The Downey brothers discovered silver in the area in 1877 (I have found references that it was 1866 but most say 1877), and the subsequent mining boom led to the town’s establishment. At its peak, Downeyville had a population of around 200 – 250 residents and boasted numerous businesses and services, including a post office, a school, and several saloons.
However, the boom was relatively short-lived, and by the early 1900s, most of the silver had been mined out, and the town’s population began to decline.
Today, very little remains of Downeyville, with only a few ruins and scattered foundations visible.
Downeyville Nevada Overview
Four Irish brothers (Edmond, James, Jeremiah, and Patrick DOWNEY OR William, John, James, and Richard DOWNEY from Canada- I have found conflicting information) discovered silver and lead ore in May 1877 and the mining camp of Downeyville located in Nye County, Nevada was established with the population growing to 200 residents the following year.
On the 1880 census of Nye County, I found Edmond and Patrick listed so I am leaning that the first set of brothers listed above is more accurate.
By 1885, most residents abandoned the town except for the Downey brothers. (Who later moved to Napa, California.)
Learn more about Ghost Towns in Nevada and Ghost Towns in the Southwest.
Silver and lead
- 1877 – Silver ore discovered by the Downey brothers
- 1878 – S. Rosenthal from Tybo bought a lot to build a store
- 1878 – Robert Spence from Tybo bought a lot to build a saloon
- 1878 – Population reached 200 residents (mostly those who relocated from nearby Ellsworth)
- March 31, 1879 – Post office opened
- 1880 – The Downey Mining Company built a lead smelter, one of the first in the state.
- 1885 – Most of the residents of Downeyville abandoned the town
- October 15, 1901 – The post office closed
DOWNEYVILLE.–A correspondent, writing to the Belmont Courier, this to say of Downeyville, a camp of some promise in north western Nye: “Downeyville has gone sleep! or, perhaps I should say hibernating, to be sure the sound the pick and hammer and the reverberations of the blast are still heard along the hills, but the furnace idle, and of coarse, money scarce and hard to get. The mine which has produced most ore for the furnace is now so deep that no more till get hoisting works; these they have by Spring. I understand that the furnace will make another run in January. Business is, of course, dull and building almost at a still.”
March 31, 1879 – October 15, 1901
38° 54′ 33″N, 117° 53′ 55″W
- Nevada Post Offices: An Illustrated History