Updated: Mar 13
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.
1889 ▪️ U.S.Geological Survey ▪️ Dept. of Interiors
Como, the once promising town, fizzled quick. The mines failed to produce any viable ore and just a mere 3 years after its inseption it was all but abandoned. Unfortunately for Pollock & co they were still legally obligated to maintain the road and pay state taxes. They quickly cut their losses and abandonEd their charter leaving the road to fall into disrepair. The Journal of the Assembly held a special session in 1867 to address this situation. Pollock & Co are amongst those listed who were in payment default.
As the mines dried up the population began to dwindle back down. Only the roads in “good” condition and that lead to active towns were deemed worthy of state funding. Due to neglect and dismal traffic Old Como road didn’t make the cut. Its at this point the road fails to show up on any maps going forward.
1906 ▪️ Official State Map of Nevada
The Town: Como, NV
What was, could have been, is and isn‘t.
There isn’t a whole lot left of this town once dubbed
“ …soon be a rival of Virginia [City] both in population and mineral wealth“ ~ 1863 21 August, Daily Alta California
The townsite of Como once home to 700 has only the crumbling walls of the post office, some foundations and a bunch of pottery shards, broken glass and ruble. The dismal end of Como was a sad reflection of the promise that once was Como. A picture s location Nestled deep in the pine nut mountains, where in 1860 a little bit of gold was discovered. This little bit of gold brought a slew of would’ve hopefulls who wasted no timeand spared no expense in constructing the little hamlet. By 1863 the town boasted 4 hotels, 4drygoods stores, 2 livery stables,8 saloons, 1 brewery, 1 tin shop, 1 blacksmith shop and numerous houses. The Post office opened and The Como Sentinel published its first issue on April 16, 1864. It seemed this town was destined for greatness.
Como’s problems began when the mine failed to produce any distrrnanle amount of viable ore. Prompting a quick abandoning if the town for greener pastures. The Como Sentinel after only 13 issues packed up and moved to Dayton. By 1866 the Marysville Dsily Appeal had reported
”almost entirely deserted, there being but on house occupied, the National Hotel, a costly structure, which now shelters a few woodchoppers who pay ten dollars per month rent”
Ruins of the Como Post Office
Not one to give up Como made 2 more efforts in its attempt for greatness In 1879 the post office reopened as a few miners began to revive operations. This attempt ultimately was unsuccessful and the post office closed in 1881.
Still holding onto that dream. Como had one last ditch revival which saw a 3rd reopening It’s post office in 1903. This very brief revival did not last long which caused the final closing of the post office in 1905.
Last nail in the coffin of Como
Not learning from history, a few miners re-opened mining operations in 1936. A great deal of money was spent on a new mill, however it was only an operation for three days. When it failed to produce any viable ore it closed up shop. Leaving Como and it’s once promising dreams of grandeur to the hands of time.
1936 Mill ruins, Como ,NV
it seems this town would’ve been forgotten completely had not been for in 1963 when it suddenly began to show back up on maps again. The road obviously missing Pacomo is listed as a site of historical interest and or a ghost town such as the map below
1966 ▪️ Official State Map of Nevada
Interesting Como facts:
▪️Year 1862 Como had 700 residents, 4 hotels, 8 saloons, 1 brewery and a host of general stores and houses. By 1866 the entire town had been abandoned.
▪️ The Cross Hotel was regarded as the “finest Nevada Establishment” and was the first hotel to have carpeted rooms in the state.
▪️ The Newspaper The Como Sentinel only had 13 issues then packed up shop and moved to Dayton.
▪️ Captain Truckee, the famous Paiute father of Chief Winnamucca died in 1860 from a tarantula bite while in Como. He is buried on a mountain ridge just outside of the townsite.
▪️Como the town that refused to die. In fact the town was born, died, was reborn… 4 times 1861- 1865, 1879-1881 and 1902-1905 each revival prompted the reopening of the post office (the only structure left today). There was a final and extremely brief revival in 1936 with the opening of a new mine only to be shut down permanently 3 days later.
Be sure to check back next week as I search for more lost roads and towns using only a 1864 Nevada Map.
⟴ More information about Como, NV…
⟴ If you are interested in your own map adventure here are some great resources for historic maps.