Leafing through The Complete Nevada Traveler, Skus happened on the ghost town of Aurora, 27 miles southwest of Hawthorne. We often drive through Hawthorne on our way north, but we aren’t likely to take a 60-miles round trip to a “town” with only “some shallow depressions, a few broken bricks here and there.”
Aurora grew so fast after a gold discovery that in 1861 it was named the County seat not only of Mono County but of Esmeralda County, the two governments seated at opposite sides of the town. By summer of 1863, the population was several thousand. It happened that brick from the Pacific coast was easier to obtain than lumber so Aurora’s ten to twelve-block business district was substantially constructed. However, Aurora’s decline began in 1864 when the richest surface deposits played out. David Toll, author of The Complete Nevada Traveler, visited the derelict buildings with his great grandfather in 1946. By that time the population was exactly one: an old man who served as watchman. In August of that year, a building contractor from southern California demolished the buildings, salvaged the brick, and hauled it to San Pedro and Wilmington, California. “The ancient buildings are now factory chimneys in San Pedro and Wilmington—if they haven’t been knocked down and carried off again.” Why those towns? Because of The San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad.
Post script: While I attended a meeting in San Pedro a few weeks ago, Skus and our daughter Theresa explored park and harbor areas of San Pedro. If they had been paying attention to chimneys, they might have seen some remnants of Aurora.
SAN PEDRO HARBOR–BUT NO BRICK CHIMNEYS
The Complete Nevada Traveler is available electronically, or you can order the book: http://www.nevadaweb.com/cnt/index.html