Wellington offers glimpse into agricultural past
While Wellington, located in the Smith Valley about 30 miles southwest of Yerington, dates to the 1860s, it’s different from most other Nevada towns of that era because its roots were in farming and not mining.
Wellington traces its beginning to the early 1860s, when two men, Jack Wright and Leonard Hamilton, erected a bridge over the West Walker River at the site, and established a small trading post and stage wagon station beside the river.
In 1863, Wright and Hamilton sold their property to Daniel Wellington, who changed the station’s name to Wellington’s. During the next decade or so, the area at the south end of the fertile Smith Valley began to slowly develop.
A post office opened near the bridge in about 1865, followed by a Wells Fargo ticket office in the early 1870s (both shared an office for many years).
In the late 1870s, the community gained a large barn-like wooden store, originally called Hoyes Store, after owners John and Mary Hoye. In its first years, in addition to offering provisions for local residents, the barn-like structure served as a station for a stage line that operated between the Carson Valley and the mining camps of Bodie and Aurora.
Over the next century, the store went by several different names and had different owners, although most people knew it as simply the Wellington Mercantile. Sadly, the venerable old country store, which remained in business for 127 years, was destroyed by fire in 2000.
One of the oldest buildings still standing in Wellington is a small brick structure known generally as the Wellington Brick Building, which was built in 1873. Originally the home of a local craftsman named Sidney Sweetman, who built it, it was later acquired by Mary Hoye, who used it as a private school for her niece and nephew. Later it became a butcher shop and in recent years it has served as an office and wine cellar.
Another one of Wellington’s historic structures is a two-story wood building known today as the Heyday Inn. Now used as a restaurant and bar, the building was erected in 1875 by Zadok Pierce and was known as Pierce Station. It originally served as a grocery store, hotel and feed store.
Perhaps the grandest local home in Wellington is the Hoye Mansion, built in 1878 by John and Mary Hoye. The majestic three-story wooden home took five years to build.
Nearby is the former Hoye blacksmith shop, a wooden barn, built in 1878. The shop has been modified over the years and has served as an art studio among other uses.
Wellington’s quaint one-room schoolhouse, built in 1898, is also still standing (although it originally was located on a different parcel of land) and has been converted into a local museum. Inside, you can find farming tools, mining equipment, photographs and other items related to the area’s history.
Wellington is located about 90 miles southwest of Fallon via U.S. 50, then south on Alternate U.S. 95 to Yerington. From there, continue south on State Route 208.
For more information about the Smith Valley area, contact the Lyon County Museum in Yerington at 775-463-6576 or go to http://www.lyoncountymuseum.com/.
Rich Moreno covers the places and people that make Nevada special.