Exploring Tonopah's Past While Looking Ahead to Future - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Exploring Tonopah's Past While Looking Ahead to Future

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In 1913 the town of Tonopah was in the midst of a $10 million mining boom - the most profitable year the town's dozens of silver and gold mines would see.

"It's what this town was built on...it's what we are."

A century later-- this once active land lies still as a museum. The Tonopah Mining Park-- a tribute to what once made this town one of the largest in the state.

Tonopah in the Paiute language means a place of little water. But it certainly had plenty of  silver ore, that brought thousands of settlers in during the town's mining boom.

Prospectors and miners looking for work flooded the area carving hundreds of miles of tunnels underneath the town - you can still see some leftover remnants today.

"You can see the cuts in the earth, those are called stopes.."

Just 3,000 people call Tonopah home now - many still working in mines nearby.

But even as the town's foundation in minerals fades into history - a new technology, using a different natural resource is taking shape on its doorstep.

A new $1 billion solar reserve project that turns sunlight into electricity.

"The technology was designed by rocket scientists, so it is cutting edge. And we're just happy that it's here in our area," says Tonopah Town Manager James Eason.

Many of the 600 workers it takes to build this project come from Nevada's workforce.

And even though Tonopah boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, they're still feeling this boost to their small economy.

"It helps, yes...your restaurants are full, your hotel rooms are full, your apartments, your RV parks..."

So although the nicknamed "Queen of the silver Camps" has faded from its former glory, its residents know, that in gambling country sometimes you have to lose a little before you win big.

"You know, Tonopah has had this history of boom, bust, boom bust, boom bust...and now we're having another revitalization. So whether it's the solar project or mining in the area, it's very exciting."

Written by Arianna Bennett

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