A tour of old Pioche

Dave Maxwell
A miner’s cabin used in the mining heyday of old Pioche featured a one-room place with a bed, table and chair and a cook stove with no indoor plumbing.

Lincoln County residents are familiar with the Million Dollar Courthouse and the Thompson Opera House in Pioche, but how familiar are you with some of the other historic buildings in the mountain side town once called the “Toughest town in the West”?

The former Treasure Hill Chronicles carried a story in one issue on Pioche Then and Now.

A tour of Pioche would certainly include the two aforementioned main features. And even if they might not be open at the time, a person would most like go there just to look anyway and maybe peer inside the windows.

But Pioche has other buildings that have their own unique history. One in particular is the red wooden miner’s cabin on Main Street, right across the street from the Ghost Town Café. Not much inside, just a one-room place with a bed, table and chair, and a fairly large cook stove. No indoor plumbing. Probably had to use the hillside right outside the back door.

Another place of interest is the Mountain View Hotel. A three-story building right next to the Million Dollar Courthouse built in 1895 by the Ely Valley Mines to house their guests. It is a combination of building styles including shingles style and early 1900’s “Classic Box” style. It is currently badly in need of restoration. A plaque on the front porch says that former President Hoover, a known mining expert, once stayed overnight there.

The Commercial Club/Amsden Building at the junction of Main and LaCour Streets was once the hub of community activity and the old Pioche Firehouse is adjacent to it. Attorney A.L. Scott owned the building from 1916 to about 1966. He had his law offices on the first floor and lived in the basement area.

Across the street is the Silver Café, established in 1907. It is one of the oldest continuously operated businesses in Nevada. It was expanded some after 1937 and has undergone more than one make over since. A former gift shop has been converted into additional dining space.

The building where the Purple Onion Antique Store is located has quite a history of its own. It was first Welland’s Merchantile, then Gottfredson’s Dry Goods, Cowley’s Drug Store, later the Baptist Church Treasure Chest, and in 1993 became Corbett’s Antiques, but that closed also. It became the Purple Onion Antiques and Collectables in 2010.

The first U.S. Post Office and Western Union office in Pioche was in the building that is now used by Rainbow Cable and Cell Phone Sales, a division of the Lincoln County Telephone System. It was constructed of stone in 1864 to resist fire. The post office was established August 17, 1870, with Western Union beginning in 1873.

Modernized and remodeled in appearance several times, in 1985 the owners of the building, the John Christian family, had the front restored to its original frontal appearance and added a new porch. In between being a post office and telegraph office, the building has also served a number of other businesses including a café.

Not far up the street is the Veitch House. A rare survivor of age and local fires, it was originally built in 1870. It has been used as a private residence, boarding house, hotel, a meeting house for the LDS church, an office and residence for Dr. W.W. Stockham in the 1920s, and once housed the F.L.A. Pioche Art Gallery.

The house was restored in 1983 to remind people of the historical period it represents. Today, unfortunately, it is a vacant building.

There is much more to historic Pioche and these few buildings are just part of one side of the street, so a visit anytime soon to see more is in order.

 

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