Thursday, 6 August 2015

This Austin Ain't in Texas, Revised Version.

Austin, NV. Named for the other Austin in Texas, it was once a bustling metropolis of 10,000 people in its silver mining heyday. Like nearly every town in Nevada. Austin is now a village of 300 or so, about 100 miles from anywhere else.

Austin's great claim to fame in recent years is that Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear gang did part of a show here, driving through the nearby Reese River Valley at 700 mph. Really. A local bartender told us that after we had downed a few bottles of Icky. That's short for Ichthyosaurus IPA, brewed in Nevada and named for the state fossil. My, it is one tasty beer, "distinct, not extinct" and "highly evolved" as the label says.

Locals told us the Reese River spawned a local corporation. In the 1860's a group of enterprising fellows established the Reese River Navigation Company and sold stock to eastern rubes. The investors didn't know the river was only six feet wide. When it contained water, that is. Alas, the story seems to be a tall tale for the entertainment of today's rubes. It sure entertained us. Us being my son Alastair and I. We spent three nights in Austin as he made his way across Nevada's emptiness, the penultimate stage on his walk across America for a charity.

We were immensely fortunate to arrive in town on a day when Austin was having a Wine Walk and Dinner at Stokes' Castle as part of a sesquicentennial. The castle is actually a mock Italian tower. A railroad tycoon named Stokes built it on a hill above town, lived in it for a few months, then left. 

The castle was a bit of a disappointment but we enjoyed our meal and company. And the sunset from up there was one of the most gorgeous I've ever seen. Hat's off to Austin!


  1. What are those poles sticking out of the tower for?

    1. I believe they are there to help hold the building together. It is fenced off so we couldn't go in, probably because its likely to fall down your head! Not much of a castle, but a landmark for little Austin, can be seen for miles.

  2. The "poles" are actually small guage railroad rails that were put in place to carry the weight of porches/verandas. The tower was to be a tourist attraction but since it was already located on a promontory a "tower" two to three times as high wouldn't make much difference in the view. I stopped by here a few years back during my "explorations of Nevada.