Luning

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Mineral County

Every so often, I like to pick an old Nevada town and read the 140 year old newspaper articles regarding that town. It gives a person a little more insight into some of the eccentric and/or less written about events that took place there. I wish I had the time to do this with more Nevada towns. I'll try to work these Luning examples into the general description below.

A stage station known as Deep Well pre-dated Luning here. In 1881, the Carson & Colorado Railroad finished its line into Hawthorne from Mound House. Luning would become a stop on the Carson & Colorado that same year. While Luning is often discussed and referenced for its railroad activities, it was also an early silver mining area. Copper mines would later become active in the area as well. Luning served as a hub to the prospectors and miners working the Santa Fe and other mining districts in the surrounding hills. On February 18, 1882, the Lyon County Times wrote an article titled "A Budding Metropolis". The article discussed the businesses that had come to the area. To include a hotel, blacksmith, lumber yard, hay yard, restaurant, store and several saloons. The article stated that none of this had existed two months prior. There was even talk of Luning becoming the Esmeralda County seat (it was located in Esmeralda County at that time). The article also stated "...Luning is the center from which will radiate the trade and travel of four new and rich mining districts, Gillis, Garfield, Santa Fe and Silver Star..." On April 1, 1882, the Lyon County Time wrote: "...Luning is building up fast. There are two saloons, two restaurants, lodging house, Knapp & Law's Store. Mr. Darwin is proposing to put up a little stamp mill for the purpose of testing ores..." The article also stated that two wagon teams were hired to haul Downieville ore to Luning for train shipment to San Francisco. An article from May of 1882 stated "Building is progressing rapidly in Luning. Business of all kinds is lively, and fights are a daily occurrence... A hurdy house is now in course of erection." On December 28, 1882, the Carson Morning Appeal wrote, "Silver in Sandstone". A prospector working the district east of luning found a ledge of rich horn and ruby silver in pure sandstone. In those days (and maybe even today) that was almost unheard of in Nevada. It was so rich, that the Melrose Reduction Works gave the man $1,200 in cash for 2 1/2 tons of his ore. That would have made his ore worth about $500.00 a ton. In those days, that would have been considered highly valuable ore. $1,200 in 1882 is equivalent to about $34,000 today. In January of 1882, three individuals named Wilkenson, Coughlan and Lockhart were arrested for murdering Mr. and Mrs. Pollock at the toll house in Six Mile Canyon near Virginia City. They were accused of burning the bodies afterwards. The chain of events in this case are pretty bizarre. It's worth looking up and reading. These three men were eventually released. It is believed that their alibi was that they were in Luning on the night of the murder. As things unfolded in the case, it was learned that the Pollocks may have been heavily into mysticism. Allegedly, they would often attempt to put each other into trances. There was some speculation that their home may have caught on fire when they drifted off into a spiritual trance. On February 8, 1883, the Carson Daily Appeal wrote an article titled "A Tough Camp". A railroad agent in Luning named J.B. Barstow was almost beaten to death by a man named B.W. McLaine, simply for doing his job. B.W. McLaine was the son of John McLaine who had killed a man named Shepard in Candelaria the year before. The article stated that B.W. McLaine was "...the leader of a gang of toughs at Luning, who run the camp to suit themselves. They are said to be of the cowboy-order, making life rather uncertain when they have the sway, as they have at Luning..." These are just a few interesting pieces of Luning history that you may or may not have known. Luning continued on as a rail town, with silver mining taking place in the hills for several more years. By 1900, copper exploration was being conducted out in the districts. Within a few years, the area around Luning was very active with copper. By 1912, the mines were producing heavily. According to Paher, the era around WWI was the heaviest period for production. Although not many people still live here, Luning is still a sparsely populated town today.

Post Office: January 16, 1882 to February 10, 1911 (Esmeralda County); February 10, 1911 to Present. At 140 years and counting, this has to make the Luning Post Office one of the longest streaks of unbroken postal service in Nevada.

Last Trip/ Road Conditions: Luning is a Highway 95 town south of Hawthorne. You can't miss it. I've been through it a thousand times. The photographs are from April of 2013.

Sources: Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps (By: Stanley W. Paher); Mines of Churchill and Mineral Counties (By: William O. Vanderburg); Nevada Place Names- A Geographical Dictionary (By: Helen S. Carlson); Nevada Post Offices- An Illustrated History (By: James Gamett & Stanley W. Paher); Carson Morning Appeal (Newspaper); The Silver State (Newspaper); Lyon County Times (Newspaper); Tonopah Weekly Bonanza (Newspaper); The Goldfield News (Newspaper).