After a few years, when their bonanza began to fail, it was found that the reduction of their ore was costing fifty dollars a ton. The machinery was thrown aside, and it required $600,000 to put the mill in working order again. Everywhere, through years of readjustment, mills were torn to pieces, rebuilt, enlarged, made to do better and better work, until the results produced when the great bonanza mines were running at full speed attracted the attention of mill men all over the world.

What is known on the Comstock as the old group of bonanzas began comparatively near the surface. The yield of the diggings of 1850 had been about $100,000 for the entire lode. In 1860 it yielded in round numbers $2,000,000. After that the mines were developed so fast that by 1865 the output of Storey County, most of it from the Comstock, was $0,500,000. During twelve years after 1850 the product of all the Comstock mines was $145,000,000.