The Mills of the Cortez Mining District

Author(s): Shaun Richey

Year: 2016


Organized in 1863, the Cortez Mining District is located in central Nevada and was an early silver producer.  The mining technology employed at Cortez included the Washoe and Reese River pan amalgamation processes, the Russell leaching process, cyanide leaching, and oil flotation.  Cortez was also the proving grounds for the cyanide heap leaching that began in the late 1960’s and has since spread throughout the world.  New milling technology, once brought into the district, was subject to adaptive modification by innovative mill operators or constrained by the limitations of the landscape.  There were at least six mills at Cortez and most still exist in varying states of preservation.  This paper offers a tour through the archaeological remnants of the mills, and examines archival documentation and the physical remains of the mills to determine how processes were adapted to Cortez ores and what sociotechnical factors influenced their success or failure.

Cite this Record

The Mills of the Cortez Mining District. Shaun Richey. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434808)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 933