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With Elko’s centennial celebration just around the corner, the Free Press is wrapping up a year-long project and beginning a new four-part series celebrating the history of our unique western town.

Today’s Weekend Edition contains the first of four articles focusing on Elko’s first 100 years as an incorporated city. Actually, we start a little before that because Elko was around for nearly half a century before it was chartered as a bona fide city.

Next week marks the end of our year-long series of articles about the people who have helped make Elko what it is today. We began running the “Elko 100” profiles last March, and the final two are scheduled to be printed next Tuesday and Thursday.

The series has looked at a broad range of personalities from both the past and current times. It is our most ambitious undertaking since we published the four-volume “Made in Elko County” tabloids nearly a decade ago. Selecting subjects for Elko 100 was a little more involved than the county series because we wanted to focus on those who had the most impact within our city limits.

Publishing the final installments of “Elko 100” won’t be the end of the project, however. We are excited to announce that all 100 articles will be published in book form, along with the four-part series we are starting today, with the goal of having them available for purchase by the time the City’s centennial celebration rolls around on May 1.

We look forward to celebrating the highlights of our city’s past, and its many ups and downs. Elko was incorporated at a very challenging time in history, around the same time that the United States entered World War 1. The following year Elko and the rest of the country were reeling from the Spanish flu epidemic.

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On the brighter side, the city has received national attention on more than one occasion. In the mid-20th century famed broadcaster Lowell Thomas called Elko “the last real cowtown in the American West.” Cattle have always been a part of our history, but the railroad and mining have played key roles as well. Elko today is perhaps as well known for being the gold-mining capital of the United States as it is for being the home of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

In the 1990s, author Norman Crampton dubbed Elko “the Best Small Town in America,” based on his survey of living conditions. Then, Elko faced more challenges at the turn of the millennium when gold prices dropped, creating an isolated recession.

The economy gradually rebounded, even seeing a surge when the rest of the state and nation entered the Great Recession. We hope our best years lie in the future — a future that never forgets its strong link to the past.

Remembering what Elko was and how we got where we are is the reason we are celebrating the city’s centennial. So, keep an eye out for the final two profiles in our Elko 100 series and the remaining three articles on our city’s history in the weeks to come, and feel free to send us your favorite highlights about the city’s past to share with readers.

Members of the Elko Daily Free Press editorial board are Travis Quast, Jeffry Mullins and Marianne Kobak McKown.

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