Austin - steeped in
Located midway along The Loneliest Road
in America and at the geographical center of Nevada,
Austin was the largest of 30 busy mining camps in this
region of the state in the 1860s and 1870s.
It was silver that brought more than 10,000
people to the city following an accidental discovery of
the mineral by a pony express rider (at least that's one
of the stories). The Nevada Central Railroad ran down the
main street, at the end of 92 miles of track from Battle
Ground. Fifty million dollars in silver was produced in
this town, which was named after Austin, Texas.
The town has some fascinating stories: The
International Hotel was moved -- board by board --
from its original site in Virginia City. Emma Wixon, the
daughter of a prominent pioneer Austin doctor, went to
Europe as Emma Nevada and found fame as an opera singer.
Mining financier Anson Phillips Stokes used part of his
wealth to build a three-story "tower" as his summer home
-- the replica of a tower outside of Rome.Three churches
built in the 1860s and 1870s stand today, as reminders of
the days when churches in Nevada were funded with donated
mining stocks and pipe organs were shipped "around the
horn" from Europe. Austin today is a town that reflects
these early days, along its main street and in other
parts of town. Many of the old buildings remain in
various states of decline, decay and restoration.
What to See & Do
Austin is set in the middle of a fine
recreation area that includes parts of the Toiyabe
National Forest. There are many forest and BLM
campgrounds in the region, including an excellent
campground in the Bob Scott Recreation Area east
of town along Highway 50. Seventy million-year-old
remains of huge fossils are found in Ichthyosaur State
Park, which also preserves the substantial remains of
the Berlin ghost town -- one of the many mining camps of
the 1860s. The park and ghost town are 60 miles southeast
of Austin at an elevation of 7,000 feet. There are
campgrounds in the park, which is reached by taking
Nevada Highway 21.
The Reese River Valley, extending
south from Austin, is a prime fishing area with more
campgrounds operated by the Forest Service. Spencer
Hot Springs is located 21 miles east of town on
Monitor Road. Water at 140 degrees pours into a concrete
tub. Wooden bathtubs were used by early miners and Austin
townsfolk. South of the springs is Toquima Cave,
with Indian pictographs and a primitive campground.
Diana's Punch Bowl, farther south, is an old geyser.
Austin Hotels and Motels
28 Main Street, Austin NV 89310
This is one of two standard motels in this historic
mining town. Rooms are air conditioned and there is
coffee available in the units.
Pony Canyon Motel
P.O. Box 86, Austin NV 89310
Located on Highway 50, this motel has queen beds in
otherwise standard units. The motel is near cafes and
Austin RV Park (Austin NV 89310) is
a commercial RV campground, located beside Highway 50 in
Austin. For reservations, call (702) 964-2393. Most camp
sites in the area are located in the national forest, or
on BLM land.
Bob Scott Campground is at the
mountain summit beside Highway 50, 9 miles east of
Austin. Kingston Campground is farther from town: 12
miles east on U.S. 50, then south on State Route 376 for
16 miles and finally 6 miles on Forest Road 20012. RV
length limit: 22 feet. Primitive camping.