Take it easy
  American Flat (American City, Comstock)

39.27025° N, 119.66267° W    USGS Virginia City NV Quad

VISITED Can't remember exactly- 2009 sometime
DIRECTIONS Take US 50 west from Fallon for 44.2 miles; continue north on Six Mile Canyon Rd. for 8 miles; turn left and head south 2.5 miles; head generally SW on Sky Lane and local roads for about 1.2 miles. From Fallon: 56.1 miles

Activity on American Flat was happening before the Civil War ended. Growth was such that it thought it could become the capital of Nevada-- if the right people were gifted some cash, that is..

American City. This embryo city lies to the south of Gold Hill, about a mile and a half, and contains, perhaps, a thousand acres of land, in a slightly undulating plateau, with high hills surrounding it, and is well calculated by its natural advantages for the largest city in Storey county, which we honestly believe will be its destiny within the next five years. We will enumerate a few of what will be the advantages of the new town : First, nature has supplied a number of large springs which bubble from the sides of the mountain on the west, which will afford pure and wholesome water in abundance, conducted in pipes to the top of the highest five story building which may be built in the place, either for culinary or sanitary purposes, or to protect the place from injury bv fire-- besides which the supply will be amply sufficient to afford irrigation for gardens, and fruit and ornamental trees about family residences. Second, there is no locality that could possibly be more healthy. Third, it is situated near mines that are be coming developed, which are likely to prove as rich as any that have been discovered at Virginia or Gold Hill -- for it is pretty generally conceded, by practical miners, who are supposed to know what they say, that what is known in Virginia as the Comstock ledge, extends along the north and west side of American City. As an evidence of what is going on in the neighborhood, we believe we are within the bounds of truth when we
state that there are as many incorporated mining companies who are now sinking shafts, runniug tunnels and putting up buildings on their works, within sight of American Flat, as there are similar corporations in the whole of Virginia District. American City has been surveyed and laid out in lots and blocks, the streets running east and west, north and south, with a large park in the centre upon which will be built, perhaps,
the future Capitol of the State of Nevada. The owners of the new city intend donating this park with several other blocks, in addition to the sum of $50,000, to the State, conditioned that American City shall be the future capital-- and the chances are decidedly favorable that the offer will be accepted. The names of the streets running east and west, are: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth. The streets running north and south, are named: Carson Avenue (on the west), Silver Street, Stewart Avenue, Washington Avenue, South Central street, North Central street, Virginia Avenue and Broadway Avenue. The proprietors of the new citv are Messrs. G. M. Norton and Thomas Hardy. Lots can now be purchased at very reasonable rates, provided buyers will agree to build on them. We predict that in five vears from now American City will be as large as Virginia is at this time.
-Gold Hill Daily News, January 23, 1864

It is almost surprising to the the improvements that are being made between Gold Hill and American Flat, and also on the Flat. Around the Uncle Sam works there is a little town of itself, having the necessary appendages to make it so, viz: groceries and groggeries. Arund the mouths of the Mary Ann and Overman Companie's tunnels is another group of dwellings which is almost deserving of the name of town, and on beyond furhter, on American Flat, is situated American City. These places have all grown since last summer, and they predict the future of at least a respectable-sized city.
-Gold Hill Daily News, Marc 12, 1864

But if you're going to pay a guy, make it gold or silver coin, all right?

When a man employs another in this section of Uncle Sam's country, the usage of the neighborhood is, that he is expected to pay for honest labor in the currency which is in circulation. To pay in a depreciated currency is good evidence of a mans dishonesty. I hhave recently been in the employ or HORACE G. WHITE, of American Flat, and fulfilled by portion of the contract which I made with him; but when I wanted my wages he refused to pay me, like other empoyers do, and has managed to liquidate an honest debt by paying it in GREENABCKS. As he has served me in this manner, I hereby warn the public, lest he serve others in the same wa. P.J. Flanedy. [Greenbacks were emergency paper currency issued by the United States during the American Civil War that were printed in green on the back. They were in two forms: Demand Notes, issued in 1861–1862, and United States Notes, issued in 1862–1865. A form of fiat money, the notes were legal tender for most purposes and carried varying promises of eventual payment in coin, but were not backed by existing gold or silver reserves. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenback_(1860s_money)]
_Gold Hill Daily News, June 9, 1864

American City never got to be the capital of Nevada, and didn't last long enough to even have a post office for more than a few years. By 1867 it had been abandoned. It wasn't until 1920 that the United Comstock Mining Company constructed a concrete cyannide mill and the small town of Comstock formed below the mill, including a post office,store, houses, and other buildings. Becuase of the low price of silver, operations terminated in 1926 and all the equipment was sold.

The transformation taking place in Gold Hill through the operations of the United Comatock Mines Company prepatory to the big milling project is along permanenet and substantial lines, and it is daily becoming more impressivly apparent that the company is laying foundations for an enterprise of immense proportions. All structural work is being installed for long and ardouse service and al equipent and facilities are the last word in mining efficiency and milling practice.
Yerington Times, December 1, 1920

WIll history repeat itself on American Flat? Fifty-seven years ago the 16th of this month a township map, etc., was filed at the county recorder's office for "American City," located below the American Flat road, known and mapped as Carson Avenue. The town flourished, having its own school township officers, etc., and in the center of the township was Capitol park. In the Spring the United Comstock Mines company will starts a building program near the mill site and tunnel portal on the easterly side of the flat, which promised to bring into existence a new "American City" in Storey county. The old days are returning in more ways than one.
-Daily Appeal, February 7, 1921

VIRGINTA CITY (Nev.), June &— The Virginia and Truckee Company has competed grading for a spur from its main railroad to the tunnel of the United Comstock Mine. a distance of two miles. Laying of track Is to start in a few days, and within two weeks should be finished. The United Comstock Company han arranged for construction of a complete camp on American Flat, Including a boarding house, office buildings, cottages for married employees and warehouses. Fifty years ago American City was a flourishirg town of several hundred inhabitants on American Flat, and the new camp means practically the rebirth of the famous old settlement.
-Sacramento Bee, June 8, 1921

Eventually, the big mill was shut down.

Late reports from Virginia. City are to the effect that the Comstock Merger will close its mines in the Comstock district and its big mill on American Flat on December 20th and that wrecking of the big mill will start- some time in March. The 200-ton mill and all mine machinery in the Middle Mines and Gold Hill have been sold to the Morse Brothers of Denver, who will start to dismantle the machinery as soon as the company completes a cleanup from its mill, which will be in March. When the mines are closed this month there will remain thousands of -dollars in gold and silver in solution in the cyanide tanks and about two months will be required to effect the final cleanup. • Virginia City and Gold Hill are al-ready showing the effects of the shut down. Miners are leaving there every day and business has been materially reduced. A big farewell party was staged at Gold Hill a few nights ago. A report was current on the Com: stock and in Carson recently that a Salt Lake Company had purchased the property and intended to 'give leases to miners and to mill their ore, but the report apparently had no verification. The Nevada Mining Press of Reno gives the following account of the operations of the Merger Mines Company: Since the Comstock Merger Mines, Inc., purchased the United Comstock mill and the GOld Hill-mines the mil has treated 970,000 tons of ore of an average value of $4.30 per ton, making an extraction of 90 per cent and recovering gold and silver to the amount of $4,103,000. The com-pa ny has milled around 1200. tons per day until recently, when the out-put dropped to 850 tons. Production of the United Comstock Mines Co., from the Gold Hill mines was 1,-000,000 tons,, making a total recovery by both companies of about $7,500,000 in. four years and four months, almost' entirely from stope fills. The big cyanide .mill on American Flat was completed and started operating September 20, 1922. - Extensive exploratory work was done by the Comstock Merger, especially in the area of the Crown Point-Belcher bonanza at the south end of Gold Hill but neither new ore or profitable stope fills were. opened. Ore reserves of the mine are not exhausted and it is probable that operations would •- have continued . for many months to come, had silver remained around 65 'cents per ounce. The-sudden drop in the price of this metal wiped out most of the profit. and as the prospect of silver regaining former price levels appeared to be unpromising, the directors voted to quit. Actual operating costs are said to have been less than half the aver-age value of the ore but most of the profit was spent in exploratory work.
- Yerington Times, December 22, 1926

"The United Comstock Merger Mill site is located on public lands at American Flat, Storey County, Nevada. The mill was built in 1922 to process local gold and silver ore utilizing cyanide vat leaching in what was then described as the largest concrete mill in the United States, which makes it historically significant. Since abandonment in 1924, this seven acre mill site has traditionally been used by high school students and other locals as a meeting place to hold parties, post graffiti, conduct paintball wars, etc., despite physical safety hazards from falling concrete, underground mill sumps filled with water, and holes in the concrete flooring.

The BLM issued a Federal Register Notice and closed the historic mill buildings to public entry in 1997 in response to a fatality at the site. Regardless of the closure and repeated efforts by the BLM to fence, gate and post the site with warning signs, the property still receives visitors in trespass. According to the Storey County Sheriff’s Department, emergency vehicles respond to at least six serious injuries on the property every year, mostly from visitors climbing on and falling from the mill buildings which are as much as eighty feet in height."


A flow chart of the milling process can be found here, courtesy of the BLM.
POST OFFICE March 6, 1866 - February 3, 1868
January 9, 1923 - February 15, 1927 (As Comstock)

American Flat is an impressive historical site, both in size and in the amount of graffiti. There are ample and spectacular ways to kill yourself here, and many have tried. According to the Nevada Appeal, someone was even killed trying to ride his ATV on the stairs. Any normal person would realize the age and condition of the place and take necessary precautions, but because of a few nutcases- and the fact that the location has been used for alcohol-fueled get-togethers for many years, accidents are bound to happen if you do something stupid.

UPDATE: And because of a few nitwits without any common sense, all of Nevada lost an excellent historic and cultural resource when the government bulldozed the site into nothingness. It's now gone forever. We'll leave it to you to determine who the actual nitwits were in this case.

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