Austin, Nevada
A Rock Hound's Haven

Are you interested in Rocks and Minerals?  Austin, the Unofficial Turquoise Capital of Nevada, has a lot to offer......

Prior to 1862, central Nevada was a little explored and remote territory.  All that changed when in May of 1862 William H. Talcott was exploring the hills a few miles east of the Overland stage station at Jacobsville.  Talcott discovered some Quartz veins and collected a few samples which were eventually sent to Virginia City to be assayed.  The result showed that the veins were extremely rich in silver and a huge rush to the site began later that year. A small area in Pony Canyon contained the richest veins, and the city established there was named Austin.  By September of 1863, Austin had a population of over 6000 people and including three banks, 360 houses, a large number of squatter tents, five clergymen, 12 doctors, 33 lawyers and several public and private schools. The town served as the county seat of Lander County for many decades.  

During the big silver rush, over 6000 claims were staked on the surrounding hills, and the mines began to produce some extremely rich silver ore containing up to 1000 ounces per ton. The veins were very narrow, and the ores sometimes hard to process, but between 1862 and 1887 roughly $20 million worth of silver was produced in the Austin area. Large scale mining ended around 1911.

The Austin of today is a quiet rural community of about 300 residents, with many historic buildings from the flush times of old. Although the silver mines have closed, Austin has remained a center of activity since the early days, providing gas, food and respite to travelers passing through on Highway 50. Austin's location is central as its is roughly in the geographic center of Nevada. Nestled high the Toiyabe Mountain Range, it is situated in a in a mountain canyon that stays cool even in the heat of the summer. Tourism and recreation have become the chief focal points of the town's business. Large ranches still operate in the valleys to the east and west.

With more turquoise shops than gas stations, the old silver mining town of Austin has become the center of turquoise mining in the State of Nevada. It sits smack in the middle of a region where turquoise mines abound – in fact turquoise can be found within a few dozen miles in almost all directions. As a result, this quiet Nevada town that once rang out with the crash of silver mills and the roar of the miner’s dynamite blasts from deep within the earth, now offers a quiet rest spot and a chance to sample and learn more about the beauty of Nevada turquoise. The fine jewelry and spectacular turquoise gems in the local shops here have made Austin the place to pick up that special souvenir of high quality natural Nevada gem turquoise jewelry. Much of the jewelry is made right in town, and while most of the turquoise jewelry is fashioned with silver, some very high quality pieces are made in 14k gold. Even though the surrounding turquoise mines are not generally open to the public, fine examples of turquoise from all the mines can be viewed at the turquoise shops in town, and the shop owners are happy to answer questions on the local gems. Some of the shops actually have their own turquoise mines that provide the bulk of their stock.

Colorful agates and petrified wood are also found in the general area at certain locations around Austin, including a beautiful blue chalcedony which can be found in the Mt. Airy Summit area west of town. Taken together with the turquoise, this makes Austin a real rock hound’s haven.

With hotels, RV parks and restaurants, its location on Highway 50 also makes Austin a fine point for anyone interested in exploring the history of the old West and the rustic beauty of the central part of the state. It's the perfect place to get away from it all, a quiet spot well worth the time to stop and enjoy a visit to the area.



Want to know a little bit more about this crazy prospector guy? Well, here's a little bit more about me, and how I got into prospecting: Chris' Prospecting Story  

Nevada Turquoise, Tanzanite and Tourmaline Jewelry

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