The Comstock Foundation for History and Culture encourages the preservation and promotion of historic and cultural resources within the Virginia City National Historic Landmark District.


The 19th century mining bonanza turned Virginia City into the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco, and it turned destitute prospectors from all over the world into instant millionaires.


In the late 1850s, silver and gold were discovered in this area and the resulting camp was little more than a few miners living in tents and crude shacks. By the early 1860s, however, the town of Gold Hill grew to rival Virginia City in size and population.


In 1861, Silver City featured boarding houses, saloons, hotels, and a population of about 1,200 people. The town became an important freighting center to serve travelers between the Comstock mines of Virginia City and the processing mills near Dayton and along the Carson River.


The Comstock was born in Gold Cañon, the site of Nevada’s first gold discovery. Nearby Dayton became Nevada’s first permanent settlement in 1851, and was also the site of the state’s first Chinatown, and home to Lyon County’s first courthouse.


Entrepreneur Adolph Sutro believed that a tunnel, excavated to intersect with the lower levels of the Comstock, would efficiently drain and ventilate the mines. Unfortunately, the Sutro Tunnel opened as the Comstock mines declined.

Restoring the Legacy of a Nation.

The Comstock Historic District is one of the most important National Historic Landmarks in the
United States of America. At over fourteen thousand acres, it is also one of the largest.
The district includes Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City, the historic part of Dayton, and the historic site of Sutro.
The Landmark commemorates a long history of remarkable achievements in the field of mining.


Historic Train Depot Destroyed By Fire

Historic Train Depot Destroyed By Fire

By Denise Crites - Dayton Vally Dispatch On Wednesday, June 17th, Dayton was dealt a blow when the historic 1881 Carson and Colorado Railroad Depot on the corner of Highway 50 and Main Street burned to the ground, fanned by strong winds out of the north-northeast. The...

Donovan Mill Stands the Test of Time

Donovan Mill Stands the Test of Time

Q: I was recently driving up to Virginia City, and noticed a sign on the old Donovan Mill in Silver City, referencing a restoration by the Comstock Foundation for History & Culture. What are they actually doing in there? A: Hello, thank you for the inquiry. It’s a...




On Saturday, September 25th the Donovan Mill was one of 50
National sites that participated in National Ghost Hunting Day.
The Ghost hunt was organized by Foundation partners
the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters.
They were joined by teams from The Haunted
Side and The New Reality. 
Here’s a photo of the three groups at the Donovan Mill
before the Ghost hunting participants arrived. 
Broken into groups then teams split up and swapped place
in the seven different buildings that make up the Donovan Mill.
Tons of activity keep them going till 2 am and didn’t disappoint all
in attendance. Special thanks to Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters,
The Haunted Side and The New Reality for donating
all the funds raised to the Comstock Foundation.

An Open Letter to Virginia City

Among the 200 Twain scholars I’ve communed with over the past 40 years, Virginia City has been their biggest disappointment.  Hannibal, Hartford and Elmira boast Mark Twain’s profile in grand style, and our Comstock Fathers & Mothers should visit there.

Mark Twain has a wider reputation, is better known nationally and world-wide than Virginia City, and many Comstock residents would be quite surprised to hear that.

It’s time we recognize and celebrate the literary birthplace of America’s best loved author, Mark Twain; time for Virginia City to take her rightful place of honor as the lodestone of the enduring literary compendium of one Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  Commemorate it and they will come.

Our intrepid Executive Director of the Comstock Foundation for History & Culture, Steven Saylor, along with the propitious new owner and renovator of the Territorial Enterprise Building, Tom Hayward, will be leading the way. 
I see a new dispensation dawning over Virginia City…

With great love for the Comstock Lode,

I remain your faithful servant and friend,

McAvoy Layne

   Steven Saylor and Tom Hayward


The Comstock Foundation for History and Culture was the recipient of the Northern Nevada Development Authority’s Pioneer/Boundary Peak Award as best non profit in 2018. The Comstock Foundation has worked since 2014 to rebuild historic structures and encourage the preservation and promotion of the historic and cultural resources within the Virginia City National Landmark District.


Become involved and preserve history.
Are you interested in helping the Comstock Foundation with their efforts in preservation and promotion of historic and cultural resources within the Comstock Historic District? Support preservation and donate below. CLICK HERE to become a volunteer or below to donate:
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This month’s feature videos present images of Donovan Mill.
To view the entire Comstock Historic District video collection, please visit our Youtube station:

The Comstock Foundation • PO Box 61 • 680 American Flat Road • Gold Hill • Nevada • 89440

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