Lovelock is a busy little town on Interstate 80 in northern Nevada, and as quite the friendly community, its name really says it all. Originally named after George Lovelock, a pioneer in developing mineral and agricultural resources in the area, the town was originally founded in 1849 and served as a stop for settlers en route to California. During the 1860s, and English settler named George Lovelock arrived and later purchased 320 acres of land along with the oldest water rights on the nearby Humboldt River. Later in the same decade, a train depot was erected on 85 acres of land donated by George, which was crucial in the development of the town. As a result, the area was not only named after George, but he also acted as the town’s first postmaster and invested in hotels including Big Meadows Hotel. Furthermore, he put his mining skills to use and discovered many valuable lodes nearby, which drew additional prospectors to the area and ultimately increased railway traffic. Today, Lovelock remains dependent on mining, agriculture and tourism.
Although it was named after George Lovelock, a pioneer in developing mineral and agricultural resources in the area, the community put a different spin on its name when it brought the Chinese custom of love-locking to America nearly a decade ago. The sweet tradition of securing locks to a chain is meant to ensure unending love, and miles upon miles of lock-laden chains weave through the Yellow Mountains and along the Great Wall in China and today, more than two thousand locks adorn chains at the Lovers Lock Plaza in Lovelock.
Come Valentine’s Day, special anniversaries or a romantic, spur-of-the-moment idea, couples can regularly be found locking their love in Lovelock. The plaza is tucked behind the historic Pershing County Courthouse grounds, and the ritual consists of finding an empty spot on a chain, securing your lock and love, and throwing away the key...in the Humboldt River that is. Locks are available for purchase at business throughout town, and should the impulse to make it official strike, couples can legally declare their love with a wedding at one of the last round courthouses in the nation.
Lovelock’s Marzen House is another historic site, a circa-1874 home that today showcases old mining equipment, American Indian artifacts and even items that once belonged to Lovelock’s most famous resident, Edna Purviance. A film star from the silent-movie era, she appeared in many films with Charlie Chaplin. Another interesting site for a tour is the Lovelock Depot, formerly a Union Pacific depot that is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For something a little more contemporary, there’s a nice selection of shops and restaurants too.
Besides historic tours, shopping, eating and love-locking, Lovelock hosts regular events that draw quite a crowd. February is known for the annual Balloon Lovers Aloft, a hot-air balloon event, and then there are sporting events and championships, parades, and the annual summer Frontier Days.
Outside of town, there’s no end to the family-friendly activities. The nearby Rye Patch State Recreation Area has a campground, boat launch and picnic area. The reservoir itself is known for its excellent swimming, water sports, and great fishing. The reservoir is also a welcome relief from the arid 40 Mile Desert, with its alkali flats and endless acres of sagebrush. Ancient American Indian artifacts can still be unearthed in the Lovelock Caves and the vast untamed landscape is begging to be enjoyed.