Unionville

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom

press to zoom
1/23

Pershing County

AKA: Dixie

Some of you may not know this, but Samuel Clemens (AKA: Mark Twain) lived in both Unionville and Aurora before making his way to Virginia City. He spent the years of 1861-1864 living in Nevada, where we worked in prospecting and mining. After arriving in Virginia City, he started his early writing career at the Territorial Enterprise. The rest speaks for itself..... Paiutes first discovered rich ore in Buena Vista Canyon in 1861. They were able to guide prospectors into the area by early May. By the middle of May, the location of the town had been established in the upper canyon. By May 22nd, a meeting had already been called to organize a mining district and government. Things moved very quickly here. The mining district would be known as the Buena Vista. The camp was originally known as Dixie for a very short time. Northern loyalists won out though and the name was changed to Unionville permanently. By November, Unionville was the new Humboldt County seat (It is located in Pershing County today). Press coverage of the new area exclaimed that this area could be another Comstock. Possibly one of the richest mining discoveries yet. This news led Mark Twain to head for the Humboldt to get rich quick. Twain wrote that there would be "masses of silver lying all about the ground glittering in the sun on the mountain summits." His stayed in Unionville for less than a month. His stay was not only short-lived, but he obviously didn't find the masses of silver laying all over the ground. Basso talks about the town being divided into three distinct camps. These being Upper Town, Centerville and Lower Town (Dixie). These areas actually divided themselves based on Civil War Sympathies. As Basso put it "Upper Town favored Union causes; Dixie was pro south and Centerville was a sort of Mason-Dixon line." One historian stated that Unionville had over 1,000 residents by 1862. Another gives the number of 700 residents by 1863. Both of those historians are in agreement on the businesses that existed here. These included: Ten Stores, Nine Saloons, Six Hotels, Drug Stores, Express Offices, Butcher Shops, Livery Stable, Law Offices, Jeweler, Watchmaker, Assay Office, Dentist, Brewery and a Newspaper called the "Humboldt Register". It seems that the quality of the building supplies that were being shipped in, couldn't keep up with the explosive growth. The quality of lumber was poor and the adobe couldn't hold up to the moist climate. By 1863-1864, many mining companies were operating in the area. Unionville had a great year in 1864, followed by several years of decline. 1868 saw the Arizona Mine become a very successful producer. This mine produced for several years, removing a total of $6,000,000 in ore. By 1869, there was a movement underway to change the county seat to Winnemucca. Unionville was able to defeat the effort. It would not end though. The effort to change the county seat to Winnemucca continued for the next several years. In 1872, a fire broke out in Unionville that caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage. The mines were also in decline. In 1873, Winnemucca won out and was named the new county seat. In September of 1874, the last remaining newspaper (The Silver State) moved to Winnemucca. By 1880, there were only 200 people left in town. Today, there are still a few people living in Buena Vista Canyon, to include a bed & breakfast. There are still a couple of small agricultural operations taking place in the canyon. It really is beautiful there.

Post Office: April 15, 1862 to March 18, 1919 (Humboldt County); March 18, 1919 to June 29, 1956 (Pershing County).

Fraternal Societies: Humboldt Masonic Lodge #17. After a couple years of operating Under Dispensation, Charter was granted on November 20th, 1873, when Unionville was already on the decline. The charter was forfeited in 1881; Buena Vista Odd Fellows Lodge #21. Instituted October 26, 1871. I am unsure of the date that this lodge stopped meeting.

Last Trip/ Road Conditions: May 2022. The road to Unionville via SR400 is paved until you get to the turnoff. If you go the long way from the Rochester/ Fitting side, the road is paved until you reach the Couer Rochester Mine. From there, it is a long way via dirt road, but the dirt road is pretty good. The road into Unionville is dirt, but it's a good road. It starts to get a little worse if you go beyond town and head up farther into Buena Vista Canyon. As always, time changes things and so does the weather.