"Study the past if you would divine the future."
For the weekend explorer hoping for a chance encounter with some remnant of the past, a trip through Brunswick Canyon along the Carson River is largely uneventful.
All that remain of the bustling centers of commerce that once dotted the landscape are a few rubble foundations and other discreet reminders of a bygone era. The changes that have occurred and swept the landscape clean are dramatically apparent in Kel Aiken's photographic comparisons.
The vintage photo (courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society), which appears in Mallory Hope Farrell's recently published book "Virginia & Truckee, The Bonanza Road," was most likely taken in the 1870s during the heyday of the Comstock.
Pictured is the Morgan Mill in full operation, refining ore from the Comstock Lode. Since water was absolutely essential for the refining process, this mill, along with the Santiago, Vivian, Copper Canyon, Merrimac, Brunswick and Mexican mills, was located along the Carson River to the east of Carson City. All of these sites were served by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.
The V&T ore cars that delivered ore to the mills from the Virginia City mines can be seen in the left of the photo parked on a spur.
Typically, the cars would coast into the mill, one at a time, to be emptied. The brakeman, seen riding the first car, would control the movement of the car with a brake wheel as it approached the entrance. This operation was repeated at each of the mills between Carson City and Dayton.
In the present day photo (courtesy of Kel Aiken's Rephotographic Study of the V&T Railroad) we see captivating scenery and a pleasant rural road meandering through the Carson River Canyon.
Today, nothing remains of the Morgan Mill itself or any evidence of its once profound impact on the 19th century landscape.