Exploring The Ruins of Troy|
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We celebrated Labor Day weekend by traveling to Troy. Not the one in Asia Minor with the big troublemaker named Helen, the other one, up a narrow canyon that spills out of the Grant range into Railroad Valley about halfway between Tonopah and Ely.
The six of us had set out from Tonopah after an early breakfast at our hotel, driving
east on US 6 to Warm Springs, then southeast 16 miles on the ET Highway (Nevada
375) to the Nyala Road turnoff on the left. The Troy Canyon turnoff is 3 miles
past Nyala, 22 miles from the pavement.
Troy came to life here when a prospector named Alexander Beatty discovered
silver in 1867 and a few dozen miners took up residence in tents and gopher
Into Troy Canyon, Railroad Valley beyond.
Late in the year the Old English Gold Corporation bought up several
claims and in 1869 a representative of the company appeared in Lancashire
County, England, seeking financing to develop the mines. A consortium of wealthy
gentry and other eager investors sent Captain Aitken to Troy in early 1870 to
inspect the prospect and take samples personally.
If his entry into the canyon was like ours the day sunny and bright with a riffling breeze to blow the dust of our passage away he'd have been
half-sold on the proposition before he even got down off the wagon. The road is
easy except when the creek is running deep, and it winds up Troy Canyon in a
pleasant and picturesque fashion to arrive after about four miles the ruins of
Troy. A dozen antelope cantered quickly away from us as we turned off the main
road. The mountain summits loom like the spine of a sailbacked dinosaur. Any
family sedan can make this drive; the biggest challenge is the thick growth of
willows into the roadway where it crosses the stream, scratching your nice new
Exploring the ruins of Troy.
The puny remnants of the old town are an impressive mill chimney, a brick and
stone building (a store?), a log cabin, another stone building down by the creek, and
another swallowed up by the willows farther upstream. There's a small cemetery
that takes some searching to find (upstream, then across the stream on a track
that was once a road, with willows on one side and wild holly on the other). The
mine itself is on private property and not accessible.
The mill produced a few paltry silver bars.
The values in Captain Aitken's ore samples persuaded the Lancashire investors to go
ahead, and they formed the Troy Silver Mining Company. Construction and
development work began on the mine and mill before the end of 1870.
According to Stanley Paher's classic Nevada
Ghost Towns and Mining Camps, "By 1871 Troy had two general stores,
boarding house, blacksmith shops, school, unofficial post office and the
population numbered 70 miners and their families. The English company expended
$500,000 in mining development and in building a modern 20-stamp mill with
furnaces, completed in 1871."
In Ely, we metamorphosized from explorers to shoppers, and found some things to like. The Smoke Signals Trading Post on Aultman Street has a great range of products and prices, a good selection of jewelry, interesting artifacts, and a very knowledgeable staff. The kids both found affordable souvenirs for themselves. At the train depot Delaine Spilsbury had an outdoor display of Native American jewelry for the Trains, Planes & Automobiles event.
There's a small train-themed giftshop at the depot, best for younger children. We bought train track bookends at the RailWay place a few blocks east of the depot.
Aside from pastries, the Steptoe Valley Inn has hand crafted goats milk soap from the Double Bar 3. Robin picked up the Bay
variety and says it's very yummy.
Coming home via US 50 we liked the Owl Club gift shop in Eureka. In Austin, the Main Street Shops has a huge selection of improvements for home, body and mind. Also, in the blue building near the top of town, Patsy always has some Austin original bath salts that fizz cheerfully when they hit the water.
Subsequently the mill produced its first riches: two silver bars.
Eventually it produced ten more. Total.
Artifacts like this toaster, transformed by passers-by into an objet d'art, suggest more recent occupants.
The literature does not tell us how much the bars weighed, but it was clearly
not nearly enough.
From a Forest Service brochure: "Managers were constantly asking for more funds,
citing flooding of the mine, possible strikes by miners, bank overdrafts and
constant small glitches in the mill equipment. . . . Work stopped in 1875 and
equipment was sold and sent to the new mineral discoveries at Ward. Anyone who
invested in Troy lost their money." Paher says some mining was done here as
recently as 1946. There were some burnt bedsprings in a clearing to suggest even
more recent occupants.
We prowled the district for a couple of hours, leaving footprints and taking
photographs. There was one other carload of folks exploring the site while we were there.
The road to this small clutch of graves dating from the early 20th century has been nearly overgrown.
Departing Troy we resumed our northeast passage on the Nyala Road up Railroad
Valley to the junction with US 6, which we took for the last 61 miles into Ely
and comfortable rooms at the Hotel
It was a highly enjoyable trip, low key and comfortable, and I recommend that
everyone visit Troy at least once in a lifetime, except that Helen bitch.
Overheard in the Nebraska Steak House at the Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley: "There is nothing that thrills me quite as much as falling into the arms of a woman who might be bad for me."
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