Silver was discovered in Eureka in September of 1864, by a five member prospecting party from Austin. These deposits later proved to be the first important lead-silver discovery in America, but attempts at separating the two metals at mills in Austin and at locally built smelters in 1865-66 failed because of the ore's high lead content. Interest languished for three years until the installation of new furnaces in 1869 showed that the ore could be treated successfully. Further improvements in smelting techniques and the construction of additional furnaces started Eureka on 14 years of prosperity during which $64 million in silver and gold was recovered in addition to over 225,000 tons of lead.
By it's peak in 1878, Eureka was Nevada's second largest city with about 9,000 residents. After 1878, Eureka shrank as decreasing mine production and changing market conditions led to the closing of mines.
Eureka has an excellent self-guiding walking tour guide brochure which can be obtained from local merchants. Raine's Market provides a copy that can be downloaded from the internet at Raine's Market Self-Guiding Tour.