A blogging friend of mine from South Africa, Robbie Eaton Cheadle, recently posted a video of herself reading Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “The Sleeper.” It was the line…”upon the quiet mountain top, ” that triggered a memory in me.
Summer of 1990, I was a newscaster, announcer, and contract engineer for 780 AM KROW in Reno. Late one afternoon, we had to go up Peavine Mountain, north of Reno, Nev., to check on a piece of remote equipment that was not working right.
As we drove the six miles of rough road to the mountain top, I could see the crumbles of foundations and ruins of stone walls. On our way back down the same road, we stopped to investigate.
Though not macabre as an Edgar Allan story, it was an honest-to-goodness ghost town!
Records show that during the 1860s, prospectors poked around Peavine Mountain. Several mining camps were established on the mountainside.
The largest of these was Poeville. The place was named after John Poe, a cousin of Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe discovered gold and copper veins in the area in 1862, and within two years, a settlement of about 200 people had blossomed. At first, the ore was difficult to process because of a lack of water.
This changed in 1866 when a freight system began transporting the ore to Cisco, Calif., for processing. It was made even easier to get the ore to mill after the transcontinental railroad was completed.
By 1874, the community was large enough to support a post office, which operated for about four years. Poeville had a few saloons, a small hotel, livery stables, a large dry goods store, a Chinese laundry, a stamp mill, and a wagon repair shop.
When first discovered, Poe thought the site was rich with gold, but soon it became clear there was more copper than anything else. In fact, the copper was of sufficient quality that specimens were exhibited in 1864 at the Nevada State Fair, held in Carson City that year.
However, lower copper prices, coupled with more lucrative opportunities in other mining camps, caused residents to begin to drift away. Mining ceased in the late 1870s, and by 1880, only 15 residents still lived in Poeville.
Today, mostly because of wildfires, sadly, nothing remains.