Looking down on Pioche
Pioche was founded around a silver mine. The mine was first opened in 1864 but active resistance by the local Native Americans forced the abandonment of the area for several years. New folks came in in 1868 and reopened the mine. Then San Francisco financier Francois Pioche bought the whole area in 1869. Soon, other silver deposits were found and Pioche became one of the biggest silver producers in Nevada by the early 1870's, but the town was also recognized as one of the most lawless towns in the West. Legend has it that before the first person in Pioche died of natural causes, 75 men had been killed in gunfights. In those days, with the courts being totally corrupt and guns being the only law in town, the man who held the job of sheriff took home something around $40,000 a year in bribes alone.
Pioche was never incorporated as a town but is still the county seat of Lincoln County. The Lincoln County Courthouse (the photo to the above-left) was built in 1871 for $88,000, a number that far exceeded the initial estimate of $26,400. So the county financed and refinanced the cost until eventually, the bond value of the property was close to $1 million (which was finally paid off in 1937, about 4 years after the building was condemned). Near the old courthouse is the Mountain View Hotel, a magnificent property built in 1895. Supposedly, President Herbert Hoover stayed at the Mountain View in 1930 while he was in office.
Most of the mines in the Pioche area shut down in 1876 and by the 1880's, the population was dropping quickly. There was another big mining boom during World War II when Pioche became the second largest producer of lead and zinc in America.
Above the town is a tram built in the late 1800's for carrying silver ore down from the mountainside mines to the ore smelter located down the hill below Pioche. Today, Pioche still has a well-developed downtown area with parks, historic buildings and that old-time mining aura everywhere, but almost no actual mining happens any more.
Fast Facts about Pioche, Nevada
High School or Higher: 84.8%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 15.5%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 5.7%
Cost of Living Index for Pioche: 146.5
Median Resident Age: 41.3 Years
Median Household Income: $36,600
Median Home Value: $111,900
Government, Construction, Health Care, Utilities, Educational Services, Agriculture, Entertainment & Recreation, Lodging & Food Services, Broadcasting & Telecommunications, Telemarketing
Unemployed (July 2015): 11.8%