Battle Mountain, Nevada

Battle Mountain: Home of the historic newspaper
The Central Nevadan! 

main sign

sketch map

1914, Sketch map of SE part of Battle Mountains

1885 Map UNR

1885, Sanborn Map, Battle Mountain

lumber unlv

1930s, Slide of Main Street, Battle Mountain

early 1900s mines unr

1900-1920 Hilltop Mines near Battle Mountain

1930s UNR

1930s, Central Business District

1944 BM UNR

1944, Battle Mountain

The Central Nevadan

The Battle Mountain mining district was organized in 1866 after the discovery of copper in the north of Lander County, following the rush to the Reese River area in the south of the county where Austin was booming. The name Battle Mountain was said to commemorate a battle between white settlers who had detoured from the established Humboldt River trail and were set upon by a war band of the native tribes (Western Shoshone and Northern Paiutes) in 1857, but this story is almost certainly apocryphal, there being no actual evidence of any such “battle” having taken place. It may simply commemorate the endemic tensions between white settlers and the local tribes. A number of small camps sprung up in the district and when the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad reached the area in 1868 it established a station at Argenta, but after a few months the railroad moved its station closer to the Reese River and laid out a new townsite. The new town of Battle Mountain became the rail head for the surrounding mining district, and its position as a regional entrepôt was strengthened in 1880 when the Nevada Central Railroad completed its line from Austin to Battle Mountain to connect the silver mines in the Austin District with the Central Pacific’s main line.

The first paper in Battle Mountain was the Measure for Measure [LCCN: sn86076252] published by the eccentric and vitriolic newspaperman William J. Forbes in 1873, and which died with its publisher in 1875. Two more papers followed, the Battle Mountain Messenger [LCCN: sn86076250, sn86076251] and its rival the Lander Free Press [LCCN: sn86076371] both succumbing by 1884 to the general depression in silver mining.

In 1885, in answer to public demand and promises of support, veteran newspaperman John H. Dennis, former owner of the Messenger, inaugurated The Central Nevadan in January 1885. It was a four-page, six-column sheet selling for a yearly subscription of $5. “It is with a firm belief in the future prospects of Nevada,” Dennis wrote in his “Salutatory” column, “and especially the central portion of the State, that we begin the publication of a new paper to be known as the CENTRAL NEVADAN, which will be issued weekly, and will at all times give a truthful and correct account of all occurrences in this locality, as well as general news of the State and Pacific Coast. The Central Nevadan will be independent in politics, thus reserving the right to criticize or censure the acts of the politicians and representatives of either party. The chief object of the publishers will be to offer to the people a class of matter that will be instructive and beneficial, and in order to attain that end we will endeavor, through the columns of our paper to labor industriously for the best interests of the country, and to assist in the development of many resources upon which depends the future prosperity of Nevada.”

Dennis ran the newspaper until 1889. It then went through a series of owners and editors until Fred L. Woolcock took over as editor in 1892, continuing in that role until the paper was suspended in December 1907 when the owner, A.D. Lamaire, sold it to its competitor the Battle Mountain Herald with which it merged to become the Battle Mountain Herald and Central Nevadan [LCCN: sn86076257]. This paper prospered for a few years, finally suspending publication in 1911. As a small but bustling regional freight depot Battle Mountain survived the decline of the local mining districts and vied with Austin for the seat of Lander County until 1979 when the state legislature moved the county seat from Austin to Battle Mountain, which had experienced a small boom from the recent resurgence in copper mining.


In other news…
Did you know this charming town was once named “The Armpit of America” in 2001 by a Washington Post author? 

-Why Not the Worst? 

Nevada Town Holds Armpit Festival 

2004 Festival 

-The Armpit of America is right here in Nevada