Alder Gulch at peak population numbered ten thousand souls and the colorful mining camps that enjoyed the limelight were so numerous that contemporaries named it the Fourteen-mile City.
Adobetown was one of the many settlements that lined the gulch. Centrally located a mile below Nevada City, it took its name from the dwellings miners built of adobe bricks they fashioned from mud and grass. The small settlement lay in one of the richest sections of the gulch.
In 1864 alone, it was a hub of activity that reportedly yielded $350,000 in gold. In its heyday the area around Adobetown and Nevada City supported some 75 to 100 placer claims that each employed 5 to 12 men.
Salaries ranged from $5 to $8 a day.
Irish-born Nicholas Carey walked from Denver to the Alder Gulch gold fields with his possessions on his back. But Carey's future was not in mining. In 1865, he built a log mercantile at Adobetown. He and partner David O'Brien added a post-express office and soon stages from Salt Lake City and the Northern Pacific railhead at Corinne, Utah made regular stops for passengers and mail at the Adobetown store.
Adobetown once boasted a store, blacksmith shop, two hotels and a school. The school, built in 1873, served Adobetown's youngsters until 1923. The building was moved to Virginia City in 1960 where it stands today.