Leaving Ely we continued our drive along Highway 50 turning south at Majors Place, (a bar I’d mistaken for a coffee shop earlier in the year – oh well!) onto Highway 93 for Las Vegas.
It was really cold, but the sun was out and we had great views of snow covered Mount Wheeler the highest point in the Great Basin.
We passed dirt roads leading to the remains of old mining towns in the mountains before arriving in the almost ghost town of Pioche.
Founded in 1869 – 1870 Pioche quickly grew to a population of 1,000 along the way acquiring a reputation as one of the most isolated, unruly and lawless communities in the West. As with almost all mining towns it was a case of boom and bust, now Pioche is mostly farming and ranching, although there are probably a few smaller mines still operating.
Looking across Pioche, in the background you can just about see Highway 93 as it snakes its way along.
We stopped outside the historic Old Lincoln County Courthouse which was open and full of interesting exhibits, one of which was a world map showing the origin of miners who’d arrived to work in the mines. There were quite a few from Cornwall.
There was also a list showing all the murders that’d taken place in the town from 1870 to 1879 the victims are buried in Pioche’s Boot Hill.
One room was set out as a Judge’s room complete with old law books and the original court room was filled with mannequins as though a trial was taking place.
Pioche was also home to an Englishman named George Schofield who arrived in Pioche in the 1880’s and died there in 1915, his one and only known oil painting is now in the Western Branch of the Smithsonian Museum who are interested in finding any others that exist.
Right next door to the old Courthouse is the old Mountain View Hotel, built in 1895. As well as visiting lawyers and judges many famous people stayed at the hotel, including in 1930 President Herbert C Hoover, the hotel was known for its good accommodation, food and wines.
It was a short walk into town past the Masonic Lodge, built in 1872 and used ever since. After that we came to the old Fire Hall which was constructed in 1929.
Turning the corner we walked down to the Old Opera House, close by was the Historic Overland Hotel, which has also appeared on the Ghost Adventures TV programme.
Our next stop was the Lincoln County Historical Museum; which is small but very interesting.
Have fun, we are!