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The Nevada Traveler: Winnemucca boasts a new walking tour book

By Richard Moreno
Built in 1906, this two-story wooden hotel escaped a fire that destroyed much of the area known as Upper Winnemucca in 1919 and is one of the many historic buildings still found in the community.
Photo by Richard Moreno

Many Nevada communities have found that visitors love to hear about a town’s history.

Winnemucca recently took it a step further by publishing a new walking tour book of the community that fills 108 pages in full color that provides background on 73 historic downtown properties.

Published by the North Central Nevada Historical Society, where the book can be obtained, the book offers photographs, historical information and maps showing where the various sites can be found.

Additionally, a digital version with much of the information found in the book can be found at http://www.historicwinnemucca.oncell.com/en/index.html.

Winnemucca started out as a trading post on the Humboldt River in the early 1860s. In 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad helped establish a settlement there, which was named Winnemucca in honor of a local Paiute leader.

The tour includes iconic local landmarks such as George Nixon’s First National Bank (352 Bridge St.), which was the site of Winnemucca’s most famous bank robbery. It’s generally believed that in September 1900, members of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch gang robbed the bank — although the crime was never solved.

Other downtown structures on the tour include:

• Winnemucca Grammar School (522 Lay St.), which was erected in 1889. The impressive two-story building was expanded over the years, including in 1912, when an auxiliary building was constructed for the high school grades (that structure was demolished in 1990). The main building still stands and remains in use.

• The C.B. Brown Co. (221 S. Bridge St.), a hardware and furniture store built in 1909 by Charles Benton Brown. It continues to be operated by his descendants.

• The Shone House, built in 1906. This quaint two-story wooden hotel escaped a disastrous fire that destroyed much of Upper Winnemucca in 1919.

• Humboldt County Courthouse (5th and Bridge streets), erected in 1921. The classical, pillared hall of justice was designed by noted Reno architect Frederick DeLongchamps.

• Winnemucca Fire House (5th and Bridge streets), which was completed in 1935. This sleek, streamlined structure — it has a very 1930s look — remains in use as the town’s firehouse.

• St. Paul’s Catholic Church (4th and Melarkey streets), constructed in 1924. This fabulous church boasts Old Spanish mission style architecture with Romanesque features.

• Staunton Building (140 S. Bridge St.), now known as Phillips Furniture, a portion of the building was built in 1878 by M.B. Staunton and housed his saddlery, harness, boot and shoe store.

• Site of the former Winnemucca Hotel (95 Bridge St.), which was long considered the oldest structure in the community. The original section of the hotel was built in 1866 and expanded over the years until 1915. For years, it was one of the state’s best-known Basque restaurants. Demolition of the structure, deemed unsafe, began in 2015, with crews taking precaution to salvage any historical materials.

In addition to the walking tour book and online guide, the North Central Nevada Historical Society operates the excellent Humboldt Museum, one of the best repositories of local history in the state. The museum includes several historic structures relocated to its grounds so they can be preserved including the former St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the former Greinstein Building and the Richardson-Saunders House.

For information about the museum, go to https://humboldtmuseum.org/.

Rich Moreno writes about the places and people that make Nevada special.