Treasure City (Tesora), Nevada

Once the pride of the White Pine Mining District!
Treasure City, located on Treasure Hill, was the source of the wealth.


The only known photograph of Treasure City. Photo from the late Ron Healy collection.

© Donna Frederick, July 2003

Treasure City is located two miles above Hamilton. See Hamilton for directions to Hamilton. Four-wheel drive is recommended to reach Treasure City.

The citizens of Treasure City looked down on Hamilton and the other towns in the valley, literally and figuratively! A graded road wound up Treasure Hill from Hamilton to Treasure City - the very name suggests untold riches! This was a toll road and was two and a half miles long. Those that were not hauling loads and preferred to hike up the hill had only a mile and half to go. Treasure City was exposed to the full wrath of the winds on the summit. Water had to be hauled up from Hamilton at eight cents a gallon. In spite of this between eight hundred and a thousand miners lived there that first winter. After all, this was the heart of the mineral wealth. The first cabins were built in November 1867 on the western slope near the top of Treasure Hill. Within a year there were close to 6,000 persons in the "city above the clouds." The excitement in the White Pine District developed even faster than the Comstock had and more men made, and lost, fortunes that first year than in the early days of Virginia City. Over 13,000 claims were located on Treasure Hill in less than two years times. Most of these were never worked. Excitement was high in the White Pine District and life was good. Deep snowdrifts that destroyed buildings, blocked roads and hampered mining development did not quell the enthusiasm. Because it was located on the exposed side of the mountain, Treasure City took the brunt of the icy winds that howled though the district most months of the year.

Tallman H. Rolfe founded the first newspaper of the White Pine District in the winter of 1868. Rolfe was a pioneer printer and served as editor and publisher of the White Pine Gazette. Although the prospects for the area seemed favorable, Rolfe suspended the Gazette after a very short time, leaving the field open to the White Pine News. W. H. Pitchford and Robert W. Simpson, attracted by the new mines in the district, removed the plant of the Silver Bend Reporter that was published at Belmont to Treasure City. They commenced publication of the White Pine News December 26, 1868. Simpson soon sold his interest and Pitchford became sole proprietor. He, in turn, soon sold to William J. Forbes who had come to White Pine to run a saloon. Forbes assumed the proprietorship, in partnership with John I. Ginn on May 10, 1869. Ginn retired on June 19 and Forbes was unable to go it alone. The proprietorship passed to the Daily News Company, where Ginn and Pitchford, to whom he was still in debt, joined Forbes. Under Forbes, the News engaged in a bitter battle with the Inland Empire at nearby Hamilton. Forbes finally suspended the News at Treasure City January 8, 1870 to move to Hamilton where he could better combat the Empire.

Playing the role of watchdog for the city,the News warned of the devastation of fire. The following was copied verbatim from the White Pine News published in Treasure City February 27, 1869:

The dangers of fire in our new town are apparent to the most casual observer, and some steps for protection are demanded. We see quite a number of very carelessly fixed stovepipes passing through roofs or up the sides of buildings, which are liable at any time to set the town on fire. These should be attended to. Too much precaution cannot be taken. Our buildings are of an extremely combustible character, and from the scarcity of water or means of removing houses, we are almost entirely defenseless against the devouring element. A fire would be most disastrous at the present time, so guard against it in the most minute particular. Let there be no chance for a fire. In the absence of a city organization, we would suggest the organization of a fire company with two or more paid officers, to act as inspectors and watchmen. Good, experienced and reliable men can be obtained, and we have no doubt but that the many property owners on Main Street, which is densely crowded with wooden structures, would pay liberally to support the service. These watchmen could also act as policemen, and their appointment is a necessity urgently demanded.

The first violent death was reported in this same paper. It appears that one of those affairs that appeared to happen to frequently in frontier towns occurred on Thursday, February 25, 1869 in the Mammoth Saloon. Two men, Daniel Flynn, commonly called Brocky, and a person whose name was given as Pat O'Brien, Pat Burns or Pat Kelly, were seated at a table in the Mammoth Saloon talking. An argument developed between the two, and when challenged to a fight, Flynn replied that he was not "heeled." Pat told him that if he would go into the street he would have a fair fistfight. Both men proceeded to the door, and Pat in advance ascended the stairs leading to the street. As Flynn stepped on the stairs, Pat turned and fired at him. The ball struck Flynn in his right side below the right breast and near the waist, coming out at the loins. Flynn was carried into the saloon and cared for, but died at about half past nine o'clock in the morning, Friday, February 28. The murderer fled to Silver Springs (later Shermantown), where he was reported to purchase a horse and continue his flight.

The News made another attempt to enforce some order and encourage citizens to look to the future of Treasure City with an article written April 8, 1869. Treasure City grew on the slope of the mountain and shallow shafts and pits crowded the streets and alleys. The following article is copied verbatim from the News:

The rapid progress, which our city is making, will soon cause it to rank among those of the first class on the Pacific Coast. With the exception of Virginia it already surpasses any mining town of Nevada or California, and it bids fair to soon leave the great city of western Nevada far in the rear. Difficult as it has been to procure lumber, or other building material, during the past Winter and up to the present time, by the most persevering energy enough has been obtained to build several hundred houses. Now, when the weather permits, the streets resound with the noise of the hammer and saw as the many busy carpenters ply their trade. In every direction throughout the town, mechanics and laborers are seen preparing foundations and erecting houses. Two months ago Treasure City seemed already and completely built up, but since then, some hundred or more houses have been erected, with a constantly increasing demand for material and men. Heretofore but few buildings of more than a single story have been erected, but several of more pretension adorn our street, and many more of two or more stories are in contemplation. The permanency and great wealth of our great city is assured, and therefore we may expect many costly and elegant structures to adorn our streets before the end of the summer. The scarcity of water will induce he construction of fireproof buildings and as the material for such is abundant, a different order of architecture than the present will soon prevail. Substantial buildings will be erected, and it will be necessary that street grades be established, so that uniformity is observed and future expense avoided. The streets upon which the improvements are chiefly made are Main, Union, Broad, Prospect and Wilson Avenue running north and south, and Treasure and Virginia, running east and west. The city authorities should recognize these streets, and their line, width and grade established, and an attempt should be made to open other cross streets. As we now have a City Council, or rather, a Board of Trustees, we may call for the establishing of grades on our principal streets, and the opening of others if possible. Main Street in particular needs the attention of the Trustees. A uniform grade is very necessary, and it is also necessary that the street be cleared and widened to its full extent. We may have one or more beautiful streets if proper engineering is followed, and we trust that this will engage the earliest attention of the city authorities. We hope that no timid councils will prevail. Let us not work on the suspicion that our prosperity is but temporary, and therefore permit things to remain in the disordered manner of the present. Treasure Hill, as its name implies, is a storehouse of treasure, and generations will pass away ere it is exhausted. Let our authorities take this view of the question, and now, in the infancy of the city, prepare for the future. Here is established, and here is to remain the great city of Eastern Nevada, and its future conveniences and beauties will, in a great measure, depend upon the judgement and action of those now invested with the power.

Obviously, from looking at the advertisements in this issue, the newspaper had reason to be optimistic. Treasure City has been said to have everything it needed - except an agreeable climate. There was silver, whiskey and people! This early newspaper boasted three eating establishments. There was Delmonico Restaurant, owned by M. Marincovich and Co., located on Main Street. They boasted that "The proprietors of the Delmonico are determined to establish the reputation of their House as the best in White Pine. The table will be spread with every luxury obtainable. Oysters, Eggs, Game, Wines and all the most fastidious appetite can crave. Private rooms for ladies. House open day and night." H. Trojanovich and Company advertised that Barnum's Restaurant would serve "meals at all hours of the very best." Pascoe and Shelly owned the Chop House where "can always be found the best to be had in the White Pine Market, served up the best possible style. Fine cakes, pies and other refreshments constantly on hand. If you wanted a Square Meal, you could drop in at Pasco and Shelly's Chop House." M. J. Henley and James Ballinger's Coffee Saloon and Chop House were located across from Wells, Fargo and Co.'s Office on the east side of Main Street. Their boast was "Residents and strangers will here find the best the market affords, and served to please. Game in season, and fresh fish, etc. by Express from San Francisco. Champagne and Oyster Suppers got up on short notice and in great style. In connection with the establishment is a comfortable Lodging Department full of good clean beds." (Do you think the word fresh could be stretching the truth a little?) Another article in the same paper stated "Len Wines and Company's Stages, bringing the Pacific Union Express matter, arrived in Hamilton yesterday in less than twenty hours from Elko." Two drug stores advertised. The Treasure City Drug Store was a branch of a San Francisco drug store. They carried drugs, medicines, perfumery, toilet articles and a general assortment of fancy foods. Charles H. Gordon had the Pioneer Drug Store. He advertised patent medicines, perfumery, stationery, toilet articles, cigars, tobacco, pipes, lamp chimneys, coal oil and fresh garden seeds. Both drug stores stated that physician's prescriptions would be carefully prepared.

Claim jumping was a common occurrence. It has been said that personal occupation and a revolver constituted clear title. Behind the miner with his pick, comes the newspaperman with his pen. Hot on the heels of both, come the lawyers, doctors, merchants, real estate brokers and others. This early edition of the News shows that a number of lawyers felt it would be lucrative to be associated with Treasure City. F.H. and J. M. Kenney were attorneys located in Treasure City. F. H. Kennedy was also the District Attorney of White Pine County. The Deputy District Attorney, George W. Merrill, lived in Shermantown and advertised in this issue of the paper in Treasure City. Channing Fenner and E. P. Dunn were counselors at law located on the corner of Main and Treasure Street. J. S. Pitzer and R. D. Ferguson's law practice was located on Main Street in Treasure City. Other Treasure City attorneys advertising were Wm. W. Bishop, H. L. Joachimsen, D. Corson, Thomas P. Hawley, Frank Tilford, Mr. Foster. Attorneys and counselors Aldrich, DeLong, Slauson and Wren advertised that they would attend to professional business in all State and United States Courts. Lewis Aldrich was located in Virginia City. Charles DeLong and J. S. Slauson lived in Hamilton and Thomas Wren was in Austin, Nevada. D. R. Ashley and George S. Hupp were attorneys located in Hamilton. H. Mayenbaum, District Attorney from Austin, Nevada, stated that he practices in Supreme Court and all other courts of this state.

With this impressive list of attorneys advertising in April 1869 it is little wonder that historian's state that late in 1869 excessive litigation brought the district into decline. The shallow veins of ore found on Treasure Hill did not help.

Early newspapers certainly did not know the words "politically correct" - or - there were a couple of miracles in Treasure City! The first birth was in 1868 and written up as "In this city - November 2 to Jacob Hall, a daughter. This is the first child born in this city." Then in May, 1869, the News wrote, "In this city, May 26, to John Cahill, a son - first production of this sort for White Pine County." John and Jacob should go down in the annals of history if they accomplished these feats all by themselves!

The 1870 Census enumerated from June 1 to June 15, 1870 showed 1,920 residents in Treasure City. Buying and selling of real estate took place at a furious pace. James O. Dow, of Elko, advertised he would buy and sell real estate and mining property on commission. Particular attention would be paid to causes before the Untied States Land Office. John A. Belvin was a mining and real estate broker located at Silver Springs. Fulton G. Berry and Wm. H. Sears were mining and real estate agents located in Treasure City. Edwin A. Sherman, a mining engineer who was among the early pioneers of the District and his partner J. H. McDonald were mining and real estate agents in Shermantown. They had "Mill Sites and Water Privileges for sale - perfect titles guaranteed." Reliable information would be furnished as to the precise locality of mines in the White Pine District for a reasonable compensation. J. P. Tenney and W. J. Blake were Notaries Public located in Treasure City. All legal documents could be drawn up and acknowledged. Abstracts of mining records were furnished. L. P. Tenney was also mining recorder for the White Pine District. Daniel Stevens and William Pardy were searchers of records plus Notary Public and Conveyancers [sic]. They had full abstracts of county records at their office at Treasure City. Stevens had came to the White Pine District from Virginia, Nevada and Pardy was from Austin, Nevada. F. A. Durant and A. Baker from Shermantown advertised gentle and easy riding saddle horses to rent. They boasted the best quality of hay and barley on hand and would board horses by the day or the week. A First National Bank of Nevada Agency was located in Treasure City. A. I. Page advertised that bids would be received at the Bank until the 12th for the sinking of a shaft twenty-five feet on the Glazier mine. A Wells Fargo and Company office was located in Treasure City from 1869 - 1873.

The Post office opened on June 15, 1869 and remained in operation until December 1880. White Pine Daily News, July 3, 1899, reported that Mr. C.F. Meyers, of the firm Halleck and Meyers, had been appointed the postmaster and the name of the post office had been changed from Tesora to Treasure City. On July 29, 1869, the News reported that the post office was supplied with "three hundred as handsome glass and lock boxes as can be found this side of San Francisco." It was suggested that persons who desired a choice box make early application.

Like other mining booms, the population soon dwindled. Theron Fox - Nevada Treasure Hunters Ghost Town Guide - gave the population of Treasure City as 44 persons in 1880. In spite of the cold winter wind and snow, and warm summer temperatures, many ruins remain standing at Treasure City.