The Silver State
Back in the second half of the 1800’s people were finding silver in all the nooks and crannies of Nevada, which caused mining towns to erupt from the desert landscape. People moved in from all over to stake their claims of the not-quite-gold riches that Nevada had to offer. In 1873 the federal government demonetized silver, creating the gold standard in the United States. After that all of those booming mining towns began to dry up and blow away. And that is how the state of Nevada now has more ghost towns than populated towns.
One of those ghost towns is Hamilton, Nevada. In 1867 silver was discovered on Treasure Hill, which is an area located above what would become the town of Hamilton. Treasure Hill contained a lot of silver and a lot of caves. Treasure Hill became known as Cave City because most miners opted to live in the caves due to the lack of building materials in the area. Once the word got out about the lodes of silver that the cave dwellers were finding, then more people moved into the area and the need for an established town became evident.
The town of Hamilton quickly grew into a desert metropolis. By 1869 the population was over 20,000. Hamilton had banks, schools, a skate rink, dance halls, two newspapers, breweries, an opera house, a soda factory, and many churches to attend to ask for forgiveness for attending any one of the over 100 saloons within the city.
By 1870 the silver mines were picked pretty clean, so some residents relocated to the nearby town of Ely. When the demonetization of silver happened in 1873, the population dwindled to just 4000.
Later in 1873 a shop owner attempted to burn down his own shop to collect insurance money, but the fire took half of the town with it. Population shrunk to a mere 500. 10 years later the remaining residents had to vacate Hamilton as another fire claimed all the wooden buildings that were left.
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