Born the School of Mines in Nevada in 1888, the Mackay School of Mines is more than just an iconic building sitting opposite Morrill Hall on the University of Nevada, Reno’s historic Quadrangle.
It was one of a handful of mining schools that opened around then at Land Grant Universities to teach those untrained Gold Rushers the science of extracting precious metals – and John William Mackay, one of those eager early miners armed with little more than ambition and a strong back, would come to change not only this mining school but the entire University.
Mackay spent time in the California Gold Rush mining camps before arriving to mine the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, where he went from penniless Irish immigrant to multi-millionaire and one of four Bonanza Kings known the world over in a few short decades. While his fellow Kings cut and ran with their riches to big cities, Mackay’s deep sense of gratitude to Nevada tethered him and his family.
Mackay’s son Clarence, acting on his father’s wishes, supported the then struggling Nevada State University for thirty years. Support included a complete redesign of campus, a new science hall, salaries for faculty and staff, athletic training facilities, the first Mackay Stadium and, of course, the Mackay School of Mines building and accompanying statue of a young Mackay and his pickaxe.
Ten thousand people gathered for its dedication in 1908. “I want the School of Mines to stand for all that is high and best in the minds of future mining engineers,” said Clarence at the ceremony.
For the rest of this article and photos: https://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2019/mackay-history