GOLD FEVER | BOOM OR BUST!

Article and Photography By Eric Anderson

The call of fortune seekers migrating westward toward Nevada and California in the mid-1800’s is what helped populate those territories later to became states. California reached statehood quickly in 1850 soon after gold was discovered in 1849 at Sutter’s Creek… which is why President Lincoln rushed them into statehood - for the needed cash to fund the Union armies. It was a long haul to the west in a covered wagon from the east coast on the odd chance one would “strike it rich,” but after the war ended in 1865, it was a time for celebration, exploration and gold fever to take hold.

Miners, or anyone with a pick axe, gold pan and mule, could establish a “claim” just about anywhere there was some sort of assay and ore action. Just know that like gambling, there were a lot more losers than winners.

The real money and riches surprisingly came from suppliers to those would-be and wanna-be miners… like a fellow named Levi Strauss who sold them all durable canvas trousers with rivets at stress points for digging in the dirt. If a shopkeeper offered hand tools, food supplies and ammo, he could make a much better living than cracking rocks underground all day. Imagine if ROXORs were for sale back then as an alternative to a stubborn mule. Once word got out that silver or gold was discovered, towns like Berlin, Nevada, sprang up like a field of sunflowers in less than a year.

The mines got dug, an infrastructure for supplies, mail, doctors, barns, corrals, stage stations, hardware/grocery stores and law enforcement became part of the town-building process. For however long the ore flowed, these boom towns flourished and grew practically overnight. And once the precious metal supply dried up, the town fell into disrepair quickly while everyone moved onto the next booming mining town to do it all over again.

Berlin’s mine worked from an incline shaft with eight levels and three miles of tunnels producing about $850,000 of ore-silver which paid 60 cents an ounce… and gold which paid $20 an ounce. This mine did it all - mined the ore-rich rock, then crushed it with on-site stamp mills, then implemented the mercury-heavy amalgamation processes and finally separated pure ore in concentrating tables. Only pure ore was transported out from the multi-purpose Berlin Mine, thus saving lots of effort in transporting heavy uncrushed rock.

Today, Berlin stands as a true ghost town, preserved for future generations to explore and see as we did in our ROXOR. It’s not a place many people know to visit, and once there, ROXOR can slip in 4-wheel drive low and take you anywhere in the surrounding area you want to go… like the nearby Ichthyosaur fossils and the neighboring ghost town of Ione.


Our ROXOR cruising downtown… past the boarding house and the mill building in the background.


Homes were often dug partially into the earth to support the structure and act as insulation in winter.


The town of Berlin sprang up in 1896 when substantial gold veins were discovered nearby. In total, the Berlin Mine produced 42,000 troy ounces of gold, all removed from tunnels by hard rock mining techniques. The mine became unprofitable by 1911, and the town of Berlin became uninhabited shortly thereafter.

Today, the ore mill still stands, and the stamps and mercury float tables can be viewed. Other buildings still standing include homes, blacksmith shop, stage coach shop and stable, machine shop, and assay office. Some buildings are open to enter, while others offer interior views of their contents through the windows. There are also headworks on some of the mine shafts. Source: Wikipedia


Ione is close to Berlin which actually still has a population of 41.


No alcohol was permitted on the Berlin mining property which is why four saloons popped up in nearby cities.


The Ichthyosaur is Nevada’s state fossil. Six of them, each 50’ long, were discovered by archeologists near Berlin.

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is a public recreation area and historic preserve that protects undisturbed ichthyosaur fossils and the ghost town of Berlin in Nye County, NV. The state park covers more than 1,100 acres at an elevation of 7,000 feet on the western slope of central Nevada’s Shoshone mountain range, 23 miles east of Gabbs.

Ichthyosaur fossils were first discovered in the area in 1928. Excavations were conducted through the 1960s, and the remains of approximately 40 ichthyosaurs were found. Several specimens were left where they were found, and can be viewed by the public. These specimens are protected from the elements by a large barn. Source: Wikipedia