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Located at a bend in the Carson River, in the western end of the Twenty-Six Mile Desert, in Lyon County, Nevada, Dayton is an unincorporated community that was founded in the mid-1800s after gold was discovered in nearby Gold Creek, a tributary of the Carson River. The settlement was first known as Ponderers Rest, as travelers who stopped there would have to consider whether to follow the river south or continue traveling west. Other names for the community included Gold Cañon or Gold Cañon Flat. In 1857, several Chinese miners came to the area to avoid mining taxes directed at the Chinese in California, and its population was primarily Chinese by 1860, leading to it being known as China Town. In 1861, the town took on the name of Dayton, for John Day, a local surveyor who became Surveyor General of Nevada. Dayton served as the county seat from 1861 to 1911, when it was moved to Yerington, due to a declining population in Dayton and the destruction of the courthouse by fire in 1909. Dayton claims to be Nevada’s oldest settlement, a claim that is disputed by Genoa.

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