Caliente, formerly known as Culverwell and Calientes, is located in southeastern Nevada in Lincoln County. Its rich history can be seen in the mission-style railroad station built in 1923. This two-story, tan, stucco building now houses city offices, an art gallery, library, and a unique mural in the old Amtrak waiting room.
Ike and Dow Barton, two runaway slaves from Arkansas, first settled in the meadow area in the early 1860s. Later in the 1870s, the Jackman Ranch was established and purchased four years later by ranchers Charles and William Culverwell. The town was then referred to as Culverwell.
A dispute began when two major railroad companies wanted to lay track in the same territory. The Short Line and Union Pacific had set grade stakes to Culverwell, but the newly formed San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad claimed enough of the narrow canyon to set a road block in the path of Union Pacific. In 1901, William Culverwell ended the dispute by allowing one railroad to build through his property. Eventually, the Union Pacific gained control over the project and Culverwell became Calientes a Spanish word for hot. At the base of the mountains, hot springs are found in a cave. The town was once more renamed when a post office opened and the ‘s’ was dropped making the official name Caliente. The railroad line was completed in 1905, and Caliente grew to a population of 1,755 residents. Within a few short years, there were more than 5,000 people who called Caliente home.
For more than 40 years, Caliente was a major stop on the railroad line, but when steam engines were replaced by diesel locomotives in the 1940s, the main railroad stop was moved to Las Vegas. The town’s growth ended, but Caliente is still alive and well today.
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