Copyright Barbara Powell. All rights reserved.


Looking Back August 2014, September 2014, October 2014, November 2014

​Austin about 1900, The Nevada Hotel soda fountain, The Shrine Circus train, Main Street Austin Nevada

​Austin about 1900

August, 2014

​     When this picture was taken, the Nevada Central Railroad had a regular service between Battle Mountain and Austin. And it was still the most efficient way to reach the town. Wagon roads were  bad and not maintained beyond absolute necessity

   Something like the town.  Streets pretty much straggled in any direction.  Austin's exuberance refusing to be contained in a grid.  There was a water system and good schools put in during the boom  Kept up since then as necessity and a matter of civic pride.  But the town had slowed down.  In the 1860s its population reached around 6000 souls.  By the 1900 census that number had dropped to a  little over 1500 and that included all of Lander County!  Fortunately the residents of Austin paid little attention to census numbers.  They continued to work mining, ranching, and providing other services to their community.  They lived their lives, and through all that living kept their town alive.

The Nevada Hotel soda fountain

​September, 2014

     Life has changed a lot in Nevada since this picture was taken, one thing has not. Young people need a place to meet.  In 1939 Battle Mountain the Nevada Hotel soda fountain with its Brown's Ice Cream and Coca Cola was the place.

     No drive throughs.  Customers young or old either sat on a stool at the counter or in a booth. There they were served with the most amazing ice cream concoctions.  Made not with the ice milk/custard base the current fast food chains use but with real ice cream topped with real whipped cream.

     The fountain served more than ice cream, it also had a full array of sodas and other treats.  This variety insured that even in the cash strapped end of the Great Depression a young man could buy his girl a treat.  That combined with good service made it a perfect meeting place for dating young people and anyone else who wanted to visit a friend over a really good milkshake.     

The Shrine Circus Train

October, 2014

     This was an annual event in Northern Nevada during the fifties, the arrival of the  Shrine Circus Train.  Made up of several passenger cars and traveling on the Western Pacific, it gathered up children across the northern tier of the State and took them to Reno for the circus.

     Just riding on the train was an adventure!  For most of us, it was our first experience of traveling on the railroad.  We traveled across the Black Rock to the Reno Junction west of Gerlach.  When we reached Reno we left the train on a siding and walked to the University of Nevada stadium where the circus was held.

     I remember something of that circus, it was the first one I ever attended. I remember a lot more about the train, the good neighbors who acted as chaperones, and the kindness of the Shriners who organized the whole thing!  One of these kind souls is in this photo.  Gene Backus is standing with his hand on the train.  Thank you, Gene!  Thank you, Shriners!

Main Street, Austin Nevada


     This street would not have been easy to navigate at the best of times!  I admire the intrepid cyclist on the right.  He not only has a pretty steep grade to climb but an amazingly rough and unmaintained street!

     Not uncommon for the time.  Horse and wagons could manage the uneven surface just fine.  It'd be a few years before automobiles were common enough that the streets were improved to meet their needs.  In the meantime washouts were filled in, if they were large enough.  The rest was left to nature and  traffic.

     The gentlemen in the center of the picture?  Unknown.  They let the photographer, W.W. Fisk take their picture.  After he developed it, he added the photo to the family album.  Unfortunately, he did not add their names.  His caption did identify the street.  So we know where the photo was taken but can only speculate about the people!