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New Washoe City in Washoe County, Nevada — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Bowers Mansion

A Classic Tale of Boom And Bust

 
 
Bowers Mansion Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 21, 2016
1. Bowers Mansion Marker
Inscription.  IN ITS HEYDAY, Bowers Mansion was one of the most extravagant houses in the Nevada Territory, a product of mining wealth and personal taste. The story of Eilley and Sandy Bowers is a historic boom and bust tale. The mansion itself remains a powerful symbol of Nevada's history — an era where fortunes skyrocketed overnight, and disappeared just as quickly.

TODAY, Bowers Mansion has been preserved for all of us to enjoy.

Eilley Bowers
One Woman's Incredible Journey

EILLEY BOWERS was the visionary force behind this mansion. Independent and fiercely resourceful, her life is a captivating tale.

ALISON "EILLEY" ORAM was a young woman when she married Stephen Hunter and emigrated from Scotland to Salt Lake City as part of a Mormon migration. By the time the Hunters reached the Utah territory, the strain on their marriage was evident and they soon divorced.

IN SALT LAKE CITY Eilley married another Mormon, Alexander Cowen, and together they traveled to Washoe Valley on a church mission. That too ended in divorce. Eilley remained in the area and opened her own boardinghouse for miners in Gold Canyon,
Marker detail: Alison Oram “Eilley” Bowers image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Alison Oram “Eilley” Bowers
By the time she was in her thirties, Eilley Bowers had been married three times, lost two infant children, and traveled thousands of miles from her homeland.
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near Virginia City. She soon began buying and selling mining claims — an endeavor few other women attempted at the time. That proved to be one of the most significant decisions of her life.

Strikin' It Rich!
Mining Boom, Days of Glory

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, a hardworking miner named Lemuel Sanford "Sandy" Bowers held a land claim right next to Eilley's at the Little Gold Hills mine. The two met, became business partners, married in 1859, and set up the Bowers Mining Company.

FOR MANY IT WAS JUST A DREAM, but the Bowers actually did strike it rich. Their mine began producing $18,000 a week in gold and silver. That's almost half a million dollars by today's currency value! From her humble beginnings in Scotland, Eilley became the "Queen of the Comstock."

Spare No Expense!
The Makings of a Mansion

EAGER TO SPEND THEIR SUDDEN FORTUNE, the Bowers decided to build a luxurious mansion here, on the land Eilley had acquired from Alexander Cowen in their divorce settlement. Boomtowns like Ophir, Franktown and Washoe City were springing up nearby, making it a strategic location.

THE MANSION WAS BUILT in the Georgian and Italianate architectural styles. These styles reminded Eilley of the elegant homes in her native Scotland. She hired local stonecutters to help in the construction of her dream estate. She chose
Marker detail: Lemuel Sanford “Sandy” Bowers <br> and Bowers Mansion image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Lemuel Sanford “Sandy” Bowers
and Bowers Mansion
These figures [on the balcony] may have been Sandy and Persia Bowers.
every manner of opulent accessories for the house.

AS THE WALLS AND FLOORS WERE RISING to the bustle of hammers and saws, Sandy and Eilley went to Europe for ten lavish months to shop for their new house. They returned with the most elegant of European furnishings, and also a baby girl named Margaret Persia.

Troubled Times
Climb High, Fall Hard

THROUGHOUT ALL OF EILLEY BOWER'S LIFE, triumph mixed with personal tragedy. For a time, it seemed as if the Bowers had everything — wealth, a magnificent home, and a daughter. Yet, the family's life soon took a turn toward troubled times.

THE MINE RAN DRY BY 1867. In 1868, Sandy died of silicosis (a miners' lung disease), just a few short years after their great dream home had been completed. In 1874, Eilley's beloved daughter Persia died suddenly at the age of 12. Eilley was left alone with a broken heart, the burden of a mine gone bust, and the formidable task of maintaining the mansion and property.

Picnics and Parties
Bowers Mansion as a Social Scene

FACED WITH MOUNTING FINANCIAL CHALLENGES, Eilley decided to open the mansion as a social attraction in an effort to make ends meet. It was promoted as a premier resort and entertainment destination. She hosted grand picnics and parties all summer long. This began a tradition of using the property for public
Marker detail: A European Shopping List image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: A European Shopping List
Velvet curtains • Five woven rugs • Wood-carved chairs • Gorgeous wallpaper • One “cranberry swirl” chandelier • Gilded mirrors • Art galore…

No one knows the true origin of "Persia", but Eilley had already suffered the deaths of two infant children, so perhaps adoption was a new route to motherhood.

Some say that it was the demand for extreme opulence and expenditures in Europe that began the down fall of the Bowers' estate.
fun and relaxation that exists to this day.

FINALLY, in 1876 after many efforts to save the mansion, Eilley lost everything. The mansion was put into foreclosure. Mrs. Eilley Bowers spent the rest of her days drifting between Virginia City, Reno and the Bay Area telling fortunes with a crystal ball. She died penniless in Oakland, California in 1903.

A Lasting Legacy
THE TRADITION THAT EILLEY BOWERS BEGAN of using this property for fun and relaxation continues today. Her vision has become the park's legacy. Visitors like you may still relax and enjoy this park, and marvel at this beautiful mansion built in such a dynamic era.

Photos courtesy:
Nevada Historical Society
University of Nevada Special Collection
Bowers Mansion County Park

 
Erected by Washoe County Department of Regional Parks and Open Space.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & CommerceSettlements & SettlersWomen.
 
Location. 39° 17.084′ N, 119° 50.47′ W. Marker is in New Washoe City, Nevada, in Washoe County. Marker can be reached from Bowers Mansion Road (Alternate U.S. 395) 5.8 miles north of Eastlake Boulevard, on the left when traveling
Marker detail: Bowers Mansion, circa 1870s image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: Bowers Mansion, circa 1870s
north. Marker is located in Bowers Mansion Regional Park, on the north side of the mansion, near the parking lot. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4005 Bowers Mansion Road, Washoe Valley NV 89704, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. History in the Making (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Bowers Mansion (a few steps from this marker); Horses to Horsepower (within shouting distance of this marker); Rusty Relics (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Bowers Mansion (within shouting distance of this marker); Franktown (approx. 0.9 miles away); Ophir Famous Mill Town (approx. one mile away); The Winters Ranch (approx. 2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Washoe City.
 
Regarding Bowers Mansion. National Register of Historic Places #76001143.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Bowers Mansion
 
Also see . . .
1. Legendary Nevadans: Eilley Bowers of Washoe Valley. All at the same time, she was one of the richest women in the United States, a complete all-around female frontier badass, and one of the most emblematic women of her time. She married and divorced twice, outlived all of her children, and, within the span of 30 years — 1846 to 1876 to be exact — had quite
Marker detail: Eilley and Persia image. Click for full size.
6. Marker detail: Eilley and Persia
Aside from being a businesswoman, Eilley had another more curious talent: fortune telling. She was well known as the "Seeress of Washoe."

This mysterious "spirit" photograph shows Eilley and Persia. Spirit photography was quite popular in the Victorian era.
a ride. Today, you can enjoy a slice of her legacy at Bowers Mansion, the first stately home in the territory that would later become the state of Nevada, and one of the best examples of the sort of estates becoming of an 1860s Comstock millionaire. (Submitted on December 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. The Twisted Story Behind Nevada's Bowers Mansion. The history of the Bowers Mansion is one of merriment and tragedy, vast fortunes and big losses, and psychics and suffragettes—all ending with picnics and playgrounds. (Submitted on December 30, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Bowers Mansion. The Bowers Mansion was built in 1863 by Lemuel "Sandy" Bowers and his wife, Eilley, and is the finest example of the homes built in Nevada by the new millionaires of the Comstock mining boom. (Submitted on December 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: 3rd Floor Addition image. Click for full size.
7. Marker detail: 3rd Floor Addition
One of Eilley’s attempts to save herself from financial ruin was a massive remodel that added a third floor. It did not work.
Bowers Mansion Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 21, 2016
8. Bowers Mansion Marker
(Bowers Mansion, north side, in background)
Bowers Mansion (<i>east / front elevation</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 21, 2016
9. Bowers Mansion (east / front elevation)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 54 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on December 29, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Mar. 8, 2021