Toano, also spelled Toana, came into being in late 1868 as a station along the Central Pacific Railroad. The name comes from a Shoshone word meaning "black-topped" in reference to the nearby Toano Range, which is capped by dense, dark cedar growth. It was from Toano where CPRR president Leland Stanford departed on a special train headed by the engine Jupiter to participate in the driving of the golden spike at Promontory, Utah, commemorating the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in May 1869. With the completion of the railroad, Toano was selected as the western end of the Salt Lake Division, and a roundhouse was constructed. A town soon developed, and Toano became a major shipping point for most of the mining towns spanning eastern Nevada.

By 1870, 117 people lived in Toano, and the town had two hotels, four saloons, and a blacksmith shop. A large stone store was completed in November 1871. Several stage routes were soon established, connecting Toano to Idaho, Cherry Creek, and other camps in the Schell Creek Range and eastern Elko County. A school opened in 1874. Unfortunately, two large fires in 1873 and 1874 destroyed the roundhouse and Railroad Hotel.

By the 1880s, stage and freight traffic to Toano began to decline. Completion of the Oregon Shortline Railroad eliminated traffic from Idaho and shipping from the south was dwindling. In 1904, the Lucin Cutoff was completed and Toano lost its status as a terminal, and was subsequently abandoned. Facilities were moved to the new division point of Bauvard (Montello), and most buildings were dismantled. In 1906, with the creation of the Nevada Northern Railway and the new town of Cobre one mile east, any remaining residents and buildings were soon relocated; this included both the post office and school. By the end of the year, Toano was completely deserted.

Central Pacific Railroad
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