Panaca, named after the Southern Paiute word for metal, panaka, has survived since its founding by Mormons in 1864—a longevity not shared by the Mormon towns to the south. Settling in a flat plain between two mountain ranges, Panaca's farmers irrigated their fields in the summer with water from the Meadow Valley Wash. The establishment in 1869 of Pioche, a mining town eleven miles to the north, provided a ready market for the Mormons' agricultural products.
Like other Mormon towns, Panaca is set on a grid, with wide streets and a large town square in the middle. The Mormon church, or meetinghouse, is on one side of the square, facing Main Street, with school buildings opposite. Panaca retains some historic adobe structures dating from the mid-nineteenth century, as well as brick and stone dwellings dating from the more prosperous years later in the century when the town had become established. Unfortunately many of these historic buildings have been demolished or irretrievably altered in the past ten years. Panaca remains a quiet, close-knit agricultural community populated by many descendants of the town's first settlers. Because of its distance from Las Vegas (over 160 miles), its proximity to the Nevada-Utah border, and its Mormon heritage, Panaca has more cultural and business ties to Utah's Cedar City and St. George than to southern Nevada.
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