Knox started a “city” which he named Knoxville, the remains of which are still to be seen in the shape of ruined log-cabins, stone chimneys, foundations of hewed logs, a graveyard, etc., on the left hand side of the railway coming from Truckee, and about six miles from Tahoe.
One has but to let his imagination run riot for a few moments to see this now deserted camp a scene of the greatest activity. The many shafts and tunnels, dump-piles and prospect-holes show how busy a spot it must have been. The hills about teemed with men. At night the log store—still standing—and the saloons—tents, shacks and log houses—were crowded with those who sought in the flowing bowl some surcease from the burden of their arduous labors.
Now and again a shooting took place, a man actually “died with his boots on,” as in the case of one King, a bad man from Texas who had a record, and whose sudden end was little, if any, lamented. He had had a falling out with the store-keeper, Tracey, and had threatened to kill him on sight. The former bade him keep away from his store, but King laughed at the prohibition, and with the blind daring that often counts as courage with such men—for he assumed that the store-keeper would not dare to shoot—he came down the following day, intending himself to do all the shooting there was to be done. But he reckoned mistakenly. Tracey saw him coming, came to the door, bade him Halt! and on his sneering refusal, shot the bad man dead.
In September, 1913, I paid a visit to Knoxville. Just above the town, on the eastern slope of the mountain, were several tunnels and great dump-piles, clearly showing the vast amount of work that had been done. The quartz ledge that caused the excitement was distinctly in evidence, indeed, when the Tahoe Railway roadbed was being graded, this quartz ledge was blasted into, and the director of operations sent a number of specimens for assay, the rock looked so favorable.
Here and there were the remains of old log-cabins, with their outside stone chimneys. In some cases young tamaracks, fifteen and twenty feet high, had grown up within the areas once confined by the walls. These ruins extended all the way down to Deer Creek, showing the large number of inhabitants the town once possessed.
I saw the graveyard by the side of the river, where King’s body was the first to be buried, and I stood in the doorway of the store from which the shot that killed him was fired.
In imagination, I saw the whole life of the camp, as I have seen mining-camps after a stampede in Nevada. The shacks, rows of tents, and the rudely scattered and varied dwellings that the ingenuity and skill of men hastily extemporized. Most of the log-houses are now gone, their charred remnants telling of the indifferent carelessness of campers, prospectors or Indians.
The main street was in a pretty little meadowed vale, lined on either side with trees, and close to the Truckee, which here rushes and dashes and roars and sparkles among the bowlders and rocks that bestrew its bed.