The tiny community of Gabbs, which is about 100 miles east of Carson City, began as an early mining camp known as Brucite, named for a locally occurring element, before being founded around December of 1941 as a company town for a magnesium production plant. The town was called Gabbs in honor of a paleontologist who had studied fossils in the area. World War II increased the demand for magnesium, and the tiny community swelled with workers. Within just a year of its formal establishment, Gabbs had a police force, jail and school district. By 1943, the cluster of settlements, which included North Gabbs, South Gabbs and Tent City, also enjoyed a library, city hall, parks, tennis courts and a steady stream of local newspapers. However, the plant soon closed its doors and the population of Gabbs dwindled accordingly. A succession of nearby plants followed in the years to come, and the majority of the work force in Gabbs is in the industry even today.
Today, Gabbs is a quiet community, where visitors to the region will find Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, situated about 23 miles to the east. The park offers a unique look into two very different histories. First, the town of Berlin itself – a turn-of-the-century mining town – is preserved in a state of arrested decay and the historical structures, such as old mining cabins, are a sight to see. A trail through the town site tells the tale of Berlin and its mine. And then there’s the Fossil House, home to fascinating displays of Ichthyosaur remains. These giant marine reptiles – dating back 225 million years ago – swam in a warm ocean that covered central Nevada all those eons ago. Guided tours at the Fossil House are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day.