(Image: Famartin. Abandoned timber structure in the ghost town of Sprucemont, Nevada)
According to Forgotten Nevada, the Spruce Mountain ghost towns have a long, complicated, and often torrid history. Sprucemont, Nevada is one of those settlements, the first of many established on the mountain afterÂ 1869 when lead and silver was discovered there.
Buildings started going up inÂ Sprucemont in 1871, after the opening of several mines and their consolidation into the Spruce Mountain Mining District. As more and more miners headed to the mountainside, other small industrial communities began to spring up around Sprucemont. Among them were Jasper, Black Forest, and Hickneyville. TheseÂ American company towns not only had all the basic amenities that miners needed to make a go of life out on the wild frontier, but they often charged a premium for their services.
Great optimism swirled around Sprucemont in its early days. Just a year after its founding, the Ingot Mining Company invested in a 25-ton Philadelphia-type smelter. Some 200 people are estimated to have been living there at the time, although some reports claim a far higher number, whichÂ Forgotten Nevada believes believes was likely for “promotional purposes”. The now-ghost town’s corporate owners wanted to entice more people in, after all, though by 1873 the Ingot Mining Co. had gone bust.
(Image: Famartin. Ruins alongside the abandoned Monarch Mine on Spruce Mountain, Nevada)
Forgotten Nevada references the September 9, 1872 edition of the Sacramento Daily Union, which wrote that “…Sprucemont is the business point of the district, and for a new mining town it is one of the most substantially built in Nevada. The visitor will take note of the total absence of tents or canvas houses. The buildings are large and roomy and quite a number are two storey, with architectural finish worthy of an older place.â
The paper optimistically estimated the town’s population at as many as 700, up from only 50. But the coming years brought a series of strikes stemming from disagreements between miners and the companies they laboured for. Sprucemont proved to be more short-lived than anyone had expected. By 1905, most of its residents had decamped to Jasper. And when the area experienced a revival in 1919, it passed Sprucemont by.
Traces of the abandoned mining town still remain amid the haunting Nevada wilderness. Exploring Nevada, however, writes that a trip up to the isolated location isn’t one to be taken lightly. According to the website, visitors need to prepare with a 4WD vehicle and plan to either return to civilisation by nightfall or pack a tent.
The views alone make a visit to the old Sprucemont ghost town worthwhile. It’s not difficult to imagine the scenic vistas that greeted tired miners as they emerged from the mountain, albeit shrouded by the tough conditions and hardships of life in the Old West.
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