City of Elko, Nevada

The Best Small Town in America
"Progressively changing with the times"

...also known as: the armpit of the nation.

No, seriously, my roommate is from E-Town and I recently had the chance to visit the illustrious locality; it is definitely not the armpit of this or any nation (that would be Battle Mountain). In any case, my trip taught me many things that I will now attempt to share with anybody who might want to venture to north-eastern Nevada, or anybody that might be amused by the thought of such a trip.


Geography and Climate

It's in the goddamn middle of nowhere. No, I'm serious. It's like a 3 hour drive to nowhere, otherwise nown as Idaho. Take a look at this map I got from mapquest:

|       Elko|
|           |
|           |
 \Reno      |
  \         |
   \        |
    \Las Vegas
     \  |
Anyway, nearest to the greatest little town are Reno (as you can see from the military issue map above), Boise and Twin Falls to the north, and the desert all over the fucking place.

Ah yes, desert. Of course it's hot, between 90-100 degrees in the summer, but it also snows almost every winter because the elevation is almost a mile above sea level. The landscape is dominated by small hills almost exclusively populated by the state flower, sage brush, which is a non-flowering plant as far as I know. But wildlife abounds, on all which I became a qualified expert during my drive there and back. Included in the many Things Trying to Cross the Road were the Desert Bird, Desert Bat, and some sort of Desert Rodent. And Dessert Deer. And Cattle. I am also informed that there are Mountain Goats living there, which means they must actually be Desert Goats.1All of them can be found along the high ways, albeit in pieces.

Business and Economics

Elko seemed fairly well to do to me. It is apparent that mining is the dominant industry with three large mines in the area, but there are also other possibilities. Needless to say, I'm not writing about that boring shit, so the following statistics are courtesy of the official Elko homepage:

Average Family Income: $60,200.00 as of 3/29/01

    Retail Services
  • 8 Shopping Centers/Mini Malls
  • 5 Casinos
  • 7 Supermarkets/Grocery Stores
  • 36 Hotel/Motels
  • 48 Restaurants/Fast Food
  • 15 Real Estate Firms
  • 11 Financial Institutions

  • (there are also at least three legal brothels that i know of. i guess they don't put that kind of stuff on the website.)
  • Sales Tax: 6.5% Sales Tax (on al tangible personal property.)
  • Use Tax: 6.5%(On all purchased tangible personal property bought out of state for use in Nevada)
  • Use Tax: 6.5%(On all purchased tangible personal property bought out of state for use in Nevada)
  • Property Tax: $3.1065 per $100 assessed value in Elko.
  • Assessed Valuation: 35% of the estimated market value of property.
  • Average during 2nd Quarter 2001: $138,000
  • Prices Range from a high $399,000 to a low $19,900
  • Total housing units: 6,948
  • Occupied: 6,200
  • Home owner vacancy rate: 2.5%
  • Rental vacancy rate: 16.3%

Culture and Entertainment! No, Really.

You might think that there can't be a lot to do in this town, given that you don't gamble, you're done with the whores. But after my trip I can assure you there are at least three things to do if you absolutely have to have entertainment hand-fed to you in the midst of blissful desert paradise.

1. Drinking: Basically what I spent most of my time there doing. There are tons of bars, as well as empty plains, soft dunes and river beds.
2. Hunting: Given that you have no moral compunction against the senseless destruction of sentient life, there are lots of defenseless deer that have no real place to hide. Taking their lives is permitted in reserved zones. Follow the signs, or the shirtless guy on the ATV with a rifle mounted on the front. Don't worry, he's a nice guy. He was my roomate's neighbor.
3. National Basque Festival!

That last one could arguably simply be filed alongside number one since that seemed to be the sole attraction, but there was a band, and Elko is home to the densest population of Basque people outside of the actual Basque region in Spain. They are friendly, make great steak, and rock a kickin' accordion. The festival, which takes place every 4th of July weekend, includes picnicking, a bull run, and a dance to which every young person in Elko is almost guaranteed to attend. I was there, it raged. Notables: kalimotxo, boda bags, and passed out 7 year olds.

For more detailed information, please see the National Basque Festival node.

1. Please see for a full list that has the added benefit of not being bullshit.

Please submit any factual corrections or important additions to me, and I will be happy to add them. I am just a visitor.

Choice defense of small town culture will also be included. Sorry about all the politics between the lines.