Mineral County was established in 1911. The 3,813 square miles that make up Mineral County are home to lakes, mountains and 4,471 individuals (DETR, 2017). Much of the county's population reside in the towns of Hawthorne and Schurz. A large portion of the Walker River Indian Reservation, which belongs to the Walker River Paiute Tribe, resides in Mineral County just north of Walker Lake. US Route 95, which connects Las Vegas to Reno, runs north and south through the county and will take you through Mina, Luning, Hawthorne and Schurz. State Route 359 will take you west into California.
Mineral County used to be the northern portion of Esmeralda County, which was considered too big at the time. The town of Hawthorne, due to its importance as a pivotal passing point on the Carson and Colorado railroad, became Mineral’s county seat. The town sits about 120 miles from Carson City and 130 miles southeast of Reno. Growth in Hawthorne was slow at first, increasing from 337 to 436 between 1890 to 1900. Ten years later, the population increased to 469. Then, in 1926, a fire burned most of the business district and downtown. Despite this loss, Hawthorne endured as a community.
During World War II, Hawthorne became the holding site for a naval ammunition depot. This national installation increased Hawthorne’s population to 13,000, and, after the war, population lingered around 1,000 to 2,000. Since then, the ammunition depot has moved from the navy to the army, and today a private contractor oversees surveillance of the depot. Meanwhile, population has gradually grown, and Hawthorne remains a center for outdoor recreation.
Short but detailed histories of Mineral can be found on:
Hawthorne is called “America’s Patriotic Home”, and you can find red, white and blue running through its streets. The city is home to the Hawthorne Army Depot, which served as an ammunition staging area during World War II. The depot is said to be the largest of its kind in the world. Similar to the Army Depot, the historic 1942 USO/Courage Theater is located in Hawthorne and has been restored for special events and visitors alike.
For those looking to explore the outdoors, Mineral provides hunting, fishing, four-wheeling, boating, hiking and camping opportunities throughout its land. If you are looking to ATV, OHV, or take your 4x4 for a spin, Mineral County offers many hiking opportunities. For example, there’s Pilot Peak in Mina, or Allum Creek Canyon in Hawthorne. Also in Hawthorne, Walker Lake State Recreation Area is best known for its miles of sandy beaches, its golf course and its access to boating, wind sailing, 4x4ing and camping (Walker Lake, n.d.). Elsewhere around Mineral County, there’s the little shop Rock Chuck in Schurz, and many ghost towns can be accessed along US 95, including Aurora, which is just outside of Hawthorne, or Candeleria, which is in the southern part of the county.
Other attractions include the Paiute Indian Museum located in Schurz, and each September the city hosts an annual Pine Nut Festival which includes a 4x4 mud run. In addition, the Ordnance Museum in Hawthorne houses a tank, wartime ammunition, missiles and other military gear from the past. For the rock hound, one may visit the Aurora Crater or take advantage of the numerous geocaching opportunities within the county.