Man followed the mules
Hawthorne was originally a station on the Carson & Colorado Railroad. Being near Walker Lake, it was a prime spot that guaranteed like, despite the remote desert surroundings.
The story goes that the mules who were used to build the railroad were let loose to forage and find shelter. They congregated in what is now Hawthorne. The railroad workers accepted the animals' instincts as the best location for food, shelter and water.
Dan & Jenn Cooke wade in...
Dan & Jenn Cooke wade in Walker Lake, a cool oasis in summer heat. A group of pelicans lives at one end, diving and skimming the surface for fish while ducks paddle around. I never saw any fish but there must be some to support the ducks and pelicans.
Reese River Road, dirt and...
Reese River Road, dirt and suitable for 4WD is an adventure in itself. Awesome view of Walker Lake before entering deep into the mountains. Comes out at Smith Valley and Walker River. Three hours of scenic beauty and we only saw a wild mustang and birds.
Home of Silver and Ammunitions
Hawthorne is a community of about 3000 people, on the southern edge of Walker Lake.
Hawthorne was originally a station on the Carson & Colorado Railroad. Being near the lake, it was a prime spot that guaranteed life, despite the remote desert surroundings. The story goes that the mules who were used to build the railroad were let loose to forage and find shelter. They congregated in what is now the downtown area of Hawthorne. The railroad workers accepted the animals' instincts as the best location for food, shelter and water.
But back in 1928, Hawthorne became home to the Hawthorne Army Depot, which boasts as being the largest ammunition storage site in the world [147,000 acres (595 km²), and has 2427 bunkers].
From the air, or even the mountains surrounding the valley, you can see the maze of bunkers extending for miles.
"Ghost town of Aurora"
"In 1860 gold was discovered in Aurora, 30 miles southwest of present day Hawthorne, Nevada. For a while both Nevada and California claimed that the rich gold fields of Aurora belonged in their state. Both states made Aurora the county seat for a new county, Mono County California and Esmeralda County Nevada. This led to great confusion during the next presidential election as citizens could vote at the Nevada polls then walk down the street and vote again at the California polls.
Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain, came to the flourishing town of Aurora to work as a miner and later described his experiences in his book, Roughing It." Check out my tip for directions and photos.
Feel free to visit my Nevada page for my thoughts on my home state.
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AURORA GHOST TOWN
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Finding mineral wealth may be more happenstance and accident then ability. August 1860, while searching for water and game, prospectors discovered gold and silver quartz ledges. A spectacular rush ensued founding Aurora, named for the goddess of dawn. By 1861 eight stamps reverberated in the mill while Wells, Fargo & Co. hauled out gold.
Sam Clemens, lured to Aurora the spring of 1862, mined for gold then worked as a stamp mill laborer for ten dollars a week plus board. As “Mark Twain” he wrote about his exploits in, “Roughing It”.
Aurora was a very dangerous place in the 1860's and as many as 27 people were killed in one year. Home to the notorious Daly Gang, John Daly, just twenty-five years old when he came to Aurora, was one of the most feared gunfighters in the west. He and his men went to work for Pond Mining Company fighting the Real Del Monte Mining Company over mining claims to Last Chance Hill. Both companies hired gunmen to intimidate the other side and keep witnesses from testifying.
After the Daly Gang got one of their members elected City Marshal in 1864 the Esmeralda Star quoted, "No sooner had the Marshal been sworn in than the worst villains that ever infested a civilized community were appointed policemen, and with but few exceptions they were composed of as hard a set of criminals ever went unhung." Fed up, the townspeople elected a new Marshall while Daly was out of town. When the Daly Gang killed a well-liked citizen, Vigilantes quickly caught Daly and his Gang and before Governor Nye could intervene, all were hanged.
Building excesses and promotion, inflated stock values, speculation, squandered investments, mismanagement and exhausted bonanzas left the town in decline. The post office was discontinued in 1897. By the mid 1920’s Aurora was nearly dead. Around 1946 the town’s several abandoned buildings were leveled for their brick value.