Mr. Sun’s Almanac:

There’s more than meets the eye


Matt Hufman

A nonprofit group is working the historic Belmont Courthouse, seen here on Sept. 18, 2013.

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Retired schoolteacher Terry Terras gives a tour of the historic Belmont Courthouse, which is being revamped.

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A door frame in the Belmont Courthouse links Charles Manson to the property in 1969. Historians cannot confirm that he visited the town, but Rose Walter told people the group was there.

Day 4, Nevada Heartland tour, evening update

We spent most of the day in Belmont, and, sad to say, we didn’t see it all. Given that it’s a small mining town, you might wonder how that’s possible, but trust me. There’s much more to this little than you’d think, especially when you’re guided by knowledgeable people, as we were.

At the center of the town’s history is the old courthouse, which opened on July 4, 1876. It was Nye County’s headquarters until the county seat was moved south to Tonopah in 1905.

For years, the building was neglected and left to deteriorate, which it did despite occasional state efforts to prevent it. This year, the Legislature agreed to turn the courthouse over to the county, and a nonprofit group, the Friends of the Belmont Courthouse, which is working to raise money to help restore the building.

That won’t be cheap. An exterior window can cost, at minimum, $2,500, including installation. But so far, they’re making progress and they’ve put in a few windows.

Terry Terras, a retired schoolteacher, took us through the building, offering interesting stories and tidbits. Terras mentioned the county treasurer who took poison and killed himself in his office because he didn’t want an external audit done of the books. (He had been stealing money.) There was also a story of a case in which a lawyer’s closing argument was four sentences and in the form of a nursery rhyme. (The jury agreed with him.) And there was the tale of the prosecuting attorney who didn’t run for reelection but wouldn’t leave when his term was up. (He locked himself up in his office and only came out after his booze supply ran low.)

Only in Nevada.

We toured the entire building, seeing the old jail cells, the graffiti attributed to Charles Manson’s and we climbed up into the cupola. (Great view.)

As we were headed out of town late in the day, we stopped by the home Terry and his wife, Fran, share to say goodbye. Terry wanted to show us something we had newly found. And while he was doing that, Fran was putting a couple of slices of a homemade apple cake into our vehicle. She said she read that we were trying to eat locally and figured we needed something made in Belmont and had just the thing. The apples came from the trees in her yard – the deer that live in the area enjoy the apples, but I’d recommend the cake. It was delicious.

Later, we’ll post some other stories, including one with a great bit of irony and another with an international angle. We’ll also continue the journey and maybe post some pictures of the souvenirs we’ve picked up so far.

Also, don’t forget: Please send your Nevada stories to: [email protected]. And if you have ideas for our journeys, please pass them along to that email as well.

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