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Cherry Creek was founded on September 21, 1872 when two prospectors from nearby Egan Canyon located the "Tea Cup" claims, rich deposits of silver and gold ore. By spring of 1873, the community had an estimated population of 400.

In 1873, Cherry Creek included a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, a large hotel, several boarding houses, restaurants, and more than twenty saloons. Cherry Creek continued to grow in 1873. Wells Fargo opened a station in Cherry Creek, and the Cherry Creek post office also opened for business in 1873. However, in early 1874, most of the original mineral claims in the area began to play out. As a result, Cherry Creek's economy and population began a decline, and by 1875, although limited production continued, most of the local mills and mines had closed. For 1875–1880, Cherry Creek remained a small mining community, sustaining a much smaller population and workforce than it had during the prosperous years of 1872–1874.

Cherry Creek's economy and population rapidly expanded once more in 1880, when additional deposits of gold and silver were discovered. Over the next two years, Cherry Creek experienced its biggest boom. By the end of 1881, a single one of the larger mines locally employed over 200 men. Cherry Creek became the largest voting precinct in White Pine County. By 1882, the community was at its peak, with both its economy and population exceeding their previous highs during the boom of 1873–1874. During 1882, the community was estimated to have a population of 7,800, of which 6,000 were estimated to be transient mine workers. During this time, 28 saloons were located in Cherry Creek. There were also a substantial variety of stores and local businesses, most catering to local mine workers. A stagecoach route to Toano, in Elko County, was created and in service during this time. By the end of 1882, one local mine had produced more than one million dollars in gold bullion, a huge amount for the time. The boom of 1880–1883 was the most economically prosperous period in Cherry Creek's history.

In 1883, a financial crash devastated the local economy. Many mines closed, and the community entered a rapid decline. In 1888,  a fire destroyed a substantial portion of the town's business district. By the census of 1890, the population had fallen to 350. Cherry Creek experienced large, damaging fires in 1901 and 1904. Many of the original buildings in the community were burnt down and had to be rebuilt. In 1905, Cherry Creek's economy experienced a modest revival when a number of local mines reopened. Cherry Creek remained the home of several hundred people, and the base of substantial mining activity, until the late 1940s.

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