Elko County

Elko County Courthouse
Completed 1911

Elko County's roots were found in ranching. European settlers, particularly Basque, moved to the region in 1864 and began ranching in Lamoille Valley. In 1868, when the Transcontinental Railroad was in the works, the towns of Elko, Carlin, and Wells were established. On March 5, 1869, Elko County was created from a section of Lander County, and named for its first and only county seat.

During the next several years, ranches and railroad developments grew up along the Humboldt River. Up in the mountains, small mining camps like Cornucopia and Sprucemont were established, though none of them lasted. Small railroad hubs boomed as smaller lines were built connecting other regions to the Southern Pacific. All this time, however, ranching remained the staple.

In the 1960s, that changed when a geologist from California discovered microscopic gold in the hills north of Carlin. In subsequent years, two large open pit mines have developed and today they serve as the base of Elko County's economy.

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