American Flat, Nevada

American Flat is an old cyanide mill just outside of Virginia City, Nevada.    Technically, is it between Gold Hill and Silver City but both of those places are near ghost towns now, too.    According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), “The United Comstock Merger Mill site is located on public lands at American Flat, Storey County, Nevada. The mill was built in 1922 to process local gold and silver ore utilizing cyanide vat leaching in what was then described as the largest concrete mill in the United States, which makes it historically significant. Since abandonment in 1924, this seven acre mill site has traditionally been used by high school students and other locals as a meeting place to hold parties, post graffiti, conduct paintball wars, etc., despite physical safety hazards from falling concrete, underground mill sumps filled with water, and holes in the concrete flooring.  The BLM issued a Federal Register Notice and closed the historic mill buildings to public entry in 1997 in response to a fatality at the site. Regardless of the closure and repeated efforts by the BLM to fence, gate and post the site with warning signs, the property still receives visitors in trespass. According to the Storey County Sheriff’s Department, emergency vehicles respond to at least six serious injuries on the property every year, mostly from visitors climbing on and falling from the mill buildings which are as much as eighty feet in height.

Needless to say, this is a creepy, old place yet worthy of the time photographing it.   There are warning signs everywhere to be careful.

This huge mill was built in 1922. Imagine how big of an undertaking that was in those days.   It was only used for TWO years.
All of the buildings are covered in graffiti, inside and out.
If these walls could talk … oh, the stories they would tell.
The Bar … enter if you dare …
A closer look at the largest building.
A look inside the largest building, there are holes in the floor and chunks of cement dangling from the ceilings.
Anyone can tell which areas are marked as “closed” but you can see that no one heeds the warnings.
Clearly, the EPA didn’t exist in the days of this mill. The cyanide barrels lay in waste all over the area.
The ghosts of the Comstock are alive and well here at American Flat.

32 thoughts on “American Flat, Nevada

  1. Amazing photos! I love old, abandoned buildings and graffiti. So, these are especially awesome!

    That last picture, the black and white one, captures the creepiness of the area. It’s beautiful.

    • Thanks. Sadly, they are planning on tearing this place down completely because of safety issues. It’s an interesting place. I’m glad I have had the chance to go there.

  2. What an interesting location and intriguing pictures! Such a unique history. It’s good that you were able to document it before they tear it down. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find and interview some of the people who actually partied/played paintball etc there?

  3. I know that they have talked about tearing down the place for years, and recently, the talk seemed pretty serious to the point I heard it would only be a few weeks. That was in April, now being September, I thought I would chance going back up there to see the place. I brought my 4 year daughter with me. I cant say we stayed out of the fenced off areas, but with the little one with me, didn’t wander in to far. I did get a picture of her on the steps inside the main building. I walked around and thought of all the times that I have been there in the years past. I have walked the buildings and enjoyed the rich history behind them and wished that I knew the stories that could be told. I have cracked open a few cold beers and toasted the ghosts that may be living there. I believe American Flats is the reason I have such a passion for ghost towns and old historical sights. I plan to return on my own where I don’t have to keep such a sharp eye out on my daughter. The history of the spot is fantastic and money could be made by having a tours and selling spray paint to people to paint walls in the safer areas rather than tear down our history.

  4. Great pics and fascinating location history. And those cyanide barrels are a potent image at a time when so many talking heads are calling for drastically reduced government; it does have a role.

  5. Hi fresh Ginger, I used some of your pictures on my facebook page I wanted to credit you, wasnt sure on name, am using name at top of this blog Gingerlee photog. I rode with my kids all through those hills to the “flats” and we explored all the tunnels and rooms, creepy for sure!! and so desolate. thank you for great photos!! Sue Frawley

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