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Gerlach-Empire, Nevada
—  CDP  —
Location of Gerlach-Empire, Nevada
Coordinates: 40°37′22″N 119°20′29″W / 40.62278°N 119.34139°W / 40.62278; -119.34139Coordinates: 40°37′22″N 119°20′29″W / 40.62278°N 119.34139°W / 40.62278; -119.34139
Country United States
State Nevada
 - Total 94.1 sq mi (243.7 km2)
 - Land 94.1 sq mi (243.7 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Population (2000)
 - Total 499
 - Density 5.3/sq mi (2.0/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
FIPS code 32-27325

Gerlach-Empire is a census-designated place (CDP) in Washoe County, Nevada, United States. The combined population was 499 at the 2000 census. It is part of the RenoSparks Metropolitan Statistical Area. Most of the population live in the two tiny settlements of Gerlach and Empire; the rest live on outlying rural ranching properties.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 94.1 square miles (243.6 km2), all of it land.

Its elevation is 3946 ft.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 499 people, 234 households, and 146 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 5.3 people per square mile (2.0/km2). There were 297 housing units at an average density of 3.2/sq mi (1.2/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 91.18% White, 2.81% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 4.61% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.02% of the population.

There were 234 households out of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.71.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 116.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 120.6 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $35,088, and the median income for a family was $43,125. Males had a median income of $36,000 versus $23,056 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $14,793. About 10.3% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.8% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.


"Welcome to Nowhere" sign in Empire

The economies of Gerlach and Empire focus on gypsum mining near Empire, tourism in the nearby Black Rock Desert, and hunting. Empire is the classic company town of the United States Gypsum Corporation (USG). All residents of Empire work for USG and USG owns the properties and buildings. The Empire gypsum mine is the longest continually operating mine in the US. Most mines were shut down during WWII as resources were diverted to the war. For some reason it was determined gypsum was 'essential' and this one never closed. The town has a church, a public pool, a 9-hole golf course, a post office (89405), and Empire Airport for light planes. There is also a day care facility for the employees of Empire, and a convenience store with a gas station—the only store for more than 50 miles (80 km). Gas is generally about 40 cents per gallon cheaper at the Empire store versus the Shell station in Gerlach, though the Shell station is open 24 hours a day for credit card users.

The other major industries are a Union Pacific switching station in Gerlach and public services of Washoe County (roads department and K - 12 public school). Many of the inhabitants of Gerlach are elderly retirees. There are 3 owner-operated bars in Gerlach; Bruno's Country Club, Bev's Miners Club, and Joe's Gerlach Club. Bruno's Country Club is a bar/restaurant with separate motel and gas station and has been a destination for travelers in the region for over 50 years, and is the only restaurant and motel for 80 miles (130 km). Bev's Miners Club is the primary bar for the retired people in town, and Joe's Gerlach Club is the popular bar for the employees of Empire.

Many people in Gerlach also have small private businesses. Many are Internet-based.

Hunters from all over the west travel to Gerlach to hunt a wide variety of game such as chukar, geese, deer, antelope, etc. Joe's Gerlach Club hosts an annual chukar feed in late January. Bruno's restaurant hosts several other private parties in a large room in the back which is available for rent.

Since 1991, Burning Man, a week long countercultural festival with 47,000 participants (as of 2007), has been held nearby. Due to the appearance and actions of many of the participants, local enthusiasm is mixed, but the event is responsible for around 20% of the sales at the few commercial establishments in the area. The Black Rock Desert is also the site of many other recreational activities, organized and otherwise, throughout the year.


Gerlach was founded during the construction of the Feather River Route of the Western Pacific Railroad between 1905 and 1909.[2].


Gerlach is served by the Washoe County School District.


Primary highway access to both Empire and Gerlach is provided by State Route 447. Gerlach can also be accessed via three former state highways: State Route 34, State Route 48, and State Route 49 (also known as Jungo Road).

In film

The town of Gerlach, NV was one of the film locations (Banco, Nevada) for the film Far From Home (film) starring Drew Barrymore and Matt Frewer.


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ Nevada Historical Marker 152, Nevada Historical Preservation Office [1]

40°37′22″N 119°20′29″W / 40.622883°N 119.341273°W / 40.622883; -119.341273



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