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Elko Depot: 1940

Elko Depot: 1940

March 1940. "Railroad station. Elko, Nevada." Medium format negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


Passing through

At one point, in the early 1950s, my Uncle Dick was a radio DJ in Elko. One of a number of unusual jobs he had trying to put his life back together after the war. He was a good guy.

Childhood Memories

If you followed those train tracks to the right for a mile or so, you'd be able to look over our back fence. When the big 2-8-8-2s came by the whole house would shake. My father made a set of steps so I could look over the fence at the trains.

I remember the hot dogs at the cafe at the Commercial Hotel, split, fried, and served on a hamburger bun. The drug store whose sign is partially obscured had a penny slot machine just inside the door, more fascinating for a little kid than any video game.

Other than that my main memories of Elko are of dust, heat, freezing cold in winter, and drunks passed out on the sidewalk. And the smell of the stockyards.

Southern Pacific

On the pole next to the station: Milepost 556 from San Francisco.

Think the roof sign says 1 mile to the airport west of town.

"An Outpost of Hell, or Texas"

In a railroad history book, possibly a work of Lucius Beebe, I read that an early rail traveler described Elko as "An outpost of Hell, or Texas." I'm sure that Elko did not really deserve that, nor did Texas.

It had something to do with a non-air-conditioned train making a lengthy stop to change cars under the Nevada sun. There's no breeze coming in through the windows when the cars are stationary!

Then again, if it was indeed a Lucius Beebe book, well, let's just say it was said of him that he never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Railroad & station gone

But the Nevada Bank Building remains. The Commercial Hotel is now the Commercial Casino.


The markings on the roof point to the airport (lefthand circle and line). Unpaved airstrips can be pretty difficult to spot.

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