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You might just fall in love with this town’s history, events, and community—then you can lock that feeling.
Photo: PR (Pershing County Courthouse); Charlie Johnston (lock)
You can hardly blame Elaine Pommerening for putting a little bit more pressure on herself than the typical citizen of Lovelock.
Every bit of time she’s contributed over the years to promote the town or help organize an event has been with an extraordinary sense of pride—not everyone can say George Lovelock, the town’s founder, is their great-great grandfather. “I feel kind of responsible,” says Pommerening, in reference to the town’s general well being. “I would hate to see it become a ghost town.”
While that may be a healthy fear in Nevada, a quick conversation with any Lovelock resident paints a picture of a community that is as strong and stable as ever. “It’s a peaceful little town,” says Pommerening, 67, who moved to Lovelock in the early 1960s. “It has a low crime rate, and it’s set up nice with a main street and courthouse.”
Pat Rowe, Pommerening’s sister, also moved to Lovelock in the 1960s. “I just like the small-town atmosphere,” Rowe, who taught in Lovelock schools for 43 years, says. “It’s a good place to raise kids. People are protective of each other.”
Like many Nevada towns, Lovelock came to be because of the advent of the railroad. When builders of the Central Pacific Railroad reached what is now Lovelock in August 1868, they made a deal with George Lovelock for 85 acres of land and honored the Wales native by naming the town for him.
Today, visitors can enjoy a down-home meal at Ricardo’s BBQ inside the restored Railroad Depot dating to 1880. Although you probably won’t have time to visit the other 29 sites listed in the Lovelock Historic Buildings Tour brochure, there are a couple gems that are musts on any Lovelock itinerary.
Most tour guides would start with the Pershing County Courthouse, designed by influential Nevada architect Frederick J. DeLongchamps. Built in 1920, a year after Pershing County was sworn in, the building is renowned nationwide for its distinct round design, DeLongchamps’ tribute to the Pantheon in Rome.
The courthouse mostly honors county history—check out the period furnishings on the second floor—but it’s still the site of county commission meetings. Visitors can symbolically lock their love on a “never-ending” chain behind the courthouse. Lovelock adopted the ancient Chinese custom in 2006 and has made it a Valentine’s Day tradition that includes the accompanying (hot-air) Balloon Lovers Aloft Races.
Lesser known than the courthouse, but equally intriguing, is the Marzen House Museum at the southern end of town. Owned at one time by Colonel Joseph Marzen and built in 1874, the Italianate farmhouse was transported from Big Meadow Ranch in the 1980s. An assay office, farm machinery sheds, and buildings housing vintage automobiles surround the restored home, which contains 1800s furnishing and a museum shedding light on the area’s history.
One can also visit the site of the former home of silent-movie star Edna Purviance, who often co-starred with Charlie Chaplin. Purviance lived in a hotel in town with her sister and mother and graduated in 1913 from Lovelock High School before getting her acting break.
Historic homes—including the Rowe House—businesses, churches, and an old-time saloon are among the remaining tour sites. If you find yourself missing the slots, Sturgeon’s Inn and Casino has you covered, including a restaurant that serves steak and prime-rib dinners for less than $20.
Twenty miles south of Lovelock, but easily accessible, are the Lovelock Caves, an archaeological site that has yielded 2,000-year-old tule duck decoys and other American Indian artifacts.
Also outside the city limits are Lovelock Speedway (racing begins in April), Rye Patch State Recreation Area (camping, fishing, hunting, and boating), Tufa rock formations (remnants from ancient Lake Lahontan), and the friendly “living ghost town” of Unionville (home of The Old Pioneer Garden Bed & Breakfast).
Much like other small towns in Nevada, the community rallies around its annual events. Pommerening and Rowe were instrumental in pioneering the popular Frontier Days, an Old-West summer celebration with a parade, booths, and children’s games. Whether it’s the I.D.E.S. Portuguese Festa (May), Lovelock Street Fever Car Club Show & Shine (June), Ranch Hand Rodeo (June), Community Freedom Walk (September), or Crab Feed (February), the events are as varied as they are plentiful.
In fact, if you ponder the lengthy list of activities available in Lovelock, you might think the small town off Interstate-80 is a big city. You couldn’t be more wrong, and therein lies the beauty. Kirsten Hertz, who worked for the chamber of commerce for five years, sums it up nicely. “It’s close enough to Reno-Tahoe to enjoy the amenities, but with a kicked-back lifestyle,” she says.
MEET NEVADA MAGAZINE
On June 5-6, we will meet and greet visitors and Lovelock citizens at Lovelock Street Fever. We invite you to visit our booth.
TOUR AROUND NEVADA
*Nevada Magazine is proud to partner with Virginia City etching company Botcha-Caloop’s in the production of the Tour Around Nevada plaque.
Greater Pershing Partnership
P.O. Box 821
350 Main St.
Lovelock, NV 89419
WORTH A CLICK