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Ione, Nevada: A Hidden Gem Amidst the Silver State’s Rich Mining History

Ione Nevada

Ione, Nevada, a town that has withstood the test of time and the fluctuating fortunes of mining, is a living testament to the resilience and endurance of small mining communities. Established in 1863 during Nevada’s silver boom, Ione’s journey through peaks of prosperity and troughs of decline paints a vivid picture of the life cycle of a mining town.

Learn more about Nye County:
The History of Nye County
Things to Do in Nye County, Nevada
View books on Nye County, Nevada

Ione Nevada Overview

From its inception following a silver discovery, Ione grew rapidly, becoming the county seat of Nye County and boasting a peak population of 600. However, the town experienced significant fluctuations in fortune due to the volatile nature of mining. Despite losing its status as the county seat and facing several downturns, Ione never completely became a ghost town, experiencing sporadic revivals and maintaining a small but steady population.

The discovery of silver in 1863 led to Ione’s rapid development. It became the first county seat of Nye County in 1864. The town’s prosperity was short-lived, with the mining industry facing a downturn and the county seat moving to Belmont in 1867. Ione saw brief revivals in mining activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but never regained its former glory.

Timeline

  • 1863: Ione was founded following the discovery of silver in the nearby Union Mining District.
  • 1864: The town was officially established and quickly grew in population, boasting saloons, a post office, a newspaper, and other amenities. Ione becomes Nye County’s county seat.
  • 1865: The Pioneer Mill opens.
  • 1867: County seat relocated to Belmont; population decline begins.
  • 1868: Ione’s post office was established, and the town reached its peak population of about 600 residents.
  • 1870s: Mining activity began to decline, and many residents left in search of new opportunities.
  • 1896: Revival with the construction of a 10-stamp mill.
  • 1898: Decline due to a drop in silver prices.
  • 1905: The Ione & Tonopah Railroad was constructed, providing a short-lived resurgence in the town’s economy.
  • 1912: The railroad ceased operations, and Ione’s population dwindled further.
  • 1912-1914: Brief resurgence due to cinnabar deposits.
  • Present day: Ione remains a small, semi-ghost town, attracting visitors interested in its rich history and picturesque surroundings.
  • 1930s: Mercury mining brings some activity.
  • 1959: Ione post office closes.
  • 1970s: Hugh Marshall purchases most of the town.

Mines

The main commodity mined in Ione was silver, along with later efforts to mine mercury.

Post Office

Operated under various names from September 2, 1865, to April 30, 1959.

View the list and history of Nevada Post Offices.

Newspaper

The newspaper, the Ione Gazette, was published from 1864 to 1865.

  • The Nye County News (1864)
  • The Advertiser (1864)
  • The Nye County News (reprinted in 1865)

Learn more about Nevada Newspapers

The Population of Ione

At its peak in the late 1860s, Ione had a population of around 600 residents. The current population is estimated to be under 100 people.

Elevation

Ione is situated at an elevation of approximately 6,100 feet (1,859 meters) above sea level.

Location

Ione is located in Nye County, Nevada, approximately 150 miles (241 kilometers) east of Reno and 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of the town of Austin.

GPS Coordinates

The GPS coordinates for Ione, Nevada are 38.5133° N, 117.1050° W.

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Category

Mining

Marker Type

Blue marker

Nevada Historical Marker Number

Ione Nevada is Nevada Historical Marker #159.

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

County

Nye County, Nevada

GPS Coordinates

38.949536, -117.585166

Nevada Historical Marker Transcription

American Indians lived in Ione Valley for at least 5,000 years. 

In 1863, European Americans discovered silver, and in 1864, Ione City was the first county seat of the newly created Nye County.  Over 600 people worked in the prosperous town until a promising ore body in Belmont attracted most of the miners in 1865, capturing the county seat in 1867.

Alternately prosperous and poor yet never completely deserted; Ione suffered mining depressions, milling difficulties, and the loss of miners to other rich strikes throughout its history.

STATE HISTORICAL MARKER NO.  159

STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE

BUS HEDGECORTH

Ione, known as “The Town That Refused to Die,” encapsulates the spirit of survival characteristic of Nevada’s mining towns. Despite numerous setbacks and the typical boom-and-bust cycles of mining towns, Ione has persisted, maintaining a small population and a handful of historic structures. For history enthusiasts and ghost town explorers, Ione offers a unique glimpse into Nevada’s rich mining heritage, standing as a symbol of endurance in the ever-changing landscape of the American West.

References Used

Ione Nevada