Please remember to exercise caution when exploring Nevada's Ghost Towns & Mining Camps. Open shafts, drifts going into mountainsides, and old buildings, are all DANGEROUS. Be aware of your surroundings, and let someone know where you are, especially if your plans change.


(Mardis) (Bayard) (Union Gulch) (Cornwall) (Copper Mountain)

Location: From Wild Horse, head south on Nevada 225 for 8 miles. Exit left and follow the road for 25 miles to Charleston.

"Mardis, later renamed Charleston, came into being after George Washington Mardis discovered placer gold in 1876 on aptly names 76 Creek. Mardis had been active in the area since the late 1860s, and his company, the Mardis Silver Mining Company, was prominent in the Wyoming Mining District, which was later renamed the Island Mountain Mining District. While discoveries on 76 Creek led to the creation of the town of Mardis, mines in the district, including the San Francisco, the Black Warrior, the Sherman, the North Star, the Eclipse, the General Grant, the Commodore, the Chicago, and the Golden Gate had been active since the early 1870s.

The town of Mardis grew quickly and soon contained a number of stores and saloons, a hotel, an icehouse, a school, and a widespread reputation for lawlessness. Mardis, William McLaughlin, and Johnny Brooks had actually organized The Mardis Mining District in the spring of 1872, but the active mines were located along the Bruneau River, not at the future Mardis townsite. Mardis, also known as "Old Allegheny," is one of the more intriguing characters in Elko County history. He was raised in Pennsylvania and talked constantly about the Allegheny Mountains there. His appearance was intimidating, because an accidental mining explosion had taken one of his eyes and scarred and blackened one side of his face. But Mardis had a reputation for honesty and fairness, and everyone who knew him trusted him.

Mardis became a bible-quoting preacher following his involvement in an incident at Mountain City. While drunk, he got in a fight. He knocked his opponent unconscious, and the crowd convinced him that he had killed the other man. Panicked, Mardis disappeared for a couple of weeks. After he learned of the ruse he was never known to drink again.

Mardis hauled ore from many northern Elko County mines to Deeth and Elko, and miners trusted him to carry their gold to banks in Elko. In September 1880 he made a trip to Elko carrying miners' gold to deposit, as well as $250 to buy supplies for Gold Creek's Chinatown. After traveling for some time, a Chinese man known as "New York Charley" sprang from the brush, startling Mardis and his team, and demanded Mardis' money. When Mardis told him that all he had was some chewing tobacco, Charley shot him four times. Mardis was not dead, however, so Charley finished him off with his knife. Mardis' body was found a few hours later, and a posse formed at Gold Creek. Charley had inexplicably taken off his shoes when he fled, and his six-toed footprint left a plain trail for the posse to follow. They found him hiding in Gold Creek. Because he had stolen his own people's money, the Chinese community pleaded to mete out their own brand of justice to Charley. The posse granted their request, and they dealt with him quickly. His funeral took place at the same time Mardis' did, and both were buried in the Gold Creek Cemetery.

The town of Mardis faded quickly after Mardis' death, and by 1883 only a handful of people remained there. Mines (the Troy, the War Eagle, the Smokey City, the Sunnyside, and the Palisade) were still active during the early 1880s. Placer deposits were also active, but their success was limited.

Despite its reorganization, the district saw little activity until the late 1880s. By 1890 its population had grown to forty-one, but the Bayard Post office closed on February 2, 1889. Nevertheless, the town was slowly reviving. It was renamed Charleston after Tom Charles, a local miner. A number of businesses sprang up in the town.

In 1897 a stage line from Deeth started up with a fare to Charleston of $3.50."

"Today, ranching still plays a prominent role in the are. The Prunty family continues to run ranches there. There are fascinating abandoned homesteads scattered around the valley, and the old schoolhouse still stands, its slate boards intact. However, the town of Charleston has completely disappeared. Some of the buildings were moved to nearby ranches and other succumbed to the elements. The once bustling townsite is marked only by a couple of foundations. As recently as the early 1970s a few buildings still remained. Evidence of mining abounds in the area, particularly north of Charleston along 76 creek. About three miles north, mine dumps, shafts, and tunnels mark the Prunty (the Graham), the Slattery, the Rescue, and the Black Warrior. The Prunty mill stands near the Charleston townsite. About four and a half miles towards Jarbidge are the remnants of the Mission Cross, or Batholith mine. A small camp formed there. but all the buildings have been removed, and only foundations remain. A trip to Charleston is not only interesting in a historical sense, but the scenery on the way to Jarbidge is some of the most spectacular in the state."


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