Lawton's

This bend of the Truckee River was in use by Indians as a fishing location and a ford for thousands of years, but its modern history began in the 1860s when the Transcontinental Railroad was constructed through the Truckee Meadows. A camp known as Hunter's Crossing or Hunter's Station was formed, consisting of a hotel, store, and post office. Before long, Hunter's was replaced by a larger lumber camp and sawmill known as Mayberry's.

Just west of Hunter's was Granite Hot Springs. The land was purchased by Sam Lawton, who built a station house and private residence next to the spring in 1884. The station became a popular stop for travelers and locals through the early 1900s, and in 1916 the Lincoln and Victory Highways were brought in. The Lawton family continued to expand to meet the new motorists' demand, building a motor inn and new outdoor pool. Between 1925-30, Lawton's expanded to include a bar and patio, indoor pool, and dining room. The inn continued to flourish as Reno became known as the 'Divorce Capital of the World.'

Following the Depression, Lawton's began to struggle and passed through many hands. In the 1970s, Interstate 80 was built and bypassed Lawton's, which was now known as the River Inn. In 1979, the property was purchased by the Westlake Development Group of San Mateo, California. Rumors swirled of a "world class" casino, resort and spa to be built at the site, and the buildings at the site today were built in 1983. Ultimately, the money for the project disappeared and resulted in bankrupcy. Today the facilities from the 1980s remain, awaiting an opening that may never come.

I Visited the River Inn
10.29.2004

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