In early April, the Nevada Paranormal Task Force is heading back up to Eureka, Nevada, one of the most remote towns in America, and the best preserved and most haunted mining towns in the American West. We’ll be traveling along Route 50, otherwise know as “the Loneliest Road in America,” as we head on up to Eureka, which is situated in the Diamond Mountains. The trip plans to be jammed packed with excitement and plenty of ghost busting opportunities. We will be staying at the extremely haunted “Brown House,” and we will be live-streaming on Facebook and posting videos and pictures to the website. “Like” us our Facebook page so you can get all of the updates.
History of “Eureka”
The mining boom began after prospectors from Austin, Nevada, discovered rock containing silver-lead ore located on the nearby Prospect Peak in 1864, and found that they were able to work with the ore better because it contained less lead. Instead of sending the ore to England and Wales to be reduced, they were able to build smelters to separate out the lead from the ore (literally to “get the lead out”). First the area was called Horse Thief Canyon, and after being surveyed in 1869, it was named Napias, which was Shashone for “silver.” Then on 1/27/1869 the little town of 100 residents was called Eureka. After the railroad arrived on 10/22/1875 Eureka became the rail-head for this area. It was a bustling mining town back in the day with it’s 125 saloons, 3 opera houses, 25 gambling houses, 2 breweries, 5 fire companies, 2 militia companies, and the usual lot of doctors, bankers, lawyers, newspapers, merchants, hotels, and other businesses… let’s not forget about the 250 prostitutes in 35 different brothels, 65 bars, and a collection of trapdoors and tunnels leading from building to building. Eureka was pretty darn famous back in the day, with it’s 50 mines that produced, silver, gold, and zinc, and was known as the “Pittsburgh of the West.” Many of its original buildings, and its smelters are still standing. Lots of human disasters have occurred along the way, such as a daily occurrence of stabbings, and even an outbreak of Smallpox, as well as, natural disasters, in particular, about 1979, when the flooding proved to be a big problem for the residents of Eureka. Black smoke billowing out of smelter smokestacks blackened the sky and poisoned the landscape, as well as the residents, which had a population of about 9,000 by then. April of 1979 and August 1880, several fires destroyed many of the structures in the North-East part of town. Most of the buildings were reconstructed in 1880-1881. After 1886, construction came to an almost halt due to the declining boom, and smelters and mines eventually ceased to operate.
The “Opera House”
The Opera House was first built in the 1880’s, when the town had about 3000 residents. It was used as a gathering place called the “Old Fellows Hall,” but the original building burned down after a fire in August of 1879. On November 11, 1880, the building was restored with fireproofing in mind, and the Grand Hall was made shock proof so that the old fellars could dance all night. This new building was the center of life for many decades to come. Eureka was on the main tour circuit for the opera and for theatre performances. It showed it’s first silent movie in 1913, and in the 1920’s the first talking movie was presented. The movie theatre lasted until 1958, when sadly, it showed its last film. Eureka Company restored it in 1993, and to this day the original “Oleo” curtain from 1924 still hangs over the stage. It is said that a woman in white can be seen in the upper balcony, and children can been seen on the stage. A man called “Morman Joe” Barker is said to have died by fire on the property, and it is also said that there is a male spirit haunting the basement, as well.
The “Colonnade Hotel”
The Colonnade Hotel was built in 1880. It was used for a meeting place for the Italian Benevolent Society until 1890. It was then reopened again from 1940-1999. The old hotel was also used as a Sunday School, and to house the old miners. The underground coal storage was called the “Dungeon,” and was used to make illegal whiskey during the prohibition. The story goes that 500 Carbonari, the Italian Charcoal Burners, wanted cheaper prices on charcoal at the smelters, so they started a boycott. The smelters were shut down because of this, which set off a mighty rage amongst the residents. Threats and more threats fueled by anger were tossed back and forth between all the parties involved in the dispute. When the Carbonari threatened to “make charcoal of all of Eureka,” a sheriff’s posse ambushed a number of them, killing five and wounding more. There is said to be ghost activity in the basement, where a never-ending party seems to be going on. Also, an apparition of a woman has been seen on the second floor of the hotel.
The “Jackson House”
The property was first owned by Buel Sheets from 1876 until June 28, 1877, and was called the Cosmopolitan Logging House. Buel then sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Vanderleith, who turned it in to the Jackson House Hotel. The Jackson House was soon after destroyed by a fire in 1877, and then was restored in 1880. Then in 1907, The Jackson House became the Brown House, and was built by Angelo Florio, a wealthy, Italian rancher, who also owned shops and hotels in Eureka from the late 1880’s until the early 1900’s. The Brown House was then owned by Dan Morrison, a gold miner who struck it rich (thus… the meaning of Eureka – which means “I’ve found it,” and is said to have been uttered by Archimedes when he hit upon a method of determining the purity of gold), but tragedy struck when Dan’s brother Alex died in a mining accident. The Brown House was shut down in 1940 until it was restored in 1981 as a historical building. Kim Hicks is the current owner of the house, which has 8 rooms in the upstairs, all of which still have that 1880’s look and feel. People say the hotel is haunted by the old owner, Audrey Vanderleith. It is said that lights turn off and on by themselves, doors suddenly slam slut, and you can hear children running through out the halls. People have experienced feelings of being watched, and of being touched and grabbed, and some claim to have been verbal challenged, as well as heard footsteps, knockings, and conversations. People have seen shadow figures, apparitions in the bar and upstairs, and trigger objects have been set off, as well. It is said that at least 14 entities haunt the Brown House. Guess what….. this is where the NPTF will be “resting their heads” in between ghost hunts…. yeah, try to sleep with banging, knocking, footsteps, apparitions, and children running about at wee hours of the night!
The tunnels were built in the 1800s by Chinese immigrants to avoid angry whites in the streets. In 1885, a Eureka city councilman was killed in a rivalry between two Chinese gangs, which led to citizens of Eureka expelling every Chinese person from Humboldt County. The Chinese were not allowed back in until 1959. Later, the tunnels were also used during prohibition to smuggle alcohol. Another story is that the Nevada governor Reinhold Sadler (whose two story brick home is half a block north of the Colonnade House) used a tunnel to get to his Main Street store in the winter, so that he wouldn’t have to meet his neighbors on the street. Much of the old tunneling has collapsed or is unsafe, but in its heyday it was quite comfortable to use, fancy, even, with bricked walls, and arched brick chambers reminiscent of medieval dungeons. The tunnels are said to be inhabited by angry spirits.
The “Old Hospital”
The Nevada County Hospital was first built in 1855 near town, but in 1867 the Supervisors moved the hospital to the outskirts because of all the complaints from the residents. From 1881 to 1883, the hospital held more than 235 patients, which at least 43 (that we know) of died there. The hospital was in operation until about 1975, and then again in 1980’s, when they decided to house low risk inmates in the main building. At one time or another, the hospital was used as a morgue, poor house, welfare office, and finally a Behavioral Health clinic. This old hospital has seen its fair share of tragedy as there were numerous deaths, and even murders that may have taken place in the buildings, well… you can even find old grave sites on the land. Some say that this gloomy old hospital is seriously haunted, and it is said that shadows can be seen jumping out at you. It is haunted? The Nevada Paranormal Task Force is aiming to find out!
So there you have it, just a little bit of history on HAUNTED EUREKA !!!