Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Our Amtrak Destination: Elko, Nevada

Our destination: Elko, Nevada

Elko, Nevada is where our daughter and son-in-law currently live. Through visits to Elko in summer 2005 and now in fall 2006, we have come to really enjoy this town. It has a lot to offer tourists and townsfolk alike. When most people hear we are going to visit Nevada, the first thing they think of is gambling. (That's the last thing we think of!) There is so much more to Nevada than gambling! I thought others might enjoy reading a little bit about Elko and some of our favorite places there.

An article a few years back in National Geographic presented Elko as a rather gritty town with many questionable elements. The casual reader might have looked at this article and reached the conclusion that it wouldn't be an interesting or even a safe place to visit. We haven't found that to be true at all.

Elko is located in the northeastern corner of Nevada. It is situated on the Humboldt River and is halfway between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Reno, Nevada. Elko's elevation is 5, 060 feet and is considered high desert. It doesn't get quite as cold in winter as here in New England, but Elko gets its share of snow and ice. We found summer there to be very hot, but it doesn't feel as hot as New England because there is no humidity. Fall in the high desert is absolutely beautiful and the temperatures are mild.

One of the most interesting things about Elko is the people who live there. Some of our country's largest cattle ranches are in northeastern Nevada, so you will see cowboys. There are also Shoshone Indians, Hispanic folks (many of whom originally came to the area as vaqueros) and Basques who originally came here as sheepherders. In addition, of course, there are people from all over the world who've come, through the years, to work as cowboys , on the railroad, or in the mines. We've found the people of Elko to be very friendly, hospitable, and welcoming.

I must hasten to add that my puny little thoughts are in no way to be taken as a truly in-depth picture of the people or the city of Elko. These are just my own impressions and are very much on-the-surface ones. I am sure there is much, much more to this city and its people for one to learn in a longer time span than what we have had.

One of the first things we did on our 2005 trip was to take a walking tour of Elko. It was really neat to see the oldest buildings in the town. It was very much a reminder of the newness of the West in comparison with New England. The oldest home in Elko was built in 1869. By contrast, our town back home was incorporated in the 1760s!

Next I want to list a few of our favorite places in Elko so far. We look forward to revisiting these in the coming years, and also look forward to finding some new favorites. These are in no particular order -- they are all just places we have visited and enjoyed. Obviously, there are many other interesting places that we haven't visited yet. Some of these have websites, so do visit those for more information.

The Northeastern Nevada Museum -- This museum has many fascinating displays on gold mining, Old West life and history, the Basques and Chinese who came here, a rebuilt Pony Express cabin, and much,much more. Bing Crosby owned a ranch near Elko, so there was even an exhibit about that. The museum's Wanamaker Wildlife Wing is also very interesting, with its many displays of all sorts of wild animals in natural settings. (www.museum_elko.us)

Sherman Station Visitor's Center -- An easy walk from the museum, this unique visitors' center is composed of an old ranch house and outbuildings which were moved to this in-town site from Huntington Valley, NV. Sherman Station is definitely worth a visit. The outbuildings include a stable, the blacksmith shop, the creamery, and a one-room schoolhouse. (www.elkonevada.com)

Western Folklife Center -- We love this place! It's located in the historic Pioneer Hotel and is "dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the traditional cultures of the American West." When we visited in 2005 we thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating exhibit "From Vaquero to Buckaroo". The Western Folklife Center has a wonderful gift shop where we always find great things to take to family and friends back east. (www.westernfolklife.org)

J.M. Capriola -- This wonderful store features Western clothing and accessories. It boasts over 70 years' experience in saddle and leather crafting. It is also the home of the famous J.S. Garcia bits and spurs. If you go upstairs in this store, you are likely to find a saddle being made -- a fascinating process to observe. (www.capriolas.com)

Anacabe Elko General Merchandise -- Another wonderfully old-fashioned store. We found some great souvenirs, postcards and note cards here, as well as a very friendly welcome, on our first visit. This time, they were closed on the afternoon we chose to stop by.

Cherished Friends -- This store sells probably the best selection of scrapbooking supplies I've ever seen in one shop. As well, it has a wonderful selection of cards, and gifts in all price ranges. I always find things here to bring back to friends and family. (www.cherishedfriendsgifts.com)

Cucina Fresca -- The kitchen store to end all kitchen stores. Nice kitchenware and gourmet items, all displayed so attractively. A perfect place to buy gifts -- but I always see things I want for my own kitchen, as well.

Hayley's Fine Gifts & Antiques -- A beautifully arranged shop. It makes me think of being in the pages of a really fun catalog, like Gooseberry Patch or Tender Heart Treasures. I always find special, different gifts here. And it smells so nice!

I also enjoy being able to visit "Western" supermarkets, in particular Raley's and Albertson's.

Sierra Java -- A very nice coffee shop. It has a wonderfully informal, cozy atmosphere and features art by local artists on a rotating basis. When we visited this time, a members of a quilt group were enjoying coffee as they hand-stitched on projects. (www.sierrajava.com)

Machi's -- A unique restaurant, legendary for its variety of soups, sandwiches and salads. My daughter took me out to lunch here on our first visit, and I've been trying to figure out the secret of their 2-bean salad with French chutney ever since.

The Coffee Mug restaurant -- We had a wonderful breakfast here. The prices are great and the food delicious. Mr. T. enjoyed the "Sink Omelet" which contains "everything but the kitchen sink"!

Bil-Toki -- A Basque dinner house. This meal was so unique and the experience so fascinating, I'm going to do an entire post just about this meal.

The Star Hotel -- another Basque restaurant. We enjoyed the steak sandwiches, a specialty here.

The Great American Grill at the Hilton Garden Inn -- This is my son-in-law's favorite restaurant in Elko. After our visit there, I can see why. The food is very good and the atmosphere quiet and relaxing. We will definitely eat there again.

Well, this post has gone on long enough. These places I've mentioned are all right in Elko, but if you venture outside the city limits you will find many other fascinating places to visit, many of them in the great outdoors. The natural beauty here is astounding. On a hike in Lamoille Canyon last year, I remember just sitting on a rock and feeling as if I had stepped into the pages of Country magazine. The scenery is simply breathtaking. The Ruby Mountains have been described as "Nevada's Alps". If you ever get the chance to visit Elko, and have time to get out into the outdoors as well as to enjoy the wonderful shops and restaurants, I'm sure you'll enjoy this unique place as much as we do.


  1. Anonymous6:45 PM

    I was wondering how far west you came and it is funny that Elko was on the news the other night. I think it was about elections? I just remember the name..I am so bad. I have enjoyed this little trip with you right here at my desk. Thank you for sharing it. You are so good with details and I like that when I read your posts.
    Blessings, Patty

  2. Hi Patty,

    Yes, isn't it funny that Elko was in the news the other night. President Bush was speaking there, that's what it was about. We don't have a TV, but I heard it on the radio. Kept thinking I would look up more about it on the Internet news, but never did! I think he was speaking at the airport.

    Glad you've enjoyed this little trip. There is so much more I could have shared... but I don't want to bore people. I hope to share the remaining installments of our Amtrak adventure soon. Stay tuned!

    Oh, and I loved your Corrie Ten Boom quote about the train in the tunnel. It really spoke to me!

    God bless.
    Mrs. T

  3. Hello,
    I just googled Cucina Fresca and found your wonderful site. I live in Elko and have for many years. It is so nice to see a visitor who enjoys our little town. I hope that when you visited you were able to get out to the town of Lamoille and see the wonderful antique shop Mike and Marsh Davis own it is so cute.
    You should try to plan a visit during one of our wonderful small town festivals like Cowboy Poetry or the 4th of July Basque Festival or even the Christmas Festival of Trees. Everyone in town has such fun at these things and you really get a taste of the locals when you join in.
    Thanks for painting Elko in such a pretty light. It is always nice to find folks who enjoy our area.

  4. Hi Annette,

    Thanks for commenting! It is neat that you found my blog by googling Cucina Fresca. What a neat store that is!

    Yes, last year we were in Elko for the Basque Festival and really enjoyed it. We loved the 4th of July fireworks as well. We did in fact get out to Lamoille and visited the very shop you mentioned! I bought some lovely vintage embroidered dish towels there.

    It was so nice to have you visit my kitchen table. Please stop in again!

    God bless,


Thanks so much for stopping by to visit my kitchen table! I love company here in my kitchen, so be sure to leave a comment so I'll know you've visited! I'll answer your questions and comments here on the blog unless you request otherwise.