Pioche (pronounced pee-oach) is the county seat of Lincoln County and is named after François Louis Alfred Pioche, a San Francisco financier and land speculator from France. The word pioche is French for pickaxe.
European settlement of the area began in 1864 with the opening of a silver mine. The settlers abandoned the area when local Indian tribes launched a series of raids and massacres. Recolonization was launched in 1868, after the Indian raids were stopped and François Pioche bought the town in 1869. By the early 1870s, Pioche had grown larger, to become one of the most important silver-mining towns in Nevada. Because of the town's remoteness which had earlier allowed the Indian raids to occur, Pioche had a reputation for being one of the roughest towns in the Old West.
Due mostly to confusion over the exact location of mining claims, mine owners resorted to hiring guards. In 1872, Tom and Ed Newland hired gunmen to takeover the very profitable mine owned by William H. Raymond and John Ely. They in turn hired four more men who during a raid in the middle of the night killed one of the guards and drove off the remainder. One of the four hired gunmen, Michael Casey, killed miner Tom Gossen after refusing to pay interest on a $100 loan. Before he died the next day, Gossen left a $5,000 reward to the man who killed Casey. Jim Leavy swore Casey had not shot Gossen in self-defense, and Casey challenged Leavy to get his gun. The two men met in front of Felsenthal's store. Leavy shot Casey and then beat him to death with his pistol. Leavy in turn was wounded by David Neagle, who shot Leavy through the cheeks, leaving him permanently disfigured.
It was reported that nearly 60 percent of the homicides reported in Nevada during 1871–72 took place in and around Pioche. Local lore says 72 men were killed in gunfights before the first natural death occurred in the camp. This legend is immortalized by the creation of Boot Hill, now a landmark in the city.
Pioche has a cool semi-arid climate bordering on a humid continental climate due to its high altitude and exposure to rain-bearing winds. The high elevation means summers are much cooler than in Clark County, with temperatures of 100 °F (37.8 °C) reached upon only one afternoon every five years. Although summers are mostly dry with mild nights, it is not unknown for “Arizona rains” to penetrate into Lincoln County during July and August.
The fall season sees warm days and cold nights: the freeze-free period usually extends from May 17 to October 10, although temperatures below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) are very rare even during winter. During the winter, days are cool to cold, and nights are very cold, although snowfall is extremely erratic.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The only viable method to get Pioche is to drive. The U.S. highway 93 comes from the Las Vegas area to the south and from Ely, Nevada to the north. A substantial drive through unpopulated desert is required so plan to have water and a full gas tank before heading out, especially during the summer.
The nearest airports are in Las Vegas or Salt Lake City.
The town is very small and mostly walkable for the downtown area. A personal car is required outside of the downtown area as there is no public transit.
- 1 Lincoln County Museum, 63 Main St, ☏ . free, but accepts donations.
- 2 Boot Hill Cemetery. This cemetery was created in the 1870s specifically for criminals of that era.
Pioche has several historic buildings.
- 3 Million Dollar Courthouse (Old Lincoln County Courthouse), 69 Lacour St. An old courthouse with a turbulent history. Its million dollar name comes from the final cost paid out in 1937 after years of overspending and mismanagement.
- 4 Old Mountain View Hotel. A hotel built in 1895, that apparently once hosted President Herbert Hoover in 1930.
- 5 Brown's Hall-Thompson's Opera House (Gem Theater).
- 1 Echo Canyon State Park, ☏ . $5/vehicle, boat launch $10.
- 2 Spring Valley State Park, ☏ . 24 hr. Parking $5/vehicle, boat launch $10, camping $15/night, camp and boat $20/night.
If you win...
Chances are that, if you win it big in Pioche and you are not a U.S. citizen your winnings will be subject to a 30% withholding tax from the Internal Revenue Service. That $10,000 slot winning can dwindle quite quickly if that is taken off the top. Not to worry though you can reclaim your gambling winnings tax through a 1042-S form. You should get this from the casino so don't lose it: it is your starting ticket to getting your gambling winnings back.
As with most Nevadan towns, Pioche offers a few gambling opportunities.
- 1 Gunslinger’s, 597 Main St, ☏ . 11AM-6PM, closed Su and W. Cafe no longer run by rockstar Kelly Garni, but it has a nice Western motif. A great place to stop for lunch.
- 2 Historic Silver Cafe, 673 Main St, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-8PM, Su Tu closed.
- Panaca – 12 mi (19 km) south of Pioche on the SR-321, US-93 (Great Basin Highway), then SR-319 is Panaca. Panaca is a Mormon settlement and one of two places in Nevada that forbids gambling (the other being Boulder City).
- Rachel – 108 mi (174 km) west of Pioche on the SR-321, US-93 (Great Basin Highway), then SR-375 (Extraterrestrial Highway) is the little village of Rachel. The town is notable for its proximity to Area 51 and the Nellis Air Force base.
- Ely – 108 mi (174 km) north of Pioche on the SR-321, US-93 (Great Basin Highway), then US-50 is the fellow ghost town Ely. The town has several museums, one of which focusses on its railway heritage.
|Routes through Pioche|
|Twin Falls ← Ely ←||N S||→ Panaca → Las Vegas|