Founded in 1869, Pioche rode the wave of mining discoveries beginning with the Comstock Lode strike in 1859 on the other side of the state. Though the Mormon community of Panaca stood nearby and might have had a moderating influence, Pioche's remoteness and lawlessness gave it a reputation for being one of the most dangerous towns in the West. Unlike some other mining towns, however, Pioche survived long enough to become more civilized. By the mid-1870s it had gained approximately 12,000 residents and, as the seat of enormous Lincoln County, oversaw a huge area that contained the entire southeastern corner of Nevada. But Pioche was not immune to the mining boom-and-bust cycle. Then, with the establishment of Las Vegas in 1905 as a railroad town, residents of that community fought to have their own county government with a seat closer than Pioche, 175 miles away. In 1909 the state legislature established Clark County with Las Vegas as its seat. Pioche remained the Lincoln County seat but lost its chance to oversee the growth of a new twentyeth-century metropolitan area. Though it revived occasionally in the early twentieth century, since the end of World War II, Pioche has had to rely on tourism, with a little mining, ranching, and county government business, to support its economy. Today it looks and feels as if time has passed it by; its main street is still lined with small businesses and buildings dating from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Mining has left its legacy in the tailings, headframe, and tramway high above the town. Roads wind through the narrow canyon with little order to them.
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