Looking east on Highway 50 in downtown Austin, Nevada
Supposedly, a Pony Express horse kicked over a rock near Austin and exposed some high grade silver ore. That started a silver rush that quickly had the population of Austin above 10,000 in one year. The silver boom lasted for a while, long enough for the Nevada Central Railroad to run a line south from the transcontinental line at Battle Mountain into Austin in 1880. But the major silver production did end in 1887 with a slight revival in the 1910's. If the local uranium ore had been of higher quality, there might have been another mining boom in the 1950's. There has been gold and silver mining going on on a small basis the whole time but Austin is probably best known for the fine turquoise specimens that come out of a few small mines in the area.
These days, Austin is what may be called a "living ghost town." There are a number of historic buildings here but they are all in various states of repair. The Methodist Church (built in 1866) is now the community center. The Catholic Church (built in 1866) is now a cultural center for eastern Nevada. The Episcopal Church (built in 1878) is still in use as a church. The International Hotel (the oldest hotel structure in Nevada, built in 1859) was moved to Austin in 1863 from Virginia City. The restaurant and bar are still in operation but if you want a room, go to the motel across the street. Just beyond the edge of town is a 3-story stone tower built by Anson Phelps Stokes in 1897. He was a wealthy Eastern capitalist who owned portions of several mines in the area around Austin. He had the Stokes Castle built for his use but only occupied it for about a month and then left, never to return.
Austin was the county seat of Lander County from 1863 until those offices were moved to Battle Mountain in 1979.
Stokes Castle, built just outside Austin in 1897
|Fast Facts about Austin, Nevada|
Austin, Lander County, NV 89310
Resident Racial Breakdown:
White Non-Hispanic: 88.5%
Native American: 1.1%
Two or More Races: 0.9%
High School or Higher: 75.3%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 8.1%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 2.7%
Median Resident Age: 48.5 Years
Estimated Median Household Income: $38,130
Estimated Median Home Value: $46,720
Population Density: 0.1 People per Square Mile
2011 Cost of Living Index for Austin: 87.1
Educational Services, Mining, Agriculture, Lodging & Food Services, Construction, Government, Retail Services, Real Estate Services, Utilities, Health Care, Computer & Electronic Products
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|Upper photo of Austin, Nevada courtesy of Vidor.|
Photo of Stokes Castle courtesy of Peter Schmalzer, CCA ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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