Aurum Nevada Overview
Originally known as Silver Canyon, Aurum was a silver mining camp and a stop on a stage mail route in White Pine County, Nevada.
The name was also spelled Auram and the name is from the Latin word for “gold.” I have found several families living in White Pine County with the surname Aurum so at this time I am not sure if it was named for a local family or for the Latin word for gold, which was supposedly recommended by Dr. Lucien Brooks.
It was also known as Silver Canyon, Schell Creek, Schellbourne, Siegel, Queen Springs, Ruby Hill, Muncy Creek, and Silver Mountain.
Aurum Nevada History
Aurum had two neighborhoods, defined by differing elevations. In the higher sections of the community, boarding houses accommodated miners working in the local area. Areas of the community with lower elevation contained mainly private residences, commercial businesses, and the post office. The higher-elevation neighborhood where the miners resided was referred to locally as “Doughburg.”
Over the following decades, the community experienced multiple periods of boom and bust. During booms, the community’s population rapidly swelled to hundreds of people. However, during busts, miners left, businesses closed, and the population rapidly dwindled. During one of these “busts”, the population dropped to only one inhabitant – a local man named Simon Davis.
Eventually, the mining activities in the area shut down permanently.
From an undated mining report from NBMG:
According to Lincoln (1923), the Aurum district was discovered in 1871. Silver was sought in various parts of the district in the early 1870’s and was explored by a number of shallow workings. Although silver is the principal commodity of the district, some production of copper, lead, zinc, manganese, and tungsten has been reported. Most of the tungsten ore was mined from the Siegel and Schellbourne subdistricts in 1954 (Smith 1976).
Located at the head of Silver Canyon, west of the site of old Aurum. Silver Canyon is the third district from north of the five small districts sometimes grouped into the large Aurum district, covering all of the northern Schell Creek Range.
- 1869 – The first discoveries were made
- 1873 – The town became abandoned
- 1878 – Discoveries were made with one of the discoverers Dr. Lucien B. Brooks possibly suggesting the name Aurum and a small mining camp was formed with a 10-stamp mill at the mouth of Silver Canyon that went into operation in the early 1880s
- April 4, 1881 – The post office opened
- April 16, 1881 – The Postoffice Department having objected to the name of “Silver Canyon” in White Pine county, the people of that place took a vote on it and decided to call the place “Aurum.” [The Pioche Record – Saturday, April 16, 1881 – Page 2]
- July 9, 1881 – Ward Reflex: We learn that when the mill shut down last week at Aurum Monday last the ore going through the pulped over $100 to the ton. The cause of the stoppage was an ore car getting loose, and smashing up things in the incline, thereby cutting off the ore supply. We understand there is a large body of ore in sight and that there will be no difficulty in keeping the mill running after damages are repaired. [The Pioche Record – Saturday – July 9, 1881 – Page 2]
- 1882 – The mill shut down and only a handful of men were working the Aurum mines
- January 8, 1884 – A blasting accident caused the death of Thomas Highland at the Blue Belle mine.
- February 11, 1884 – A snowslide in Silver Canyon occurred killing three residents, H. W. Mickel and Wallace McCrimmon, who was buried at Aurum. The other victim, John Fox, was taken into Cherry Creek for burial. The snow was so deep that they could not use horses and had to trek through the deep snow and use a hand sled to bring the remains of Mr. Fox into town.
- 1898 – The Aurum Mine was located by Simon Davis and George Palmerton (who later passed away on February 14, 1890, in Aurum at the age of 56)
- 1906 – Aurum was abandoned, again
- Mid-1920s – The last resident, Simon Davis, moved away from the area
- May 31, 1938 – the post office closed
Silver, lead, and copper.
Unknown at this time.
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April 4, 1881 – May 31, 1938
Before the Aurum post office was established, the mail service had been provided by a special run from Schellbourne.
Unknown at this time.
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The Population of Aurum Nevada
There were approximately 50 residents in the beginning and around 1872 the population peaked at around 500 residents.
There are seventeen graves interred at the Aurum Cemetery:
- Lucien Boneparte BROOKS, MD (June 8, 1812 – December 4, 1885)
- Jacob CAMERON (1840 – October 26, 1897)
- James DOHERTY (1834 – October 21, 1891)
- John FOX (? – February 11, 1884)
- N. L. Hughes
- Thomas Benton HYLAND
- James Grant KARR
- Moses KILLAM
- Charles N. LANE
- Wallace McCRIMMON
- W. H. MICKEL
- M. H. MITCHELL
- George PALMERTON
- Benjamin C. “Ben” SANFORD
- Mabel SNIVELLY
- Infant son Yturiaga
- Unknown miner
Aurum, 3 miles west-southwest of the Spring Valley road at a point 3 1/2 miles south of its junction with SR 2 (40 miles northeast of Ely).
From an undated mining report from NBMG:
The Aurum mining district is located in the northern part of the Schell Creek Range about twenty miles southeast of the town of Cherry Creek. The district is divided into five subdistricts which are scattered between Duck Creek and Lovell Peak. Most of these subdistricts are east of the Egan Resource Area and are not described in this report. A few workings in the Schellbourne subdistrict lie within the Resource Area, however, and were examined briefly during our investigation.
The Aurum District occupies the N. part of the Schell Creek Range. Schellbourne on the W. side of the range, is 18 m. S.E. of Cherry Creek, which is on the N. N. R. R. while Aurum post office, on the E. side near the S. end of the district is 42 m. by road S. S. E. of Cherry Creek. The elevations of Spring Valley on the E. of the Schell Creek Range and of Steptoe Valley on the W. are about 5,500 ft. and the crest of the range is over 9,000 ft. above sea-level. The Aurum District is sometimes subdivided into the Schell Creek of Schellbourne District, at the N.; the Siegel, formerly the Queen Springs District, next S.; the Silver Canyon District; the Ruby Hill District; and the Muncy Creek, formerly the Silver Mountain District, at the extreme S.
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Photos and Videos
WHITE PIHX ITEMS.
From the Inland Empire of the 13th and 14th instant, (which, we are glad to note, has been enlarged to the size of the Sacramento Union), we clip the following items news:
Messrs. Chisholm and Ramsdell returned to Hamilton yesterday, after an absence about 20 days through the ranges of mountains running in an easterly direction. They located a district about 110 miles from here, which they call Silver Canyon District. The ledges are numerous, and are found in granite and limestone formation. There is no one in the district now except two men who accompanied Chisholm and Ramsdell. The ores brought look well, and one assay has already been made, indicating a profitable yield. Other assays will be made today, and we will give the exact figures of each one tomorrow. James Mallon, who left Hamilton on foot a few days since for Austin, managed to reach ten miles this side of Drv Creek where he has since been confined with the small pox. The station at which he is stopping is 40 miles this side of Austin. Mallnn, when our informant passed there day before yesterday, was thought to be dangerously Hi. The telegraph line was completed to within 11 miles of Hamilton last evening. There is a deficiency in the number of poles on winch to stretch the Hire, and this will have to be procured before the line can be finished. The poles were all loaded on teams some days ago, but as they have to be brought a distance of fifty miles, the superintendent of construction says he can not tell when the line will be completed until after they arrive. A letter from a resident of Carlin to a friend in Hamilton, dated April 8. contains this item: ” Carlin is building fast have commenced our White I’ine Road, with plenty of cash to put it through. Shall start a saddle train from here to your place in a few days.”
The sound of the carpenter’s hammer is heard in all directions of this little city daily, and every morning the improvements are so clearly visible that even a close-looker out for improvements is almost astonished at what has been accomplished the day before and on the morning of his getting out of bed, if he rises late. Let a resident depart from here today, and return in three weeks, and he will hardly recognize the town, so rapid are the improvements made. The price of lumber is from $300 to $400 a thousand, and the question to lumber dealers is never what the cost is, but whether the necessary materials can be procured. As all the lumber yards are besieged daily, their supplies on hand are not large at any one time but the quantity passing in and out of each one during every 24 hours, if correctly measured, will account for most of the building now going on in our midst. The arrival of about 80,000 feet of Carson lumber will account for the rest of it.
Everyday the developments on the ledge running to the west of Hamilton become more bold and pronounced in character. Yesterday several experienced miners who have been opening lodes brought us specimens which present to the experienced eye the finest indications. e become more and more satisfied, as the work of exploration on Blue Hill continues, that we have a mining belt here of unsurpassed richness.
Click here to view our list of History of the Southwest – Books and Online Resources to learn more about our amazing area!
- Paher, Stanley (1970), Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, Howell-North Books, page 240
- Lincoln, Francis Church, (1923), Mining Districts and Mineral Resources of Nevada, page 241
- Wikipedia – Aurum Nevada
- United States Geological Survey – Aurum Mining District