One of Nevada's nicknames is Battleborn, so named because of its acceptance into the Union in 1864 during the Civil War. A more significant name for the State and the reason for its acceptance into the Union, is the "Silver State." Although silver was the most prominent, the rise and fall of the production of gold, copper, and tungsten made had an affect on the rise and fall of populations as well.
The largest population center, ended up in the Las Vegas Valley, not because of silver, although Nelson to the south and Goodsprings to the west produced reasonable quanities. It was its water attracting the travelers on the way to California.
Tonopah had an advantage in that it is a cross roads for east and west and north and south travelers. The advantage didn't last long enough. As with Boulder City and its many thousands of travelers, getting them to stop is the chore.
The crossroad became of little consequence. When in the 1950's the federal government swallowed up most of Nye County to the east and south of Tonopah, blocking any practical chance of eastern development and little chance of crossing to southern Utah.
There were advantages to the government gobble - for a while anyway. Many people who found jobs at the Nevada Test Site, chose Tonopah, "Queen of the Silver Camps" as their home. But then the population began to vary based on the rise and fall of Nevada Test Site jobs.
There are always optimists, however, and in Tonopah there are those who will stay and those who will come and go with the opportunities. One native who signs her letters A Happy Nevadan Willing to Share, owns the Jim Butler Motel which was built in 1979. Andrea Robb Bradick, who's deceased husband turned out to be a childhood friend of mine, is still optimistic, enthusastic, and willing to host tours through the history and memories of Tonopah.
One of the most popular tours is the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. Providing a self-guided walking tour with a map an explanation for each stop, the tour has become one of the town's most popular events.
If you're lazy and would rather take the tours sitting in the Jim Butler Motel, you can read about them and many other Tonopah history stories in Andrea's homemade tour guide and history book.
Tonopah, whose population numbers about 2,000, is located on a high plain, midway between Reno and Las Vegas (207 miles from Vegas). It can get cold enough in the winter to freeze up a Volkswagen van as it did mine after parking for a couple of days at a State Farm Insurance convention at Tonopah's then active convention center.
A plug for the Jim Butler Motel (yes I play favorites). For reservations call (775) 482-3577. Location and mailing - 100 South Main, Tonopah, Nevada 89049.