Nevada is a State located in the western United States. To most people it is known for its widespread legalization of gambling, and especially for the gambling town Las Vegas. On the other hand it is located between mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains, and thus between natural borders for humid air. As a result Nevada is the most arid state in the nation. Its landscapes include sandy deserts, semiarid grasslands, and lush alpine forests.
The complex geologic history of Nevada created a wide variety of metallic and non-metallic mineral resources. The most important resources are silver and gold, both for historic mining and for today's economy. In the beginning silver was more important, thus the state is nicknamed the Silver State. Today gold has taken over and Nevada is now the largest producer of gold and the second-largest producer of diatomite in the United States.
Mining districts are scattered throughout Nevada in nearly every mountain range. The 1859 discovery of silver-gold ores on the Comstock Lode at Virginia City started the mining activities. Later it spread out to other major mining camps and established many towns in Nevada. Such former mining towns are for example Argenta, Aurora, Eureka, Goldfield, and even Las Vegas.
The start of mining is Comstock Lode at Virginia City, 37 km south of Reno. On the east side of Mount Davidson (2,396 m asl) in the Virginia Range. Silver was first discovered in 1859, by 1860 there was a booming mining community. Over the years large quantities of silver ore were extracted, worth approximately $400,000,000 in 19th Century dollars. At its peak, Virginia City had a population of more than 30,000 people.
The US government constructed the Carson City mint in 1870 to process some silver into coins. There were more than 650 km of tunnels and shafts excavated under the Virginia City area, to a depth of 915 m. Depending on the depth the temperatur in many mines was about 50 °C, a few had even up to 70 °C. Light was poor, air too, and there was a great danger of fire because of the open light which was used. The end came in the 1890s, the descent was rapid, and today Virginia City has a population of approximately 500 people.