Mining Myths, Mining Realities—Opening Thursday, May 10

A message from Julie Hill (Mackay School for Earth Sciences and Engineering): the Shared History Program and the Students of History 311 have put together a wonderful exhibit: Mining Myths, Mining Realities, opening Thursday, May 10th at Lincoln Hall, Room #120 on the UNR Campus beginning at 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM.

Dr. Anita Watson of the History Department reached out to Mackay for help on this project, and many of our Executive Advisory Board members, faculty, and greater Mining Community stepped up to help. Some of our Mackay professionals were interviewed by History 311 students as part of this oral history project. Thank you, Mackay Community for helping to make this a success!

1954 Fairview Peak and Dixie Valley Earthquakes — Anniversary December 16

December 16th was the anniversary of the 1954 Fairview Peak and Dixie Valley earthquakes. You can plan a trip to visit the site using this field trip pamphlet:

The great Highway 50 rock tour (2005 Earth Science Week field trip)

Nevada Heartland and Nevada Day

From a LeRue Press email: “Dr. Mary B. Ansari, Director Emerita of Administrative Services and Branch Libraries at the University of Nevada, Reno, and author of a series of place names books published by Camp Nevada and author of Nevada Heartland, published late in 2015, joins Janice Hermsen and April Kempler on What’s the Story?

In the mid‐1860s, which Nevada mining camp offered the State of Nevada $50,000 to move the capital from Carson City to that settlement? Listen in on Friday, October 28th, Nevada Day!” [Hint: you can also look up the answer in Dr. Mary Ansari’s Nevada Heartland book.]

“Listen anytime: If you miss the show, go to for a podcast under What’s the Story?”

Kennedy Mining District—New Book by Alan Wallace

The story of the Kennedy mining district, Pershing County, Nevada: The people, mining, and economy
Alan R. Wallace
Year: 2016—just released!
Format: 306 pages, spiral-bound
Details / order here:

Mining was one of the state’s major industries in the first sixty years of Nevada’s history, and it continues to play a major role today. Over time, miners established more than five hundred mining districts in the state, and gold and silver were produced from many of them (Fig. 1-1; Tingley, 1992). Some districts, including the well-known mining centers at Virginia City, Tonopah, Goldfield, Eureka, and Pioche, produced enormous quantities of metals, and each was home to thousands of residents. They had impacts that extended far beyond Nevada’s borders, and their residents came from all corners of the country and the world. The great quantities of metals that came out of the districts produced instant fortunes for some, successful political careers for others, and, in the case of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, statehood for Nevada. Each major district has been the subject of extensive research and countless publications, and their rich and fascinating mining histories still draw tourists to relive that glorious past.

Take away that handful of truly spectacular mining districts, and one is left with hundreds of other mining camps that were much smaller, produced much less ore, and came and went in a matter of a few years to, at best, a decade (Fig. 1-1). As described by Allen Bragg, the early 1900s editor of the Silver State newspaper in Winnemucca, these smaller mining districts “came up like a wind storm and went down like a whirlwind” (Bragg, 1905). Little is known about most of them, and their “tourism” usually is limited to a few people in search of ghost towns. Yet, each mining camp was home to people and businesses for as long as the veins held out. Their impacts, rather than national or global, instead were more at the county scale, and the constant migration of people and money from one camp to another over the years was an essential part of life in rural Nevada through much of its early history. One might call these smaller districts unimportant, but they were very significant for both the people who were there and the surrounding communities that they supported.

This is a story about the Kennedy mining district, in what now is eastern Pershing County, which was one of those “typical” smaller mining districts (Fig. 1-2). You are not alone if you never heard of it. The Kennedy mining district began in 1891, boomed in the mid 1890s, and then went through a series of similar but increasingly smaller booms and busts until World War II. Its discovery and boom coincided with the Panic of 1893 and the nadir of Nevada’s mining industry and economy. Kennedy was a big deal for both Humboldt County and northern Nevada, and it gave hope to the five hundred people who were there in 1894. The money that came out of the district filtered into the Humboldt County and nearby economies and provided a much-needed boost that extended far beyond the confines of Kennedy.

Unraveling the history and details of Kennedy provides a snapshot of how these smaller districts functioned, from the mining to the stores to the people who came and went through the years. Kennedy was not unique, by any means, and the story in this remote mining camp probably repeated itself many times over at the hundreds of other similar districts throughout Nevada.

About the Author:
Alan Wallace was a research geologist in the Mineral Resources Program of the U.S. Geological Survey for 31 years. Much of his geologic work focused on the geology of old mining districts in Nevada, Colorado, and other parts of the West. He has turned his interests to the broader history of those mining districts and the related early history of rural northern Nevada. He lives in Reno, Nevada.

Mining Documentary Series on KNPB—begins April 7

UNR’s Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering participated in this series on Nevada mining history which will premiere this Thursday April 7 on KNPB, Channel 5. The information listed below is from the KNPB Program Guide, April 2016.

Week One
From Pickaxe to GPS: Nevada Mining

  • Thursday April 7 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Repeats Sunday April 10 at 6 p.m.

“Week one reveals the transformation of mining from the Comstock era to the present. Through the life of John Mackay, we learn how his legacy and the engineering of the era still influences mining today.”

Week Two
Our Wealth of Minerals: Nevada Mining

  • Thursday April 14 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Repeats Sunday April 17 at 6:00 p.m.

“Week two will uncover the wealth of materials we extract from your state’s land, how essential they are to our daily lives, and how the industry is regulated to minimize impacts to the environment.”

Week Three
Modern Prospecting: Nevada Mining

  • Thursday April 21 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Repeats Sunday April 24 at 6:00 p.m.

“Week three will present how technology has transformed Nevada mining into high-tech modern prospecting. We’ll journey from exploration, through modern operations to site reclamation.”

Week Four
Dollars, Sense and the Bottom Line: Nevada Mining

  • Thursday April 28 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Repeats Sunday May 1 at 6:00 p.m.

“Week four will explore the economic benefits to the state, the jobs created, the variety of businesses that provide support as well as an in-depth look at the taxes paid by the industry.”

New Place-Names Book Released by Dr. Mary Ansari

NevadaHeartlandNevada Heartland: The Place Names of Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey Counties, Nevada

Author: Mary B. Ansari, L.H.D.
Year: 2015
Format: 301 pages, paperback
Publisher: LeRue Press, LLC
Order link:

Do you know the answers? (from the back cover of this book):

  • In what city was a major horse racing track, considered to be the fastest track in the Pacific Coast area, located?
  • What place name in Syria is also a place name in Lyon County?
  • What woman, in 1875, won a bid to erect an iron fence with gates around the Nevada State Capitol Building grounds?
  • What did the customers call the liquor, made by a saloon owner in Yerington, in the early settlement days?

“No one writing today knows more about the geographic names of northwestern Nevada’s core historic section than Mary Ansari. Beginning in the mid-1980s, she published four volumes about the place names of Storey, Ormsby (now Carson City), Lyon, and Douglas counties, as well as a book about the names of mines and mills of the Comstock. These exhaustively researched publications provided the most complete information up to then about the names found on maps of those counties—their origins, meanings, and even data on important events or personalities associated with them.

Now, she has revised and expanded the material from her earlier books and brought it together in a new work that is the definitive place name reference for what is really the “heartland” of Nevada, the area where the state’s initial nineteenth century economic, political, and community development occurred.

Far from being a rote listing of similar facts about one site after another, Nevada Heartland is, in effect, a fascinating discussion about the landscape of an important region of our state. It is full of history, obviously, and much of that makes for quite entertaining reading. One can dip into the book at any point and find not only significant information about the name of a specific place, but also little-known facts or stories relating to the site.

We, and the many others who will read or consult it in the future, are fortunate to at last have in our hands this culmination of the author’s exceptional, decades-long work in the field of Nevada geographic names.” (from this book’s “Foreword” by Eric N. Moody, Nevada in the West magazine)

Dedication (by Mary Ansari):
In memory of my place-name mentor, Alvin R. McLane,
and as a 50th anniversary gift for my husband, Nazir A. Ansari

About the author (from back cover of book):
During the 25 years that Mary Ansari was a member of the University of Nevada, Reno faculty, she held a variety of administrative positions in the University Library. She was tenured in 1973 and promoted to professor in 1983. In 1994, she retired as Director Emerita of Administrative Services and Branch Libraries. During her tenure at the University, she published widely in library and place-name literature. She was national president of the Geoscience Information Society, and the society’s Distinguished Service and Best Reference Book awards bear her name.

With her husband, Nazir, she has been a major benefactor to education, human services, and the arts in Nevada. She is trustee and secretary-treasurer of the Nazir and Mary Ansari Foundation, a charitable foundation seeking to improve people’s lives through support of human services, education, the arts and culture in northern Nevada. In 2007, she and her husband were recognized by the University of Nevada’s Board of Regents as Distinguished Nevadans and were honored as Outstanding Philanthropists by the Sierra Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The University of Nevada, Reno’s Map Library bears her name. She has served on several public boards and continues to publish books on Nevada place names.

Mary received a Masters degree in Library Science from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. She received a Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Nevada, Reno. Mary and her husband reside in Incline Village, Nevada, USA.

Cover map: compiled by Jennifer Vlcan, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology