April is a wonderful month to be in Baker. Flowers are blooming, snow is melting up in the mountains, and the temperatures are very comfortable. Visitors are coming, and the town is reawakening from its winter slumber. The Great Basin Café will be opening mid-month at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center under new management. Check the May installment for more info about what they’re offering.
The Magic Bean coffee cart will also be opening in April. Locals have gone all winter without their special caffeine fix, so it will be great to see it come back.
The Stargazer Inn and Kerouac’s Restaurant and Bar will be opening in April. This is at the site of the old Silverjack Inn and Lectrolux Café. Jack Cerese and Kate Claeys left New York City to begin a new life in Baker. They are excited to bring their energy to this project. The Stargazer Inn opens April 7. Rooms have been refurbished and have a fresh look. Kerouac’s Restaurant will offer classic American food with a fresh take. Most of the food offered will be made from scratch, and there will be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options included. The restaurant is expected to open the end of the month. For reservations or more information visit the Stargazer Inn website.
As the snow melts, the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is opening further up the mountain. The road is usually not open to the Wheeler Peak Campground until after Memorial Day weekend. Lower campgrounds will open throughout the month. Great hikes include Pole Canyon, Timber Creek, and the Snake Creek area. If you’d like to take a tour of Lehman Caves, book early, as number of tours are limited and they can fill up fast. Other fun things to do in the area in April are visit Crystal Peak, Crystal Ball Cave, and Gandy Warm Springs. These are just over the border in Utah.
For more info about all the amenities, in the area, click here.
The settlement depended for its prosperity on the railroad, and on the mines that blossomed and wilted along the slopes and side canyons of the Reese River Valley all the way to Austin, 90 miles to the south. Galena, Jersey City and Lewis were three of Nevada's most prominent mining camps in the 1870s, all of them served by the railroad at Battle Mountain, as was Pittsburgh in the 1880s and Dean in the 1890s. After the turn of the century the mines at Hilltop, Bannock, McCoy and Betty O'Neal all shipped by way of Battle Mountain.
Battle Mountain was the last stop for W.J. Forbes, a famous Nevada newspaperman of the l9th century. He was remembered by Carson City journalist Sam Davis: "Pioneers still laugh about his quips and fancies. Writing under his pen-name Semblins he discoursed on every subject known to man, and his shafts so often hit the mark that he became popular with all classes of readers." Forbes edited and published a dozen newspapers in California and Nevada, and in 1873 started the short-lived The New Endowment in Salt Lake City. "Returning to Nevada," Davis wrote, "he started Measure for Measure at Battle Mountain. It was a wonderful paper, but it did not pay, and a friend found him on the morning of October 30, 1875, lying stiff and cold across his shabby bed. He had fought a fight against all odds all his life, was one of the brightest geniuses the coast had ever seen, but he lacked the faculty of making and saving money and lived in communities where his mental brightness was more envied than appreciated."
In 1880 the Nevada Central Railroad was completed through the length of the Reese River Valley to the south, connecting Austin with the transcontinental line, and in the following year a short line was built to the mines at Lewis. One of the Nevada Central's officials was James H. Ledlie, a former Union officer in the Civil War who had disgraced himself at th Battle of the Crater outside Petersburg Virginia in the summer of 1864. A siding near the southern end of the route through Reese River Valley was named in his honor, and Ledlie was a familiar visitor to the railroad.