Metropolis

Lincoln School arch

In 1909, the Pacific Reclamation Company, based in New York, began planning to build a showcase community on semi-fertile land near the headwaters of the Humboldt River. The plan included over 40,000 irrigated and non-irrigated acres of cultivated farmland surrounding a modern city of 7,500. The Company opened an office in Salt Lake City and the project was publicized.

In 1911, the city of Metropolis was laid out with graded streets, cement sidewalks, fire hydrants and street lights. In September, the Chronicle began semi-monthly publication and advertised dry farm land at $10-$15 an acre, and irrigated at $75 an acre; town lots were advertised from $100-$300. An eight-mile spur from the Southern Pacific was constructed from Tulasco, and a small shaded park and large depot were erected.

In December 1911, the new three-story brick Metropolis Hotel opened, becoming the finest hotel between Reno and Ogden and the showplace of Metropolis. Also near the beginning of that year, a hundred-foot dam was built on Bishop Creek along with large canals and an expensive water distribution system. Land sales began to boom, and by the end of the year 700 people had moved to Metropolis. The town also boasted a post office and amusement hall (which was used by the primarily-Morman population as a meeting house). A fine $25,000 brick school was completed in 1913.

The city seemed prosperous, but the Company was facing serious problems. Lovelock farmers, downstream, sued the Company for failing to obtain the water rights to Bishop Creek. A court decision ended with Metropolis being allocated only enough water to irrigate about 4000 acres. Farmers in the area began dry-farming wheat, made possible for only a few years because of uncharacteristically high amounts of precipitation. The Company finally went bankrupt in 1920. In 1922, rail service ended and by 1924 only 200 people remained. The grand hotel, which had been closed for over two decades, burned in 1936, and the grammar school closed in 1943.

Ruins of the hotel and school are the most prominent remnants of Metropolis, although several other foundations and depressions as well as a cemetery remain.

I Visited Metropolis
6.28.2005 & 11.6.2014

Bibliography