Ghost Town: Metropolis, Elko County, Nevada


Moderator & Supporting Member
Site: Metrolopis
Alternate Names: N/A
County, State: Elko, Nevada
Years of Occupation: 1910-1950's
Status of Site: Open
Classification: Class 2 - Neglected Town
Remnants: Cemetery, foundations of several buildings and a partial wall at the school house.
GPS Coordinate: 41.228° N, 115.0582° W
Date of Last Visit: 9/2/2013

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Lincoln School Remnants

Massachusetts businessman Harry L. Pierce assembled investors from both his hometown Massachusetts and Salt Lake City to form the Pacific Reclamation Company. Their goal, to create "Metropolis" approximately 20 miles north of Wells. In 1910, PRC purchased 40,000 acres of raw high desert land scape and began promotion and construction of a town. There vision was a modern town of 7500 residents complete with sidewalks, fire hydrants, street lights and neatly arranged paved streets. With the homestead craze in full swing, attracting would be settlers wasn't the most difficult task as Americans were eager to stake a plot of their own and have the opportunity to own land. With much of their marketing taking place in the Salt Lake Valley, the town had a majority Mormon population and quite a few were relatives of another. Mormon homesteaders from around the valley would meet at the social hall in Metropolis for Sunday services.

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Metropolis Cemetery

At it's peak, Metropolis consisted of a well constructed school house (Lincoln School), a large modern styled hotel, social hall, a newspaper (Metropolis Chronicle), a post office and a train depot. The towns population in 1911 was an impressive 700 people. A rail spur from Wells service by the Southern Pacifc Railroad had regular service starting in 1912 and the towns promoters built a dam (constructed of bricks from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake) and intricate canal system on Bishop Creek to the east to serve as a storage reservoir for the towns needs. Everything looked bright for this fledgling towns success but disaster was looming. Further west along Bishop Creek was Lovelock, also a growing ranching/farming community. Before the new reservoir was even full pool, debates started over water rights. The residents of Lovelock sued the Metropolis promoters and the courts dealt a blowing hand, forcing Metropolis to open the reservoir's floodgates and discontinue containment of any future water beyond the water needed to supply the town proper and just 4,000 acres of crops, far from the 40,000 acres they had been promoting to homesteaders.


Metropolis Buildings & Layout - Courtesty of

With no water available for farming, the settlers attempted to dry farm the arid desert land. The effort proved temporarily successful due to a few years of unusually wet summer and fall seasons meanwhile the settlers deal with bands of coyotes. After killing off massive numbers of coyotes, the settlers now had a bigger problem on their hands, giant colonies of rabbits that were eating the precious wheat crops. This spurred its own sub-industry as the farmers sold the rabbit pelts to clothing manufactures in California. The west summer seasons ended in 1914, followed by four years of dry summers and drought conditions. The desert reclaimed its land and the farmers for the most part abandoned their agriculture works. Tough times didn't get any easier with a typhoid epidemic in 1916 that killed a good number of the towns dwindling population.

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Lincoln School

By 1920 the influx of settlers had all but evaporated and the towns population was less than 100. The parent developer (Pacific Reclamation Company) was forced into bankruptcy. Metropolis's size continued to dwindle and in 1922 the Southern Pacific Company pulled their tracks and left Metropolis without a regular mode of transportation. Visitors would now have to drive or take the train to Wells and then catch private hire to the town site. The towns population was under 200 residents by 1924 and new construction had completely stopped. By the mid 1920's all commerce had stopped and the remaining residents were forced to do all their shipping in nearby Wells. To worsen matters, several buildings fell victim to fires including the amusement hall and hotel which burned in 1937. The US Post office in Metropolis served its last piece of mail in 1942 and 1947 saw the last group of students at the Lincoln School.

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Hotel ruins

By the late 1950's Metropolis had officially become a ghost, ranches in the surrounding hills continue to be inhabited to this day however the town has been vacant since the last people packed it up. Remnants of Metropolis today include the partial remains for the school house, the foundations of the hotel and the city cemetery a few blocks southwest of town. Scattered amongst the weeds are remnants of other foundations and buildings. I have a bit of a family connection to Metropolis via my wife. Candace's great-great-grandparents, Arnt and Inga Engh, homesteaded a chunk of property approximately 10 miles north of Metropolis proper. For several years in the 1915 time period, they would spend their summers dry-farming and basically camping at the land in hopes of one day calling it their own. Today their homestead property is used for annual family reunion gatherings and the occasional family members camp trip.

Directions: From Wendover, Utah: Continue west for 56 miles on I80 to Wells, NV. Take exit 352B and continue northwest into town along 6th Street for 1.8 miles to Lake Avenue. Turn right at Lake Avenue, heading north east for .1 mile and take a left on 8th Street. Continue northwest on 8th Street for 5.3 miles, tuning left at an unmarked county dirt road (intersection is 41.179° N, 114.994° W). Continue west on dirt road for 5.7 miles to reach Metropolis town center. Google Map Link

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Metropolis sign in Wells, NV - Directing to site.

Additional Pictures:

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Lower floor remnants of Lincoln School

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Interpretive Sign

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Interpretive Sign

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Wife & I ghost-towning.

Further Reading:,_Nevada
Old Heart of Nevada: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Elko County by Shawn Hall (Book) (Fantastic information about the Bishop Creek damn and potential restoration projects)
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Moderator & Supporting Member
:cool: Crazy to read about how the dam was built with bricks from the SF earthquake.

For real, pretty wild.

Great links, thanks. I've added them to the original article.

There are some fantastic hot springs between the mouth of the canyon and the actual dam, I'd be absolutely bummed if any dam reconstruction damaged the springs as they are such a neat place to spend time. We visit each year during our family reunion and I try and get out there when ever I'm in the area too!


Moderator & Supporting Member
This is the backside of the Bishop Creek Damn, as you can see it's not holding much water back.

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