American Flat is an impressive historical site, tucked just a few minutes west of Gold Canyon. Part of the reason why many long-time residents of Nevada have never heard of this lost Comstock community is because of its indirect road access and relatively hidden location! Accessing American Flat has become increasingly difficult over the years thanks to much controversy concerning the site (more on this in a minute), and increasing private ownership of area mining companies, specifically, the Comstock Mining Company. Although no population resides here, the post office has given "American Flat" a zip code primarily for business purposes of Comstock Mining Company.
Gold and silver mining began in American Flat after 1860 when the Comstock discoveries extended beyond the main Gold Canyon ravine. By 1864, the citizens of the newly-founded American City tried to secure the territorial capital from Carson City! Promoters at American City offered $50,000 to the Nevada territorial government if it would relocate there. The Storey County papers backed the removal attempt, but the legislators rejected the offer. During 1864-66, American City (Flat) was a thriving town with two large hotels, a post office, and its own township officers. The community never took root and by late 1867 American City was all but a shadow. In 1920, the United Comstock Mining Co. constructed a $1.5 million four-story cyanide mill of reinforced concrete on the site to process low-grade ores coming out of the Comstock Lode. Three years later the Comstock Merger Mines Inc. was formed to operate a group of Comstock mines in the middle of the lode, and in 1923, acquired the mill when the United Comstock Mining Co. went out of business. A small company camp just below the mill included a store, several houses, and a post office until December 1926 when the mill was closed due to the falling price of silver.
How to Get HereEdit
To find American Flat, access SR 341 and head north in the direction of Virginia City (stay in the direction of SR 342 at the 341/342 junction). Pass through the community of Silver City and continue north for 2 miles to a dirt road on the left. This road can be tricky to spot and heads south from SR 342! In recent years, a sign has been erected directing mine trucks to and from Comstock mining activity. Make a left onto the road and continue to the Comstock mining entrance. At the gate, a dirt path leads south; from here, you should be able to spot the impressive mill ruins of American Flat, an easy, but bumpy 1/2 mile. In recent years, the BLM has erected barbed wire fencing around the site to keep out cattle. Although the dirt path continues into the site, I recommend parking at the fence and walking in to avoid the endless broken glass and rusted nails. The Cyanide Mill at American Flat has been the subject of much debate over the past decade. In December 2010, the Nevada Appeal reported that the BLM was moving forward with plans to demolish and reclaim the site; this caused an outcry among those that would like to see the old buildings preserved. The decaying remains at American Flat have been a gathering hole for dirt bikers, graffiti artists, paint ballers and partyers for decades. The amount of deep, impregnable shafts, countless flights of stairs, and unsteady footings make up enough reasons why visitors should take extra caution here. As my friends at ForgottenNevada.org would say ...
"There are ample and spectacular ways to kill yourself here, and many have tried." At present, the demolition is on hold until further studies to determine the site's historic value can be conducted. In the meantime, be smart and enjoy this impressive structure from ground level, or at least, from a safe location.
Founded: March 1864
Zip Code: 89428