Warm Springs traces roots to former stagecoach stop
WARM SPRINGS, Nev. – Arguably the best thing you can say about Warm Springs is, it does have a natural warm spring. Unfortunately, not much else can be found in this former stagecoach stop in central Nevada that traces its roots to the mid-1860s.
The area’s natural hot springs, in fact, are what attracted people originally. Nevada historian Shawn Hall has written that the first non-American Indian folks to stop at the site were probably freight wagons and stagecoaches traveling between Eureka and Elko, attracted by the springs.
In about 1866, a small stone house was built adjacent to the bubbling hot springs. While this settlement didn’t amount to much more than a welcome rest stop for travelers passing through this remote part of the state, a general store and lodging house were erected near the end of the 19th century.
Apparently, this little way station managed to survive during the next couple of decades. In January 1924, Warm Springs gained a post office, and Ethel Allred was named postmaster of this tiny oasis.
That, however, served as the peak of Warm Springs’ civic development. Less than five years later, in June 1929, the post office was closed forever.
Since then, there have been a few short-lived developments in the area.
Sometime in the 1970s, a saloon, cafe, gas station and RV park opened near the old settlement site, but those businesses have been closed for a long time now.
Additionally, around that time someone constructed a nice, concrete swimming pool near the cafe. While the pool, surrounded by nice shade trees, still looks mighty inviting to anyone who stops, unfortunately it’s on private property, surrounded by a high, locked fence and no trespassing signs.
The actual Warm Springs spring can be seen a quarter of a mile uphill from the swimming pool. Scalding hot water pours from the ground into a manmade ditch that leads to the pool. Rivulets of hot water also trickle into marshy land around the pool.
The site of the former settlement of Warm Springs, a few yards away from the pool, contains a few ramshackle wooden buildings that appear to have once been part of the early 20th century incarnation of Warm Springs.
Additionally, you can find the tumbled-down walls of an old stone corral and piles of scrap wood and metal that may be the remains of the old store and lodging house.
Warm Springs is about 50 miles east of Tonopah on Highway 6, at the point where it intersects with State Route 375, the beginning of the so-called Extraterrestrial Highway.
About 60 miles southeast of Warm Springs via the E.T. Highway is Rachel, the self-proclaimed heart of Nevada’s UFO country.
Some residents of Rachel, which is home to the famous “Little Ale’E’ Inn” bar, cafe and motel as well as a gas station and convenience store, actually believe they’ve been visited by travelers from outer space.
Rachel borders a high-security military base, commonly known as Area 51, which is rumored to be where the government allegedly stashes recovered alien space ships and their passengers.
If you head directly east of Warm Springs on Highway 6 for about 34 miles you’ll reach the Lunar Crater Volcanic Field, a fascinating geological site.
Here, you can explore about a half dozen partially collapsed cinder cones, a large, black lava flow field and Lunar Crater, a three-quarter-mile wide depression created thousands of years ago after underground water came in contact with hot magma and caused a massive explosion.
– Richard Moreno is author of “Backyard Travels in Northern Nevada” and “The Roadside History of Nevada,” available at local bookstores.