Introduction:

Virginia City, Nevada is one of the best known mining towns of the old west.  Gold was discovered in the area in 1859 at Gold Hill.    The period of highest production (1871-1880) is termed the “Big Bonanza.” The structure of major mining properties is unusual – linear.  A single major lode, the Comstock Lode was mined  continuously for a distance of about four miles.

This schematic shows the relative location of major mines.

In addition, two smaller lodes, the Occidental and Flowery paralled the Comstock Lode to the east.  In contrast the claim maps of districts like Cripple Creek, Butte, and Tonopah are very complex due to claims being staked on complex systems of veins.

The major companies of the “Big Bonanza” eara (operatd on the Comstock Lode) other companies operated on the Occidental and Flowery Lodes.

The Comstock Lode is most noted for it’s silver production.  However, gold production until 1959 was 8.6 million oz., 5th highest in the U.S. for this time period.

Notes on researching:

Google Books has online books written about the district during the Big Bonanza period.  The Mines Register has helpful information.  The 1931 Mines Handbook has more useful information.  However, the corporate structures of the mining companies after the “Big Bonanza” era is complex and it is difficult to obtain a full pictre of the operations after the 1880’s.  The Virginia & Truckee RR historical association website has a number of maps of the district.  One map shows all of the mining claims and shafts.

Notes on collecting:

Early stock certificates and certificates from the major mines of the “Big Bonanza” eara are rare.  In the early 1900’s there was a major revival of interest in the district and a host of new companies were started.  These new companies retained the names of the famous “Big Bonanza” mines and many of the certificates followed the style of the predecessor companies.

In the 1920’s and during the depression era there was continued interest in the district.  Companies were  consolidated and new companies were organized.

Virginia City might be considered a high supply / high demand location for collecting purposes.  Prices are somewhat variable and it would be a good idea to study the market prior to making a purchase.

We Begin our Journey … at the southerly end of the Comstock Lode …

The mines along the Comstock Lode begin with the Overman located to the south of the town of Gold Hill and continue to the Bullion located to the north of Gold Hill.   Some of these list Gold Hill as their place of business.  The major claims from south to north include the: Overman, Belcher, Yellow Jacket, and  Crown Point.  Each of these companies had an extensive surface plant and probably employed hundreds of men.

Alta Silver Mining Company:

Organized: California, (date unknown)/ Operations: Nevada, Gold Hill, Storey County / Description: Per Mines Register, Vol. 14 This a property had old workings with a 1150’ shaft and is connected with the Sutro Tunnel (south lateral).  The 1931 Mines Handbook lists the company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time.  / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

The Alta certificate shows a 1872 Incorporation date.

Lady Washington Consolidated Company:

Organized: California, 1878 / Operations: Nevada, Gold Hill, Storey County / Description: Per Mines Register, Vol. 14 This a property on the Comstock Lode that was practically unworked.  The 1931 Mines Handbook lists the company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time.  / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

The Lady Washington shows a 1878 incorporation date. However, the certificate looks much more recent.

Contining to the middle portion of the Comstock Lode …

Exchequer Gold and Silver Mining Company:

Organized: California, (1904 per certificate – a reorganization of an earlier company)/ Operations: Nevada, Gold Hill, Storey County / Description: Per Mines Register, Vol. 15 The company has 400’ section of the Comstock Lode, and was located south of the Bullion.  Vol. 15 lists the company as a “non-producer” and its holding have been consolidated with other properties of Middle Mines Association.   The 1931 Mines Handbook lists the company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time. / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

The Exchecquer shows a 1904 incorporation date.

Bullion Gold and Silver Mining Company:

Organized: California, (1904 per the certificate – a reorganization of an earlier company)/ Operations: Nevada, Virginia City, Storey County / Description: Per Mines Register, Vol. 14, the company has 700’ section of the Comstock Lode and was developed by a 1,800’ shaft.  It was located north of the Potosi and south of the Hale and Norcross. Vol. 14 lists the earlier company and the Potosi as having production in excess of $13 million.  In 1921 the company joined others to form the Middle Mines Association.  The Middle Mines Association was a consolidation of the Exchequer, Bullion, Potosi, Chollar, Hale and Norcross, Gould and Curry and Best and Belcher companies.  The 1931 Mines Handbook lists this company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time. / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

The Bullion certificate shows a 1904 incorporation date.

Chollar Gold and Silver Mining Company:

Organized: California, (1904 per the certificate – a reorganization of an earlier company)/ Operations: Nevada, Virginia City, Storey County / Description: Per Mines Register, Vol. 14, the company has 700’ section of the Comstock Lode and was developed by a 1,800’ shaft.  It was located north of the Potosi and south of the Hale and Norcross. Vol. 14 lists the earlier company and the Potosi as having production in excess of $13 million.  In 1921 the company joined others to form the Middle Mines Association.  The Middle Mines Association was a consolidation of the Exchequer, Bullion, Potosi, Chollar, Hale and Norcross, Gould and Curry and Best and Belcher companies.  The 1931 Mines Handbook lists this company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time. / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

The Chollar certificate shows a 1904 incorporation date.

Savage Gold and Silver Mining Company:

Organized: California, (1904 per the certificate – a reorganization of an earlier company)/ Operations: Nevada, Virginia City, Storey County / Description: The Savage was located north of the Hale and Norcross and south of the Gould and Curry mines.  Early production was $20 million ; there was a 2,400’ shaft.  In 1921 the company joined others to form the Middle Mines Association.  The Middle Mines Association was a consolidation of the Exchequer, Bullion, Potosi, Chollar, Hale and Norcross, Gould and Curry, and Best and Belcher companies.  The 1931 Mines Handbook lists this company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time. / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

 Gould and Curry Mining Company:

Organized: California, (1904 per the certificate – a reorganization of an earlier company)/ Operations: Nevada, Virginia City, Storey County / Description: The Gould and Curry was located north of the Savage and south of the Best and Belcher mines.  In 1921 the company joined others to form the Middle Mines Association.  The Middle Mines Association was a consolidation of the Exchequer, Bullion, Potosi, Chollar, Hale and Norcross, Gould and Curry, and Best and Belcher companies.  The 1922 Mines handbook list holdings as 613’ on the Comstock Lode with a past production of $15.5 million.  The 1931 Mines Handbook lists this company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time. / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

The Gould & Curry was incorporated in 1904.

Best and Belcher Gold & Silver Mining Company:

Organized: California, (1928 per the certificate – a reorganization of an earlier company)/ Operations: Nevada, Virginia City, Storey County / Description: The Best and Belcher was located north of the Gould and Curry and south of the Consolidated Virginia mines.  In 1921 the company joined others to form the Middle Mines Association.  The Middle Mines Association was a consolidation of the Exchequer, Bullion, Potosi, Chollar, Hale and Norcross, Gould and Curry, and Best and Belcher companies.  The 1922 Mines handbook list holdings as 613’ on the Comstock Lode with a past production of $15.5 million.  The 1931 Mines Handbook lists this company as one of the properties owned by the Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company that owned and operated the Sutro Tunnel at the time. / Principal place of business: San Francisco, California

This company was incorporated in 1928. It has a Comstock name but the Comstock properties were sold and the company attempted to develop mines in California.