Featured Post

Welcome to Julia C Bulette 1864!

Our chapter is located in Virginia City, Nevada. This site contains all the information on our events, officers, and assorted happenings. Come visit our meetings on the first Tuesday of each month at the Clamper Hall in Virginia City, just down the street from Piper's Opera House.

Philip Deidesheimer – Father of the Square Set — by Johnny Gunn

Posted by Metric | Posted in History | Posted on 10-02-2018


As an organization dedicated to the preservation of mining history in the west, we couldn’t be in a better place. The history of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode could

Philip Deidesheimer

keep an historian busy writing for ten years or more. Mining engineers around the world are taught techniques that were developed here because of the complexity of the ore, the size of the lode itself, and the geology of the Virginia Range.

When underground mining got underway back in 1859 the first thing the original miners discovered was how very loose the rock seemed and how very large the ore body was. The Ophir Mine was the first deep mine, the richest at the time, and the most dangerous. To take ore from underground and bring it to the surface leaves great caverns in the mountain called stopes, and technique of the time was to leave pillars of ore to hold the mountain open.
The Comstock Lode is broad and extensive, and the stopes with their supporting pillars became extremely dangerous with cave in after cave in, and the mine owners and miners knew something had to change. That ore was rich indeed, to the tune of thousands of dollars per ton in many cases. The owners of the Ophir learned of a German mining engineer who was preaching a new way.

Philip Deidesheimer was born in Darmstadt in 1832 and graduated from the Freiberg University of Mining, emigrated to California during the gold rush, arriving in Georgetown in 1852. The Ophir Mine brought him to Virginia City in 1860 to find a means of keeping these vast ore bodies available. One very nasty cave in took place at the Mexican Mine just north of the Ophir works. The remains of the wreck can be seen easily even today. On a south facing mountain side at the north end of town there is a great depression following the massive cave in that can be seen as you drive out of town.

Besides the loose ground predominant in the mines, there were great seams of clay that were under tremendous pressure. When the miners punched into one of the seams, the drift or shaft would close off within a matter of hours as the clay filled all open areas. It was a constant battle to keep those mines open and productive.
Deidesheimer is credited with creating what’s called square set timbering, which allowed the mines to fully develop the stopes. Large timbers, some as thick as twelve by twelve, most were ten by tens, were fitted into cubes and as the miners progressed, they would build another cube, eventually a stope would look more like a bee hive than a mine.

A few years ago, when I was working for Greg Hess, we opened a mine here on the Lode that had been closed since about 1900 or so, and got down into the lower levels. At about the 800 foot level we worked our way into a vast stope with the square sets still solidly in place. Since the mine had been sealed, the timber was just as good as the day it was brought underground. It was a hell of an experience.

Often the men would carve their initials on the timber with dates, and that was exciting to find. Deidesheimer could have made millions of dollars with his invention but refused to patent the idea, which allowed all the mines to begin using square sets in their operations. Like so many things that were discovered during the boom days of the Comstock, the use of square set timbering is of utmost importance in mining operations around the world today.

There has been speculation from many that Philip Deidesheimer got his ideas for square set timbering from honeycombs since that is what they most look like, but another speculation comes from the German salt mines which also had problems with cave ins. There was extensive timbering in the salt mines of the 1800s and that area is where Deidesheimer got his engineering degree.

Many believe he took the concept used in the salt mines and made adjustments so that the timbering would hold the tremendous weight and pressure of the Virginia Range rock. Deidesheimer was made superintendent of the Ophir Mine and worked for many years there. He moved on when the lode began to play out, ending his career in a California operation. He never made any extra money from his discovery that allowed these mines to prosper to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Philip Deidesheimer died in San Francisco on July 21st, 1916.

Among the many sources for this brief discussion are these web sites, a long association with the history of Virginia City, and personal knowledge gained from working with Greg Hess, working underground at the New Savage Mine, and sources at the Mackay School of Mines, UNR.

Julia’s Unequivocal Nevada Klampout #38, Wonder, NV

Posted by Metric | Posted in History | Posted on 10-08-2017



Clamper year 6022

Brought to you by
Julia C. Bulette Chapter 1864, E Clampus Vitus

Envisioned by 
Noble Grand Humbug Reid Slayden

 Researched and interpreted by 
Jeffrey D. Johnson XNGH, Clamphistorian at Chapter 1864

Dedicated to
Rod Stock XSNGH, Jess Davis XNGH

2017 c.e.

Churchill County

Churchill County was established in 1861 and named after Fort Churchill (which is now in Lyon County), which was named after General Sylvester Churchill, a Mexican-American War hero who was Inspector General of the U.S. Army in 1861. Churchill County was not organized until 1864, and its county seats were Bucklands (1861–64) which is now in Lyon County, La Plata (1864–68), Stillwater (1868–1904) and Fallon (1904–present). In the 19th century there were several attempts to eliminate Churchill County because of its small population, but Assemblyman Lemuel Allen was able to stop it on all occasions including convincing the Governor to veto the bill after it had been passed by both houses in 1875.

William Morris Stewart – Nevada founding father

Posted by Metric | Posted in History | Posted on 05-06-2017


William Morris Stewart had a lengthy and remarkable career. Extraordinarily capable and articulate, he was the most visible of nineteenth century Nevada senators. He was a skilled politician. Never beloved, he was respected for his intelligence and mastery of detail, and feared for his often ruthless determination and occasional lack of scruples in attaining his desired ends. His interests focused on national as well as local issues, and he fit in quite comfortably with the venal culture of his times.

Read More: 


Nevada Historical Society Quarterly


Then and Now, 1966

Posted by Metric | Posted in History | Posted on 22-12-2016


An ECV history pamphlet from 1966. h/t Jim Cirner



ECV Historical Marker Database

Posted by Metric | Posted in History | Posted on 04-05-2013


Thanks to the good folks at The Historical Marker Database, we have a nice list of 785 ECV markers throughout the United States, including 28 markers attributed to chapter #1864. The database is searchable with a mapping function as well. Take a look through, and if you think one is missing, we’ll see about adding it.

There is also a mobile phone friendly website, which uses your location to show markers near you, and the Field Trip app from Google includes information from HMDB as well.

h/t Michael McClain

The Colorful History of the Nevada California State Boundary

Posted by Metric | Posted in History | Posted on 05-04-2013


NV_CA BoundaryThanks to Jeff Johnson. This is a great article.

“With the outbreak of the Civil War the mountain of silver under Virginia City became critical to national security. Nevada became a Territory by Act of Congress on March 2, 1861….

“It is interesting to note that longitude is not referenced to Greenwich, but to Washington, D.C….

“Nevada Territory’s land description set the stage for a minor civil war even though it acknowledged that the overlap would continue to belong to California until and unless she ceded it to Nevada Territory. These qualifying words did not stop Plumas County, California, and Roop County, Nevada Territory (now in Washoe County, Nevada) from exercising jurisdiction over the same ground in the vicinity of Honey Lake Valley. The powder keg exploded when the Roop County judge arrested the Plumas County justice of the peace. This outrage prompted the Plumas County sheriff to arrest the Roop County judge. Before long shots were fired and blood was shed. Fortunately, a truce was declared before things got completely out of hand and each side resolved to petition their governor for an equitable solution. Clearly it was time to put state line monuments on the ground.”

Read on…