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Setting the Stage

The discovery of the Comstock Lode, as people soon called the ore body, in 1859 brought a reverse migration from California in the "Rush to Washoe" (Washoe County, Nevada). In 1859, miners and prospectors in the western Great Basin made two remarkable strikes of gold and silver ore breaching a mountain's slope near Virginia City. The discovery of gold and silver along the twists and turns of Nevada's numerous creeks and streams heightened the fame and desirability of the area as Nevada became the land of opportunity.

Initially, interested parties who flooded to parts of Nevada were after gold and silver. However, with the ever-increasing rise of industrialization, specifically with regards to military and technological advancements, mining in the region began to take on a new character. Practical entrepreneurs began to focus on mining the metals integral to the economy at the time, most notably copper, lead, zinc, iron, and tungsten. In accordance with this growing trend toward a more diverse mining industry, new mills to process the metals began appearing. Johnson Lake Mine, a tungsten mining site of the Snake Range in east central Nevada is one such example.

Johnson Lake Mine was destroyed by a snowslide in 1935 and what remains are the remnants and ruins of the past. Archeology, a study of past peoples through items and structures that they used, helps us piece together the story of Johnson Lake Mine and the people who lived and worked there.



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