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Famous for its unique round court house, Lovelock was known as "Big Meadows" by the 49ers who rested here and grazed their livestock for the hard trek across the 40-mile Desert. Alfalfa seed is shipped all over the world from Lovelock. Until the freeway bypassed the town in 1983, the stoplight dangling over Cornell Street was the last signal light regulating traffic between New York and San Francisco.

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    Lovelock, named for an early homesteader and storekeeper in the Big Meadows when the Central Pacific Railroad drove its rails this way in 1868, became a way station of some importance as mining strikes in the surrounding mountains and agricultural development in the valley combined to encourage the growth of a small settlement. By the turn of the century it had become a town of about a hundred homes, a school, two churches, and a business district of almost three dozen firms, all within a few steps of the railroad tracks.

    Lovelock in those days was a part of Humboldt County, and in 1905, Allen Bragg, editor of the daily Silver State in Winnemucca, came to pay his respects. "Lovelock is 'on the trail' to be a city of considerable magnitude," he wrote. "I think if I could come back to this dusty ball 50 years hence I should see a city of at least 50,000 souls, for Lovelock Valley, if put to its highest uses, would support 50,000 or 75,000 busy men and women, and it would be an ideal spot to raise children and start them in life with bright prospects."

    Editor Bragg had a severe case of Nevada optimism, but Lovelock did prosper from the nearby mining activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It achieved 2,803 residents by 1920 but that's the high point so far. Lovelock incorporated as a city in 1917, but was so broke two
    Travel Nevada, Nevada Magazine
    years later that the City Council laid off the Indian Policeman and the night Jailer. They had the city's Teamster sleep in the jail, cut the Police Chief's salary in half to $25 a month, and instructed the City Clerk to see about turning off the street lights during moonlight nights. Since then Lovelock's economy has become largely agricultural again.
    The conditions of soil and climate that produced the lush growth of grass for the pioneers is famous as Nevada's "Banana Belt." Lovelock boasts some 40,000 acres under irrigation in Upper and Lower valleys, most of it devoted to grain for feeding livestock, and to the alfalfa seed for which Lovelock is known around the world.

    from The Complete Nevada Traveler, by David W. Toll

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