Alpha-Omega Lookout & Monument
The Alpha-Omega Lookout & Monument is located four miles east of the
Washington turnoff, on Hwy 20. Although these two mining camps have
completely disappeared, they were both the site of rich diggings and
frenzy during the 1850’s and 1860’s.
Alpha was first settled in the fall of 1852 when gold was discovered
in a ravine by two prospectors, Henderson and Rodgers. The camp, which
some claim was first known as “Hell Out for High Noon City,” was one of
the liveliest places in the county during 1854 and 1855, when several
hundred miners took out more than $1.5 million in gold from an area of
less than forty acres. It contained a first class hotel, two general
stores, and a blacksmith shop, in addition to a singing school which was
taught two nights a week by Mr. G. M. Clark. If a miner couldn’t carry a
tune, he had the option of attending Whistling School, taught by Mr. M.
Tanner who was noted as being “proficient in the science.” Eighteen
would-be whistlers attended the class one night a week.
Omega, also known as “Delirium Tremens,” was first worked by J. A.
Dixon in 1850. The place started slowly as a mining camp, not really
establishing itself until hydraulic mining operations began. Its post
office was established in 1857, and by the following year the town had
assumed quite a prosperous air with a clothing store, tin shop, Chinese
laundry, jail, two meat markets, three blacksmith shops, several hotels,
four provision stores, and many saloons. Clippings from the Nevada
Democrat provide an interesting view of Omega during the gold years.
December 9, 1857: “On Friday evening last, four men entered a dance
house at Omega, kept by Mr. Williams and Mr. Tiemyre. After getting
‘somewhat in liquor’ they proceeded to smash things generally about the
establishment. In the melee Mr. Tiemyre got a black eye and Mr. Williams
received a severe cut in the forehead by coming in contact with a
decanter that was flying across the room.”
March 31, 1858: “The town, like all California towns, is cursed
with a few of the sporting gentry. Also a house of unquestionable bad
repute, where dancing and singing is kept up until a late hour almost
every night, to the annoyance of families living in the vicinity.”
November 10, 1858: A log house in Omega is being converted into a
calaboose. This will have a tendency to preserve order and quiet down
the effects of bad whiskey.”
January 11, 1860: “Omega is undergoing a great change. On Saturday
evening last, thirteen of our citizens marched in single file up to the
Sons of Temperance Hall and there avowed their determination to abstain
from the further use of the double-distilled lightning that is dealt out
so freely at one-bit a glass. The loss of this thirteen has caused the
saloon keepers to wear long faces.”
Omega was twice destroyed by fire, the blazes occurring on August 24
of 1861 and on November 12 of 1863. Nothing is left today to suggest
that more than $2.5 million in gold was uncovered here during the mining
days, except for the diggings; deep pits carved out of the hills by the
combined forces of water and man.