This colorful historic camp originated with an 1867 discovery of placer gold by John and Steve Beard. In 1871, W.O. Weed discovered the rich Mount Blitzen silver lodes, two miles northeast of the Beard claims. The camp was named by C.M. Bensen, who had served on the Civil War gunboat Tuscarora, named after a tribe in the Iroquois Confederation.
Tuscarora’s first boom, 1872-1878, boosted its population to over three thousand, which included a large number of Chinese. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, hundreds of Chinese workers came to the Tuscarora mines. They started extensive placer operations at the Beard discovery site, later called Old Town, to differentiate it from the main camp two miles distant on Mount Blitzen.
Estimates of silver and gold production during the camp’s lifetime, 1867-1915, ranged from 10 million to 40 million dollars. Toll roads, crowded with stage coaches and long strings of heavy freight wagons, serviced the camp from railheads at Elko, Carlin, Battle Mountain and Winnemucca.