This little railroad town is another very quiet community here in Nevada and its slogan is proof of this: "Where The Train Stops...And the Gold Rush Begins." If you didn't know about the Carlin Trend, you'd think it was out of place. Although trains still roll through here, it is the interstate that best links Carlin to the rest of the world - supplying commuters with food and gas on their route across Nevada. Even if it didn't, residents probably wouldn't mind. Carlin is still a place where people walk instead of run, the number of passing cars still roll off the tongue in slight celebration, and the term fast food is linked to the only gas station in town. The town's nostalgic past with old US 40 and the railroad bygone era has transitioned to a new pioneering era as a significant gateway to the world's largest gold mine. And to say that Carlin sleeps on gold is an understatement. Fifteen minutes to the northwest is the Carlin Trend, the state's largest gold mine and arguably one of the most productive gold mining areas in the United States.

  • Welcome to Carlin, Nevada
  • Carlin, Nevada

Carlin began on December 4, 1886 in the days of the Central Pacific Railroad's push eastward towards the linking of east and west. The laborers building the railway were Chinese emigrants who settled and planted vegetable gardens by utilizing the cold waters of the Humboldt River. These vegetables were then sold to residents and travelers and eventually, people began referring to the area as "Chinese Gardens." Later, the town was named after William Passmore Carlin - a Union General of the Civil War who was actually stationed here in 1863. Story goes that the three creeks around Carlin were named after his daughters -- Maggie, Susie and Mary. Carlin's roots to the railroad would become even more firmly established when workers learned they needed a way of preserving perishables that were being shipped from the west coast to the east coast. To solve this problem, numerous ponds were dredged adjacent to the tracks so freezing would occur in the winter. Men would cut the ice with saws and store the ice blocks! As trains stopped on their way through, workers would reload the cars with ice. This ingenious method was used until the mid 1950s.

Since the early 1960s, the economy of Carlin has shifted from the railroad to the treasures that lay underground. Modern mining techniques were first utilized here in 1966 and since then mining companies (notably Newmont) have been the major employers in the area. Mining has taken on an even more important role with the advent of technology. Gold is no longer used just in the jewelry industry. It is necessary for most any of today's conveniences from CD players, microwaves, computers, aerospace, communications, to medical and laboratory equipment. Since the mid 1960s, more than $60 million in gold has been taken from the Carlin Trend alone and responsible for employing more than 15,000 people. Carlin's seemingly endless supply of gold has no doubt sparked interest in the area for possibly many decades to come!

View of Carlin from Interstate 80.

Although gold fever has been hotter than ever, Carlin itself has changed little since its former days. You won't find any shopping expos, mini malls, or an abundance of fast food joints here. Instead you'll find a town with a quiet two-lane main street, a city park, and an old-town historic district that's earned its rest with empty tracks that so bustled with life a century ago. The business end of Carlin revolves strictly around its prime interstate exit at Chestnut Street, where a Pilot Station serves food, entertainment, and cheap gas for the busy commuter. Most people either pass right on through headed for nearby busier Elko, but the true treat is a drive to its old historic district. Here you can reminisce both about former times and a delightful promise to the future.

Status: Incorporated City
Founded: December 4, 1886
Population: 2,411 (2012)
Zip Code: 89822
Motto: "Where the Train Stops ... & the Gold Rush Begins"


Distance in miles from ...
Elko -- 21
Battle Mtn. -- 49
Eureka -- 91
West Wendover -- 130
Lovelock -- 175
Reno -- 268
Carson City -- 296
Hawthorne -- 303
Las Vegas -- 417