Silver Peak – Silver Peak, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

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Silver Peak

Silver Peak, Nevada

The precious-metals strikes dating back to the 1860s are now mostly inactive, but this area has become the United States' only domestic source of lithium. 


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.

Know Before You Go

Silver Peak is reached by paved Nevada State Route 265 at Blair Junction, about 34 miles west of Tonopah on US 6-95. It can also be reached from the Silver Peak road, which intersects US-95 about 5 miles north of Goldfield. It's about 25 miles west on this road, of which the first seven miles (to Alkali Spring) are paved and the rest graded.

Even the dilapidated ruins remain private property, however; please respect them accordingly. Only ruins remain at Blair, but the site also remains privately owned. Please take only pictures and leave only footprints.

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June 30, 2022

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  •  Shamberger, Hugh A. Silver Peak: Early History, Development, Water Supply, Nevada Historical Press, 1976.
  • Albers, John P; Stewart, John J. _Geology and mineral deposits of Esmeralda County, Nevada_, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin 78, 1972.
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