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Wonder City Then & Now Comparison

Wonder City town site from the mining camp of Hercules Nevada

Wonder City Nevada was erected in May of 1906 when prospectors from the town of Fairview discovered rich quartz veins within the Horse Creek dry wash of the Chalk Mountain Range. Like with any mining town when gold or silver was discovered it created a rush where miners and their families would gravitate to that camp or town. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie while some had gotten it others went bust and so goes the life of your typical miner. It started off as a tent camp then later the stone and wood structures would come into play just like any beginning boom town. Please make note the ghost town of Fairview is now off limits as the U.S. Navy purchased the land surrounding the town along with Dixie Valley on the other side of Wonder to be used as bombing test ranges. 

Prospectors such as T.T. Stroud who originally made the discovery were followed by others who also staked claim such as Murray Scott and William Mays. In a very short time 1000 claims were made as the gold and silver found here was very precious. The only issue with establishing a mine here was the remoteness. The railroad was nearly 80 miles away and to even traverse to the town site it was a 18 mile trek from the nearest town and a 2000' elevation gain. About six miles away in an adjacent canyon was a small mining camp known as Hercules which also boasted a hotel and post office which was Wonder's sister settlment. Due to the remoteness  everything needed to be imported here and that made it extremely expensive. Generally most of the folks that lived in Wonder City had to be well to do folks in order to sustain themselves and their families while living within the Chalk and Alpine Clan Mountain Ranges. Some settlers referred to the western edge of the Alpine Clan Mountains as the Augustus Mountain Range as Mount Augustus is one of the most prominent peaks in the region near Wonder. 

Around the same time Wonder was founded their was a revival of White Cloud City to the west which mined copper in the Stillwater Range. As a matter in fact many towns sprung up within the Stillwater Range due to the fact that it was rich with copper, gold and silver which was just across from the valley. I mean you had many early towns that sprung up in the region such as Victor, Dixie Valley, Stillwater and La Plata Nevada. Most were shortlived but still today many remnants of the past can be found down many forgotten roads in this range as well as below it. To be honest with you I love exploring this region with its beautiful desert scapes, vast valleys, snow capped peaks in the winter, forested canyons and mining history. Wonder however is one of my favorite ghost towns in the range because afterall it was one of the largest of them all and perhaps the most extensive meanwhile many other remnants of the past of some of these other sister boom towns have simply vanished.

During that same year Wonder was founded in 1906 a newspaper was established they called it the Wonder Mining News and soon after a post office would follow. The first newspapers issue in August 11 of 1906 had an article with the title "Did you know that Wonder has no mosquitoes?" then a short time after a second newspaper opened up. It would appear after the newspaper and post office everything by Fall of that year would be established. The town had a drug store, pool, ice plant, school, freight depot, saloons, cafes, hotels, boarding houses, sporting house, assay office, stage line which ran six-horse coaches into Fairview and Fallon Nevada. The most prominent citizen was an Eva Adams a native of Wonder she was the adminstrative assistance to Senator Patrick A. McCarren for many years and director of the US Mint during the Kennedy/Johnson Adminstration. Since the automobile was invented their was no longer a need for stagecoaches therefore most miners traveling to Wonder City probably skipped Middlegate Station all together. 

It was extremely expensive to own a business lot in Wonder about 8k today or anotherwards $400 back in the day. The Wonder Mining District was above the town up and around Wonder Peak which you will see in our photos as well as videos. Many mining companies operated within the peak however the most lucrative was the Nevada Wonder Mining Company which was founded when the town was erected in 1906. A pool and ice plant were built to keep the residents and miners cool. Water would be diverted from Bench and Horse Creek. Prior to that water was an issue so I read that early miners would make the trek up to Mountain Well & La Plata to haul water from its rich springs. While others simply decided that they would relocate to Stillwater which has been absorbed into the city of Fallon which has allot of canals, small wetlands, lakes and many other natural resources. 

The pool and ice plant were owned by eastern capitalist from Delaware who funded the development of a mill below the main mine in 1913. It was a 200 ton cyanide mill and electric power came from Bishop California. At the time this power line was said to be the longest in the world. In addition to the electrical lines running up to the mill a gravity pipe carrying water from Horse Creek was diverted to the town in 1910.  In a matter of a short time Wonder City went from a tent camp to a thriving operable city! But it started off with about 80 tents before other structures came to be. Good were expensive and the town always was suffering from a lack of water even though it was brought in years later it may have been brought in to late.

The town also boasted a cemetery I never did find it perhaps because as of today all the fences are mere piles of wood covered up my sage brush. From our research I learned that three miners were buried here who were victims of some very strange mining accidents. If the desert did not kill you the mines would life is the wild west could be shortened without notice. I am not sure if all of the miners who died in Wonder were buried here but everything I read states that there are at least six unmarked graves were that of prospectors. Life was dangerous as a miner so many wanted to strike it rich and at times they never lived long enough to see the yield. 

For example lets talk about some of the strange deaths and mining accidents that occurred in Wonder City. The first one being Clayton E. Mead who died when a falling rock struck him while hanging on a wall. He had a very terrible head injury and his arm was broken in three places. Despite the efforts to get him to a hospital in Reno Nevada for an operation via automobile he never made it dying nearly as he was passing through Fallon Nevada. A similar death occurred in 1916 when a Frank Dugan was working at the 1,300' leveling hanging on a stope when a slab of about 14' in length weighing several tons fell onto him which led to his death. The third death occurred in 1917 of a mule driver named John Black who was riding a cage from the 1300' level. The cage was used to haul the ore while John was riding on top of it which at the time was against mining regulations because it was not safe. He was trying to get to the surface to get a chain and also was holding loose metal piping. John must had hit one of the wall plates found along the shaft falling between it and the cage to his death. Not only did he get crushed between the cage and wall plate but he fell hundreds of feet. By the time they had gotten in to retrieve his body it was described that it was badly mangled and he met a quite death.

Places of tragedy and death are also the location of many haunting's a majority of the time. These incidents were traumatic for the miners who died here although quick deaths may have been met its very plausible to understand why their spirits might haunt the mines because not even they knew what had happened. Strangely deaths did not occur in Wonder till the town was on its last leg and the veins were exhausted just a short time hereafter. I thought it was strange within a year three miners had died yet the first decade of the towns very existence accidents were very minimal despite all the claims found here. Those are the only deaths I am aware of but since their is at least six unmarked burials within the Wonder Cemetery other miners may have died in the district and those other mining companies may have done poorly in reporting them. I do know for a fact that two of the names found in the cemetery were of men who passed on March 25th 1907 which signifies unknown mining accidents one being John Hallyck and John Uaido but I do not have any further information. 

Despite the hardships of this town being so remote in total amount that the Wonder Mining Company raked in was about 6 million dollars in precious metals. In 1919 the mill had shut down and mining was halted this was due to the fact that the veins within Wonder Peak were exhausted. Many of the buildings were dismantled then relocated and the post office was shut down. The miners along with many of their families begin to move to other nearby towns. The elements of the harsh Nevadan winters and sizzling summers took a toll on the remnants of the town. Despite the second brief boom in the 1930's it was short lived and by that time just about everyone who resided here had gotten out of dodge. It did not help that most of the mining equipment was sold in 1924 or dismantled. After the second boom in the 1930's the rest of the mining equipment was sold to a L.F. Curtis in Reno Nevada ending the reign to Wonders success. 

What also led to this towns demise is when the Gold King fault re fractured due to massive faulting that ran along a 12 mile spur from Dixie Valley to Fairview Peak. The earthquakes did occur before the town was erected yes however in 1954 when re fracturing had occurred with vertical displacements which caused the fissure to widen on the south end. This led to a 7.5 magnitude quake at the time the 12 largest in the world and Wonder was shook violently. This is why when you view our videos of the mill you can see cracks, fissures and toppled walls within the mill site. The elements played a major role in Wonders demise. Today one can visit Fairview Peak and see the fissures and faults created by this massive quake. Despite the fact that the quake was not as intense in Wonder as it is to the south of it the Chalk Mountains and this ghost town were effected. 

No wonder what your into this addition on our site has it all history, mystery, beauty and a birds eye look into the wild west. Although unlike other boom towns this one came a bit later into the gold and silver rush of Nevada. This just proves that Nevada was still growing back in the early 1900's and that most of the towns were built based on how profitable the mines were. When the mines went bust so did the town and as shocking as it is one can literally see how little remains. This is why I posted photos of the original town site and what it looks like today which is just a mere valley full of sage brush and a few piles of wood. It is ashamed that Wonder City only lasted for about 13 years what would have happened if it never went bust would it have been a metropolis today? 

Copyright By
Lord Rick aka AngelOfThyNight
PGS Founder
Author, Talk Show Host, Paranormal Investigator & Producer


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