They say a man’s home is his castle. In the case of mine developer and railroad magnate Anson Phelps Stokes, the saying was quite literal.
Stokes was one of several wealthy east coast investors that saw opportunities to enhance their fortune in the American West. Riding the wave of the silver boom in the nearby town of Austin, he poured money into development and infrastructure in the region, such as this castle tower that became a lasting piece of his legacy.
More than a little bit out of place in the Nevada desert, the three-story structure was commissioned by Stokes in 1896 and finished the following year. It was modeled after a tower in central Italy and constructed from Nevada granite — some of these stones weigh thousands of pounds. In its heyday, the tower was lavishly decorated; each floor had a fireplace, and the Stokes family could look out over the surrounding lands from its two balconies and the battlement terrace on the roof.
The Stokes reign, however, was short. The family traveled west in 1897 and spent about a month in the castle. It would be their only visit. A little less than a year later, embroiled in an embezzlement scandal and the silver mine’s decline, Stokes sold both the mine and his brand new castle.
Stokes Castle lay abandoned for many years, until it was purchased by a distant relative in 1956. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the idiosyncratic tower endures, not quite like anything else you’ll see along an American roadside.