Hawthorne is a small Mineral County town located in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In 1880 H.M. Yerington, President of the Carson and Colorado Railroad Co., selected the town site to protect the inhabitants against harsh winters and freezing wind off Walker Lake. Hawthorne was founded in 1881 as a division point on the Carson & Colorado Railroad. The town has persisted through economic changes and droughts to continue to grow over the years. In 1905, the Southern Pacific bypassed Hawthorne completely by going around the east side of Walker Lake. In addition, the railroad built a new terminal at Mina and in 1907 the booming mining town of Goldfield took the Esmeralda County seat away from the town of Hawthorne. During this time small mining discoveries in the locale helped preserve Hawthorne’s prosperity through these tough times.
In 1911, State Senator Fred Balzar from Hawthorne was able to persuade his fellow Nevada legislators that Esmeralda County was too large and the county needed to be divided. From this discussion, Mineral County was created from Esmeralda County’s northern part with Hawthorne designated as the county seat. During the first Great War, mining operations declined along with the town population. In 1920, Mina with its mining and busy railroad had grown to 680 and had a larger population than Hawthorne (population of 260). During 1926, a fire in the Hawthorne’s business district burned half the town down but still the people of Hawthorne managed to rebuild the town.
Hawthorne’s crown jewel is the long-established and recently remodeled El Capitan Lodge and Casino located in the middle of town. The casino is named after the famous granite monolith located in Yosemite National Park. The lodge and casino is reminiscent of an old style Las Vegas gambling hall. The casino is a favorite for tourists and locals to unwind after a long day of traveling or work.
Across the street is an another major Hawthorne landmark, a classic Nevada saloon called Joe’s Tavern decorated with rusty mining equipment, farm and kitchen paraphernalia, helmets, guns, and other memorabilia from the past including components from the old Southern Pacific Railroad line.
Hidden within the confines of the US Army Depot main operating location is the Walker Lake Country Club. Home of a beautiful executive 9-hole golf course that is open to the public. Initial, the golf course consisted of four-holes created by base employees, who eventually added five more holes over the years. Golf enthusiasts consider the golf course the “Best Kept Military Secret” over the last 50 years with it green fairways, tall trees and picturesque backdrop.
Located on 497 E Street is Old Nevada Pizza. Definitely, a great place to stop and eat when traveling between Northern and Southern Nevada. Although, the original owner Harvey has since pasted away, the new management is keeping the tradition of creative pizza ideas such as Tostada, Cheese Burger, and B&D Womack.
I will continue writing about the history of the town during the next blog, Hawthorne, NV Part II.
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GPS Coordinates: 38.52464 N, -118.62457 W