The site of numerous freshwater springs, Wells was first known as Humboldt Wells, as it is the easternmost source of the Humboldt River. The abundant water attracted westward settlers, who made it an important campsite on the Emigrant Trail. When the Central Pacific Railroad came through in 1869, it built a division point here, around which the town of Wells grew up.
Like other towns along the railroad, Wells exemplifies the effects of shifting modes of transportation on urban form. On 7th Street, facing the old Central Pacific line, is one of the bestpreserved railroad rows in Nevada. One block south of the tracks is 6th Street (U.S. 40). The rise of the automobile brought new development to this strip. With I-80 came franchised truck stops and motels clustered at the exit ramps, pulling people even farther from the earlier commercial centers. Many people leave the highway at Wells but never bother to enter the heart of town. Not helping matters is U.S. 93, now rerouted to bypass Wells and intersect with U.S. 40 west of the town center. South of 6th Street and north of the tracks are two residential neighborhoods.
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