By Dennis Cassinelli
In June 1860, gold was discovered in the Pine Nut Mountains south of Dayton, and a camp called Palmyra was soon established. A post office was opened there on May 5, 1863, and closed on July 31, 1866. Slow to grow, by 1862 Palmyra had only 400 residents and a small business district.
Meanwhile, the camp of Como developed a half mile away and quickly overshadowed Palmyra, and the earlier camp was left with only a hotel and three saloons. The Como post office opened on Dec. 30, 1879, and closed Jan. 3, 1881. Then again it opened on May 20, 1903, and closed permanently on Feb. 28, 1905.
By 1863, Como became a flourishing mining town with four hotels, four dry goods stores, two livery stables, eight saloons and one brewery besides a tin shop, a blacksmith shop and numerous dwelling houses. The National Hotel was a first class house of refreshments second to none this side of the Sierra Nevada. Although no one made an accurate count of Como’s population, it is estimated to have been “in the thousands.”
Como boomed, and in 1864 it gained a steam-driven mill built by J.D. Winters as well as a weekly newspaper — the Como Sentinel; though it moved to Dayton after just three months. It was around this time that Alfred Doten, a doctor, carpenter, and musician, arrived at Como. While presiding over six mining companies, Doten wrote the “Como Letters,” which were sent to the Comstock twice weekly proclaiming that Como would soon develop into a major mining center similar to Virginia City.
Unfortunately, before the end of 1864, ore was beginning to run out at Como and many of the mines closed. Como was largely abandoned by the next year, though it has undergone subsequent revivals from 1879-81 and again from 1902-05. Though these later revivals were more profitable, Como never drew the prior excitement. In June 1935, a last-ditch effort was conducted when a 300-ton flotation mill was placed into operation by the Como Mines Company. It quickly failed, and Como has remained silent ever since.