Silver ore was discovered in this range of mountains in 1864, but no important development took place until 1869 when mines were opened and the town of Pioche was founded. Pioche soon became the scene of a wild rush of prospectors and fortune seekers. It gained a reputation in the 1870s for tough gunmen and bitter lawsuits. Miners had retrieved over five million dollars in ore by 1872, but by 1900, Pioche was nearly a ghost town.
Designated as the seat of Lincoln County in 1871, Pioche survived hard times as a supply and government center for a vast area. Beginning in 1937, Pioche enjoyed two decades of profitable lead-zinc mining.