Timothy H. O’Sullivan – Photographer

CDV of Timothy H. O'Sullivan with imprint of F.G. Ludlow, Carson City, Nevada Territory on verso. Taken between 1871–74 while O'Sullivan was the official photographer for the Wheeler Expedition.
CDV of Timothy H. O’Sullivan with imprint of F.G. Ludlow, Carson City, Nevada Territory on verso. Taken between 1871–74 while O’Sullivan was the official photographer for the Wheeler Expedition.

Timothy H. O’Sullivan (c. 1840 – January 14, 1882) was a photographer best known for of the Civil War and the western United States. O’Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice in Mathew Brady’s Fulton Street gallery in New York City. He moved on to the Washington, D.C., branch managed by Alexander Gardner. In 1861. At the age of twenty-one, O’Sullivan joined Brady’s team of Civil War photographers.

Little is known about his early life. He was either born in Ireland or New Work City. As a teenager, Timothy was employed by Matthew Brady where he learn the newly invented craft of photography. When the Civil War broke out, he is commission as a first lieutenant in the Union Army, in 1861.

After the was, in 1867, Timothy H. O’Sullivan is hired by Clarence King to accompany the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel as a photographer. O’Sullivan was with the Survey for the seasons of 1867, 1868, 1869 and 1872.

During these expeditions, he is known to carry two or possibly three camera outfits which include a 9″x12″ and 8″x1O” plates and for stereoscopic views. He developed the plates in the field, as was necessary with the wet plate process, and worked in either a photographic tent or a mule-drawn ambulance wagon. The negatives were usually sent back to the Survey offices in Washington D.C. where they are printed.

In 1871, O’Sullivan join the geological surveys west of the one hundredth meridian, under the command of Lieutenant George M. Wheeler of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Wheeler would caption O’Sullivan’s photographs with practical information useful in the later establishment of roads and rail routes and emphasized the west’s suitability for settlement.

In 1873, on another Wheeler expedition, O’Sullivan photographed the Zuni and Magia pueblos and the Canyon de Chelly and its remnants of a cliff-dwelling culture. He returned to Washington, D.C., in 1874 and made prints for the Army Corps of Engineers. Soon after being made chief photographer for the United States Treasury in 1880, O’Sullivan died of tuberculosis at age forty-one.

Sand dunes, 1867, Carson Desert Western Nevada RG 77 Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1988 Photographic Album of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel – The King Survey, 1867-1872 ARC ID 519530 77KS-3-160

Timothy H. O’Sullivan Portfolio

Gold Hill, Nevada Circa 1867, 1868 Photographer Timothy H. O'Sullivan
Gold Hill, Nevada Circa 1867, 1868 Photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan


Oreana Nevada – Pershing County Ghost Town

Oreana Nevada is a milling town which was active from 1865 – 1885 in Pershing County Nevada and home to the Montezuma Smelting Works. The townsite is located on Interstate 80 / U.S. 95 about fourteen miles north east of Lovelock.

 Smelting Works. Oreana, Nevada. ca. 1857 by Timothy H. O'Sullivan - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Smelting Works. Oreana, Nevada. ca. 1857 by Timothy H. O’Sullivan – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

In 1865 a five stamp mill was relocated from Trinity and located on the eastern bank of the Humboldt River. This mill is used to process ore from the nearby Montezuma mine and the Arabia district.

In 1857 the Montezuma Smelting Works is built in Oreana, Nevada by the Trinity and Sacramento Company. The location of the smelting works is a bold choice for its Superintendent A. W. Nelson, who built the factory, which contained eight furnaces if a location with little fuel. The nearby mining districts of Arabia and the Trinity mining district were the primary source of ore to supply the plant with raw materials.

Montezuma Silver Works. Oreana, Nevada. ca 1857 by Timothy H. O'Sullivan - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Montezuma Silver Works. Oreana, Nevada. ca 1857 by Timothy H. O’Sullivan – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

A hotel, boarding houses, post office, restaurants, meat market and general store kept the citizens feed and houses. In addition to mining and smelting, a livery and blacksmith and kept them working. The Oreana Jockey Club kept them entertained by sponsoring horses races. So long as the mines produced ore, the smelters processed it 24 hours a day.

At the time, Oreana is the largest in the Humboldt Valley. This title would later be taken by Lovelock, Nevada. Despite its solid foundations, Oreana found itself in financial trouble. Debt and Taxes caused a shutdown in 1869. And again in 1871. Today not much remains to indicate a town.

Oreana Town Summary

NameOreana Nevada
LocationPershing County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude40.310833, -118.370556
Elevation4160 Feet
Post OfficeFebruary 1867 – July 1869
February 1870 – September 1873
October 1873 – March 1883

Oreana Map


Dun Glen Nevada – Pershing County Ghost Town

Chafey, Nevada. 1908. Prior site of Dun Glen, Nevada.
Chafey, Nevada. 1908. Prior site of Dun Glen, Nevada.

Dun Glen Nevada later known as Chafey Nevada is a ghost town and mine site located in Pershing County, Nevada. The mine started its operation in 1862, when silver was discovered. Once of its earliest settlers was Angus Dun, for whom the early camp was named. A commercial district was started in 1863 and with a population of 250 people was the second largest district in Northern Nevada at the time. Early on, there were some “troubles” with the local Native American Piute Tribe who did not appreciated this new settlement and operation.

To protect the fledgling camp, in 1863 a company of United States were garrisoned for protection of mining operations. Camp Dun Glen offered protection from the “Snake Indians” during the “Snake War”. This presence must have been short lived, by 1866 the 12 lb cannon was moved to another post.

The town could support miners and three stamp mills, however, the town and mines languished by the 1880s. The Chinese conducted placer mining operations in near by canyons during this time. The Dun Glen Post Office was opened on July 18, 1865 and served the population until April 7, 1894.

Dun Glen, Nevada, circa 1880. A horse powered arrastra grinding ore from surface veins.
Dun Glen, Nevada, circa 1880. A horse powered arrastra grinding ore from surface veins.

The local mines saw renewed interest starting again in 1908 when E.S. Chafey opened a mining operation. The new town of Chafey supports 1000 people. Saloons and stores sprang up on the old townsite of Dun Glen. Stages operated between Chafey and Mill City four time per day. The Chafey post office operated from August 4, 1908 to March 4, 1911.

Dun Glen Nevada Trail Map

Further Reading

Rochester Nevada – Pershing County Ghost Town

Upper Rochester, Nevada 1918
Upper Rochester, Nevada 1918

In the 1860s, immigrants and prospectors from Rochester New York discovered gold in the nearby mounts and the silver mining town of Rochester, Nevada was founded. Located in Pershing County, Nevada, Rochester was organize in three districts areas spread across on area of three miles within the canyon. The original mine camp located at the upper end of the valley became known as Rochester Heights and later Upper Rochester or “Old Town”.

Early explorations were small and gold ore was processed offsite. Such was Rochester, until on 1912 Joseph Nenzel discovered a rich silver ore. This event changed the forecast for the insignificant town. The steep canyon walls of surrounding Upper Rochester did not allow for larger populations, so Lower Rochester was created further down the canyon.

The boom town populations swelled with miners and businesses. The upper town commercial district support the saloons and hotels, while the mills and mining operations were hosted in the lower town. At one point, the town had The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Lower Rochester, Nevada 1913
Lower Rochester, Nevada 1913

The Nevada Short Line Railway extended a track to Oreana, a town east of Rochester in 1914. From Oreana, a rail was built to Lower Rochester through Limerick Canyon. The rail was extended to the upper camp in 1915 to haul ore to the lower town. Although the track was laid down, the rail never really serviced the mines very well. Accidents, fires and mismanagement caused the service to be unreliable. The mines eventually build a tram between the two towns, however the tram service and railway both failed. The rails were removed in 1920.

Moving a tent of Rochester, Nevada 1913
Moving a tent of Rochester, Nevada 1913

Despite theses problems the mining operations continued, however the interest in the location began to subside in 1922. The mines produce over $9 million in gold and silver.

The town of Upper Rochester is currently buried below the tailings of a modern mining operation. Fire destroy much of the lower town in 2012.

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Mazuma Nevada – Pershing County Ghost Town

Mazuma, Nevada - 1908
Mazuma, Nevada – 1908

Mazuma Nevada started its short life in 1907 when the Seven Troughs gold strike started attracting an influx of miners from other areas. The town was named from the Mazuma Hills claims and the camp grew quickly in the mouth of Seven Troughs Canyon.

The summer of 1908 say the camp as the largest in the area with the founding of a post office, bank, three story hotel, fire department and the Seven Troughs District News.

The Darby Mill was built and started production in 1909. The future was relatively bright for this upstart little town.

Yesterday afternoon, at about five o’clock, the town of Mazuma (northeast of Reno) was devastated, eight people were drowned and nine more injured, many fatally, and a property loss estimated at nearly $200,000 by a cloud burst that swept down, unheralded, upon the mountain town. The known dead are:

Edna Russell, Postmistress at Mazuma;

Three children of Wm. Kehoe, all aged under seven;

M.C. Whalen, a miner, aged 35;

Mrs. Floyd Foncannon, drowned in Burnt Canyon six miles north of Seven Troughs canyon.

Those injured so far as can be learned at time of going to press are:

John Trenchard, merchant, probably fatally;

Mrs. Trenchard, badly cut and bruised, may recover.

Mrs. Kehoe, cut about head and face, bruised about body, may die;

Mrs. O’Hanlan, badly injured, may recover.


Today the first witnesses of the flood conductions and who talked to the survivors returned to town. Among them was Drs. Russell and West, H.J. Murriah, J.T. Goodlin, H.S. Riddle, Jack and Will Borland and W.H. Copper.

Lovelock Review-Miner July 12, 1912
Mazuma Flood Damage - 1912
Mazuma Flood Damage – 1912

The town of Mazuma was build in the flood channel of Seven Troughs Canyon. A nearby cloud burst caused a wall of water estimated between eight and ten feet tall scouring the canyon floor as it raced by.

The Darby Mill survived the flood only to be lost to fire two weeks later. After the flood and fire, the mill was rebuilt operations continued until 1918.

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