Caliente to Pipe Spring with Iron Town In-between
This blog is dedicated to Mr. Riley. See ya on the rainbow bridge, little man.
That's Nevada Highway 93 coming into Caliente. Caliente, a historic railroad town, is located in east-central Lincoln County at U.S. Route 93 and Nevada Highway 317. The quiet town mountain town, shaded by beautiful cottonwood trees, is the only incorporated community in Lincoln County.
Located in a meadow tucked among rugged canyons and sweeping mountain ranges, the earliest settlers were ranchers and farmers who took advantage of Clover Creek and the area’s natural hot springs.
In 1889, there was a need for a north-south railroad line between Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. There were soon two railroad lines competing for the opportunity, including the Union Pacific Railroad and Oregon Short Line, but only one could fit through the canyon, and Union Pacific took control of the project.
In 1901 an official town was founded on land owned by the Culverwell brothers. It was first named “Calientes,” meaning “hot,” for the hot springs in the area. When a post office was established on August 3, 1901, the “s” was dropped from the name, and the community was simply called “Caliente.” That year, the first train arrived in the new town.
In about 1918, the historic Smith-Cornelius Hotel was built at the corner of Front and Spring Streets (U.S. Hwy 93.) First called the Smith Hotel, the three-story stucco building was built by Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Smith in a simple vernacular architectural style reflecting the time’s design tastes. The first floor featured three retail spaces, one of which was always a café. One of the oldest surviving buildings in Caliente, it is listed on the National Historic Register today.
The Richards Railroad Hotel was built between 1910 to 1915 by Harry Underhill used primarily as living quarters for railroad workers. This historic building, vacant today, still stands in Caliente toward the east end of Clover Street, where several other historic Underhill buildings stand.
Read more about the interesting history of Caliente in our article here.
Caliente may be the only incorporated community in Lincoln County, but higher up, Pioche retains the County Seat. Pioche was first settled by Joseph Grange and E. M. Chubard, who erected a small furnace in 1868. However, the project was a failure and they soon abandoned the location.
In the spring of 1868, Francois Pioche, a San Francisco financier, sent Charles E. Hoffman to the area to purchase property and mining claims. A smelter was then built and the Meadow Valley Mining Company was incorporated.
A town sprang up around the claims on the “panacker ledge.” In 1869 P. McCannon, L. Lacour, and A. M. Bush plotted out a townsite, and the town was named Pioche City for Francois Pioche, the San Francisco businessman.
By the early 1870s, Pioche had become the largest and most important silver mining towns in southeastern Nevada with an estimated population of 10,000 people by 1871. That year, the county seat was moved from Hiko to Pioche in February. It remains there today.
The Pioche Consolidated Mill, also known as the Godbe Mill, was built in 1891 at the site of the original Raymond & Ely No. 1 shaft just to the east of Pioche, at a place called West Point. The smelter processed ore not only for Pioche but also for Jackrabbit and other nearby camps. The same year, the Pioche Consolidated bought the remaining assets of the abandoned Pioche & Bullionville Railroad in the immediate area and in 1891 started construction of the Pioche Pacific Railroad which would serve the Pioche, Jackrabbit, and Bristol mines. The mill burned in 1893 but was quickly rebuilt.
In March 1873 the Brown Opera House was built by Aleck Brown. It was constructed of wood in a classic revival style combined with an early pioneer board construction. Almost two decades later, it was renamed the Thompson Opera House in April 1892. Years later it was used as a movie house. However, when the Gem Theater was built right next door, the Opera House was used for weekly dances for many years. Today the Brown/Thompson Opera House continues to stand on Main Street.
In 1895, the Mountain View Hotel was built by the Ely Valley Mines to house their guests. It is a combination of styles including “Shingle” and early 1900s “Classic Box” styles. This old hotel served the lodging needs of dignitaries visiting Pioche on court business. President Herbert Hoover is said to have stayed in 1930.
The courthouse was completed in 1872 at a cost of $88,000, far exceeding the initial estimates and budget. The original loan was then refinanced over and over again with bonds totaling nearly $1 million. The loan wasn’t paid off until 1937, four years after the building had been condemned. The old courthouse still stands as well as the original town jail, with its 16-inch walls and tiny windows. The jail was so secure that not a single inmate ever escaped.
Learn more about the once-thriving, wild west, now near ghost town of Pioche via our article here.
Wait, didn't she say "No more unknown roads?"
Bristol Wells, NV - Do Not EnterIt was a bust trying to see the ghost mining camp of Bristol Wells, NV.
Outside of Pioche, we attempted to find the ghost town of Bristol Wells. After another dirt and rock journey up a mountain, we were greeted with a closed gate right at the entrance to the remains of the mining camp.
Bristol Wells, NV - Road up to gateThe path left behind. Taken from the closed gate at Bristol Wells, NV
This was the view behind us at the gate, with our journey beginning in the valley below off highway 93. You win some/lose some I guess. One thing for sure, my mountain driving skills are honed after this trip.
Begin your Journey through Nevada via our Nevada main page here.
Pushing East - Arizona via Utah.
Old Iron Town, UT - RuinsRuins at the Old Iron Town, UT.
We left the Caliente and Pioche area, turning off Hwy 93 at Panaca, and headed toward Utah on NV 319, UT 56 where our next stop was Old Iron Town. Founded in the late 1860s, it was established to mine iron from Iron Mountain. Iron was needed as an important part of the Mormon economy.
Old Iron Town, UT - Beehive Charcoal FurnaceThe Old Iron Town ruins feature a preserved beehive style charcoal oven and a furnace known as an "Arastra", which prepared sands for molds.
A Furnace was built and by 1874 about 400 pounds of Pig Iron was produced. Operations also ceased about that time, with the Panic of 1873 forcing its closure. At its peak, the settlement included a schoolhouse, blacksmith, charcoal furnaces, and a foundry. The city was abandoned in 1876.
Old Iron Town, UT - ViewView from Old Iron Town, UT
The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and still features the beehive style charcoal oven and furnace. You'll also find remains of the original foundry.
If you are into old Iron towns, you might also like this one from our Michigan Adventure. Fayette, Michigan Historic Town Site.
Utah, you had me at Hurricane.
Hurricane, UTPhoto of Hurricane, UT from an overlook on Hwy 59.
One thing in this country I think everyone can agree on. The views in Utah are spectacular. We headed out of Cedar City, down Interstate 15 to Anderson Junction, then off on Highway 17 toward Hurricane, Utah. It appears to be pretty solid development as you go from one town to the next without realizing it. We turned onto UT Hwy 59 East in Hurricane and stopped for a view of the valley below. The pic above probably doesn't do justice to the incredible view. Hope you have a chance to experience this drive.
Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation and Pipe Spring National Monument
Pipe Springs National Monument, UtahPipe Springs National Monument, Utah
Utah Highway 59 turns into Arizona Highway 389, and not too far you will reach the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation and Pipe Spring. The natural spring has been a draw for Native American's for at least a thousand years.
Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - WagonPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Wagon
In the 1860s, Mormons from St. George brought cattle to the area, establishing a large ranch and setting up a conflict with the local Paiute Native American tribes. In addition, Navajo natives raided Pipe Spring, which led to a stone fort being built over the spring in 1872.
Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert TelegraphPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert Telegraph
The First Telegraph in Arizona was sent from Pipe Spring. In 1873 the fort and ranch were purchased by Mormon leader Brigham Young. The Bishop of nearby Grafton, Utah, Anson Perry Winsor, was hired to operate the ranch and maintain the fort and it was known as Winsor Castle.
Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph QuartersPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph Quarters
In addition to serving as a refuge for polygamists, the isolated Pipe Spring was a way station for those traveling what is called the "Arizona Strip", or the section of Arizona separated by the Grand Canyon.
Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - LonghornPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Longhorn
The Church lost ownership of the property through penalties involved in the federal Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, which made non-publicly recorded marriages a felony. As a federal offense, authorities were authorized to seize personal and church assets and entire families went “underground” to avoid imprisonment.
Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah
During your visit, tour the Museum that gives a good overview of the human history in the area, take a tour of the buildings, see "living history" demonstrations, or hike the half mail trail offering a glimpse of life in the Old West.
Not far from this area:
Next Up.. Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, the Navajo Bridge, and much more as we push to our final 'primary' destination, Santa Fe New Mexico.
Cya on the road!
We're traveling with "HearHere" a travel audio app for your phone that shares the depth and diversity of stories - cultural, geographical, historical, and mythological - hidden along the roads of America. Legends of America is proud to partner with HearHere, with many of our stories being narrated and loaded up now. Get the App Here.
Caliente, NV - Young's RV ParkSnow found us again in Caliente at Young's RV Park.
During our visit to Caliente and Pioche, we stayed at Young's RV Park in Caliente. Nice, clean RV park with friendly management, wifi, and small clean laundry facility. Would stay again if ever in the area.
Kaibab-Paiute-RV-Campground-Pipe-SpringKaibab Paiute RV Campground with Pipe Spring National Monument visible in the background.
While in the Pipe Spring area, we stayed at Kaibab Paiute RV Campground. Be forewarned, cell service (at least ATT) was nonexistent here. Good Wifi during off-peak hours, clean, mostly level parking, a little convenience store just up the road, and conveniently located next to Pipe Spring National Monument. They had a large grass area for our furry kids.
Speaking of which...
On A Personal Note - We said goodbye to Mr. Riley on the Paiute Reservation
Mr. RileyLegends' Mascot Mr. Riley.
c.2007-March 17, 2021
Beautiful Riley was a full-blooded Silky Terrier (Yorkie type.) We adopted him in 2012, at which time the vet said he was about four years old. He had been found wandering the streets in Sedalia in the middle of winter, and when picked up was starving, mangy, and very thin. When we got him, he was much better, but was very afraid of males, was skittish, and never barked, or made any other noise for that matter.
Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach. Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach.
It took our other dog, Kaydee, a little bit of time to warm up to him, but they soon became fast friends.
Mr. Riley He loved his belly rubs.
Riley ended up loving Dave and very much liked most other men if they were nice to him, barked his fool head off -- especially if any kind of big dog was around, and would "purr" when petted and loved on.
Dave and Riley at Pipe SpringsComforting Mr. Riley in his final days.
He had been suffering from a collapsed trachea for about a year and was given meds to keep him comfortable, but there was little else that could be done. In the past couple of weeks, his body started to shut down and he died at about 4:00 am on St. Patrick's Day, at an RV Park on the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation in Arizona.
Legends' Furry MascotsMr. Riley and Miss Kaydee, Legends' furry mascots in Michigan.
There are no words for “goodbye” in Paiute because they did not want to imply they weren't going to see a friend again when they parted.
So we said, Pe-sha uh, which means Thank you - for bringing so much joy to our lives.
"May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there. May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder." -- Cherokee Blessing
Keywords: Arizona, Caliente, history, Hurricane, Iron Town, mining, Nevada, Pioche, Pipe Spring National Monument, railroad, Utah, views
I am so sorry that little Riley is gone. He's not really gone though because he will always have a special place in your heart. Dogs add so much to our lives and each one is unique in the love and companionship they bring to us.
A touching tribute to your fur boy buddy Riley. I do feel your loss, as I had to say goodbye to my princess Frida in June 2020 and a part of me went with her.
Richard Flint II(non-registered)
Sorry for the loss of Riley, that must have been a very difficult time for both of you.
Linda Pybus Glover(non-registered)
Kathy and Dave:
My heart cries for you. I've been there and know the emptiness that comes when losing a furry friend who brought much joy. May the good Lord bless and keep you.
I'm so sorry to hear that you lost a family member and can move on. Give Kaydee Dog some extra lovin' from me.
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