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Empire and the Carson River Mills

Empire and the Carson River Mills

Empire and the Carson River Mills Overview

In 1860 mills were established along the Carson River near Empire City, Nevada (which is now part of Carson City).

Today, the Carson River Mills is a historic area in Carson City, Nevada.

Year Established/Founded

Erected in 1964

Empire and the Carson River Mills History

The following is from Wikipedia:

In the 1850s, Nicholas Ambrose opened up a station along the Carson River. The station was known as Dutch Nicks Station or Nicks Station. In May 1860, the town was laid out by Eugene Angel and others, who named it Empire City.

“The Mexican” was the first of the mills and was established in 1860 to process the ore from the Comstock Lode. One estimate had the total number of mills operating as 186, with names like “Brunswick,” “Merrimac,” “Santiago,” “Vivian,” and “Yellow Jacket.”

On October 23, 1863, Mark Twain wrote a hoax article called “A Bloody Massacre near Carson” (alternatively, the “Empire City Massacre Hoax”) about a man who purportedly killed his wife and nine children. The hoax article stated that the alleged perpetrator lived in the “great pine forest which lies between Empire City and Dutch Nick’s.” At the time, there was no pine forest within 15 miles of Empire City. In addition, Empire City and Dutch Nicks referred to the same location.


  • 1850 – Nicholas Ambrose opened up Dutch Nicks Station (also known as Nicks Station) along the Carson River
  • May 1860 – The town was laid out by Eugene Angel and others who named it Empire City
  • 1860 – “The Mexican” was the first of the mills was established to process the ore from the Comstock Lode


Carson City, Nevada

GPS Coordinates

39.187312, -119.706358

How to Get to Empire and the Carson River Mills

Located east of the Carson City airport on Lincoln Highway near the intersection of Lincoln Highway and Centennial Park Drive.

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Nevada Historical Marker Category

  • Mining
  • Railroad

Nevada Historical Marker Marker Type

Stone Marker

Nevada Historical Marker Number

Empire and the Carson River Mills is Nevada Historical Marker #1.

Click here to view the full list of Nevada State Historical Markers.

Nevada Historical Marker Transcription

When the Comstock Lode was discovered in 1859, the problem of reducing the ore from the fabulously rich Virginia City mines had to be solved.  Mills were built in Gold Canyon and Six Mile Canyon, in Washoe Valley, at Dayton, and on the Carson River which offered the most abundant source of water to operate the mills.

On the east shore of the river near the town of Empire the first small mill, built in 1860, was later enlarged to become the Mexican.  The site of this mill lies to the southwest.  Other large mills were then constructed farther downstream, spurring the growth of the town of Empire.  Ore was hauled to the mills at first by wagon and later by the famous Virginia and Truckee Railroad built in 1869.  Fortunes in gold and silver were produced in over 40 years of operation by the Carson River mills including the Mexican, Yellow Jacket, Brunswick, Merrimac, Vivian, and Santiago.  Traces of Empire and its mills can still be seen today.



Nearby Historical Markers

Carson City is home to 26 Nevada State Historical Markers and the links to each are below for you to research to see if you want to add to your exploration list.

  1. #1 Empire and the Carson River Mills
  2. #25 Nevada’s Capitol
  3. #44 Carson City
  4. #70 Bliss Mansion
  5. #71 Methodist Church of Carson City
  6. #72 Nevada State Children’s Home
  7. #75 Federal Government Building (1888- 1970)
  8. #76 Eagle Valley
  9. #77 Dat-So-La-Lee
  10. #78 Orion Clemens Home
  11. #91 Stewart Indian School
  12. #134 Trans-Sierran Pioneer Flight
  13. #175 Stewart – Nye Residence
  14. #179 First Air Flight Over Nevada
  15. #180 The Warm Springs Hotel and Nevada State Prison
  16. #181 Washoe Indians
  17. #193 Historic Flume and Lumberyard
  18. #194 Gardner’s Ranch
  19. #196 The United States Mint Carson City, Nevada
  20. #213 Lakeview
  21. #235 Camp Nye
  22. #243 Corbett-Fitzsimmon Fight
  23. #250 State Printing Building
  24. #252 Rinckel Mansion
  25. #258 Charles W. Friend House, Observatory & Weather Station
  26. #259 The Governor’s Mansion

References Used

Empire and the Carson River Mills