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Manhattan was founded in 1867 as part of the silver mining boom. The Manhattan district was active long before the town of Manhattan was formed. The initial discovery of silver ore was in 1866 and by 1869 things was slowing down. Before the year was over the district was totally abandoned. Manhattan district remained silent until major new discoveries were made in 1905. The town sprang up almost over night when four cowpunchers traveling from Belmont through Manhattan Gulch discovered ore that assayed as much as $3,000 a ton. Initially, a tent city of 500 formed at the mouth of Manhattan Gulch. Prospectors discovered a new ledge that assayed as high as $10,000 a ton, focusing even more interest on Manhattan. Soon, the gulch was filled with saloons, hotels, assay offices, and a few schools. A post office was opened in December of 1905. By that time, the town had three banks, a Wells Fargo office, seventy-five frame buildings, and a population of 1,000. It also had three newspapers. And then came the San Francisco earthquake of April 1906 that shook Manhattan as much as it did San Francisco. San Francisco financiers who withdrew their support to rebuild San Francisco backed much of the mining activity in Manhattan. Manhattan’s banks closed and the population dropped to a few hundred. Despite this setback, many businesses remained open and continued to operate.

New discoveries in September 1906 and June of 1907 barely kept the town alive. The town’s perseverance paid off when, in 1909, rich placer deposits were discovered on the edge of Big Smoky Valley, a few miles below Manhattan. During Manhattan’s lengthy production period many different mining companies were active in the district and the total value of ore mined in the district is well over $12 million.

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This little church was moved from Belmont in 1905.

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