Submitted by scott on Sat, 10/01/2016 - 11:06

"Six months after my entry into journalism the grand “flush times” of Silverland began, and they continued with unabated splendor for three years. All difficulty about filling up the “local department” ceased, and the only trouble now was how to make the lengthened columns hold the world of incidents and happenings that came to our literary net every day. Virginia had grown to be the “livest” town, for its age and population, that America had ever produced. The sidewalks swarmed with people—to such an extent, indeed, that it was generally no easy matter to stem the human tide. The streets themselves were just as crowded with quartz wagons, freight teams and other vehicles. The procession was endless. So great was the pack, that buggies frequently had to wait half an hour for an opportunity to cross the principal street. Joy sat on every countenance, and there was a glad, almost fierce, intensity in every eye, that told of the money-getting schemes that were seething in every brain and the high hope that held sway in every heart. Money was as plenty as dust; every individual considered himself wealthy, and a melancholy countenance was nowhere to be seen. There were military companies, fire companies, brass bands, banks, hotels, theatres, “hurdy- gurdy houses,” wide-open gambling palaces, political pow-wows, civic processions, street fights, murders, inquests, riots, a whiskey mill every fifteen steps, a Board of Aldermen, a Mayor, a City Surveyor, a City Engineer, a Chief of the Fire Department, with First, Second and Third Assistants, a Chief of Police, City Marshal and a large police force, two Boards of Mining Brokers, a dozen breweries and half a dozen jails and station-houses in full operation, and some talk of building a church. The “flush times” were in magnificent flower! Large fire-proof brick buildings were going up in the principal streets, and the wooden suburbs were spreading out in all directions. Town lots soared up to prices that were amazing.
The great “Comstock lode” stretched its opulent length straight through the town from north to south, and every mine on it was in diligent process of development. One of these mines alone employed six hundred and seventy-five men, and in the matter of elections the adage was, “as the ‘Gould and Curry’ goes, so goes the city.” Laboring men’s wages were four and six dollars a day, and they worked in three “shifts” or gangs, and the blasting and picking and shoveling went on without ceasing, night and day."
(Roughing It)

Comment

281.4–6 the grand “flush times” . . . continued with unabated splendor for three years] The population boom, lavish spending habits, and jubilant spirits characterizing the Comstock in 1863 did not continue with “unabated splendor” for three years. The Washoe economy entered a major depression as early as May 1864 (right before Clemens’s departure for San Francisco), which “culminated in the panic of December 1865” (Grant H. Smith, 48–50). In his Enterprise letter of 29 December 1865 Mark Twain spoke of the “list of rich stock operators of two years ago” who were “busted”: “All the nabobs of ’63 are pretty much ruined. . . . These are sad, sad times” (SLC 1866a).

"Chapter 43: note for 281.4–6," in Roughing It : an electronic text. 2016

355n.1 Mr. Valentine, Wells Fargo’s agent] Wells, Fargo and Company was organized in May 1852 by Henry Wells (1805–78) and William G. Fargo (1818–81), both of whom had more than a decade of experience in the express business. Within six months of its organization the company[begin page 683]was well established in California mining camps as a major carrier of mail, gold dust and bullion, and passengers. Soon it was the dominant express line in the West, connecting with affiliated companies for delivery throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. In 1863 the company was so successful that it paid its stockholders 122 percent in dividends. John J. Valentine (1840–1901) learned the express business in Kentucky. He emigrated to California in the spring of 1862, where he went to work for Wells, Fargo and Company, but was soon transferred to Virginia City, where he became a joint agent for that company, the Overland Mail Company, and the Pioneer Stage Company. In 1866 he became Wells, Fargo’s superintendent of express, and by 1884 he was vice-president and general manager. He was president of the company from 1892 until his death (Loomis, 15–18, 34, 167, 188, 255, 280).  

"Chapter 52: note for 355n.1," in Roughing It : an electronic text. 2016