This is Part 2 in the Road to Vegas series. To read the other installments, click here.
Just a few minutes away from Topaz Lake, Hwy 208 descends into the Smith Valley. The Smith Valley, like most valleys in Western Nevada, is full of green pasture land as far as you can see. It’s also home to the “twin cities” of Smith and Wellington, two small farming communities along the highway.
The Smith Valley was first settled because it was along the road to Aurora, which during the 1860s was a bustling mining town that rivaled Virginia City. Wagons and stagecoaches that were traveling between Carson City and Aurora would have to travel through the Smith Valley, and several way stations were established in Wellington to service the weary travelers.
But the Smith Valley had another asset, the Walker River which provided a steady stream of water flowing through the valley. Soon the river was tapped for irrigation, and the Smith Valley started the agricultural life that it still enjoys today. Eventually Aurora became a ghost town, and the steady stream of wagons gave way to a steady stream of cars on their way to Las Vegas.
Most of the residents of the Smith Valley don’t live in either of the towns, they live on farms or in the “suburbs”. Large-parcel residential areas sprawl all along the west side of the valley, up against the mountains.
Check back soon for Part 3 of the Road to Vegas, dealing with Yerington.