CARSON CITY — Officials at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City did not have to go far to find artifacts. Construction crews turned up fragments of old liquor bottles and other artifacts outside the museum.
The finds were made less than a week into a project to connect the museum, housed in the U.S. Mint building that produced coins from 1870 to 1885 and again from 1889 to 1893, with its annex.
Gene Hattori, the museum’s curator of anthropology, said he anticipated the discoveries and made arrangements with Reyman Brothers Construction of Sparks before crews even started digging.
He and his assistant, Cindy Southerland, combed a four-foot-deep trench dug at the site of a pit where mint workers long ago buried some trash. The pit was located next to the former site of a steam boiler that once powered the coin presses.
“When they shut down at the end of the federal fiscal year, they’d replace the old boiler tubes, replace the coin dies and bury the trash,” Hattori told the Nevada Appeal.
After careful probing last week, Hattori and Southerland found a number of items, including a piece of a crockery ale bottle and a glass stopper for a chemical bottle. Fragments of other liquor bottles also were found.
Also uncovered were a collection of steel barrel hoops, as well as a thick layer of charcoal. The latter was evidence of the fires that fueled the steam engine that powered the coin presses.
“And we did find a cast-iron rectangle; we do not know what it is,” Hattori said.
Construction crews should expect to find historic artifacts when digging in downtown Carson City, he said.
“The early settlement dates back to the 1850s and ’60s,” he said. “If you dig anywhere in the area, you might find something.”
The mint ceased coining operations in 1893 and the presses were removed in 1899, along with all other machinery in the coiners department.