Empire and Carson River Mills

"I doubt any remnants of Empire are little more than the Empire cemetery and the old wooden structure-something that stands alongside busy US 50.
That moment when you realize you're faced with the daunting task of visiting 270 more. Love it!" -- May 2007


Along US 50, 4 miles east of Carson Street -- Carson City

Carson City
  39.187308, 119.706369

Original Date Visited: 5/27/07
Revisited: 11/18/21

Signed: Both lanes of US 50

Marker History: The original location for [1] was set for the Carson River bridge along Deer Run Road - a more historically accurate location (approximately one-half mile to the southeast) near the former site of the Gregory Mill. However, the SHPO deemed it a little out of the way. Instead, they settled on this particular spot along US 50. Despite it being the first marker in the system, this one has somehow lived a docile life. Since its debut, [1] has seen a number of improvements. In 1995, the mortar within its stone base was replaced, and in 2000, a more modern metal plaque (so often seen by many of the markers around the state) was placed over its original etched lettering to further protect it against wear and tear.

Our First Marker!
Ensuring Our Future Remembers Our Past

Being the first number within the State Marker System, [1] - Empire & Carson River Mills showcases a remarkable push in our state's heritage. At the beginning of 1990, the Nevada State Historical Marker System was enacted by the State Historical Preservation Office in Carson City, a program honoring selected sites around the State of Nevada with "roadside heritage plaques." It wasn't but two months later this new program hit a roadblock and sparked some debate among state lobbyists regarding already limited state funds and the need for precious man hours. To much surprise, a zealous appeal by the general public and a fully-funded ten-year contract won enough ground to re-launch the State Marker System and with it - the construction of Nevada's first state-funded historical marker!
  • Marker 1
  • Empire Alt

Exact Description:
When the Comstock Lode was discovered in 1859, the problem of reducing the ore from the fabulously-rich Virginia City mines had to be solved. Mills were built in Gold Canyon and Six Mile Canyon, in Washoe Valley, at Dayton, and on the Carson River which offered the most abundant source of water for generating power to the mills.

On the east shore of the river near the town of Empire the first small mill, built in 1860, was later enlarged to become the Mexican. The site of this mill lies to the southwest. Other large mills were then constructed further downstream, spurring the growth of the town of Empire. Ore was hauled to the mills at first by wagon and later by the famous Virginia and Truckee Railroad built in 1869. Fortunes in gold and silver were produced in over 40 years of operation by the Carson River mills including the Mexican, Yellow Jacket, Brunswick, Vivian, Merrimac and Santiago. Traces of Empire and its mills can still be seen today.

US 50 Roadtrip

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Related Links & Markers

 [7] -- Dayton   [13] -- The Comstock Lode   [193] -- Historic Flume & Lumber Yard   Nevada Towns: Empire 

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