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Austin - Nevada

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Austin - steeped in history

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

Lincoln Motel
28 Main Street, Austin NV 89310
(702) 964-2698
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
(702) 964-2605
Located on Highway 50, this motel has queen beds in otherwise standard units. The motel is near cafes and services.

Austin Camping

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.


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