This is the historic Dixon Mine. Originally located in the late 1800’s (USGS Report from 1914 says the date is a little hard to determine, because ownership records were contested, but they estimate 1896 to 1898), and according to the records, there are two mines/adits here and two prospects. I found one of the mines and one of the prospects, but because we were pressed for time staking the corner and discovery monuments and it was late in the day with some weather moving in, we were not able to explore the entire claim so we never located the second mine.
This one is fairly remote and just southeast of Hackett Canyon, so likely does not see much traffic. The roads are in pretty good shape leading right to the claim, but there are some narrow parts and a couple of steep sections, so although I think you could make it to the claim in a two-wheel drive vehicle with decent clearance, you may want to consider 4x4, as this area can see some weather in the winter and roads can deteriorate.
Some amazing colors in the mine we did survey – easy to see what they were after. Plenty of firewood onsite and room for camping on a couple of spots that have nice flat ground, but not much in the way of water that we could find, so plan on packing that in.
COMSTOCK LODE HISTORY
Gold was discovered in this region in the spring of 1850. It was discovered in Gold Canyon, by a company of Mormon emigrants who were part of the Mormon Battalion. After arriving much too early to cross the Sierra, they camped on the Carson River in the vicinity of Dayton, to wait for the mountain snow to melt. They soon found gold along the gravel river banks by panning, but left when the mountains were passable, as they anticipated taking out more gold on reaching California. Other emigrants followed, camped on the canyon and went to work at mining. However, when the supply of water in the canyon gave out toward the end of summer, they continued across the mountains to California. The camp had no permanent population until the winter and spring of 1852–53, when there were 200 men at work along the gravel banks of the canyon with rockers, Long Toms and sluices.
The gold from Gold Canyon came from quartz veins, toward the head of the vein, in the vicinity of where Silver City and Gold Hill now stand. As the miners worked their way up the stream, they founded the town of Johntown on a plateau. In 1857, the Johntown miners found gold in Six-Mile Canyon, which is about five miles (8 km) north of Gold Canyon. Both of these canyons are on what is now known as the Comstock Lode. The early miners never thought of going up to the head of the ravines to prospect the quartz veins, spending their time on the "free" gold in the lower elevation surface deposits of earth and gravel.
Credit for the discovery of the Comstock Lode is disputed. It is said to have been discovered, in 1857, by Ethan Allen Grosh and Hosea Ballou Grosh, sons of a Pennsylvania clergyman, trained mineralogists and veterans of the California gold fields. Hosea injured his foot and died of septicaemia in 1857. In an effort to raise funds, Allen, accompanied by an associate Richard Maurice Bucke, set out on a trek to California with samples and maps of his claim. Henry Comstock was left in their stead to care for the Grosh cabin and a locked chest containing silver and gold ore samples and documents of the discovery. Grosh and Bucke never made it to California, getting lost and suffering the fate of severe hardship while crossing the Sierran trails. The two suffered from frostbite while crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains, and at the hands of a minor-surgeon lost limbs through amputation, a last-ditch effort to save the lives of the pair. Allen Grosh died on December 19, 1857. R.M. Bucke lived, but upon his recovery returned to his home in Canada.
When Henry T. P. Comstock learned of the death of the Grosh brothers, he claimed the cabin and the lands as his own. He also examined the contents of the trunk but thought nothing of the documents as he was not an educated man. What he did know is that the gold and the silver ore samples were from the same vein. He continued to seek out diggings of local miners working in the area as he knew the Grosh brothers' find was still unclaimed. Upon learning of a strike on Gold Hill which uncovered some bluish rock (silver ore), Comstock immediately filed for an unclaimed area directly adjacent to this area.
The four miners that discovered the Gold Hill outcropping were James Finney ("Old Virginny"; a contemporary rumor was that he changed his name from Fennimore to Finney after murdering a man), John Bishop ("Big French John"), Aleck Henderson and Jack Yount. Their discovery was actually part of the Comstock Lode, but not a main vein. The four men are therefore credited with the rediscovery of the mine previously found by the Grosh brothers.
In the Spring of 1859, two miners, Peter O'Riley and Patrick McLaughlin, finding all the paying ground already claimed, went to the head of the canyon and began prospecting with a rocker on the slope of the mountain near a small stream fed from a neighboring spring. They had poor results in the top dirt as there was no washed gravel, and they were about to abandon their claim when they made the great discovery. They sank a small, deeper pit in which to collect water to use in their rockers. In the bottom of this hole there was material of a different appearance. When rocked out, they knew they had made their "strike" as the bottom apron was covered with a layer of gold.
In that hole, silver mining in America as we know it was born. In the rocker along with the gold was a large quantity of heavy blue-black material which clogged the rocker and interfered with the washing out of the fine gold. When assayed however, it was determined to be an almost pure sulphuret of silver.
In June of the year O'Riley and McLaughlin made their find, Henry T. P. Comstock learned of the two men working on land that Comstock allegedly had already claimed for "grazing purposes". Unhappy with his current claim on Gold Hill, Comstock made threats and managed to work himself and his partner, Immanuel "Manny" Penrod, into a deal that granted them interest on the claim.
The geographic accounts on the location of the Comstock Lode were muddled and inconsistent. In one report, the gold strike was "on the Eastern fork of Walker's river" and the silver strike "about halfway up the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada" and "nine miles West of Carson River."