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Was it a dream, or was it Wellington? That's a question I'm still asking after my most recent visit to this enchanted village.

Wellington is a scatter of mostly old, some quite antique structures along a mile or two of Nevada Route 208 at the southern end of Smith Valley. Reach it from Gardnerville or Topaz Lake on the west via Holbrook Junction. Or, it's not quite an hour's drive from Yerington on the northeast.

This comfortable little settlement dates back to the 1860s when this road was the main artery of commerce between Carson City and Aurora. Stagecoaches and freight wagons creaked through in an endless parade. By the late 19th century, Smith Valley had become highly productive farmland and Wellington transformed itself into an agricultural community rather than a way station serving highway travelers.

The beautiful green valley is stippled here and there with cottonwood trees, barns and farmhouses, there are chalky brown hills beyond, and the brilliant sky dappled with bright, silver-white clouds overhead.

If you arrive around lunchtime, head straight for the Wellington Mercantile. Norma, the proprietor of this shrine to small town general stores, not only presides over the shelves of groceries and dry goods - including the galvanized tubs and buckets hanging from the rafters - she serves a fabulous lunch. Everything here is home-made, including the apple pie (recipe available upon request).

After lunch walk (or drive) as far as suits you up the dirt road alongside the Mercantile building. It leads you on a pleasant tour of the meandering course of a road built for horsepower in its purest sense. If you walk you'll be climbing gently as you go, so it's downhill on the way back.

Once you're back in town your destination is the CG Cafe across the street from the Mercantile for refreshment after your stroll.

The Heyday Inn, down the road about a mile, occupies what was originally Pierce Station, a competitor to Wellington Station. It was also operated with a dance hall upstairs, and served temporarily as both a schoolhouse and a post office. In 1945 it was transformed into the Heyday Ranch Inn, and the present owners opened the completely remodeled the building. Delightful dinner, with cocktails available from the bar.

Wellington offers two B&Bs. One, the 1875 Hoye Mansion, is alongside the Wellington Mercantile with five magnificently furnished upstairs roomsThe other, Dr. Mary's house is a few miles out of Wellington, almost to Smith. It's formally called the Smith Valley B&B, but it's best-known as the home and office of Dr. Mary Fulstone. For 65 years Dr. Mary practiced medicine in the office off the dining room. She delivered thousands of babies over those years. The house isspacious and pleasant, with lawns and flowers outside, as well as the old farm buildings- slaughterhouse included-to explore.

There are also two RV parks, the Wellington Station Resort at the west edge of town, and the out of the way but quite cosmopolitan Walker River Resort on the way to Smith.

Welcome to Smith Valley

Resorts

WALKER RIVER RESORT
Smith Valley. 775-465-2573.
Explore Nevada's hidden oasis! On the river, big shady trees, 130 RV sites, cliff side lounge, deluxe cottages, the friendliest people! Old time country store, large clean laundromat, we do ice cream socials, movies, fishing; heated swimming pool. Enjoy horseshoes, volleyball, swapmeets. Competitive rates. Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express. Call 1-800-446-2573.