Eureka, Nevada

Quick early facts

1864 Eureka was settled by a five-person group of silver prospectors from Austin
1869 The first ore smelter was constructed
1873 Eureka County was formed from parts of adjacent Lander, Elko, and White Pine Counties and became the county seat.
1878 Boom years for Eureka – population reached 9,000-10,000 people
1879 Eureka County Court House was built
1879 Eureka Sentinel Newspaper Building opened
1880 Eureka Opera House was built
1882 Peak of mining production
1887 Raine’s Market and Wildlife Museum built
1887 Jackson House Hotel built
1891 Mining depression – major mines shut down

Eureka Sentinel title changes

1870-1871 The Eureka Sentinel
1871-1887 Eureka Daily Sentinel
1887-1902 Eureka Weekly Sentinel
1902-current The Eureka Sentinel

Panorama of Eureka (1853)

Main Street (1870s)

P.H. Hjul Store (1870s)

C.H. Block (1870s)

Panorama of Eureka (1870s)

The Fire Station (1880s)

Hotel Zadow (1907)

Panorama of Eureka (1913)

The Courthouse (1930s)

History of the newspaper Eureka Sentinel

The small mining camp that eventually became known as Eureka was established in 1864 by prospectors who had discovered rich lead-silver deposits in a canyon 70 miles east of Austin, Nevada. At first, smelting the mixed ore proved difficult, and mining languished until the construction of new local furnaces that were adapted to lead-silver smelting techniques. When the news of this success reached the neighboring districts there was a rush to the camp, and a flurry of new mining activity followed. In 1871 the Eureka Sentinel reported that Eureka mining stock was on the rise in San Francisco (despite the financial dislocation caused by the Chicago Fire): “at no time in the history of the district has property looked so well on the San Francisco market . . . though long delayed this appreciation of the actual worth of our mining interests  is none the less welcome . . .  Soon we may hope to see Eureka stocks of all kinds attract the attention of speculators they so well deserve, and rival the famous ones of the Comstock lode.” In 1873, the new county of Eureka was carved out of the three neighboring counties with the town of Eureka serving as its seat. With the consolidation of mining operations into two large companies, the construction of new furnaces, and the completion of the Eureka & Palisade and Eureka & Ruby Hill Railroads, Eureka by 1878 had become the second largest city in Nevada.

The Eureka Sentinel was first established in 1870 when Archibald Skillman moved his press from Shermantown, where he had very briefly published the Shermantown Reporter, to the new booming camp of Eureka.  With his partner and editor, Dr. L.C. McKenney, A. Skilman and Co. published a weekly paper that prospered with the town. In 1871, the Eureka Sentinel was bought by Fred Ellott, a printer and writer, and George W. Cassidy, the late editor of the Hamilton Inland Empire [LCCN: sn84022049], who expanded the Sentinel to a triweekly with an actively Democratic editorial policy. Cassidy, a senator and later congressman from Nevada, turned over the editorship to John H. Dennis in 1874 to concentrate on his political career. Dennis published the Eureka Sentinel as a daily. In 1876, Archibald Skillman returned to Eureka from Hamilton, where he had published the White Pine News [LCCN: sn84022047]. He bought out Dennis’s interest in the Eureka Sentinel and ran the paper with Cassidy until the latter’s death in 1892. In 1879, Skillman and Cassidy added a weekly addition to the daily, and ran both editions until 1887 when they suspended the daily.

The Eureka Sentinel survived a number of disasters: in 1873, a fire burned down most of the town and totally destroyed the printing plant. While the publishers waited for new equipment and supplies to arrive from San Francisco, they launched the Eureka Daily Sentinel Supplement to meet their requirement of publishing the new county’s legal notices. The next year flash floods swept through the canyon inundating the town of Eureka and its newspaper.

By 1885, the district’s ore deposits were exhausted, and by 1890, the smelters had closed down. When the two competing mining companies merged in 1906, there was a brief recovery, but the local railroads were washed out by flash floods in 1910.  Eureka never fully recovered from these losses despite sporadic mining activity.

Archibald Skillman managed the Eureka Sentinel as sole owner and editor until his death in 1900. The Sentinel passed to his son, Ed Skillman who ran it until his death in 1940, and his son after him, until the paper was finally sold in 1944.

Photo courtesy:
– University of Nevada, Reno Digital
– University of Nevada, Las Vegas Digital


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