"AURORA GHOST TOWN" Hawthorne by JeanCooke

Hawthorne Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 13 photos


Finding mineral wealth may be more happenstance and accident then ability. August 1860, while searching for water and game, prospectors discovered gold and silver quartz ledges. A spectacular rush ensued founding Aurora, named for the goddess of dawn. By 1861 eight stamps reverberated in the mill while Wells, Fargo & Co. hauled out gold.

Sam Clemens, lured to Aurora the spring of 1862, mined for gold then worked as a stamp mill laborer for ten dollars a week plus board. As ?Mark Twain? he wrote about his exploits in, ?Roughing It?.

Aurora was a very dangerous place in the 1860's and as many as 27 people were killed in one year. Home to the notorious Daly Gang, John Daly, just twenty-five years old when he came to Aurora, was one of the most feared gunfighters in the west. He and his men went to work for Pond Mining Company fighting the Real Del Monte Mining Company over mining claims to Last Chance Hill. Both companies hired gunmen to intimidate the other side and keep witnesses from testifying.

After the Daly Gang got one of their members elected City Marshal in 1864 the Esmeralda Star quoted, "No sooner had the Marshal been sworn in than the worst villains that ever infested a civilized community were appointed policemen, and with but few exceptions they were composed of as hard a set of criminals ever went unhung." Fed up, the townspeople elected a new Marshall while Daly was out of town. When the Daly Gang killed a well-liked citizen, Vigilantes quickly caught Daly and his Gang and before Governor Nye could intervene, all were hanged.

Building excesses and promotion, inflated stock values, speculation, squandered investments, mismanagement and exhausted bonanzas left the town in decline. The post office was discontinued in 1897. By the mid 1920?s Aurora was nearly dead. Around 1946 the town?s several abandoned buildings were leveled for their brick value.

  • Last visit to Hawthorne: Jul 2001
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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