Comstock Lode

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Comstock Lode,

richest known U.S. silver deposit, W Nevada, on Mt. Davidson in the Virginia Range. It is said to have been discovered in 1857 by Ethan Allen Grosh and Hosea Ballou Grosh, sons of a Pennsylvania minister and veterans of the California gold fields who died under tragic circumstances before their claims were recorded. Henry T. P. Comstock, known as Old Pancake, was a sheepherder and prospector who took possession of the brothers' cabin and tried to find their old sites. He and others searching for gold laid claim to sections of the Comstock (1859) but soon sold them for insignificant sums. The lode did not become really profitable until its bluish sand was assayed as silver. News of the discovery then spread rapidly, attracting promoters and traders as well as miners, and the lode was the scene of feverish activity. Among early arrivals was William Morris Stewart, who later became one of Nevada's first senators. Camps and trading posts in the area became important supply centers, and Virginia City, a mining camp on the mountain, was for several decades the "capital" of the lode and a center of fabulous luxury. Great fortunes were made by the "silver kings," John W. Mackay, James Graham Fair, James C. Flood, and William S. O'Brien, and by Adolph Sutro, George Hearst, and Eilley Orrum Bowers. Silver determined the economy and development of Nevada until exhaustion of the mines by wasteful methods of mining and the demonetization of silver started a decline in the 1870s. By 1898 the Comstock was virtually abandoned.


See G. Smith, History of the Comstock Lode (1943); G. Lyman, The Saga of the Comstock Lode (1934, repr. 1971); L. Beebe and C. Clegg, Legends of the Comstock Lode (4th ed. 1956).

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Comstock Lode

richest silver vein in world. [Amer. Hist.: Flexner, 177]

Comstock Lode

richest silver deposit in U.S.; famous during frontier days. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 418]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Bonanza got its name from the "Comstock Lode" in Virginia City, which was an exceptionally large and rich mineral deposit of silver.
SILVER FEVER; THE COMSTOCK LODE TO THE CARSON CITY MINT (9781440202476, $14.99) is edited by Robert R.
Readers learn about Orson Hyde's immense frustration as probate judge of newly created Carson County, the culpability of the Williams brothers in sparking the Pyramid Lake War, the presence of African American farmers in the Carson Valley, and the discovery of the Comstock Lode at "both ends" by two different groups of prospectors.
23 The Comstock Lode brought a boom to Nevada in the 19th century thanks to large deposits of which metal?
Bonanza was named after the Comstock Lode, a huge vein of gold and silver found beneath Virginia City in 1859.
Described, too, are the silver rushes to Tombstone, Arizona and to the famous Comstock Lode of Nevada; the rush to the Cripple Creek, Colorado region with its "unusual" gold ore (sylvanite); and the last and in some ways most outrageous of all the gold rushes, the one to the Yukon Territory in the late 1890 's.
Less than 15 miles southwest of the Comstock Lode (and 10 miles due east of Lake Tahoe), the town originated and grew due to the 19th-century silver-mining boom surrounding Virginia City.
Skeel cites neither the Currency Act of 1792, which made bimetallism government policy for the next 141 years, nor the discovery of the Comstock Lode, whose rich veins flooded the late 19th century world with so much silver that it altered the relative prices of the two precious metals.
41; Gunther Peck, "Manly Gambles: The Politics of Risk on the Comstock Lode, 1860-1880,, Journal of Social History 26 (1993): 701-723.
Mackay, who'd struck it obscenely rich in Nevada City's Comstock Lode before moving on to Butte, Mont., where he dominated copper mining.
Not till 1859, however, were the surface outcroppings of the Comstock Lode discovered in Nevada--one of the world's mineral treasure stores, which at its best yielded $20,000,000 worth of mingled gold and silver annually, and over time produced a total of $400,000,000 worth of precious ore.