Elko Nevada

lkNo one is really quite sure how Elko got its name, but the best rumour has it that a railway superintendent liked to name his railroad’s stations after animals, so added an “O” to “elk”, thereby christening the future town.

What is known about the town is that it is situated in northeastern Nevada, it straddles the Humboldt River and it is called “Nevada with Attitude”, perhaps because it is a true western town which each year celebrates the lifestyle of the cowboy.

Elko was established in 1869, as a stop on the newly-built Central Pacific Railroad, which formed part of the first transcontinental railway. The impetus of the railway encouraged people to move into the area, and Elko became a ranching and mining centre. The town was also the recipient of the first commercial US Post Office airmail service.

When approaching the town from the north, you know when you are just about there as a giant “E” has been carved into the Ruby Mountains just south of the town.

Elko sits at an elevation of just over 5,000 feet and is bordered by the Ruby Mountains and the Lamoille Canyon. The highest peak of the Ruby Mountains is Ruby Dome at 11,387 feet (3,471 m). Other prominent peaks include Ruby Pyramid, Thomas Peak, Liberty Peak, Mount Fitzgerald, Verdi Peaks, Snow Lake Peak, Mount Silliman, and Mount Gilbert. Within minutes of downtown Elko, visitors can enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, hunting, fishing or backpacking. Heli-skiing is also popular during the winter months.

The life of the cowboy is venerated in Elko, and each January they celebrate with the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which celebrates the life of the cowboy in both poetry and song. As well as listening to the poetry and songs, participants can also experience great art, watch western films, learn a craft, and gather together to eat, drink and swap stories about the most iconic of all American symbols.

Many Basque people have also settled in the region, and that heritage is celebrated annually each July too at the National Basque Festival. This is a celebration of traditional Basque culture and its ties to the Elko community. The festival includes strongman competitions, handball, a running of the bulls, traditional food and wine, and Basque Dancing.

Being a city located in Nevada, Elko also has its fair share of casinos too with one, the Commercial Casino, being notable for having a stuffed 10-foot-tall (3.0 m) polar bear on display.

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