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.


It’s appropriate that the first blog post here is about a photowalk.    Actually, it is about the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk 2012 on October 13, 2012.   What is so important about this?

First, this website is a transition for my photography.   It started as a hobby that I never shared to a near obsession that I almost always share now.   This is a whole new website format.   Why not make it completely different?

Second, participating in the SKWP was more about doing something out of my comfort zone.   The event here in Reno had about a dozen photographers show up and we just wandered through a local park looking for some fall foliage to photograph.   It was not life changing but it was definitely something that I don’t normally do.   It was a good opportunity to meet some other people and find a way to be a part of a worldwide effort to get new photos out there.

The photowalk was held at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno, Nevada.   There was a nice wooded area where we found an owl watching us and then looped around to finish at a 22-foot memorial statue that celebrates the Basque heritage of Northern Nevada.    For more information about the Basque Memorial and sheepherders of the Great Basin, please go to

Want to see some pictures now?