Strange tales from Austin - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

July 13, 2014

Strange tales from Austin

Austin - an unforced quaintness
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FUNNY how towns can be places on a map, no more than that, and then take on a personality. And odd how somewhere that ought to be interesting turns out dull.

Well, Austin doesn't disappoint. It has unforced quaintness, as though nobody knew how things were in other towns and went about life as they chose.

Take the hotel, for instance. Your everyday hotel looks uncluttered, even forgettable. It emphasises cleanliness over character. Not so the International Hotel in Austin. I don't doubt that the rooms are spotless but the exterior looks like the home of an eccentric who ran out of places to put things.

The International hotel, shipped from elsewhere and since then grown into eccentricity
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It is, I learn from the town newspaper, the oldest hotel in Nevada and maybe the oldest in the western USA. And yet it wasn't originally here. Parts - the east side and a bit of the bar - were originally the International Hotel in Virginia City. And when Virginia City wanted bigger and better, someone had the idea of shifting some of the old hotel to Austin. When they'd done that, they came back from time to time for a bit more. It's no good asking me why, or why they didn't take all of it straight off, because I don't know and the newspaper doesn't tell me.

These were interesting times. Somewhere round here, a band of shady entrepreneurs set up the Reece River Navigation Company to send freight ships up and down the Reece between Austin and Battle Mountain, 150km to the north. Having got fancy share certificates printed, they set off for the eastern states and the big cities and there they fattened their wallets at the expense of suckers too eager to believe all they were told.

And why shouldn't they have been so trusting?

Because the Reece river, which you cross just west of Austin, is three inches deep.

The mighty Reece river, ready for steamboats and freight ships
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