is a city in western Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...
that is the county seat of Pershing County
Pershing County is a county located in the U.S. state of Nevada. As of the 2000 census, the population was 6,693. Its county seat is Lovelock. The county was named after army general John J. Pershing . It was formed from Humboldt County in 1919, and the last county to be established in...
, the location of a prison, and the namesake of the area's Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...
gunnery range. After a period of growth during its first century of existence, the past fifty years have been problematic with the disappearance of some of its infrastructure and the town having to reinvent itself.
Lovelock lies upstream of the Humboldt River
The Humboldt River runs through northern Nevada in the western United States. At approximately long it is the second longest river in the Great Basin, after the Bear River. It has no outlet to the ocean, but instead empties into the Humboldt Sink...
Basin. Some twenty miles outside the town is the Lovelock Native Cave
Lovelock Cave Lovelock Cave near Lovelock, Nevada is a North American archaeological site previously known as Sunset Guano Cave, Horseshoe Cave, and Loud Site 18. The cave is about 150 feet long and 35 feet wide...
, a horseshoe-shaped cave of about 35 ft (10.7 m) and 150 ft (45.7 m) where Northern Paiute
Paiute refers to three closely related groups of Native Americans — the Northern Paiute of California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon; the Owens Valley Paiute of California and Nevada; and the Southern Paiute of Arizona, southeastern California and Nevada, and Utah.-Origin of name:The origin of...
natives anciently deposited a number of duck decoys and other artefacts.
According to the United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...
, the city has a total area of 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²), all of it land. It is distinguished by the four differently designed welcome signs with pioneer and Wild West themes placed on its approach roads.
As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...
of 2000, there were 2,003 people, 778 households, and 493 families residing in the city. The population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...
was 2,311.6 people per square mile (888.9/km²). There were 951 housing units at an average density of 1,097.5 per square mile (422.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.49% White, 0.80% African American, 7.14% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander, 10.03% from other races
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...
, and 4.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 24.21% of the population.
There were 778 households out of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.8% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...
living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.22.
In the city the population was spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 107.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,563, and the median income for a family was $40,885. Males had a median income of $35,658 versus $27,371 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...
for the city was $17,233. About 9.6% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9% of those under age 18 and 10.3% of those age 65 or over. The majority rely on agriculture and mining for their income.
The area in which the township of Lovelock was to be established first came to prominence as a lush way station on the Humboldt Trail to California. According to an 1849 description of what were then called the Big Meadows, "This marsh for three miles is certainly the liveliest place that one could witness in a lifetime. There is some two hundred and fifty wagons here all the time. Trains going out and others coming in and taking their places is the constant order of the day. Cattle and mules by the hundreds are surrounding us, in grass to their knees, all discoursing sweet music with the grinding of their jaws.”
A few settlers stopped on there to harvest the wild rye growing in the meadows and scythe the hay each fall, which they then sold on. Arriving there from California in 1866, the English settler George Lovelock (1824-1907) bought the squatters' right for 320 acres and got with it the oldest water rights on the Humboldt River. Although born in Wales, Lovelock was from a family of Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...
origin that is known to family historians as the Lyneham Line. His brother Daniel moved to Australia - and one of Daniel's sons to New Zealand - so that the relations of the man after whom the Nevada town was named are now widely scattered.
The town's foundation came about with the building of the Southern Pacific Railroad
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....
through the area in August 1868. George Lovelock provided 85 acres for the site and the depot was therefore named 'Lovelock's' after him and appears as such on old maps. Thereafter he put his mining expertise to work and discovered many valuable lodes in the surrounding area, which contributed to enhanced railway traffic. He also acted as the town's first postmaster and invested in hotels. In particular he was the first proprietor of the Big Meadows Hotel on Main Street, adjacent to the train station and what was eventually the Greyhound bus
Greyhound Lines, Inc., based in Dallas, Texas, is an intercity common carrier of passengers by bus serving over 3,700 destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico, operating under the well-known logo of a leaping greyhound. It was founded in Hibbing, Minnesota, USA, in 1914 and...
By 1900, the town of Lovelock had a school, churches and a business district along what was then called Railway Street - later renamed West Broadway. Also included among the businesses were no less than three weekly newspapers: The Lovelock Tribune
, which ran from May 1898 until February 1912; the short-lived Lovelock Standard
(April-September 1900); and The Argus
(May 1900-Jan 1905). In August 1908 the weekly Lovelock Review
was founded, becoming Lovelock Review-Miner
in January 1911 and remaining under that name to the present day.
Lovelock was incorporated as a city in 1917 and in 1919 it was named the county seat when Pershing County was carved out of the southern part of Humboldt County. Its famous round Court House was built at the end of Main Street, on the site of a school, which then located elsewhere. As well as mining and agriculture and acting as commercial centre for the locality, the community thrived on the state speciality of gambling, with many casinos and three legalised brothels
, although all the latter are now closed. The town’s centenary was celebrated in 1968 with a Frontier Days theme suggested by two of the founder’s great-great granddaughters, Elaine Pommerening and Pat Rowe, who had only recently moved back to Lovelock. But in 1983 the town was bypassed by the new state freeway, and in the early 1990s the rail depot closed, killing much of its prosperity. Since then it has promoted itself as a tourist attraction with its historic buildings and special events,
Among the tourist events figure the I.D.E.S. Portugese festival in May and what became the annual Frontier Days weekend in July. There are also hot air balloon races (Lovers Aloft, inaugurated in February 2004) and the Lovelock Street Fever car show, begun in June 2007. A major draw is the Lovers Lock Plaza in the shaded area at the back of the Court House where couples symbolise their love by attaching a padlock to an 'endless chain', a practice begun on Valentine’s Day, 2005. The following year saw the construction of a dirt-racing track known as the Lovelock Speedway.
Lovelock's heritage buildings include the wooden built Grace Methodist Church on the corner of Cornell Avenue and 8th Street, dating from 1886. It was destroyed by fire in 1922 and the tower was rebuilt without the original spire; in 1983 the church was badly damaged by another fire and was restored again. Marzen House Museum is another Victorian building, built in 1874. The Italianate farmhouse was transported from Big Meadow Ranch in the 1980s and has on its site an assay office, farm machinery sheds, and buildings housing vintage automobiles, while inside it contains 1800s furnishing and a museum shedding light on the area’s history.
Among so much that that has been otherwise torn down and not replaced in the town, the Longhorn Bar beside the tracks on West Broadway is one of the few remaining commercial buildings in typical Nevada style. Not far away is the railroad depot
The Central Pacific Railroad Depot in Lovelock, Nevada was built in 1880 in the Stick style or Eastlake style, functioning as the principal point of access to the town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries...
dating from 1880. In 1999 it was presented to the town by the Union Pacific Railroad
The Union Pacific Railroad , headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman....
to be restored and moved to another lot for use as an eatery. This was registered as a historic building in 2004.
Pride of place goes to the distinctive Pershing County Courthouse
The Pershing County Courthouse in Lovelock, Nevada is a Classical Revival building built in 1920-21. The courthouse's plan is hexagonal with a circular dome over the central circular courtroom. The building was designed by Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps, who had previously designed six other Nevada...
, dating from 1919. Julie Nicoletta describes the circimstances: 'Pershing County officials approached Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps
Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps was an American architect. He was one of Nevada's most prolific architects, yet is notable for entering the architectural profession with no extensive formal training.-Early life and education:...
, by then the architect of six Nevada courthouses, and asked for a design that would be low in price but distinctive in appearance. As a solution, DeLongchamps designed a round courthouse, patterning it after Thomas Jefferson's library
The Thomas Jefferson Library is the main library for the University of Missouri–St. Louis, the largest public university in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.-History:...
on the University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...
campus. The circle-over-hexagon design includes a circular interior hallway and a round courtroom decorated with Corinthian
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...
pilasters. A broad, sweeping concrete staircase leads to the main floor of the Beaux-Arts classical structure
. Its entrance includes a pedimented portico supported by six Ionic
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...
pilasters separate the main story windows. Cream-colored brick and terracotta finish the exterior. A shallow dome crowns the roof and provides the courtroom with a dramatic, soaring ceiling.'
A tourist attraction of a completely different kind, the Lovelock Correctional Center
Lovelock Correctional Center is a Nevada Department of Corrections prison in unincorporated Pershing County, Nevada, near Lovelock.-History:Lovelock is located in Pershing County and is the seventh major institution of the Nevada Department of Corrections. It was constructed and opened in two...
was opened in 1995 and is best known for the fact that in 2008 O.J. Simpson began a prison sentence there.
Lovelock in song and story
There is something about the resonance of the town's name that has appealed to song writers. It is referenced on the debut album of the folk-rock band Center Divide, Lovelock to Winnemucca
(1998), a title drawn drawn from the opening lines of the first song there, "Lovelock". The sad lyrics contemplate lost love as the car speeds down the bleak highway between the Nevada towns.
The wry “Limbo in Lovelock”, first performed in 2005 by the Hot Buttered Rum String Band, was eventually recorded on their Live in the Northeast
CD (2007). Although at first a stopover in the town is made to sound like a doorway to hell, the mood changes at the end.
- Well just outside of nowhere, mile marker 105,
- You'll find yourself in Lovelock where the game’s to stay alive;
- Get yourself a burger down at the Cowpoke Café,
- Where the gals have quite a smile, it's the special of the day.
Interviewed about the meaning of this verse, one of the band reminisced that they had stopped at the diner and noticed a sign on the the counter 'explaining the special of the day. The girls working there were teenagers and full of smiles and good cheer. It was very welcome after a trying day on the road. I'd say the girls' smiles were the special of the day because they really cheered us up.'
“Lovelock” is also the second track on Pitch Black‘s second album, This is the Modern Sound
(Revelation Records, 2005). Though the words are difficult to make out, a review informs us that this is a typically punk ‘us against the world anthem’. Other songs referencing mining towns and imagery explain why the name "Lovelock" was chosen.
A stopover in the town is the subject of Fred Leebron's prize-winning short story “Lovelock”, originally published in Ploughshares
Ploughshares is an American literary magazine founded in 1971 by DeWitt Henry and Peter O'Malley in The Plough and Stars, an Irish pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1989, Ploughshares has been based at Emerson College in the heart of Boston...
magazine in 1993. An ex-convict staying overnight at a Lovelock motel picks up a retarded woman and guiltily sees her and her sister off in their car the next morning. Leebron explains that the inspiration for the story 'comes from a brief encounter I had in New Orleans in 1985 and an overnight stay I made in Nevada four years later. I began writing a novel that contains "Lovelock" as a chapter in the spring of 1992.'
The story was reprinted in the anthology Voices of the Exiled
(Doubleday 1994); the novel into which it was incorporated, Out West
, appeared in 1996.
Stephen Bly was an author & novelist of more than 100 books and hundreds of articles, poems, and short stories. His book, The Long Trail Home Broadman & Holman, won the 2002 Christy Award in the category western novel:...
’s Wild West novel Dangerous Ride Across Humboldt Flats
(Crossway Press, 2003) deals with the area before the town was built. In the opening chapters, an orphaned Pony Express
The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the High Sierra from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, from April 3, 1860 to October 1861...
rider comes across Trent Lovelock and his family on Humboldt Flats in 1860 and is befriended by them. Although George Lovelock had yet to set out for Nevada at that time, the author has acknowledged that he had the town's founder in mind in his fictitious Trent Lovelock.
Finally, Lovelock has a poet of its own in Adrian C. Louis
Adrian C. Louis is a Lovelock Paiute author from Nevada now living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He has taught at Oglala Lakota College. His novel Skins discusses reservation life and issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and social problems and was the basis for the 2002 film,...
, who was brought up in the small reservation for Lovelock Paiute Indians
The Lovelock Paiute Tribe of the Lovelock Indian Colony is a federally recognized tribe of Northern Paiute Indians in Pershing County, Nevada.-Reservation:...
south of the town. The presence of the Indian Cemetery there is an abiding point of reference for him and a place to which he often returns, in person and more often in memory.
- I'm at that place I grew up to leave.
- Alkali-crusted sand waves have drifted against my markers of blood.