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"We arrived, disembarked, and the stage went on. It was a “wooden” town; its population two thousand souls. The main street consisted of four or five blocks of little white frame stores which were too high to sit down on, but not too high for various other purposes; in fact, hardly high enough. They were packed close together, side by side, as if room were scarce in that mighty plain.
The sidewalk was of boards that were more or less loose and inclined to rattle when walked upon. In the middle of the town, opposite the stores, was the “plaza” which is native to all towns beyond the Rocky Mountains—a large, unfenced, level vacancy, with a liberty pole in it, and very useful as a place for public auctions, horse trades, and mass meetings, and likewise for teamsters to camp in. Two other sides of the plaza were faced by stores, offices and stables.
The rest of Carson City was pretty scattering."

(Roughing It)

Clemens’s most difficult period in Nevada was the summer and early fall of 1862, which he spent prospecting near Aurora, in Esmeralda County, while desperately short of funds. Howland was among his partners then (L1, 214–41). In 1876 the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise recalled that “Bob and Mark were not flush” as cabin mates:

They lived principally on hardtack and beans. On Sundays, however, they managed to get hold of some few extras in the grub line. When Sunday came they feasted on canned oysters, canned turkey, chicken and the like, with something in the fruit and jelly line. When the cans had been emptied of these luxuries the “boys” ostentatiously threw them out in front of the door of their cabin.

In the course of a few weeks the accumulation of cans that had contained oysters, turkey, jellies and other good things began to attract attention. Miners passing their cabin used to gaze upon the many cans and say: “By Jove, those fellows live like fighting cocks!”

It was finally noised about the camp that Clemens and Howland lived like two princes—fared sumptuously every day. It was thought they never ate anything but oysters and turkey and they were looked upon as “Big Injuns” by the whole camp.

Anxious to preserve their reputation under the scrutiny of some suspicious miners, Clemens and Howland reportedly resorted to nocturnal foraging in garbage dumps to maintain their facade of empty cans (“How They Played It,” 28 Apr 76, 3).

SLC to Robert M. Howland, 1–6 or 12–21 June 1870, Buffalo, N.Y. (UCCL 00476), n. 1. 

"Originally, Nevada was a part of Utah and was called Carson county; and a pretty large county it was, too. Certain of its valleys produced no end of hay, and this attracted small colonies of Mormon stock-raisers and farmers to them. A few orthodox Americans straggled in from California, but no love was lost between the two classes of colonists. There was little or no friendly intercourse; each party staid to itself. The Mormons were largely in the majority, and had the additional advantage of being peculiarly under the protection of the Mormon government of the Territory.

Zephyr"The “Washoe Zephyr” (Washoe is a pet nickname for Nevada) is a peculiar Scriptural wind, in that no man knoweth “whence it cometh.” That is to say, where it originates. It comes right over the mountains from the West, but when one crosses the ridge he does not find any of it on the other side!

Loading Silver Bricks"By and by I was smitten with the silver fever. “Prospecting parties” were leaving for the mountains every day, and discovering and taking possession of rich silver-bearing lodes and ledges of quartz. Plainly this was the road to fortune.

Butchered to make a Roman holiday sounds well for the first seventeen or eighteen hundred thousand times one sees it in print, but after that it begins to grow tiresome. I find it in all the books concerning Rome--and here latterly it reminds me of Judge Oliver. Oliver was a young lawyer, fresh from the schools, who had gone out to the deserts of Nevada to begin life. He found that country, and our ways of life, there, in those early days, different from life in New England or Paris.

"We put our names to it and tried to feel that our fortunes were made. But when we talked the matter all over with Mr. Ballou, we felt depressed and dubious.

Milling Silver Ore

"I had already learned how hard and long and dismal a task it is to burrow down into the bowels of the earth and get out the coveted ore; and now I learned that the burrowing was only half the work; and that to get the silver out of the ore was the dreary and laborious other half of it. We had to turn out at six in the morning and keep at it till dark.

Inspecting Sample"I met men at every turn who owned from one thousand to thirty thousand “feet” in undeveloped silver mines, every single foot of which they believed would shortly be worth from fifty to a thousand dollars—and as often as any other way they were men who had not twenty-five dollars in the world.

Mark Twain writes of the journey to Tahoe: