LOVELOCK — Ore carts and rusted mining equipment line Marzen Lane in Lovelock, hinting at the wealth of mining and Pershing County history at the Marzen House Museum in Lovelock.
One fall day before museum hours, a visitor strolled among the relics when neighbor Devoy Munk pulled into the parking lot.
“Did you want to see the museum?” she asked through an open car window. “Because I have a key.”
The relative of the house’s donor lives nearby and keeps her eye open for anyone who might want to explore. She offered an impromptu tour, entering through a side door of the former Big Meadows Ranch house, relocated to the site in 1989.
“You really know you are old when you’re in the museum,” Munk said. “There I am right there.”
She pointed to a group photo of teenage girls making up the No. 61 Order of the Rainbow for Girls. In the picture, Munk is wearing a nylon dress made from a parachute.
“My aunt painted snow peas on the bottom of it,” she said. “I still have it.”
The museum contains items mostly donated by community members, contributing to a mind-boggling mix of once-personal collections such as of dolls, quilts, antique medical equipment and photographs alongside professionally designed exhibits, including a room dedicated to the Lovelock Cave archaeological site and the Rochester Mining District.
Museum employee Bill Snodgrass, who arrived for normal visiting hours, took over the tour to show off the museum’s exhibits that chronicle the area’s mining industry that continues into modern times.
Coeur Mining Inc. now mines silver and gold from an open pit mine at Rochester, and the company donated resources to establish the museum’s mining exhibits more than 30 years ago. Coeur recently won an award for cooperative partnership in preservation of mining history from the Nevada Division of Minerals.
Among cases of dusty mining paraphernalia such as hard hats, carbide lamps and relics from the Chinese workforce, interpretive signs describe the progression of area mining from gold panning to underground workings that led the way the modern mining era.
In 1912, prospector Joseph Nenzel struck a silver-rich vein at the top of Rochester Canyon, leading to the organization of the Rochester District. Nenzel Hill, which over time has been mined into an open pit, was named after the early miner.
In the boom that followed, miners adopted double jacks and dynamite for underground mining by candle and lantern light in drifts and winzes. Rail carts transported ore aboveground for processing in a mill.
A museum display contains pictures of early mining machinery, including a dredger in the Humboldt River in 1916, gold panners, jackleg drillers, hand steelers, and an antique advertisement for “Ingersoll rock drills.”
Six town sites sprouted up through 1917: Rochester, East Rochester, Central Rochester, Rochester Heights, Packard and Panama.
In the mining exhibit, a model depicts how East Rochester would have looked perched along Nenzel Hill in the early 20th century. The model town shows where an air tram would have run overhead.
“When my dad was a kid, the tram system still stretched across the canyon,” Snodgrass said.
As Munk prepared to return home, Snodgrass reminded her that the museum would be closing for the winter season.
“Can I still let them in?” she asked.
“Of course you can, Devoy,” he responded.
The Marzen House Museum, 25 Marzen Lane in Lovelock, has closed for the 2018- 2019 winter season, but those interested in scheduling a tour can call 775-273-4909.