Updated: Mar 12
I’ve always had a fascination (obsession) with maps, and the older the better. maps are like holding history in your hands. they also invite curiosity in me. Everytime I see an old town or mining camp I want to learn all about it. Who was there? Why is in not there anymore? Is there Gold still to be found? I always picture a town with full ruins just waiting for me to discover it. So I decided, instead of just googling and daydreaming I am going to go, do and see. I want to experience these places the way they did 100 years ago. So using only a1866 Nevada Map as a guide I set my sites on finding 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐨, 𝐍𝐞𝐯𝐚𝐝a. A little mining town that had a population of 700 in 1862. Here is what I found there mixed in with a little of the history of this town that “went up like a rocket in 1862 and came down like a stick in 1864”~The Gazette
Map Year: 1866 ▪️ Location: Nevada ▪️ Official State Map of Nevada ▪️ General Land Office
The map chosen: 1866 Nevada State Map.
I have a plethora of historic Nevada maps, but this one is my favorite. I love the colors, I wish they still made maps like this. They are just as artistic as they are informational.
The Town Chosen:
Using only a 1866 map has its challenges. Mainly there were no cars so these “roads” are wagon trails. Some have been turned into roads, others covered with modern buildings or housing developments and the rest left to the mercy of the hands of time. It can definitely be a gamble when trying to find them. Luckily this was not the case. The wagon route had been turned into a county road.
Old Como Road: The road was very easy to find. It is right off the main road in Old Town Dayton ( and clearly marked). Old Como Road isn’t maintained and gets a little rocky at some points but isn’t the worst road I’ve ever been on. i suggest all wheel drive with a little clearance. Enough about the road as it is now. Let’s learn about how it was…
Oiginally part of the freight wagon road laid out in the 1860’s with the purpose of connecting Virginia City, NV to Bodie, CA. The portion we went on (see map above) is the old Dayton/Como Toll road.
In 1861 Nevada had yet to become a state with only a population of 6,857 it loosly fell in the Utah territory. Then the great silver strike of the 1869’s happened and the population quickly spiraled to 42,941 (I always think it’s funny when you see a 1 at the end, it makes me. Wonder who the 1 was). Anyway back on task. The rush to Washor had officially begun and everyone had hope in their heart and silver in their eyes. Make shift roads began popping up everywhere, knots where haphazardly constructed and barley passable on wagon. Nevada had yet to become a state and there was no federal funding available.
Enter the era of the Toll road. With no federal funding an taxes not being collected on this new makeshift population the answer came in the form of toll roads. Private companies were granted charters (usually in 20 year increment) to construct toll booths. All the fees where predetermined in the charter and a portion of the proceeds had to go to road improvement, maintansnce & security, with another portion being paid as a state tax. With many of these toll charters granted before Nevada was “officially” Nevada, the state had to wait out their leases before recovering any kind of federal funding for these roads.
Now on to the Dayton/Como Toll Road. A rough wagon freight road was constructed in the early1860’s to link Virginia City to Bodie CA. The tolls along this long pass where split up into smaller sections so one company couldn’t gain a monopoly on it. Pollock & Co was awarded this stretches toll with a 30 year franchise grant. Which meant they were on the hook for the upkeep of the road for 30 years, come hell or high water, regardless of how much money (or lack there of) the toll was producing. This is show on the map above, long after Como’s light had gone out, and it wasnt even showing up in maps, the toll was still active.