Tour 1 - Virginia City

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The Virginia City tour will visit historic mining town of Virginia City Nevada. In 1849 just down the hill form Virginia City, Nevada had its first gold discovery in Dayton. Prospectors slowly worked their way uphill from the discovery looking for the source and in 1859 they eventually discovered the Comstock Lode. The Comstock Lode was arguably the richest silver despot in the US and had multiple boom and bust cycles with the mines reaching over 4,000’ in depth by the turn of the 19th century. Many mining techniques and safety standards were developed in Virginia City and used across the west.


The vast majority of the mining was complete by the 1930’s but in 1942 the War Production Board Order L-208 put an abrupt end to gold and silver mining in Nevada. Virginia City still survived as a small community with a small population of 855 and was listed as in the National Register of Historic Places in 1961. When walking through downtown Virginia City on the wooden sidewalks with saloons and shops still intact form the late 1800’s, it feels like you stepped back into time to a previous century.

Tour 2 - Lake Tahoe

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The Lake Tahoe tour will circle most of the Lake Tahoe shoreline and follow part of the Truckee River from its beginnings at Tahoe City. The tour will include insights into the geologic history, historic people and modern dynamics of alpine lakes and forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The Lake Tahoe basin has been shaped by eastern Sierra faults and sculpted by glaciers as recently as 20,000 years ago. Its crystal blue waters have been visited by iconic figures like Mark Twain and Frank Sinatra. The Donner Party met their demise nearby attempting to cross the rugged country during the settling of the old west. Even the forest ecosystem has played an important role in history here, as the logging of old growth timbers for the historic mining operations changed wildfire dynamics of the region.

Come along and enjoy the scenic beauty of this alpine lake while becoming acquainted with the unique history of the region. Some of this tour will be outdoors; be prepared for changing weather conditions and some short walks.

Tour 3 - Yerington Mining

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Stop 1. Fort Churchill State Historic Park: 20-30 minute stop on our way to Yerington, along Hwy 95-A, south of Silver Springs, NV. $5 Entrance Fee (assume per vehicle). An integral part of the history of Nevada and the American West, Fort Churchill was built in 1861 to provide protection for early settlers and guard Pony Express mail runs. Today the ruins are preserved in a state of arrested decay within the Fort Churchill State Historic Park, and visitors can walk designated trails to study the ruins. The park also features the renovated Buckland Station, an important way station in the 1800s for pioneer travelers on the Overland Route. With 3,200 acres along the Carson River, the park is an idyllic place for campers, hikers, bird watchers, canoeists and equestrians.

Stop 2. Anaconda Copper Mine Site (ACMS), NDEP’s largest AML ongoing reclamation project: 1-hour tour, with select stops to be determined just prior to the Conference, due to ongoing construction activities. Generally, we will view the entire site from various vantage points, and discuss the general history of the Site, allowing for Q&A at each vantage point and between them. The ACMS was an open pit copper mine operational generally from 1953-1999, including various periods of milling and processing. The ore body consists of CuO2 and CuSO4, so the processing methods were specific to those two ore types. Site closure planning and activities are under the regulatory lead of NDEP since Deferral on 2/5/18. Construction began Aug 2019, and may require as much as 10 years to complete.

Stop 3. Pumpkin Hollow Copper Mine, located about 8 miles southeast of Yerington, is one of Nevada’s many active mines. More details to be provided as we get closer, but generally, we will view various aspects and activities of a high-grade copper-gold production mine, that includes an underground mine and large-scale open pit development. Tour and Q&A will be hosted by the Pumpkin Hollow operator, Nevada Copper.

Tour 4 - Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake, California. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. By 1879, Bodie had more than 60 saloons and dance halls; regular gunfights, stage holdups, and robberies gave rise to the “Bad Man of Bodie” legend. As the ore dwindled into the 1900s, two large fires gutted the town and most of the residents moved on. Only a small part of the town survives. A self-guided walking tour through town allows visitors to peer through windows and see furnished interiors, stocked shelves, and school desks left as if in a time capsule. A guided tour of the Standard Mill shows the equipment and processes used to extract gold using a stamp mill. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved by California’s Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) in a state of “arrested decay” (the buildings are being protected from further decay but are not being restored).

In 2006-2009, legacy mine-related chemical hazards were identified and remediated within the Park while protecting and preserving cultural resources to the maximum extent feasible. The project team led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with State Parks’ archaeologists and the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Mine Reclamation, removed lead-contaminated soil from the visitor area, installed a mercury-vapor extraction system beneath the floor of the mill, and constructed a diversion ditch by hand to reduce the offsite erosion of tailings.

Bodie is at 8,400’ elevation, and visitors should be prepared to walk on uneven surfaces and climb a few stairs. The weather can be  unpredictable, and may change abruptly; bring multiple layers of clothing.