In the 1860s Pioche, Nevada was the baddest town in the west; badder than Tombstone, badder than Dodge City and all the rest. It was so bad 72 people died before one died a natural death.This town even has its own website http://www.pioche.net. In 1873, the Nevada State Mineralogist reported to the State Legislature “About one-half of the community are thieves, scoundrels and murderers and then we have some of the best folks in the world, and I don’t know but our lives and property are just as safe as with you. You can go uptown and get shot very easily if you choose, or you can live peacefully. I will send you a paper with an account of the last fight…I was in hopes eight or ten would have been killed at least, as these fights are a pest in the community. Peaceful! Sure, if you stayed out of the way of the bullets.”
The most notorious mining camp in Nevada, where the only law was the gun, is the town of Pioche. A William Hamblin made the first discovery of gold and silver in 1863. Fortunately for him, Hamblin had Paiute Indian friends who showed him the site that was to produce $40 million in ore. The town, however, was developed by a Frenchman by the name of F. L. A. Pioche, a banker from San Francisco, to whom Hamblen sold his claims. Of special note is the town’s cemetery. It contains the first “Murderer’s Row”, a section in the cemetery set apart from the rest, containing the graves of over 100 murderers. Most are unmarked. Many relics of the old days remain, including the Lincoln County Courthouse that was condemned in 1933, three years before it was paid for. Pioche-a must see ghost town. Submitted by Henry Chenoweth.
Pioche mining activity began in 1868 and increased dramatically when the county seat was moved there from Hiko in 1871. Guns were the only law in Pioche during this period and the town became infamous for its many homicides. The population was more than 7,000 by 1872 with dozens of saloons and red light districts adding to the chaos. Pioche is located just off U.S. Highway 93 north a few miles from Panaca.
It’s a living ghost town — about 900 people, though it had 8,000 people in it’s 1860s mining boomtown days.