For a 20-year period prior to 1900 the mining in Nevada fell into a slump that cast the entire state into a bleak depression and caused the loss of a third of the population.
The picture brightened overnight following the spectacular strikes in Tonopah and, shortly afterwards, in Goldfield. Gold ore was discovered here in December 1902 by two Nevada-born prospectors, Harry Stimler and Billy Marsh. From 1904 to 1918 Goldfield boomed furiously. The city had a railroad that connected into Las Vegas and a peak population of 20,000. Between 1903 – 40 a total of $86,765,044 in metals was produced here.
Constructed as a Union Pacific railroad depot in 1923, this mission revival structure was designed by well-known Los Angeles architects, John and Donald Parkinson. The depot represents an imposing example of mission revival design. Much of its interior was made of solid oak, and the total cost was more than $80,000. The depot replaced a former structure which burned on September 9, 1921. This newer facility included a restaurant and fifty-room hotel for some years. The structure has served Caliente as a civic center and is the location of city government offices.
A large Neo-Mission type depot built in 1923, serving not only as Division Offices of the Union Pacific Railroad, but also as a hotel as well as a civic Center. Today it remains the most imposing structure in Caliente. The City of Caliente has taken it over in order to prevent its destruction In order to justify its cost, a City Hall complex and civic center is being constructed within the building. The exterior of the building is being left in its original form. Wherever possible the original wood, etc. is being left in the interior.
Caliente was founded by a railroad whose operations were based on steam motive power. It became U.P.’s best equipped steam facility between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. For many years Caliente was a division point between Las Vegas and Milford, Utah. Engine and trail crews changed here. in the days of steam locomotives, Caliente also was the center of a helper district – the terminal for locomotives and crews that assisted trails upgrade between Carp and Caliente, Caliente and Crestline, and Modena and Crestline. During World War II, 17 helper crews were assigned here and about 150 were employed in the locomotive, car, and agents departments.
The interior has extensive oak paneling, ornate doors, vaulted ceilings, and tile floors. The City is retaining all original paneling and tile and interior changes are being kept to a minimum.
Located at 100 Depot Avenue in Caliente, Nevada and added to the National Register of Historic Places (#74001146) March 5, 1974.
The building is 54 feet by 341 feet (18,414 sq. ft.), white, with a red tile roof. Railroad tracks immediately adjacent to the depot have been removed and the City plans to landscape a portion of the 2.2 acres now under lease. A few years ago the rows of Lombardy poplars in the lawn on the south end of the building were cut.
The architectural style, generally known as the Mission Revival or the neo-Mission was used on the Union Pacific stations between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The Caliente depot is the only station of its type left in Nevada It was designed by the Los Angeles firm of John and Donald Parkinson, Architects. They also designed the Los Angeles depot. A styling note is the full arched openings on the lower floor, with a rectangular pattern around all openings on the second floor. Wrought iron guard rails protect upstairs door openings (fire escapes).
The second floor was originally used as a hotel for the overnight accommodation of train travelers and railroad officers. A separate adjacent dormitory (now removed) served layover train crews in the last years of the Age of Steam. The second floor facilities have been removed and there are no current plans for the use of the area although access has been maintained.
“Following the war Caliente’s importance as a railroad center began to decline. The diesel locomotives, which replaced the steam engines in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, could be run in multiples with one crew eliminating the need for helpers, nor did they require fuel, water, and servicing as frequently. Forces and facilities were gradually reduced as diesel power gained prominence.
Shop facilities were moved to Las Vegas in 1948. The roundhouse, water tank, and excess yard tracks were removed and the depot turned over to the City of Caliente on a long-term lease (10 years for $1) in 1970.” – Allen Krieg, Union Pacific Railroad
Caliente was first settled as a ranch, furnishing hay for the mining camps of Pioche and Delmar. In 1901, the famous Harriman-Clark right-of-way battle was ended when rancher Charles Culverwell, with the aid of a broad-gauge shotgun, allowed one railroad grade to be built through his lush meadows. Harriman and Clark had been battling eleven years, building side-by-side grades ignoring court orders and federal marshals.
The population boom began with an influx of railroad workers, most of them immigrants from Austria, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire. A tent city was settled in August 1903.
With the completion of the Los Angeles, San Pedro, and Salt Lake Railroad in 1905, Caliente became a division point. Beginning in 1906, the Caliente and Pioche Railroad (now the Union Pacific) was built between Pioche and the main line at Caliente. The large Mission Revival-style depot was built in 1923, serving as a civic center, as well as a hotel.
This is Nevada State Historical Marker #55, located in Caliente, Nevada. See others on this page:
Schellbourne was a mail station and town, located approximately four miles east of this marker in Stage Canyon, nestled in the Schell Creek mountain range. The Pony Express established a mail station and corral there in 1860, providing mail service to the region until 1861, when the Overland Stage company took over the route. A small military post known as Fort Schellbourne joined the station until 1862, protecting the stage line during the conflicts between whites and the Newe (Goshute and Western Shoshone) Indians.
Prospectors discovered silver ore in the mountains immediately to the east of Schellbourne in the early 1870s, and created the Aurum Mining District in 1871. An active mining camp developed with a population of over 500 people. By 1885, the ore had been mostly depleted, with other mining towns like Cherry Creek drawing residents away. The district and adjacent valley were acquired by Uncle Billy” and Eliza Burke as a ranch and hotel. Schellbourne has subsequently operated as the headquarters for various ranches since that time.