Lovelock has been a comfortable stopping place for travelers since the days of the wagon trains. The conditions of soil and climate that produced the lush growth of grass for the pioneers has been famous ever since as Nevada’s “Banana Belt.”
Lovelock became a way station of some importance on the Central Pacific Railroad as mining strikes in the surrounding mountains and agricultural development in the valley. By the turn of the century it had become a town of about 100 homes, a school, two churches, and a business district of almost three dozen firms, all within a few steps of the railroad tracks.
Lovelock has some 40,000 acres under irrigation in Upper and Lower valleys now, most of it devoted to grain for feeding livestock, and to the alfalfa seed for which Lovelock is known around the world.
The country around Lovelock is a geological exhibit of extraordinary complexity, and provides a variety of outdoor enjoyments. Tufa formations, the rough-textured remnants from the bottom of the long-dried Lahontan sea, wart the desert floor at several places nearby. A small bed is easily accessible about a mile north of town via Western Avenue, covered with red and black lichen, and providing an interesting spot for a picnic lunch or simply for contemplating the eons.
Edna Purviance is Lovelock’s only movie star so far; she was Charlie Chaplin’s co-star and main squeeze in the movies that made him famous as “The Tramp”, or as he preferred it, “The Little Fellow”. She graduated from high school in Lovelock in 1919 and was on the train to San Francisco the next day.
The stoplight at the intersection in the center of town was once the last signal light to regulate traffic between San Francisco and New York — until the freeway bypassed Lovelock in 1983.
The Pershing County Court House is Lovelock’s architectural jewel. It is round, and it is said there is only one other round court house in the USA. Like all Nevada court houses, it is open to visitors during regular office hours.
County offices are located around the perimeter of the building, off the corridor that rings the round court room at its center.
Nowadays the court house, or at least the small plaza behind it, has become a shrine to love. Borrowing a tradition from ancient China and drawing on the town’s distinctive name, a series of short chains has been suspended from posts surrounding a rose garden. Here blissful couples “lock their love” by attaching padlocks engraved with their names. You can bring your own padlock to add to the gleaming display, or you can buy one locally for a small amount.
The county library and the public swimming pool are only a few steps from the court house. There’s also a pleasant park with picnic tables and a children’s playground.
Check out the Chamber of Commerce at the railroad depot, a block north of the central freeway offramp, for directions to the nearby historic sites of Vernon and Seven Troughs and the prehistoric Lovelock Cave. The Chamber office is decorated by the beautifully carved and magnificently restored figures of the Stiff Brothers who famously came home from World War II to open a Standard gas station and promote it vigorously up and down the highway.
The Cowpoke Cafe and La Casita are quite good restaurants, and Temptations, kitty-coner from the Court Hose — is a gem; they make a chocolate malt in the same league as S’Socorro’S at Mina! High praise indeed, and well worth the pause in your journey.
There are half a dozen choices for lodging, RV hook-ups and automotive services. Recommended: The Marzen House Museum on the far west end of town and the C-Punch, a classic small town Nevada casino on the east side.