As less you pull into the public rest stop for a break in your commute or get pulled over for speeding through town by Nevada Highway patrol (speed limit drops from 70mph to 25mph), most motorist miss the historic significance of Luning, Nevada.
Luning is an unincorporated town in Mineral County nested between Excelsior Mountains and Gabbs Valley Range. The town originally was called Deep Wells and founded in 1881. Deep Wells severed as a stagecoach station between the towns of Grantsville, Belmont and Downeyville. Later the town changed its name to Luning when the railroad arrived in the early 1900s and was named after Nicholas Luning, a bondholder of the Carson and Colorado Railroad.
The town benefit from the growth in mining during this period as the town boomed with saloons, stores, a post office, and railroad depot. The town served as a station on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Hawthorne and Mina, used as a supply center for the Nevada Brucite quarry and Santa Fe silver mines. The town experienced several economic changes with the silver, copper, and magnetism mining booms.
During the early 1940’s the mines were one of two places that produced Artinite. The other area was in New Jersey. Just like Hawthorne, Luning is linked to New Jersey. Aritnite is the material form of basic magnesium carbonate. Magnesium carbonate is used to make flooring, fireproofing material, extinguishing compositions, cosmetics, toothpaste, and laxatives. Also, Magnesium carbonate is used in the production of magnesium oxide by calcining and is used in manufacturing explosive ordnance and mined extensively during the 1940s supporting the WWII military efforts.
Luning’s main street is named Plymire Street and named after a long-time resident, Dr. Fred Plymire who was a resident dentist and copper mine owner. Plymire Street is actually incorporated into US 95 highway that runs through the middle of town. The Luning post office opened January 16, 1882 and still operates today (although not in the original building).
Across the highway from the rest stop, is the remnants of the Long Branch Saloon. An earlier picture of the Long Branch Saloon shows a sign saying “Settled 1864.” The year that Nevada was granted statehood into the Union. The saloon has since closed, sometime during the mid-1980s and left in disrepair.
The town’s one-room school is still well maintained, but is also no longer used for its original intended purpose. The town is often listed as a ghost town by some websites, but it is not as the population of Luning, Nevada, is 39 (as of 2016).
Have any of your journeys pass through this little town in Mineral County? or seen the head board fence?
GPS Coordinates: 38.50541 N, -118.17850 N