A small, unincorporated community in central Lander County, 72 miles west of Eureka.
Some people think of Austin as a "living ghost town", a hamlet of people who just will not leave. They might be right. A certain air of stubborness resides over the little town -- perhaps a well-preserved example of pride and tranquility. The answer is simple: there is a reason why people still call Austin home. "Austinians" have been clinging to life in one of Nevada's most beautiful mining camps, set within the confines of Pony Canyon on the flanks of the northern Toiyabe Range.
Named for the capitol of Texas, Austin was founded in the spring of 1862, as part of a silver rush triggered by a Pony Express horse who kicked over a rock. The rock contained 70% silver, and after a rushed assay, word spread of the immaculate find. By summer of 1863, the Austin and the surrounding Reese River Mining District had a population of over 10,000 and it became the county seat of Lander County. In 1864, the town launched Reul Colt Gridley's impromptu fundraising drive that raised over $250,000 for wounded Civil War veterans, by repeatedly auctioning a sack of flour. In 1880, Austin became so prolific, the Nevada Central Railroad was built with its first connection to Austin via the transcontinental railroad at Battle Mountain. Ironically, the line came too late, and by that time Austin's amazing silver boom was nearly over. Major silver production ended by 1887.
Today's visitor to Austin will be treated to perhaps one of the best examples of a western mining camp. The town state of arrested decay displays a shrine of old western history, a perfect destination for visitors to walk through an authentic mining town, without the souvenir shops, fancy forced gunfights, or flashy showboating found in other places. In Austin, what you see, is what you get. Like a boost in moral, mining activity near Battle Mountain, Round Mountain, and the Reese River Valley produce high-quality turquoise, hence placing Austin in the perfect position for selling the prized material. Such active turquoise mining, together with several shops that manufacture jewelry from local turquoise have made Austin a sort of Nevada Turquoise mecca. The West is still loud and proud in Austin and the owners at the picturesque International Hotel, aren't the only ones who embrace the town's glory days. Everybody in Austin chants of old memories, but they keep the thought at a good distance away. Today, with its 192 residents, Austin barely clings to life by scrimping income from tourists driving through on US, "America's Loneliest Road"." In 1979, Lander County gave Austin a crippling blow when the seat was shifted to Battle Mountain, a town dubbed, "the armpit of America." At least one Austinian believes this was a "shot to the knees", an unconscious attempt to fan the flame of Austin's life.
After the long drive from any direction, Austin provides a nice respite from the pavement. Although it's still but a mere shadow of what it used to be, residents take pride in catering to their visitors with warm beds, cold drinks, hot food, and plenty to see and do in the neighboring wild lands! Visitors can pick up a historical walk brochure from the former Lander Courthouse on Main Street.
- Austin is one of only four towns along the 280-mile long segment of "America's Loneliest Road."
- Austin is the most centrally-located community in Nevada, located 32 miles southeast of the approximate geographical center of Nevada!
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