Dayton lies about 12 miles northeast of Carson City.
After California bound emigrants discovered gold in nearby Gold Canyon in 1849, a tent trading post catering to emigrants was set up each year on the north bank of the Carson River. Sometime in the early 1850s a permanent building was erected, and by 1857-58 a small village emerged, which was named Chinatown because of the many Orientals mining placer gold in nearby streams. In 1861 it was renamed Dayton. Dayton became a busy commercial center for the Comstock, transshipping freight from east and west. The Pony Express erected a station on the eastern edge of town.
With the decline of the Comstock after 1878 Dayton declined. Dayton revived some early in the 1900s when railroad traffic increased because of mining activity in southern Nevada. During peak periods dayton had a population of around 700.
Today, Dayton is a small community of about 400 residents.