Walker River Basin Group

60 Hawthorne (Present Mineral Co. Seat – – – Former Esmerelda Co. Seat)

on U.S. Highway 95 in Hawthorne, Nevada

The Hawthorne townsite, selected in 1880 by H.M. Yerington, president of the new Carson and Colorado Railroad Co., was a division and distribution point for the railroad originally envisioned to extend to Bodie, in Mono County, California. Mineral development southeast in the Columbus Mining District, redirected the route southerly to California.

Originally to be called Millbrae, Yerington changed the name to Hawthorne, after William A. Hawthorne, a Nevada pioneer lumberman. In 1878 Hawthorne located a mine on Mt. Grant and started a ranch on Cat Creek. He worked for Yerington in 1880 as road superintendent on the company’s Bodie Toll Road, later serving as Justice of the Peace at Hawthorne.

On April 14, 1881, the first train arrived loaded with prospective buyers for the new town lots. In 1883, Hawthorne took the Esmeralda county seat from declining Aurora, but later lost it in 1907 to booming Goldfield. In 1911, Hawthorne again became a county seat, when Mineral County was created.

In 1926, a destructive munitions explosion in the East caused the Navy to select Hawthorne for a new ammunition depot. In 1928, Nevada-born and Hawthorne-raised Governor Balzar, turned the first shovel of dirt and dedicated the new depot, which was officially commissioned in 1930.

16 Mineral County

on U.S. Highway 95 at Walker Lake

Nevada’s earliest maps show Walker Lake. Jedediah Smith, the first English-speaking American in what is modern-day Nevada, passed near here in 1828 during his remarkable trip across the Great Basin. Peter Skene Ogden traveled through the region in 1829, and then John C. Frémont arrived in 1845 with his guide, Joseph Walker, for whom the lake is named.

Until its creation in 1911, Mineral County was part of Esmeralda. The first Esmeralda County seat was at Aurora but it was moved to Hawthorne in 1883, two years after the Carson and Colorado Railroad was built. Goldfield took the county seat in 1907, but Hawthorne became a government seat once again with the creation of Mineral County. The county includes several well-known mining towns, including Aurora, Belleville, Candelaria, Luning, Marietta, Mina, and Rawhide as well as other smaller mining camps.