Heritage Server > Our People > James C. Flood


James C. Flood, the "Silver King of Nevada," was born in 1826. He arrived in San Francisco a few years after the gold rush had begun. He opened a salon near the Mining Exchange with William S. O'Brien and was soon investing in silver-mining stocks on the basis of advice he received from his salon clientele. His investments proved extraordinarily successful, and he was soon bringing in a monthly income of almost half a million dollars. It was during this time Flood helped to organize the Fireman’s Fund, and became one of its original directors.

He and O’Brien soon partnered with James G. Fair and John W. Mackay, two miners. During the 1870s the four men moved to Nevada and joined forces to operate three thousand feet of the rich Comstock Lode and co-owned the Consolidated Virginia and California mines. Mackay and Fair contributed their mining knowledge, and Flood and O'Brien raised the money.

The purchase price of the claims, later to become a tremendous source of wealth, was about $100,000. The original stock issue was 10,700 shares, selling for between $4 and $5 a share. A short while after they established their mine, they struck one of the world’s richest veins of silver. This discovery became known as "the big bonanza." The four men were dubbed "Bonanza Kings," and price of the stock went skyward. Flood and his partners doled out 100 million dollars to stockholders between 1874 and 1879.

Flood and Fair owned Virginia City’s sawmills and started the Nevada Bank, or Bank of Nevada, headquartered in San Francisco. It was the predecessor of Wells Fargo Bank. They once dared a New York Tribune correspondent to ride a boat with them down a breakneck mile-long log flume, built to carry lumber. "I would not make the trip again for the whole Consolidated Virginia Mine," Flood remarked afterward.

James Flood made a huge fortune during his lifetime, and he and his descendants have had a major influence on San Francisco history. He invested most of his wealth in real estate and is responsible for much of San Francisco’s most notable architecture. His Nob Hill Mansion now houses the Union-Pacific Club, and the James C. Flood Building, built in 1904, stands at the corner of Market and Powell at the trolley turnaround. This architectaully famous historic building is now home to The Gap’s flagship store. Flood died on February 21, 1889.



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