The last reminder of a railroad boomtown
Appeal Staff Writer
WABUSKA – The small, wire-bound notebook rests inconspicuously in an out-of-the-way corner at Linda’s Old Wabuska Bar. That is, until new patrons walk in – then the book appears alongside their drink, with a request for it to be signed.
Looking through the pages of the guestbook reveals names from as close as Yerington to as far away as New Zealand and Puerto Rico.
“Yep, we get them from all over,” said owner Linda Miller. “That’s one of the things we love about this place, it keeps you guessing and you never know who will stop by out here.”
The bar, nestled next to the railroad tracks about 20 miles south of the intersection of highways 50 East and 95A, is the last reminder of where a bustling railroad town once stood.
The community started as an settlement in Mason Valley in the 1870s, and became a town with the establishment of a post office in 1874. The name is a Washoe word meaning “white grass.”
What is now the bar, built in 1881, started as a general store on the tracks of the Carson & Colorado Railroad. In 1900, the railroad was purchased by Southern Pacific, and the tracks were standardized.
Even as the town slowly died around it, the bar remained open, until the only reminder of the town was the bar and the tracks.
The bar was purchased in 1937 by Albert and Mary Veil, who ran it for almost 50 years. Miller purchased it five years ago.
Throughout the building, there are reminders of its history. A old-style safe sits in the corner, an upright piano rests next to the bar, and the nickel-plated cash register still rings up sales.
The walls behind the bar are brimming with $1 and $5 bills scrawled with the names of those who donated them. The bills have been added to the decor for more than three years.
“I told my husband that I’d never let people put their money up there, and it was taken as a challenge,” Miller said.
Aside from the bar itself, the building also has four motel rooms for rent and a swimming pool. Currently, all four rooms are occupied.
The railroad tracks are still there, and several times a week the train still rumbles by.
“It still comes through a couple times a week for the dairy and goes to Hawthorne about once every month. Every time it comes, we spin the wheel, and whoever is sitting in the seat that comes up gets a free drink,” Miller said.
The bar also offers the Shake of the Day. For $1, patrons can roll five dice, hoping for five-of-a-kind to win the pot, which now stands at just over $100 and has gotten as high as $700.
Miller, who lives in a house behind the bar with her husband, Edmund, said she enjoys the relative quiet that comes with being one of the few residents of Wabuska.
“We enjoy it,” Miller said. “In the wintertime, you can sit at the bar and see the snow on the mountains without actually having to be there.”
She said she plans to stay there, ready with cold drink and a pen – ready for the guestbook’s latest addition.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.