Wilson’s Camp, a fleeting yet historically significant gold and silver mining camp in Nye County, Nevada, encapsulates the archetypal tale of many ghost towns in the American West. Founded during the mining boom of the early 20th century, its brief existence on the northern slope of O’Donnell Mountain tells a story of hope, hardship, and eventual abandonment.
Wilsons Nevada Overview
Established in 1904, Wilson’s Camp sprang up following the discovery of rich gold and silver ore in the region. Hindered by primitive transportation and remote location, the camp struggled to develop, despite the richness of its ore. This logistical challenge led to the camp’s rapid decline, with only a handful of miners remaining by 1905. By 1906, Wilson’s Camp was deserted, leaving behind scant evidence of its short-lived existence.
Also known as Old Wilson, Wilsons Camp, and Trappmans. For now, we are going to treat Wilsons and Trappman as two separate districts.
Wilson’s Camp was founded in 1904 following the discovery of gold and silver ore in the area.
Wilsons Nevada History
Wilson’s Camp’s history is closely tied to the mining activities in the Trappman Hills region of Nevada. The discovery of valuable ore in the area sparked a brief but intense period of mining activity, which quickly waned due to the challenges of transporting the ore out of the remote and rugged region.
Searching old newspapers I cannot find any reference to Wilson’s or Wilson’s Camp. The references I can find are near Carson City and nowhere Nye County but we will continue to comb through documents to see what we can find.
What I can find is that Issac Judson Wilson and his family settled in the area from Eureka County and he was known as a wealthy man. After a year of the post office being opened, it closed and didn’t become reestablished.
Later, in May 1904, ore was discovered and a mining camp was formed.
I need to research this more as it doesn’t make sense that the post office opened before the area was established.
- 18 Jul 1898 – The post office was established as Wilson
- August 31, 1899 – The post office closed
- May 1904 – Discovery of gold and silver ore on the north slope of O’Donnell Mountain.
- 1905: Significant decline in mining activity due to transportation challenges.
- 1906: Complete abandonment of the camp.
The primary mining activity at Wilson’s Camp focused on extracting gold and silver. The geological setting featured Tertiary rhyolite country rock intersected by quartz veins rich in these precious metals. Notable workings included a 425-foot adit and a 300-foot shaft.
Geology: Tertiary rhyolite country rock is cut by quartz veins containing silver and gold with trace amounts of copper. Assays of $110 to $180 per ton in gold and silver have been reported.
Development: The workings include a 425-foot adit and a 300-foot shaft with 40 feet of laterals on. the 100-foot level, 175 feet on the 200-foot level, and 350 feet on the 300-foot level.
There were no railroads in Wilson’s Camp, contributing to its logistical challenges and eventual decline.
The post office in Wilson, Nevada was open from July 18, 1898 – August 31, 1899, and below are the postmasters that we are aware of.
- Isaac Judson Wilson 18 Jul 1898 Wilson
View the list and history of Nevada Post Offices.
Learn more about Nevada Newspapers
The Population of Wilsons Nevada
The population peaked shortly after the camp’s establishment but dwindled to only five miners by 1905.
Wilson’s Camp was located on the north slope of O’Donnell Mountain, within the Trappman Hills area, Nye County, Nevada.
NOTE: One reference states that the district is located at the north end of the Trappman Hills and the USGS indicates that the location is at the current day Monitor Ranch and another reference indicates it is part of the Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Range.
Ball (1906, 1907) described two separate districts in the Trappman Hills -Trappmans Camp in the central part and Wilsons Camp on the north end of the hills.
Hill (1912) combined both areas into a large Trappmans district.
Kral (1951) and Cornwall (1972) also combined both areas into one district but used the name Wilsons for the area.
The Geological Reconnaissance of the Southwest states:
Three mining camps are situated in Pahute Mesa – Trappmans Camp, Wilsons Camp, and Gold Crater.
- Trappmans Camp lies 34 miles southeast of Goldfield. The veins were discovered by Hermann Trappman and John Gabbard in June 1904, and at the time of the writer’s visit a year later five men were opening up the veins, the chief development being a shaft 50 feet deep.
- Wilsons Camp is 2 miles north of Trappmans Camp and was discovered in May 1904.
- The mining camp of Gold Crater is situated 10 miles east of the summit of Stonewall Mountain.
39° 9′ 15.75″ N, 116° 41′ 38.28″ W
Speaking of mobile apps, two of my favorite mobile apps for exploring the southwest are two different mapping apps one that builds your schedule and the other helps me look to see if my rural destination is taking me to private or public lands. Highly recommend both!
- Roadtrippers Plus is $29.99 per year paid version that allows you to build longer itineraries, share your plans with friends, and use the app without ads. Click here to save $5 on your subscription to Roadtrippers.
- onX – click here to learn more about onX GPS Map App for Backcountry, Offroad, and Hunting.
Photos and Videos
None at this time.
Today, Wilson’s Camp is a ghost of its past, with virtually no remaining structures to mark its existence. Its story is a poignant reminder of the transient nature of mining towns, which rose and fell with the fortunes extracted from beneath the earth. The camp’s brief life and subsequent disappearance into the annals of history exemplify the boom-and-bust cycle that characterized the mining era in the American West.
- Tingley, Joseph V., Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Report 47 – Mining Districts of Nevada, page 253
- United States Geological Survey – Wilson Nevada