Mark Twain Fails as a Miner and Works as a Reporter

1862 Twain Travels West In an adventure later chronicled in the book Roughing It, Twain travels to Nevada with his brother Orion, who had been named the secretary to the territorial governor.

He tries his hand at mining and other schemes, without much success, before becoming a reporter for the Virginia City (Nev.) Daily Territorial Enterprise.

Twain joined his brother, Orion, who in 1861 had been appointed secretary to James W. Nye, the territorial governor of Nevada, and headed west. Twain and his brother traveled for more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, visiting the Mormon community in Salt Lake City along the way. These experiences inspired Roughing It, and provided material for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Twain's journey ended in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada, where he became a miner. Twain failed as a miner and found work at a Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise. It was here that he first used his famous pen name. On February 3, 1863, he signed a humorous travel account "Letter From Carson – re: Joe Goodman; party at Gov. Johnson's; music" with "Mark Twain"

Twain's experiences out West formed him as a writer and became the basis of his second book, Roughing It. In Nevada, Samuel Clemens became a miner, hoping to strike it rich digging up silver in the Comstock Lode and staying for long periods in camp with his fellow prospectors--another mode of living that he later put to literary use. Failing as a miner, he fell into newspaper work in Virginia City for the Territorial Enterprise, where he adopted the pen name "Mark Twain" for the first time.