Latitude / Longitude:
38°06′37″N 118°01′09″W / 38.11028°N 118.01917°W / 38.11028
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Columbus was a borax mining boom town in Esmeralda County. Its remnants are located on the edge of the Columbus Salt Marsh.
Settlement came to the Columbus Salt Marsh in 1865 with the raising of a quartz mill. Columbus was the ideal location for a mill, as it was the only stop for several miles with sufficient amounts of water for the operation of a mill. It wasn’t until 1871 that borax was discovered near the town’s site, and as a result Columbus increased substantially in its importance. Shortly after the discovery of borax by William Troop four borax companies were actively working the deposits on the marsh. Columbus’ zenith occurred around 1875 when there was around 1,000 people in the town. By that same year many businesses flourished in Columbus as well as a post office and local newspaper, The Borax Miner.
By 1881 borax mining activity had practically ceased and approximately 100 people were left in the community. Shortly thereafter, all mining and milling operations completely ceased.
William Caruthers, in his “Loafing Along Death Valley Trails” (Ontario: Death Valley Publishing Co., 1951) says that Francis M. “Borax” Smith discovered the borax at Columbus Marsh.