Buildings in Tonopah subject of a museum lecture

In celebration of Tonopah's 100th anniversary, state archivist Guy Rocha will talk about the buildings and builders of the central Nevada town that reinvigorated the state's mining industry at the start of the 20th century.

Tonopah launched the second and last boom for the individual miner in Nevada, a boom that created dozens of new towns across the state.

Rocha will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Nevada State Museum, which currently has a special exhibit called "Tonopah and Beyond."

Rocha notes that Tonopah pulled Nevada out of a long depression that nearly threatened its statehood. He sees parallels between Nevada in 1900 and 2000 as Indian gaming in California could threaten Nevada's primary industry.

"Tonopah helped save Nevada," said Rocha, the unofficial guardian of historical accuracy in Nevada. "The state right now is at another economic threshold. What will happen this time? It's not going to be mining or gaming. Here we are poised once again. What's going to happen?"

Rocha's talk takes a tour through the first 40 years of Tonopah's history, starting in 1900 as a tent community and its evolution to buildings made of bottles and other discarded building materials. Finally, frame houses and brick and stone buildings gave Tonopah the 1920s look still prevalent today.

"This is history through the eyes of the buildings," Rocha said. "I watched the evolution of the town through the landscape, watching the changes of the town through the changes of the buildings."

Entry is free for Rocha's lecture, "Buildings and Builders of Tonopah: 1900 to 1940." This talk is part of the Frances Humphrey Lecture Series given the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Nevada State Museum. Use the Loftin Park entrance on the museum's north side.

The lecture complements the museum's "Tonopah and Beyond" exhibit, which uses photos and cartoons and some mining equipment to commemorate Tonopah, Goldfield and more than 100 mining towns launched in the early 1900s. The exhibit will remain in the Jim Calhoun Changing Gallery until April.

What: Buildings and Builders of Tonopah

Who: Lecture by Guy Rocha

Where: Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson St., north entrance

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Cost: Free

Phone: 687-4810, ext. 239


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