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The Elko Area Chamber of Commerce claims on its website that the northeastern Nevada town is the Best Little Town in America. While Nevada Magazine leaves readers to decide “bests,” an inspection of the town’s people, traditions, and tourism opportunities leaves little to the imagination as to how it adopted such a slogan.
Since it was established in the early 1930s to house workers who were building Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), Boulder City has existed in a self-imposed time warp, a small crystal of tradition and propriety in the loose sands of the Mojave Desert. The contract to build Hoover Dam meant that Ragtown, a dusty tent city perched on a hill overlooking the Colorado River, would become a utopia of brick buildings, parks, and schools.
One of Nevada’s oldest towns, Ely was established in 1870. It was designated the White Pine County seat in 1887 and served surrounding mining camps such as Cherry Creek and Osceola. In the early 1900s, copper deposits led to a population boom in Ely as workers vacated the floundering gold mines of the region. This led to the construction of the Nevada Northern Railway, which connected Ely’s copper mines to the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Mesquite is known as a bang-for-your-buck retreat if you want the type of gaming, golf, and luxurious spas offered in Las Vegas without the big-city hubbub. Like its Southern Nevada neighbor, Laughlin, with its warmer fall and winter climate Mesquite has become a favorite retreat for snowbirds. There are seven area golf courses,
Like many Nevada towns, Lovelock came to be because of the advent of the railroad. When builders of the Central Pacific Railroad reached what is now Lovelock in August 1868, they made a deal with George Lovelock for 85 acres of land and honored the Wales native by naming the town for him. Today, visitors can enjoy a down-home meal at Ricardo’s BBQ inside the restored Railroad Depot dating to 1880. Although you probably won’t have time to visit the other 29 sites listed in the Lovelock Historic Buildings Tour brochure, there are a couple gems that are musts on…
It’s towns like Austin that make you truly appreciate Nevada history—especially when you start talking to its residents. Estelle Shanks has lived predominantly in Austin since 1939, but she has roots that go farther back than that. Her father, Matt Bertrand, was born there in 1880, 18 years after the town was founded. Although Shanks wasn’t born in the central Nevada hamlet, something has drawn her back ever since she arrived there at the age of 15.
In 1964, with a down payment of $35,000, Don Laughlin beat out several interested parties for the land, and for the Southern Nevada town of Laughlin, the rest is history. Over time, six acres grew into almost 200 and the home of one of the gems of the town’s mini Strip on the water, Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort.
Pahrump, 62 miles west of Las Vegas, has indeed grown up, blossoming to a community of more than 30,000. “When I moved out here, there were probably 150 people,” says Hafen, who became a broker in the early 1980s when development began to boom in the area. Although it might be a stretch, given the population, to call it rural, Pahrump still hasn’t lost its small-town feel. “I can drive all over Pahrump Valley very comfortably, even though we have three traffic lights,” Hafen says sarcastically. “I know a lot of people, and it has a good climate—it cools down…
The town’s mining history left in its wake one of the area’s most popular attractions, the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. In addition to the underground adventure, visitors can enjoy preserved and restored equipment and buildings, historic exhibits, video presentations, and a self-guided tour. The park, at more than 100 acres, is located on the grounds of Jim Butler’s original mining claims that started the rush to Tonopah in 1900.
Established in 1851 (the town claims the title of Nevada’s first permanent settlement) by Mormon traders, the area was known as Mormon Station until 1855 when Judge Orson Hyde named it Genoa, for the Italian birthplace of Christopher Columbus. The town’s more than 150 years of existence gives way to historical attractions such as Mormon Station State Historic Park.
Due to Lander County’s (Battle Mountain is the capital) role in the gold-mining industry, many of the territory’s nearly 6,000 residents are prospering in a time of general economic disparity. That means good wages and steady, if not rising, home values. “I don’t know of anybody who is getting foreclosed on; it’s just not an issue out here,” says Charlotte Thompson, a hostess at the Owl Club.
Named for Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, the town was established in 1868 following a short stint as O’Neil’s Crossing. Officials of the Central Pacific Railroad, which was constructed from 1867-69, were responsible for the name change. The town “became a major mill town and terminal for the shipment of ties and construction timbers, with a network of logging railways reaching into the timber north and west.”
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