The Student Government of the University of Nevada, Reno

Mackay Madness

100th Anniversary of the celebration of Mackay Day/Week. See list of events below

Who is John Mackay?

John W. Mackay I (1831-1902) was an Irish-born American who came to California in 1851 to work in the mines during the gold rush. After unsuccessful adventure in California, he moved to Virginia City in 1860, where he quickly made his way to become a superintendent and a partner in the Kentucky Mine. In 1873 Mackay discovered his "mountain of silver", the Big Bonanza which produced over $400 million in ore in just four years.

The family of John Mackay, played a key role in helping the campus grow.  In June 1908 Mackay’s widow and son Clarence gave the University of Nevada a gift, the Mackay School of Mines as a memorial to Mackay.

From 1907 to 1936, Mackay's heirs also gave the University a football field-sized quadrangle, an athletic field, land acquisitions and the Mackay Science Hall. A statue of Mackay, created by Gutzon Borglum has stood by the Quad since 1908. Originally planned to be in Carson City, it was placed in front of De La Mar library after it was rejected by Legislature.


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