Silver Peak in Silver Peak, Nevada

Old Post Office at Silver Peak.

Silver was struck in the Silver Peak area around 1860, not long after the discovery of the Comstock Lode. The next burst of activity was in the early 20th century, with a gold discovery at Red Mountain. Because of soaring land prices in Silver Peak itself, a new town, Blair, with a stamp mill was built about three miles north. Intermittent mining for precious metals continued for decades, with Silver Peak never quite becoming a ghost town. Indeed, the run-up in precious metals prices in recent years has encouraged desultory exploration activity to the present day.

Since the latter 20th century, however, Silver Peak has become famous for the production of a high-tech metal: lithium. Brines in Clayton Valley immediately to the east are enriched in lithium, and extraction began by the Foote Mineral Company in 1966. The corporate ownership has changed over the decades, but the lithium mining has continued, such that now (2022) the area is the only domestic U.S. source of lithium. The processing involves using solar evaporation to concentrate the brines.

The juxtaposition of active industrial infrastructure with “ghost town” ambiance is a surreal feature of Silver Peak.

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