|Donna Andress, a Nelson resident and a great lady known by many in Boulder City, knows what she is talking about when it comes to southern Nevada history and particularly, the town of Nelson.
Not only from historical reference through research for her book, Donna's knowledge is obtained from personal experience and family history. Like the twisting and turning of the trail through the Eldorado Canyon winding it's way to Lake Mojave ten miles below Hoover Dam, Donna's life winds its way through the early history of Clark County and Nelson, Nevada.
Donna Andress is a Nevada Lady with "a story that begs to be told" and with the encouragement of her husband, Gail, she set out in the late 1990's to do just that in her book Eldorado Canyon and Nelson, Nevada.
Although Donna is truly a Nevada historian, it was a quirk of fate (or mother nature) keeping her from being a (Nelson) Nevada born lady.
Before Donna's birth her mother suffered a broken back in an automobile accident and remained in a cast for several years. Because of her long internment in the cast, there was a fear of paralysis if she were to become pregnant - but she did, with Donna, and they were forced to travel to a special hospital in Los Angeles for delivery.
Donna's growing years through elementary school, which she attended in Searchlight, were spent in Nelson where the family lived at the Techatticup Mine.
For her high school education, Donna had to travel with her mother to Las Vegas High School. Donna's mother, who has a school in Las Vegas named for her, taught at Las Vegas High School (which until this writer's graduation, was the only four year high school in Las Vegas).
Nelson's early history was born with mining. The Techatticup Mine, which still exists as a tourist attraction and a close neighbor to Nelson, was the area's richest producer of gold, silver, and lead. It was "reportedly, along with the Gettysburg Mine in Eldorado Canyon, the first mines in Nevada to be worked by white men."
The Eldorado Canyon (which kicks off near Nelson and snakes its way through the Eldorado Mountains to Lake Mojave on the Colorado River) can claim a history of Native Americans. It is said to be the early home of the ancient Anasazi and later the Paiutes and Mojaves.
Unlike so many people who grow up, leave home, go to college, get married, and raise kids, Donna was able to return to the home of her birth to find nothing much had changed.
The Nelson population may have varied between 30 people at its high point to its 22 people today, and the expectation of people overrunning their paradise is slim because property in Nelson is unavaible.
"Nelson is surrounded by BLM property," Donna says, "and property here won't be available unless somebody dies. And that's about it."
With the number of acres available for Big Horn Sheep and the number of sheep roaming the hillsides, the BLM will probably not be letting the canyon's human resident population increase beyond the Nelson borders.
The future may hold a few more residents, however, depending on what Techatticup owner Tony Werly is doing with the small piece of property he is grading between the mine and Nelson. Don't get your hopes up though, I'm sure he is not going to build a highrise condo.