Elko, Nevada

Elko, Nevada
The setting of Elko, Nevada

The first recorded Europeans in the area of Elko were trappers traveling with Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1827. Then an almost continuous stream of pioneers commenced in 1841, traveling toward Oregon by following the Humboldt River westward. Stagecoaches traveling between Salt Lake City, Utah and Sacramento, California passed through this area beginning in 1851.

The first residents of Elko settled in in 1868, when this was the eastern end of the Central Pacific Railroad tracks. A siding was built here and it evolved into a ranch and mining freight and supply center. On New Year's Day, 1869, the settlement consisted of a few tents among the sagebrush. By mid-January, lots had been laid out and hastily surveyed, and were selling for $300 to $500 each. Folks built the first courthouse later in 1869, but that structure was replaced in 1910 with the new county courthouse (apparently a better-built structure because it easily survived a 6.0 earthquake in 2008).

In May, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the tracks in Promontory, Utah, linking the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads in one transcontinental line. A large portion of the Central Pacific track crew was Chinese laborers, imported specifically for the job. When the job was finished, they were mostly abandoned. Many of them walked back to Elko and settled there. It was the Chinese who built the first water system in Elko.

Every year in January Elko plays host to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a week-long celebration of the arts that arise from lives lived close to the land. Stories, music, poetry, equipment, videos and food all contribute to the event, and thousands of people make the pilgrimage every year.

The area around Elko is classed as high altitude desert. This means there are an average of 42 days per year with a high temperature of 90°F or higher, and an average 193 days with a low temperature of 32°F or lower. On average, there are 130 sunny days each year. Annual snowfall averages 38.5 inches, although the winter of 1996 set a record with 100.8 inches.

Elko, Nevada
In Elko
Elko County Courthouse
Elko County Courthouse
Fast Facts about Elko, Nevada
Elko, Elko County, NV 89801-89803
Incorporated: 1917
Elevation: 5,066'
Latitude: 40.8364°N
Longitude: 115.7655°W
Resident Racial Breakdown:
White Non-Hispanic: 73.3%
Hispanic: 21.1%
Native American: 3.6%
Other: 9.6%
Two or More Races: 2.9%
High School or Higher: 78.6%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 17.1%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 5.2%
2009 Estimates:
Population: 17,430
Males: 8,912
Females: 8,518
Median Resident Age: 31.6 Years
Estimated Median Household Income: $58,690
Estimated Median Home Value: $225,417
Population Density: 1,203 People per Square Mile
2009 Cost of Living Index for Elko: 86.5
Major Industries:
Mining, Educational Services, Lodging & Food Services, Construction, Health Care, Entertainment & Recreation, Government, Retail Services, Finance & Insurance Services, Transportation Services
Unemployed: 6.0% logo
Upper photo of Elko, Nevada courtesy of Daniel Mayer, CCA ShareAlike 3.0 License.
Lower photo of Elko courtesy of Jaroslaw Binczarowski
Photo of Elko County Courthouse courtesy of Calvin Beale, USDA
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