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. Empire City is a product of this resolution! "Empire City," now a cemetery on the eastern borders of Carson City. During the early days of Nevada's famous Comstock mining district, the Carson River was the nearest source of water, which could be used to operate the mills that processed the rich gold and silver ore. In the late 1850s and 1860s, a seven-mile stretch of the river between Dayton and Carson City became a nearly continuous string of mining mills and within a few years, a small community, known as Empire City (also called Empire), cropped up directly east of Carson City.

  • Welcome to Empire, Nevada
  • Empire circa 1871

Empire City was the site of the first Carson River mill, within a few years, boasting nearly 700 residents. In Empire City's early years, silver ore was brought to the mills by wagon, but with the completion of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in 1870, the mills had a direct rail link to Virginia City's mines. Empire was most notable as a thriving lumber town. Timbers that were cut on the slopes around Lake Tahoe were transported by flume to the Carson River and floated downstream to Empire City, where it was cut and milled before heading to the Comstock to be used in the mines. By 1880 at the waining of Virginia City's mining empire, the small town was a mere ghost.

Unfortunately, there isn't much that remains of Empire today. Remnants are little more than the Empire cemetery, an historic marker, and an old wooden structure that stands alongside busy US 50. Traces of Empire and the other Carson River mills, including the Mexican, Yellow Jacket, Brunswick, Vivian, Merrimac and Santiago Mills, can still be seen today in Brunswick Canyon


Population: None
Founded: April 1869
Zip Code: N/A

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How to Get Here:
The Carson City Historical Society has done a fine job preserving the old Empire cemetery. Find the cemetery by turning south onto Deer Run Road just past the historic marker. After 1/4 mile, make a right turn onto Sheep Drive headed in the direction of the Waste Management Facility and an old cement plant (5220 Sheep Drive). Turn into the facility and drive around back to a dirt parking lot and gate (located directly behind the facility).

In recent years, NDOT has placed signage from both US 50 and Deer Run Road to help the public find this hidden cemetery. The scant foundations of the Empire Mill can be found by continuing another 1/4 mile on Deer Run Road to the Carson River bridge. This giant grove of cottonwood trees hides faint pits and foundations of the once-fabulous Empire mill.

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