Just 1 ½ miles west of its more popular neighbor ofVirginia City, the old mining camp of Nevada City got its start at the same time when gold was discovered in Alder Gulch in 1863. In fact, numerous settlements were established all along Alder Gulch, including the camps of Summit, Adobetown, Central City, and Junction, withVirginia City in the middle. The scattering of mining camps and buildings that sprawled up and down the gulch for some 14 miles, was also known as Fourteen-mile City.
Nevada City was comprised of placer miners working several mining districts including Browns Gulch just south of the town and Granite Creek, about two miles northwest of Nevada City. These and other claims would all later become part of the Virginia City Mining District.
In the beginning, the entire entire mining district was part of Idaho Territory and until Virginia City became theMontana territorial capitol in 1865, there was no law except that of the miner’s court.
On December 19, 1863, Nevada City’s main street was the setting for the miners’ court trial of George Ives who brutally murdered a popular Dutch man named Nicholas Tibalt. The trial, which lasted three days and was attended by as many as 2,000 area residents, finally found that Ives had shot Tibalt before stealing his gold and several mules. After the miner’s jury found Ives guilty, proceedings immediately began to hang him. Within no time, a 40-foot pole was run through the window of an unfinished house nearby and a rope fastened to its end. Just 58 minutes after his conviction, Ive’s life ended on December 21, 1863. This first trial, conviction, and execution would become the catalyst for forming the infamous Montana Vigilantes. Within the next month, some 24 men found guilty by the vigilantes would also be hanged in the area.
Nevada City quickly peaked, boasting dozens of businesses and cabins. However, by 1869, the population of the mining camp had already fallen to about 100 people, but, still sported three general stores, two saloons, a blacksmith, butcher shop, livery stable, brewery and a Masonic Hall. However by 1876, Nevada City had all but become a ghost town as the miners moved on to new finds.