Middlegate Station east of Fallon nearly burns
Nevada Appeal News Service
MIDDLEGATE – Old Middlegate Station was saved by locals and motel patrons when a fire broke out at about 10 p.m. Monday.
The bar was saved, but the attached office and private residence were destroyed, said fire officials. The property, which features a restaurant, bar, hotel, gas station and mini mart, is about 50 miles east of Fallon.
“There is no estimate of damages, but we’ll have to rebuild,” said Fredda Stevenson, an owner of the station.
The owners were away on vacation in Arizona when they got the call and rushed back.
The bar had closed, and everyone had gone home when night bartender Dianna Power told manager Carol-Lynn Dinius she smelled smoke, said Dinius.
“We walked around the building, and when I looked in the office area, I saw an orange glow,” said Dinius. “I knew right where it was – at the fuse box.”
Dinius enlisted motel guests to help fight the fire. Eventually, almost everyone in Middlegate came to help save the station, said Dinius.
A driller staying at the motel, Steven Baty, came when he heard dogs barking and the commotion.
“Once I saw smoke and realized what was going on, I ran to help out. There was no time to wait for the fire department,” said Baty. “I thought if we don’t do something, the place will be gone before the fire department gets here.”
Fire crews were dispatched at 9:48 p.m. from the Fallon-Churchill Fire Department, Naval Air Station Fallon Federal Fire Department and the Churchill County Sheriff’s Department.
Stuart Cook, fire chief for the NAS Fallon fire department, said he thought the structure would be destroyed.
“I think the quick thinking on their part saved that historical site. Being an all-wood structure, it would have gone up like kindling,” said Cook, who was not at the scene. “Where would we get our big burgers if it burned down?”
Old Middlegate Station is a historic landmark built sometime in the mid-1800s, according to the Churchill County Museum Association.
There is no actual date recorded when the station was built. However, the first account of it was by Great Basin explorer James Simpson in 1859. The station was used as a Pony Express changing station in the mid-1800s.
The Stevensons purchased the station in 1985, when they started the tradition of pinning money to the ceiling.
“Our first customer paid, and we said we’re going to pin our first dollar to the wall and save it,” said Dinius.
“The customer told us to wait and came back from their car with a silver certificate.”
There are now thousands of $1 bills, $20 bills and even three $100 bills attached to the ceiling, said Dinius.
“Navy guys even came down and made a display honoring the F-14 Tomcat with dollars bills on the ceiling when it was retired,” she said. “We saved the bar and no one got hurt; that’s the most important thing.”