August 25, 1863: Martis Valley
[Today] we came on, turning around the northeast corner of the lake and striking over ridges to the northwest. Beautiful as Lake Tahoe is from the south, it is yet more so from the north—from having a finer background of high, rugged, black mountains, some of them eleven thousand feet high, or near it, their dark sides spotted and streaked with snow. This end will eventually become the most desirable spot for persons in pursuit of pleasure.
We struck over a ridge, came to the lake again at its north end, then left it entirely, crossing a high volcanic ridge and sinking into a new mining district which is just starting—a new excitement, and people are pouring in. As we went down a canyon we passed numerous prospecting holes, where more or less search has been made for silver ore. Since the immense wealth of the Washoe mines has been demostrated, people are crazy on the subject of silver.We passed through the town of Centerville, its streets all staked off among the trees, notices of claims of town lots on trees and stumps and stakes, but as yet the town is not built. One cabin—hut, I should say—with a brush roof, is the sole representative of the mansions that are to be. Three miles below is Elizabethtown, a town of equal pretentions and more actual houses, boasting of two or three. We stopped at the main store, a shanty twelve feet square, made by driving stakes into the ground, siding two sides with split boards, and then covering with brush. Bacon, salt, pepper, tobacco, flour, and more than all, poor whiskey, are kept. The miners have camps—generally some brush to keep off the sun and dew; but as often nothing. Some blankets lying beside the brook, a tin kettle, a tin cup, and a bag of provisions, tell of the home of some adventurous wandering man. We passed the town and camped two miles beyond, in Tim-i-lick Valley. The day had been warm, but the night was cold enough to make it up, the temperature sank to 20° F., twelve degrees below the freezing point.