Need to get away for a few days? Decompress from that city living? Maybe just a change of scenery? Eureka is your ticket. Located in the center of the state, it’s just a few hours drive from most places.
Eureka is a photogenic remnant of the 19th century Nevada mining booms. It is the seat of Eureka County and while mining was active at the Ruby Hill Mine west of the city until several years ago, it is mining far to the north that makes the county so prosperous. It is mostly sunny here, even in winter. Crime is mostly unheard of. People are friendly here if you are, but it you prefer anonymity, Eureka will let you have your way.
US 50 runs north/south through Eureka and was once the Pony Express Trail, and the country around Eureka harks back to earlier times. This is hunting and fishing country and ATV heaven. A network of well-maintained dirt roads leads you to forgotten mines, abandoned homesteads and exquisite views. Wild horses roam across the valleys and mountain ranges, and you will see wildlife in abundance.
What to do in Eureka:
- Opera House
- Year-Round Swimming Pool
What to do around Eureka:
- Hiking & Camping
- Hot Springs
- Ghost Towns
- Mining Camps
- Year-Round Events
Eureka is a good walking town. You can confine your walk to flat areas in town. Main Street and along the creek that runs through town. Spring Street, on the far eastern edge is scenic with the old homes, some restored, some in sad decline, a visually satisfying walk. Or try something a bit more rigorous by exploring the west side of town.
And for something more demanding, hike up to Ruby Hill Mining. Lots of old mining buildings and a great view of the town and Diamond Valley.
Belmont Mill and Hamilton
If you are up for some out-of-town exploration, a trip to the Belmont Mill and the ghost town of Hamilton is well worth it. Hamilton was a town of 10,000 people living high in the clouds at 8,000 feet. Read about it in this piece by David Toll, which won a Nevada Press Association award in 2015 for Best Online Writing. Go on a sunny day. The views are spectacular.
There are a number of vacant buildings in downtown Eureka. The Alpine Lodge on the west side of the highway is probably the most obvious. Dating from the 1880’s, it housed commercial enterprises below and lodging rooms on the second floor. In 1946 it was acquired by Lee and Blanche Olinger and they combined it with some adjacent buildings. There were 50 lodging rooms and a manager’s suite above, and a bar below. Lee died in 1966 and two years later Blanche was murdered in a botched robbery at the bar. The murder is unsolved today.
The building has stood empty for many years. We were able to tour the building about 10 years ago. It was pretty much in disarray, but inviting at the same time for its pure explorability. Some rooms are in better shape than others.
We were struck by the wallpaper, some of it still in good condition. A different pattern in every room. One can imagine Blanche paging through the wallpaper catalog and picking out patterns. Check out some of her selections in this slide show: https://youtu.be/d5skF0013dc
Eureka Restoration Enterprise (ERE): Restoration through Innovation
When Raines Market downtown made plans to move north of town and take the Nevada State Bank with it, it looked like there would be more vacant buildings on Main Street. It was this bleak vision of Eureka’s immediate future that prompted a group of local citizens to form the Eureka Restoration Enterprise, its mission: to help maintain a pulse at the heart of the historic town. The organization has 501(c)3 status with the IRS and has restored a number of buildings that would have remained vacant otherwise. They include:
The building at 180 North Main Street dates from 1877 when it housed the Eureka Billiard Hall Saloon. In the 1940’s it was a grocery store and when that closed, the building remained empty, until the current owner made the property available to ERE. 180, as the building is now known, opened in 2017. It has been restored and is a fine gift shop specializing in art, crafts, and books from Nevada. It’s a nonprofit with proceeds funding other restoration projects. Certainly worth a look.
Nevada State Bank Building
This building on the east side of Main Street dates from the early 1870’s, housing many different businesses: a livery stable, a saloon, chop house, a brewery, and finally a bank which it remained until the bank moved north. The ERE worked with Ely’s Economy Drug to open a branch in Eureka. The building was remodeled to maintain its historic features and now houses a coffee shop, The Eureka Depot, and a community room.
Eureka Depot is maybe the most welcoming place in the friendliest town on the loneliest road in America. Help yourself to WIFI, recharging outlets, workspace and comfortable seating. In addition to the creative fresh breakfast and lunch baked goods and sandwiches, there are a number of specialty coffees, teas and smoothies. These specialty drinks are surprisingly good.
There are three murals in town that the ERE initiated. One is a tribute to mining with a charcoal oven motif. There’s also a silhouette of a cowboy based on a fifth-generation Eurekan. And the most recent commemorates sheep ranching. They are all along Main Street. You can read more about it here: https://nevadagram.com/eureka-correspondence-january-2017/
There are many historic buildings and homes in Eureka. You can pick up a walking tour map with buildings and accompanying history at most places in town. Some of the restored buildings open to the public include:
Opera House: (1880) It’s thoroughly restored and quite magnificent. There is a small permanent art collection in the basement that was curated by the late art collector and Nevada treasure, Wally Cuchine. If you’re a Nevada art connoisseur, be sure to stop by.
Courthouse: (1879) The courthouse is worth a look. Built from locally fired brick and sandstone from a nearby quarry it has been described as “a fine example of boomtown Victorian opulence”. Ask when you go into the Courthouse if you can look around. They are friendly. If court is not in session, take a look at the courtroom.
Sentinel Museum: A small but gratifying historic collection with a good bookstore focusing on all aspects of Nevada and Eureka. The pressroom has been preserved from the day the last issue was printed and the doors were shut.
Eureka Nevada Shoppe and Tourist Information: 85 North Main Street. A good place to stop for local maps, information and history.
Raines Market has a nice online self-guiding tour with lots of historic photos. And there is a good taxidermy collection in the store.
Places to eat: There are a number to choose from:
The Owl Club: Been here for a long time and owned and operated by the Carrion Family. Full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
Clementine’s Steak House: “Ranch style home cooking”
Urban Cowboy Bar and Gill: I had good shrimp scampi linguini.
EZ Stop: Good convenience store with hot food. The chorizo burrito was homemade and very good. Rumor says there may be Indian food in the future so be sure to ask.
Raines Market: Full grocery store with a Deli and hot food.
Cuada’s: Italian and Wine: Ralph says he’ll be opening on Tuesday, but not which Tuesday. But once it opens, it will be with fanfare.
Eureka Senior Center: Lunch: M-Th 12:00. Breakfast: Friday 9:00. Open to all for small fee.
Places to stay:
Heritage House Vacation Rental 775-318-0958
Eureka Gold Country Inn, by Best Western 775-237-5247 (www.eurekagoldnv.com)
The Jackson House 775-237-5247 (www.eurekagoldnv.com)
Sundown Lodge 775-237-5334 (www.sundownlodgemotel.com)
The Colonnade Vacation Rental (Airbnb.com)
Silver Sky Lodge and RV Park (775-237-5034)
Enjoy your visit to Eureka!
It’s a friendly town with lots to see and events throughout the year.