Visiting Lovelock’s historic district
Motorists racing across Nevada on Interstate 80 sometimes don’t pay much attention to communities like Lovelock — and that’s too bad.
Located about 90 miles east of Reno, Lovelock is not only a good place for a rest stop or a meal but it’s also a quaint, quiet community containing a number of historic sites and buildings.
Lovelock traces its roots to the 1840s, when travelers on the Humboldt Trail (or Emigrant Trail) began stopping in the area for water and grass. Because of the great abundance of the latter, the region became known as Big Meadows and was an essential stop for those continuing south through the treacherous 40-Mile Desert.
Additionally, in the 1850s and 60s, several significant mining discoveries were made in the area including at Unionville and Rochester.
In the 1860s, Englishman George Lovelock established a large ranching operation in the valley. In 1868, he gave 85 acres to the railroad for a townsite, named in his honor. Originally called “Lovelock’s,” in the 1920s the name was shortened to simply, Lovelock.
As mining dwindled, agriculture and ranching became more important. At the turn of the century, Lovelock was the location of the ranch of John G. Taylor, owner of one of the West’s great cattle empires. At one time, Taylor owned 60,000 head of sheep, 8,000 cattle, 130,000 acres of land and leased another half million acres.
Additionally, the meadows proved ideal for growing crops such as barley, wheat, oats and alfalfa. The latter continues to be one of the region’s main crops.
Wandering around the streets of Lovelock you’ll find a number of historic structures with interesting stories, including:
The Lovelock Depot, on the corner of Main Street and West Broadway Avenue, was constructed in 1880 by the Southern Pacific Railroad. The building is the only remaining example of a series of residential No. 2-style two-story depots erected through Nevada by the railroad. The Bank Building (1905) and the Soroptimist Building (1890s) on Main Street are side-by-side classic early 20th century structures in the former heart of Lovelock’s commercial district. The former was originally home of the First National Bank and the Lovelock Tribune newspaper. Over the years, the latter has housed a five-and-dime store, the Soroptimist Outreach Center, the Senior Citizens Center and the Lovelock Review-Miner newspaper.
The Lovelock Post Office on Dartmouth Avenue was built in 1937 and is considered a prime example of the Moderne architectural style. Inside, it boasts a large mural that the Smithsonian Institute has called one of the best representations of early Western art.
The Pershing County Courthouse at the intersection of Main Street, Western Avenue and Central Avenue was constructed between 1919 and 1920. It has an unusual round design (apparently one of only handful of round courthouses ever built). Designed by prominent Nevada architect Frederic DeLongchamps, it incorporates a Classical Revival style of architecture and was patterned after the Pantheon in Rome.
The Marzen House Museum, located west of the downtown off Cornell Avenue, was built in 1874 and is one of the area’s oldest homes. It was constructed by Colonel Joseph Marzen, owner of the Big Meadow Ranch, one of the region’s largest cattle operations. Restored in the 1980s, it has been made into a fine local museum containing displays that tell the history of Lovelock.
For more information contact the Lovelock Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 821, Lovelock, NV 89419, 775-273-7213.
Rich Moreno covers the places and people that make Nevada special.