Snowshoe Thompson enabled Comstock rush
December 27, 2004
Snowshoe Thompson, believe it or not, played a role in Dayton’s history. Before the discovery of the silver on the Comstock Lode, he carried letters from California to miners who were hard at work in Gold Canyon near Chinatown (today’s Dayton and Nevada’s first established Chinese settlement). He also delivered letters and papers to miners working claims in Six Mile Canyon.
A couple of prospectors named O’Reilley and McLaughlin were mining some mysterious blue material that they didn’t understand filled with gold. They didn’t know what the material was so Snowshoe Thompson wrapped it up and took it over the Sierra Nevada range to Placerville to be assayed.
The assayer pronounced the “blue stuff” to be silver of the richest kind. The sample taken to Sacramento was tested and found to be so rich that the assayer could hardly believe his figures. The rest is history – the rush was on in the region we now know as the Comstock.
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The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton. It’s also the location of the Dayton Chamber office. It is open during the week at random hours and on weekends beginning in early spring. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543 or 246-0441 for details.
Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.