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Complete Nevada Traveler
Guide to
Eureka
 


Neat, clean and prosperous, Eureka  is one of the best-preserved mining cities in the American West. It is the seat of Eureka County and prospers from mining, ranching and its central location on "The Loneliest Highway in America."

Eureka, Nevada
Calendar of Annual Events

FEBRUARY
Valentine's Dance at Opera House775-237-6006
Perdiz President's Day Shoot775-237-6006

MAY
Eureka High School Rodeo775-237-6006

JUNE
Perdiz State Ducks Unlimited Shoot775-237-6006

JULY
Independence Day Parade & Party775-237-6006
Perdiz Firemen's Shoot775-237-6006

AUGUST
Eureka County Fair775-237-5484

SEPTEMBER
Louie Gibellini Mining Contests775-237-6006

DECEMBER
Christmas Bazaar at Opera House775-237-6006
Firemen's Ball at Opera House775-237-6006

Also check with the Eureka Opera House for the current performance schedule775-237-6006


Welcome to Eureka

These businesses are pleased to welcome you

Local Area Information

EUREKA COUNTY CHAMBER of COMMERCE.
In the Sentinel Building. 775-237-5484.
On the loneliest road in America, we welcome you! Step back in history! Take our Self-Guiding Tour to explore the best preserved mining town on Hwy. 50. A stroll down Main Street will take you back more than 100 years. Visit our historic Eureka Courthouse, the Eureka Opera House, and the Eureka Sentinel (museum) Building and enjoy!


Lodging

JACKSON HOUSE.
Main Street. 775-237-5577.
Belly up to our antique bar and have a taste of history, then stay with us and slumber in splendor. One of our 19 fancifully restored bedrooms (with private baths) is just right for you. Romantic getaways are our specialty-make your reservations today. We'll make your visit wonderfully unforgettable.


PARSONAGE HOUSE.
Next to Methodist Church, Corner Spring & Bateman. 775-237-5756.
This one-bedroom jewel-box cottage located in Nevada's Outback has hand-crafted furniture, antiques, white carpet, chandeliers, fully equipped kitchen-dining area, six foot tub and unique wine cellar. Elegant luxury accommodations. Write PO Box 99, Eureka 89316, or call hosts Frank & Carol Bleuss to make your reservations.


Restaurants

THE OWL CLUB BAR & STEAK HOUSE.
Main Street. 775-237-5280.
We've served Nevadans and Nevada's visitors the finest of food and drink for 50 years, and we'll serve you breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Full bar, slots, "21." Sportsmens' headquarters and Visitor Information to help you find your way around Eureka.


Special Attractions

EUREKA OPERA HOUSE.
Main Street. 775-237-6006.
Enjoy the historic elegance, relaxed small town atmosphere and full convention and meeting services that the Eureka Opera House offers. Call us today to reserve your event. Call to get a schedule of our cultural events and enjoy a performance in the award winning Grand Hall. Stop and visit.


A brief History & Description of
Eureka, Nevada

by

David W. Toll

Silver strikes made here in 1864 by prospectors from Austin proved uneconomical to work because of the high lead content of the ores. Ore was shipped to England and Wales for reduction until 1869, when the first of sixteen successful smelters was constructed. Within a decade three mines alone had paid out in dividends more money than had ever been invested in all Eureka County enterprises combined, and Eureka was famous as the "Pittsburgh of the West" because of the black smoke squeezing out of smelter smokestacks to smear the sky and poison the hardy desert vegetation (and the residents). Eureka produced more than four times the wealth that Austin did, yet its history is rather prim and staid compared to adventurous Austin. Perhaps it was because the principal product of the mines was lead, rather than silver or gold, and drew a less romantic breed of citizen; perhaps it was because, being richer, Eureka was simply less hysterical.

In any case, Eureka overtook Austin in size and mining productivity during the middle 1870s when the Eureka & Palisade Railroad was extended south from the Central Pacific without the necessity of bulging the city limits to meet it. By 1878, when Austin had already begun its decline, Eureka had a population of about 9,000 and had taken second place among Nevada cities. There were dozens of saloons, gambling houses and bawdy houses, three opera houses, two breweries, five volunteer firefighting companies, and two companies of militia as well as the usual complement of doctors, lawyers, merchants, bankers, hotels, newspapers, and other businesses. And fifty mines producing lead, silver, gold, and zinc for the smelters, which were capable of processing more than seven hundred tons of ore a day.

In 1879 though, flooding became more of a problem and economy measures were taken. One of these was to reduce the price paid for charcoal at the smelters. The carbonari - members of the predominantly Italian Charcoal Burner's Association - answered with a boycott. The smelters shut down for lack of fuel and passions flamed up. Threats and counter-threats raged between all the parties to the dispute. When the carbonari threatened to make charcoal of all of Eureka, a sheriffs posse ambushed a number of them, killing five and wounding more.

Mining production peaked in 1882 and tailed off rapidly after 1885; by 1891 the major mines had been shut down, and production lapsed into the long snooze that had claimed Austin a decade earlier.

A century later the collapse of the mines has become the best thing to happen to Eureka since the original discovery. Neat, clean and prosperous, Eureka is one of the best-preserved mining cities in the American West. As the city's economy shrank with the closing of the mines, businesses and residences were acquired and maintained by the families that stayed (many of whom had come out of poverty in Europe). Al's Hardware, to take one example out of many, still looks and functions as it did in 1880 when it was the Eureka General Mercantile store.

A self-guided tour leaflet is readily available around town, and most of the prominent buildings display numbers relating to the leaflet.

Many of these buildings are impressive, but the city's architectural jewel is the recently refurbished Eureka Opera House. Built in the fall of 1880 on the smoldering site of the burned-down Odd Fellows' Hall, its Grand Opening was celebrated New Year's Eve with a gala masquerade ball. The Opera House now welcomes small conventions from around the state, performances by nationally recognized artists, even dinner theater, a cosmopolitan touch long unavailable in Eureka.

The guest rooms at The Jackson House have been restored to their original victorian elegance.
While the splendid Eureka County Court House across the street is being restored to its 1879 condition (but with 1995 foundations), county offices have been removed to a new Annex at the east end of town. Visitors are welcome inside the building again when refurbishment is complete. The Jackson House across Main Street has been thoroughly restored to its original 1877 elegance, with nine Victorian bedrooms upstairs and a bar and restaurant back in service downstairs.

The old Eureka Sentinel Building has been converted to a wonderful museum, with the old back-shop as it was left when the last tramp printer finally called it quits, fully equipped with type cases and working presses, and papered with posters and handbills dating back to the 1880s. Local area touring information is available here as well.

Some of the buildings are less remarkable to look at than to know about. The Farmers and Merchants Bank building, for example, was originally a brewery, connected with the hotel across the street by an underground tunnel. The boom days were long over when the bank was organized by former District Attorney Edna Plummer, but it was solid enough to remain open through the National Bank Holiday of 1933 when banks were ordered to remain closed after the conclusion of business on the stated date. The Eureka Bank avoided the closing by not concluding business, staying open day and night until the "holiday" ended.

About those tunnels: the story is that because Eureka's breweries were located on opposite ends of town, the heavy winters (and the availability of skilled, experienced miners) prompted the business people to drive tunnels underground from one end of town to the other in order to ensure the prompt delivery of beer to the saloons along Main Street. The truth may not be so prosaic. According to family recollection, Nevada governor Reinhold Sadler (whose two story brick home is half a block north of the Colonnade House) used a tunnel to get to his Main Street store in the winter so that he wouldn't have to meet his neighbors on the street. Much of the old tunneling has collapsed or is unsafe, but in its heyday it was quite comfortable to use, fancy, even, with bricked walls, and arched brick chambers reminiscent of medieval dungeons.

There are several cemeteries in Eureka, including one that was set aside for smallpox victims.

Tax money derived from the Carlin gold mine at the far northern end of the county has built a new high school and other modern community facilities in Eureka, including the enclosed pool, open six days a week year-around.

There is a small handful of saloons at the heart of town. The brightest of them, The Owl Club, is also a regionally famous restaurant and bar. Eureka offers an exceptional range of overnight accommodations, from the classic period piece Jackson House and Colonnade House to the up to date Sundown Lodge motel, the brand new Eureka Inn and the elegant Parsonage House hideaway cottage.

And Eureka's mining fortunes are rising again as the Homestake company is working in the historic Ruby Hill property.

The country around Eureka will probably always provide excellent hunting, and simply breathing in the cedar-scented air of the wide open spaces is an act of pure pleasure, utterly unimaginable to the people who lived here breathing its poisonous smoke in the last century.



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