Located in Gold Canyon between Silver City and Dayton, Johntown Nevada is the first ghost town in Lyon county. None of the buildings are currently standing to mark the site of the original workings. The camp was started as a placer mining operation just off of the road in Gold Canyon in the early 1850s. The initial camp started when James Fenemore setup his tent in the side of the hill and started washing gravel for gold.
For about ten years the camps population stayed small and steady with a dedicate band of miners working for limited quantities of gold. Water supplies severely hampered the placer mining operations. Chinese miners came over the High Sierras from San Francisco. These new miners were soon working Gold Valley seeking their chance at the American Dream. It is this influx of Chinese miners for which the town Johntown was named for “John Chinaman”, which was a racist caricature of the Chinese.
Joe Webb edited the newspaper, The Gold Canyon Switch, between 1854 and 1858. This publication was the first newspaper in the Nevada territory and written by hand. The labor of this resulted in a single copy of the newspaper which is handed from miner to miner throughout the camp.
Johntown was abandoned in the winter of 1860. The Comstock discoveries were made and lured the miners away.
Nevada’s first mining town established in 1853. A boarding house was operated here by Eilley Orrum (Mrs. Sandy Bowers). Other prominent residents, discoverers of the fantastic Comstock Lode, included the Grosh Brothers, Peter O’Riley, Patrick McLaughlin, H.T.P. Comstock, and James Finney (Old Virginny).Nevada Historical Marker No. 39
Johntown Trail Map
|Lyon County, Nevada
|The Gold Canyon Switch (handwritten)