Lander County

Western Memoirs

The Markers Statistics Related Links

Many superlatives are set within this wedge-shaped county. The stories here begin like many others in Nevada, but its residual effect has carried on for more than 150 years. Austin once headlined newspapers across the country as Nevada's richest and largest town in 1862. A promising future, a flour sack race ... a bit of this and a bit of that before the proverbial bust began. The Nevada Central Railroad's arrival came a bit too late in Austin's life in 1880.

Endangered Austin
Some people think of Austin as a "living ghost town" and its this certain air of stubborness that strengthens this tiny town. A well-preserved example of pride and passion. The answer becomes clear as you take a stroll through town. Three towering churches could be considered endangered relics of a fast-disappearing western heritage. The two-story International Hotel was first constructed in Virginia City in 1859 and was moved to Austin a few years later. Inside - delicious meals, mean video poker, and liquor so hard it makes men fall to their knees. The hotel's owners aren't the only ones who embrace the glory days. One of the more ornate structures is the original Lander Courthouse which is still in use by the county sheriff. A closer look may reveal the building's patience: almost as if waiting for Nevada to give power back to Austin?

This little mountain town clings to life by scrimping income from tourists driving through on "America's Loneliest Road." Life goes on because in Austin thoughts of 'the good ol' days' are likely to invoke depression as much as fascination. In 1979, Lander County gave Austin a crippling blow when the seat was shifted to Battle Mountain. At least one Austinian believes this was a "shot to the knees" - an unconscious attempt to fan the flame of its life. Despite its hard times, few would argue that Austin is still without question one of the most beautiful towns in Nevada. Don't expect to find a restored opera house (Eureka), a bawdy boardwalk (Virginia City), or even a little wooden church (Manhattan). There is Nevada ... and there is Austin. The structures here are kept preserved by locals who leave things just the way they are. Everything stands (or leans) as it did without progress or pressure. If one does fall the celebration of its death takes place.

On the bright side, things can only go up for this old mining queen! Austin's forced state of arrested decay displays the perfect backdrop of the old west - the perfect destination for those who choose to walk through an authentic mining town without the souvenir shops, contrived gunfights, or flashy billboards. And like any queen it's only fitting this one is surrounded by scenery fit for royalty. Over the past decade, Austin alone has become a gateway for outdoors enthusiasts - everyone from hunters, anglers, backpackers, and bicyclists who make the long drive from Reno or Carson to splendor in the awesome ranges of central Nevada, specifically, the Toiyabe Range. The mining activity near Battle Mountain, Round Mountain, and the Reese River Valleys produces high-quality turquoise which Austin is happy to market in its several shops. The next 'Turquoise Capitol of Nevada' anyone?

The Markers
With all but one marker located right alongside the Loneliest Road, Lander is by far the easiest county to conquer in Nevada. Of course this is disappointing to the enthusiastic hunter, but the goings-on in and around Austin are enough to keep things interesting! Pesky Marker 95 is displaced far away from the action 105 miles from US 50 and actually best conquered on an I-80 roadtrip. Support Austin's economy but booking a day or two at the local motel or even longer if you enjoy the outdoors. Start by driving out the 80 to Battle Mountain and head south onto SR 305 for a glorious two-hour race down the Reese River Valley to good ol' Pony Canyon. Compared to Battle Mountain, Austin has miniscule services but don't let its tiny population fool you. This place is big on hospitality and a few strolls through town will reveal much more than you might've realized including locals who are more than eager to share some of the area's secrets! Choose a dayhike or a multi-day back pack into the Toiyabes right at Austin's doorstep or fly fish for wild trout in one of the many streams flowing down from the mountains. In Lander, what you see is what you get.

Markers of Lander County

At first glance, Lander may not seem to offer much but its secrets absolutely cannot be revealed in one shot, therefore this is one county best explored on multiple visits! Austin and its markers are something more rebellious than the others. It's only fitting for a mining mother camp like Austin to be revealed in quaint doses. Lander's markers prove that the Old West is still alive and well here in central Nevada.

[8] -- Austin

39.49822, -117.0793

"Austin, mother town of mining camps, sprang into being after William Talcott discovered silver at this spot on May 2, 1862."

[59] -- Stokes Castle

39.49354, -117.07965

"Stokes Castle is made of native granite, hewn and put in place by the ancestors of people still living in Austin."

[66] -- Jacobsville

39.49486, -117.16858

"It was the first county seat of Lander County comprising practically all of northeastern Nevada. "

[67] -- Austin Churches

39.49185, -117.07008

"St. George's Episcopal Church to the east was consecrated in 1878."

[95] -- Battle Mountain

40.64171, -116.93387

"The town's first copper boom developed in 1897, in the Galena (Battle Mountain) Range."

[119] -- Reul Colt Gridley (Citizen Extraordinaire)

39.4895, -117.06295

"This simple stone structure, opened to the public in late 1863, was originally operated as a general merchandise store by the firm of Gridley, Hobart and Jacobs."

[136] -- Toquima Cave

39.39998, -116.9419

"East of the summit, north of the highway, and under a basalt flow lies Toquima Cave. Red, white, and yellow aboriginal drawings (pictographs) decorate its walls."

[137] -- Hickison Summit

39.44239, -116.74634

  Superlative: Nearest to Geographical Center of Nevada

"About one mile northwest lies a natural pass between two low buttes, which prehistorically, the aborigines may have used as a site of ambushing migratory deer herds."

[176] -- The Surveyors

39.45731, -116.99709

"Nevada, in part, was the site of two notable surveys, Honey Lake to Fort Kearny wagon road, completed in 1860 by Captain Lander, and the route surveyed by Lieutenant Simpson, Camp Floyd to Genoa, in 1859."

[208] -- International Hotel
(First Commercial Building Constructed in Austin - 1863)

39.4937, -117.0725

"Built of lumber from the first International Hotel constructed in Virginia City."