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Gerlach, Nevada is a community in Washoe County, Nevada. Formerly, the community was named Gerlach-Empire, but in 2010, Empire, once a company town for the United States Gypsum Corporation, the two separated and each community acts separately. The nearest town is Nixon, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation, 60 miles south of Gerlach. It was founded in 1906 while the Western Pacific Railroad was laying the tracks for the Feather River Route. Located between Smoke Creek Desert on the west and Black Rock Desert on the east, the topography is perfect for laying track, but the intense heat, with temperatures exceeding 115°, and the lack of water in the deserts made laying tracks difficult. Heat stroke as not uncommon, nor was exhaustion. The hot springs and abundant water in Gerlach made the community essential, both for the workers and for the steam engines, and the Western Pacific Railroad established a station at Trego Hot Springs as well as a train yard in Gerlach. The Western Pacific built employee housing, the station house, the post office, and the telegraph office. Two large waters, each with a capacity of more than 40,000 gallons of water, were built and modified so that the boiler man on the train could climb up on the train, pull on a chain which brought down a spigot, and fill the boiler and the tender from one of the towers. The second tower provided drinking water. It was in honor of Gerlach Land and Livestock Company owner Louis Gerlach who also owned the Gerlach and Waltz Ranch. The post office opened in October of 1909. In the 1950s, the population of Gerlach peaked at more than 1,000 people, and the community boasted five bars, two restaurants two motels and some small businesses. The U.S. Gypsum mine in Empire shut down in 2011, and the population dove to about 100, where it remains.

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