While the Civil War was raging back east, and only about a year after the decisive battle of Gettysburg, the Eureka Mining District was established in 1864. For a period of about 10 years, 1869 to 1879, Eureka was a major producer of domestic pig lead, only to be overshadowed later by a town named Leadville, Colorado. The same town that Molly Brown, famous survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, came from.
Four or five generations back, or more, the ancestors of many who live in Eureka County today did not have nearly any of the modern conveniences which are so common to us today. Creature comforts we might like to call them, many of which we might feel we could not live at all without. However, those distant ancestors of ours didn’t have them.
Take for example sources of light after dark. In the lifetime of most of us, we cannot remember ever having to go without being able to just flip the switch and have the lights in the house turn on.
Yet, think what great, great-grandpa and great, great-grandma, say maybe 120 years or so ago, had to do? Life in Eureka County was tough
To great-grandma, her never-ending tasks of cleaning, cooking, weaving, sewing, gardening, and tending the children and maybe a few head of cows accounted for a full day’s work, seven days a week.
It is often hard here in the 21st century to think back to how people in all parts of the county managed to get along without the many, many modern conveniences, time and effort saving devices we have today and take so much for granted. But, to their credit they did.
The obvious question is, how would any of us today fare if having to live in the same conditions from those times of yesteryear?
Even some of the oldest residents of the county are amazed at the progress they have witnessed in their own lifetimes. Just ask them sometime.
A list of the modern conveniences which great-grandma and grandpa, and their parents before them, did not have would be long, much too long to detail in this short article.
What was most likely the most important convenience we have today that did not exist in the county, say for example in 1912, was electricity.
Just think of it. There was no electricity for public use anywhere in the county in those days. It might be that some of the mining operations had electric generators, or the Opera House for productions and to later show silent movies, but it was not for public use, so Ma and Pa didn’t have any.
Consider just a short list of what Eureka most likely did not have, for example, in 1912. Very few folks had in-home hot and cold running water, some may have, but not all. Consider also indoor plumbing or even a toilet. The old wooden outhouse down the path out the back door served for a long time.
There were no cars, no paved roads, no 18-wheeler trucks, no airplanes, no city water and sewer system, no radios, no TV, no satellite dishes, no Wi-Fi, no VCRs, DVDs, no walkmans, no stereo headphones, no cell phones, no telephones, no fax machines, no answering machines, no computers, no iPads, iPhones, no air conditioning, no on-line anything, plus countless others. And horror of horrors, no handheld video games, or no texting! How did those poor souls exist?
In addition, with Eureka’s remote location, it took quite a bit of time in any given week to go to Austin, or Hamilton, or Ely, Carson City, or other places. Think what would have to be considered to set off on such a journey on horseback? Today, you can make most of those trips by car is just over an hour, or less.
There are so many differences in the way of life in Eureka County now as compared to those bygone days, it is important to give credit where credit is due. The people then, many of our ancestors, did the best they could with what they had and they were the ones who brought about the progress that has resulted in the way of life we enjoy today. They faced the hardships, endured the difficulties, saw the future and went for it.
Today therefore, we must be thankful for what they did, for without it, there just might not be the communities we now know and love.