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Western Folklife Center (Pioneer Hotel)

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Pioneer Hotel
1912–1913, 1950, 1994–present. 501 Railroad St.
  • Western Folklife Center (Pioneer Hotel) (Bret Morgan)

This former hotel and bar along the railroad tracks has been the home of the Western Folklife Center since 1992. Since 1994, the center has been restoring the building to serve as a major cultural institution and the main venue for the annual Cowboy Poetry Festival. The front entrance is located in a clipped corner at Railroad and 5th streets. Another entrance on 5th Street leads to the upper floors. A wide frieze of colorful ceramic tiles separates the main floor, containing a gallery, shop, and performance area, from the upper floors, which are now offices converted from hotel rooms. Both facades originally rose to a cornice set on brackets. A previous owner removed the cornice topping the Railroad Street side in order to construct a penthouse in 1950.

The center has acquired the two adjacent one-story buildings to create the Pioneer Room and a music hall. A mirrored and elaborately carved wood bar, taken from the old Pioneer Saloon, formerly on the site, has been installed in the Pioneer Room. Both spaces are used for poetry readings, meetings, and other programs.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta


What's Nearby


Julie Nicoletta, "Western Folklife Center (Pioneer Hotel)", [Elko, Nevada], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Nevada, Julie Nicoletta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 155-155.

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