The Final Word: Allen Metscher
Allen Metscher is a founding member of the Central Nevada Historical Society and the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah. He has spent a lifetime researching the history of central Nevada.
NM&VG: Allen, where did you find your passion for history?
AM: My brothers and I grew up hearing the stories of the early days. My grandfather had gold fever and left Germany for Alaska’s gold rush then moved to prospect in Goldfield in 1904 just as the camp was taking off. My dad was born in a suburb of Goldfield and remembered the days when the town was the largest city in Nevada, including the 1923 fire that wiped out 20 city blocks. Growing up, we used to explore Goldfield’s abandoned buildings. I suppose I always wanted to know what happened there.
NM&VG: What was one of the first major history projects you worked on?
AM: About 40 years ago, my brothers and I began restoring the historic cemetery in Tonopah. Mine tailings had washed over a large section of the cemetery, and the identities of many interred there were lost. To find who was buried there, I ended up having to research old plot maps, funeral records, and newspaper obituaries. Each grave was a remarkable history lesson: who they were, what their life was like. They came from Russia, Ireland, Serbia—all over the world.
NM&VG: You worked as a historical consultant for the Nellis Air Force Base and conducted research on Tonopah Army Airfield. What
were some of your findings?
AM: The U.S. military had a large presence in central Nevada during World War II. At the nearby Tonopah Army Airfield, 120 aviators died in a three-year span during training exercises. Many of the planes used for training had already seen combat, and they also weren’t used to taking off at 6,000 feet. You can find some of the recovered wreckage at the museum.
NM&VG: What can the public do to support the history of central Nevada?
AM: Plan a trip to Tonopah and visit the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah. If you’re interested in joining some of our ongoing restoration efforts, consider joining the Central Nevada Historical Society. We’re currently working on a World War II memorial in Tonopah and restoration of the Goldfield cemetery.