This week when I was driving from Utah to California I took my time and made a few stops. A good part of my drive was thru the state of Nevada .Nevada is full of small , interesting towns, “living ghost towns” and empty ghost towns, old mines, etc.
I made a couple stops in some old Nevada towns that are “living ghost town’s now “. Not to many residents and some old crumbling buildings . One was Pioche ,which although I was told they get a lot of people stop by in summer, it literally closes down in the winter. Here is a little bit of the intriguing history of Pioche.
In 1864, William Hamblin, a Latter Day Saint missionary, was led to silver deposits in the vicinity of Pioche by a Native American Paiute. In 1868, San Francisco financier Francois L.A. Pioche purchased claims and constructed a smelter in the area, forming the Meadow Valley Mining Company. The mining camp was called “Pioche’s City” and later became known as Pioche.
The town rapidly became the largest mining town in southeastern Nevada in the early 1870’s. Population estimates showed 10,000 people by 1871. The town quickly gained fame for its “toughest town” reputation. Due mostly to confusion over the exact location of mining claims, mine owners finally resorted to hiring guards. Hired gunmen were imported at the rate of about twenty a day during boom times to fight mining claim encroachments. Mine owners often paid the gunmen a salary of $20 per day––a more certain investment for owners than settling disputes in court where bribery often determined the final outcome. The sheriff’s office was reputed to be worth $40,000 a year in bribes alone.
Guns were the only law, and Pioche made Bodie, Tombstone, and other better known towns pale in comparison. It has been reported that seventy-five men were buried in the cemetery before anyone in Pioche had time to die a natural death. According to one reputable source, nearly 60 percent of the homicides reported in Nevada during 1871-72 took place in and around Pioche.
I happened into the Pioche Museum which a lady named Leslie started 25 years ago. It is filled with artifacts, gems, minerals, and all kinds of fun stuff from pioche and other towns in Lincoln county. Leslie was born and raised in Pioche. I like to imagine that her grandfather may have been one of those gun toting bad guys!
After wandering around Pioche for awhile I headed to Austin, Nv. which is on Highway 50 . Highway 50 is the loneliest highway in America. Not much on it. A small town , here and there. Make sure you fill up on gas when you can. And here is a little history on Austin , which is another “living ghost town” of Nevada .
I decided to stay overnight in Austin at the Cozy mountain hotel . I would recommend it for a cheap and clean place to lay your head. Not a lot of choices in Austin but there were a few other places. Room was small but very clean and the bed was super comfortable. I think they must have gotten some new beds since the 1800’s. I just recommend they put in a coffee maker. Microwave and fridge come with the room. I was happy with the great bed.
Not quite as happy when Looking for some dinner . Only one place to choose from. I guess there was another place but it was closed on Sunday. So, I ended up here. Unfortunately , the menu was very limited . One other couple came in and the next morning I ran into them at the other place for breakfast . We ended up sitting together and talking and laughing about our experience at the International. It wasn’t just the food, but the waitress was , well, it was like she was someplace else. As well as the place being quite messy. Just a strange experience. Breakfast was at another place in town and actually pretty good. The couple I sat with where from Minnesota and out west doing geo caching. Sounded fun. I may have to look into that.
On leaving Austin after breakfast I decided to stop off at the cemetery. Maybe its just me but I love walking thru cemetery’s in old town’s like Austin. You can learn some things by looking at the grave’s dating back into the 1800’s.
What did I learn. I have noticed this before in other old graveyards but today it really hit me that so many of the older graves where immigrants. I think the reason it hit me today was the fact of what is going on in this country with our current president who is trying to put a halt to immigration and saying things like ” they are all druggies, murderers, rapists, etc. ” “They are not people we want in our country “. A lot of us Americans do not think that way, thank goodness. And so in looking at these tombstones I noticed a commonality. Take a look at these tombstones. What do they have in common ??? They are all immigrants. These in fact are the people who came here and built these towns. They are the ones who built America . Native’s of Ireland, Germany, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Italy. We are all descendants of immigrants so how can we turn our backs on them now.
So, I will close with that parting thought.