Latitude / Longitude:
38°17′21″N 118°53′57″W / 38.28917°N 118.89917°W / 38.28917
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Aurora is a ghost town in Mineral County in the west central part of the US state of Nevada, approximately 22 mi (35 km) southwest of the town of Hawthorne, three miles from the California border. The road to Aurora was once difficult to navigate except via four-wheel drive, as the winter snows and spring run-off damaged the road in the canyon leading to the town. In recent years the operations of a nearby mine have improved the road so that even non-4WD vehicles can reach the town site.
James M. Cory, James M. Braly and E.R. Hicks founded the town in 1860. When Esmeralda County was founded a few years later, Aurora was one of the few places that were explored in the county. Cory is credited with having named the strike Esmeralda but, in the late 1860s, he is reported to have changed the name to Aurora for the goddess of dawn. At one point its population was approximately 10,000. Aurora’s mines produced $27 million worth of gold by 1869. The town was governed by both California and Nevada until it was determined that the town lay entirely in Nevada. At one point it was simultaneously the county seat of both Mono County, California and Esmeralda County, Nevada. Its California assemblyman was the speaker of the house while the Nevada legislative member was elected as president of the Nevada Territorial Legislature.
Today the townsite is much diminished, having been damaged by vandals. After World War II many of the buildings were razed for their brick. There are small remains of Aurora in the area. The streets and the foundations of some of the buildings are still somewhat visible. Most of the buildings were dismantled, its materials used in homes in California as used brick became fashionable. Mark Twain briefly lived in Aurora
The town cemetery has suffered from vandalism over the years. The most notable destruction was the headstone of William E. Carder, a notorious criminal and gunfighter who, on the night of December 10, 1864 was “assassinated” by a man whom he had threatened in the preceding days. The headstone erected by his wife Annie was toppled by thieves who attempted to steal it, and broken into several pieces, where they now lie sunken into the ground.