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Public still interested in dredge

Ruby McFarland
For the Appeal

There was a huge response to the article I wrote about the circa-1940 aerial photograph showing Dayton’s dredge and other historical points of interest.

I had hardly gotten the door open to the Dayton Museum when folks began inquiring about the photo. It’s wonderful so many people are interested in the history of this area.

The dredging operation in the center of Old Town Dayton played a big role in its mid-1900s history. For one thing, it employed numerous men, operating around the clock when it was in full production.

It was not the small amount of gold gleaned out of the huge dredge hole one sees today below the Dayton Cemetery. It’s probably a good thing they stopped dredging when they did, or there wouldn’t have been any Dayton left.

Early on in the 1900s, people came to Dayton and drilled core samples throughout the area. These samples showed promise of gold. Of course, we know Nevada’s first gold was discovered in 1849 at the mouth of Gold Canyon about which Dayton then grew – it stands to reason there had to be more. I’ve heard there were two bars of gold taken from the dredge hole in recent years.

There was a dredge operator named Gus Benton who swore there was still much gold to be found. He claimed in a Reno newspaper article written in October 1951 that the dredge needed to go deeper to hit the big bonanza. Gus died before proving his point.

Diarist Emma Nevada Barton Loftus spoke often about people working on the dredge. Tom Allingham, an ersatz nephew of Emma’s, worked for the dredge owner from time to time.

Like the homes of many Dayton residents, Emma’s home was in the way of the dredging operation so the company moved the houses. In December 1941, Emma moved into a new house after her original home was moved to Pike Street. It was converted to a rental.

In the aerial photograph at the Dayton Museum, one can plainly see the extent of the dredging operation and the effect it had on the community. The rerouting of Gold Creek is plain to see, too.

Main Street ended just past the Bluestone Building, whereas it had run up through Gold Canyon before, at one time being a toll road. (That’s another story).

The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. It’s open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1- 4 p.m. Sundays. Check out daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441. The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets the third Wednesdays at noon at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.

• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987. She serves as a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.