by Janet Ross
Fallon, Nevada? You may be surprised, but Fallon does qualify for all those superlative adjectives. The Churchill County Seat, a small city of less than 10,000 (2010 census) residents, Fallon is situated astride the “Loneliest Road in America” (US Highway 50). It has also been described as the “Oasis of Nevada,” making it a perfect destination for an easy day trip. With a little planning, you can take in a special event or, just be spontaneous, get in your car and go!
First, though, a brief history. The Lahontan Valley contains the remnants of a lake, that in prehistoric times, covered almost the entire State of Nevada. Later, the region was home to Native American members of the Northern Paiute tribes who lived along the Stillwater Marsh. In 1896 rancher Mike Fallon owned land where the city now exists. In 1903 he sold his ranch to Warren Williams who sold lots for new residents on the West side of Maine Street (named for Williams' native State). The city of Fallon was incorporated in 1908. Largely an agricultural community, Fallon added the United States Navy in 1942 and eventually the Naval Air Station became home to the famous Top Gun pilot training program.
To reinforce your understanding of Fallon's origins, a first stop might be the Churchill County Museum & Archives. Located at 1050 Maine Street, the small Museum is a gem with everything from vehicles to reconstruction of an early store. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., from March through November, admission is free. A bonus attached to the Museum is the twice-monthly, free, guided BLM tour of prehistoric Hidden Cave and Petroglyphs. Call 775-423-3677 for more information and reservations.
Museums not your thing? How about stock car racing? The season at the Top Gun Raceway begins in April and continues on weekends until October. This NHRA sanctioned drag strip draws fans and participants from all over, so check the website for more information: www.topgundragstrip.com. (The site was under revision as of this writing.)
Perhaps your interests include wildlife. You don't have to be a “Birder” to appreciate the annual migration of waterfowl and shore birds that fills the wetlands in May. Spring Wings is the organization that supports the area's wetlands and birds. Their Spring Wings Festival will take place the weekend of May 19-20, with guided nature tours and special activities for all ages. Full details are on the website at www.springwings.org. Reservations for the Festival are required.
Oats Park Arts Center on Fallon's East side is home to the attractive Barkley Theater and a gallery. Live performances by international artists are scheduled for April, May and June at this time. Additional information at www.churchillarts.org.
Lattin Farms, an organic farming operation, dates to 1909 with five generations of the same family in charge. Famous for their Heart 'o Gold cantaloupes and the late summer corn maze, their produce stand draws visitors to the 1955 McLean location year round. When fresh vegetables aren't in season, you'll find delicious jams and pickles with the Lattin Farms label. Check the website, or call 775-867-3750 to see what's available before you visit.
Hungry? A pair of Fallon restaurants come highly recommended for lunch. The Courtyard Cafe and Bakery at 55 E. Williams Street serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A converted house from Fallon's early days, the Slanted Porch, serves lunches at 310 S. Taylor Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Your own exploration of Fallon and the surrounding area will undoubtedly produce more events and activities that qualify as fascinating, fantastic and fun, enough to stay overnight or through a weekend. You can camp in an area RV Park or choose a comfortable motel (there's a Best Western Fallon Inn at 1035 W. Williams Avenue and a Holiday Inn Express attached to the Stockman's Casino at 1560 W. Williams Avenue.) The Fallon Chamber at 85 N. Taylor Street may prove helpful with your plans. Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., call 775-423-2544 or check their website at www.fallonchamber.com.
Getting to Fallon is easy. From Carson City it's a straight shot East on US Highway 50. Reno and Sparks drivers will head East on I-80 before connecting to U.S. 50 Alternate at Fernley. Driving distance is about 63-miles, time approximately slightly more than an hour.