Sunday, August 3, 2008

Things to do in Austin, NV

First, settle in at your motel.
Second, look at the geology.


When you are good and ready, walk uphill from your motel (or across the street depending on which motel you are at and where you are going).

golden clubWalk past some old and older out-of-commission bars and remember the bar that isn't there anymore - see the old site next to the Golden Club there? What was it's name? Until it burned down in 1977, that was where CA and I ate every morning. It was a kitchen fire, they said - we woke up that morning to the sound of fire engines and the ruckus of people in the street. After that, the cafe at the International was the only place for breakfast. The tea was lukewarm; the eggs were runny. I ate dry cereal instead. I never have like eating there much, ever since, a kind of leftover bias from the past - the cafe did go through a spell a couple years ago where you could get good burgers. I don't recommend it right now, though: the waitress always seems to be in the bar.

owl club Speaking of bars, here's a live one: The Owl Club. Don't be too confused about this - there's an Owl Club in Eureka, too. This Owl Club here in Austin is the place where Austin Rules were invented: no slop, bank the 8. (At least I think it was this bar. I wasn't around when those rules were invented; didn't find out about them until years later.)

In 1977, this was a good bar to hang out in, as were all the bars including the ones no longer open or no longer extant. In 1977, you could take your beer outside the bar as you headed down the hill or across the street to the next one, and no one minded - unlike in Eureka of the same era when they would practically arrest you. Bar fighting was considered to be a weekend sport, a sport competed in by friends who made up shortly after the fight. I didn't compete, being from out of town. It was a sport just for locals, as far as I could tell.

[BTW, it is a good idea to start at the upper end of town when working your way from one bar to another, and then it's all downhill to the motel from there.]

The Owl Club had the song North to Alaska by Johnny Horton playing on the jukebox in 1977. Every time I stopped back in, I'd check to see if it was still there. Last time I checked, probably in the late 1980's, you could still play North to Alaska on the jukebox. I'd been thinking about this as MOH and I drove through Austin a week before. Would the song still be there?

We walked into the bar, looking for the pool table, which didn't seem to be there anymore unless it was hidden in the back somewhere or under some junk in a back corner. I walked over to the jukebox and examined every song - no North. As we sat down at the bar to await our beers, North to Alaska started playing - on a CD boombox sitting on a small stage in the front corner. We sat and listened - it's still there, just not on the jukebox!

The bartender had stepped out, said he'd be right back. Two guys down at the other end of the bar were arguing about something [maybe they were working up to an old-fashioned fight competition?], the song was over, and there wasn't a pool table to be seen.

international So we left. Without any beer. Walked down the street to the only other bar I'm at all familiar with, maybe the only other one open. The bar at The International.

barWhereas I can't can recommend eating at the cafe, (This part is simply not true anymore, updated 3Feb2012.) The bar is well worth stopping at. The Amberbock on tap is fine, and the bartender tapped a new keg for us (the old one was empty). I think he said that the old handcrafted wooden bar was made in 1842, or that the wood for it was shipped around the horn to San Francisco that year (stop and ask the bartender - he knows!).

unionliquorThe International Hotel building was built in Virginia City in 1859 and then taken apart and brought to Austin in 1863.

woodworkVirginia City then built a new International Hotel, which burned down in 1875. A third International Hotel was then built in V.C., six stories high - it is the International that was supposed to have been the largest hotel east west of the Mississippi. The third V.C. International burned down in 1914. In Austin, only the east side of the current building is from the original International Hotel, as I understand it. Some bits of history here, here, and here.


Anonymous said...

The International has a nice wild west feel from the looks of it.

Silver Fox said...

And I haven't even mentioned any real rip-roaring stories yet! :D

Unknown said...

It was the Austin Hotel. Owned by my parents when it burned.

Silver Fox said...

Thanks! I stopped in at the Golden Club a couple years ago, and was reminded of all the old times there and the Austin Hotel next door.