Mason Valley History & Demographics



A Community Located in a Majestic Setting Where People Make the Difference


A Region Rich in History and Western Lore

            John C Fremont made the first recorded account of this region in 1844. He was on his second expedition to explore and map the “West” and followed the course of the Walker River into a large fertile valley.

            This valley was later named after it’s first settler, N.H. A. “Hock” Mason, who saw the area in 1854 while on a cattle drive to California and returned five years later to establish the valley’s first homestead and the name Mason Valley.

            Just north of Mason Valley, Nevada’s first military post was established in 1860, Fort Churchill. The ruins of the adobe barracks still stand today and are open to the public as a state park.

            In early 1870’s a willow-thatched saloon which, according to the locals, served a beverage like poison (pizen) gave the town its first name, Pizen Switch. As the town grew larger the more respectable name, Greenfield, was adopted. In an attempt to lure the railroad to the town in 1894, its name changed again. Community leaders named the town Yerington, after an important railroad engineer during that time. The railroad never came to Yerington, but the name stayed. Incorporated in 1907, Yerington is the Lyon County Seat.

            During the late 1800’s the Indian Paiute messiah, Wovoka, lived in this region. In 1889, Wovoka claimed to have a vision in which he was instructed to teach a new dance (Ghost Dance Religion) that would restore to the Native Americans their old way of life. Although a peaceful dance and movement, the whites misinterpreted the movement, thus culminating in the killing of Sitting Bull. Today the “Spirit of Wovoka” is celebrated annually with an August powwow.

            The area also has a rich mining history stemming from the gold at Pine Grove and Bluestone at the turn of the century to copper at Weed Heights in 1950 and the Anaconda Copper Mine. At one time, the open pit mine was one of the largest in the country and can be seen from a look out point.

            Today, Yerington enjoys the diversity of both industrial and agricultural life styles. Its rich history and culture can be further explored at the Information Center and the Lyon County Museum.


 Situated in an ideal climate and location

At an elevation of 4,380 feet above sea level the area is typical of basin and range typography -- lush farmland acreage surrounded by high desert terrain. Locally noted as being the “banana belt” area, temperatures rarely reach extremes with moderate temperatures and averaging over 300 days of sunshine.

Average annual precipitation is 5.52”. Temperature averages in January are 46 degrees with July averages at 92 degrees. The annual snowfall is 10” or less and humidity is low at 20%.

Within a short drive, you can ski at a world class destination  -- Lake Tahoe, visit historic Ft. Churchill where adobe barracks still stand, experience the splendor of the Nevada Sierras, discover rural Nevada agricultural communities and our rich history, and explore our high desert terrain, ghost towns and mining camps.


Providing convenient municipal services.

Yerington is incorporated and has been the county seat for Lyon County since 1911, which serves a county population of approximately 34,840. Neighboring towns include Wellington, Smith, Silver Springs, Fernley, Stagecoach, Dayton and Mound House.

Full municipal services in Yerington include police and fire departments, public works, water and sewer, a mayor, four city councilmen and a city manager.

Estimated Population Statistics as of 2000 are:

Yerington                     3,710               Smith Valley                 2,093

Mason Valley               11,353             Lyon County                41,000


Lyon County is one of the leading agricultural counties in Nevada.

            With approximately 50,000 acres under cultivation for our main crops, which are: alfalfa, onion, garlic, grains (oat, wheat, barley and other hays) and potatoes. Lyon County produces 23% of the states agricultural products. Livestock production includes cattle, sheep, dairy operations, and llama breeding.


A Community friendly to business

In Lyon County, one can enjoy the simple pleasures of a rural lifestyle and yet experience Nevada’s unbeatable business climate. With a strong local economy and yet close proximity to all the amenities of urban centers (Reno-80 miles & Carson City), Yerington offers the best of both worlds -- a friendly, safe, hometown with all the business opportunities.


Nevada has low taxes

Nevada’s tax structure continues to be one of the least burdensome in the United States. Unlike most other states, Nevada does not impose a: corporate income tax, personal income tax, franchise, inventory, unitary, chain store, admissions, inheritance, special intangible, estate and or gift tax. The sales / use tax in Lyon County is 6.5 % with no tax on food for home use or on prescription drugs. Lyon County’s appealing tax structure provides an excellent choice to many retirees.


Diverse transportation services are located throughout the county

Yerington is located on Highway 95A, 54 miles from I-80 and 30 miles from US 50. Various trucking companies serve the area daily as well as national parcel carriers. The railroad located north of town provides daily freight delivery upon demand. Passenger and parcel bus service provide daily service to Las Vegas, Tonopah and Reno.


The Yerington Municipal Airport serves as an excellent fly-in destination.

The airport is located approximately 40 air miles south east of Reno. This business class airport serves the general aviation needs of Lyon County and the surrounding region.

There is one paved runway of 5,800 feet in length and 75 feet wide, a 200 foot chevron on each end of the runway -- combined total pavement of 6200 feet, and a taxiway. Excellent facility for light to medium size business jets. Full service FBO with fuel, maintenance, avionics, cafe, lighted runway, beacon, PAPI lights, unicom and walking distance from town.



Excellent Community facilities provide convenience.


Education: K - 12, various daycare facilities, and Western Nevada Community College offers classroom and video instruction.


Public Library: The Yerington facility is the central branch of the Lyon County Public Library System. Branches include the towns of Smith, Silver Springs, Fernley, and Dayton. The library system offers a diverse book selection as well as educational video selections, audio books, and electronic technology for research using CD ROM products. Internet facilities are also available.


Medical Center:  Located in Yerington the South Lyon Medical Center offers 24-hour emergency care with a skilled nursing facility, specialty consultant physicians and hospital services. A newly opened 59-bed long-term care facility is available. The non-profit corporation has been serving its’ community for over 40 years and is at the point where its walk-in services rival the largest hospitals.


Lyon County Museum, one of the best in rural Nevada, is located on South Main St. and is open Thursday - Sunday with tours also available by appointment. Originally constructed in the town of Mason, the old church building now exhibits room settings with a turn of the century kitchen, child’s bedroom, Sheriff’s office, and the Anaconda Copper room. Several out buildings include the general store, natural history display, black smith shop, and a one-room schoolhouse.


Information Center:  In 1991, an innovative plan was put together to form a partnership between Lyon County Economic Development, Lyon County Museum, and the Mason Valley Chamber of Commerce. Out of that partnership came the Lyon County Information Center, one of rural Nevada’s best visitor centers. Not only is the added facility an extension of the Museum, which is next door, but it is also a Main Street business front for economic development and the chamber. It prides itself in not only featuring historical displays about the unique local history, but also offers regional visitor and business information with a generous slice of hospitality.


Jeanne Dini Yerington Cultural Center: The newly renovated 1912 historic Yerington Grammar School No. 9 is home of the 210 seat Jeanne Dini Performing Arts Center equipped with state of the art lighting and sound systems. The center attracts local as well as regional productions.


Convention / Community Center:  A recently opened facility located right in the center of downtown Yerington, boasts of its 299 seating capacity, warming kitchen and full meal catering service.


Yerington’s Senior Center is designed for an active retirement.

The Older Americans of Lyon County is a non-profit nutrition program serving up to 125 meals daily at its Yerington dining facility and its meals on wheels delivery to the homebound. Adjacent is Yerington Manor, a non-profit apartment facility serving its seniors on a sliding scale basis. Our seniors take an active role in running these services as well as contributing to the quality of life within our community.


Many types of family recreation are offered

Golf: In Yerington there is a challenging 18-hole public golf course, which includes driving range, putting green, and pro shop with complete clubhouse and restaurant facilities. Just a few miles from town at Weed Heights is a driving range and miniature golf course. Within a 50-mile radius, one can also enjoy golf in Fernley, Carson Valley, and Dayton -- an Arnold Palmer designed 18-hole championship golf course.


Parks:  We have several parks in our area. Mountain View Park complete with fishing lake, sheltered picnic area and horseshoe pit. The Veterans Park that includes the historic No. 5 Fire house and community built “Native Plants” viewing garden. The “Kiddy Park” features a public swimming pool and playground equipment.


Tennis Courts: There are (two double, one single) asphalt tennis courts and two practice courts located near the Yerington High School.


Baseball, Softball, and Soccer Fields: Several fields are available for school and league play. Tournaments are often hosted and several fields have lights for night play.


Archery - Trapshooting: Each has an active club with complete ranges available in each sport for shooting and competition. There is an indoor and outdoor archery range along with a rifle and pistol range too.


Cinema and Bowling Complex: With its friendly atmosphere, the complex is located right in the heart of town. The bowling center is a fully automated, synthetic lane facility. The ABC/WIBC sanctioned lanes have hosted the Nevada State Women’s, Senior’s and Men’s Tournaments.



Several Annual Events are celebrated throughout the region:

·        Spring Fling Classic Car Show                May

·        Coyote Chase                                           June

·        Lyon County Fair and Rodeo                  August

·        Spirit of Wovoka Powwow                       August

·        Dayton Valley Days                                August

·        Fernley Living History Festival              September

·        Smith Valley Fun Days                            October

·        Silver Springs Stew-Do                            October
Click here for a complete events calendar

Visit two family operated casinos-Dini's Lucky Club Nevada Style” while staying at our wide range of accommodations.

            With over 130 motel rooms, 275 RV spaces, the area is an unexpected vacation oasis situated along the Walker River system. Enjoy our great outdoors as well as our entertaining casinos and many area restaurants.


Open public lands provide limitless outdoor activities.


Hiking: Our high desert country promises challenging and breathtaking hiking terrain. Wildlife and foliage abound in the surrounding area.

Off Roading: Mason Valley has thousands of acres of public land and hundreds of miles of dirt roads and trails that are open to all Off Road enthusiasts.


Camping: Facilities are available at all the lakes in the area. Wilson Canyon is of particular interest to many and our close proximity to Tioyabe National Forest that includes Sweetwater and Pinenut range has plenty of public land open for camping.


Lakes and rivers: Lakes Lahontan, Topaz, Tahoe, Pyramid and Walker are great for fishing, swimming, boating, water skiing and camping. The east and west Walker Rivers converge just south of Yerington and are all excellent fishing areas.


Fishing: Fishing abounds in the area. Nearby Lake Lahontan, Walker Lake, Wilson Canyon, and Weber Reservoir offer a variety of bass, perch, catfish, rainbow, German brown, and cutbow trout.  The Wildlife Refugee north of Yerington also offers fishing with its stock of large mouth bass. The state run Mason Valley Fish Hatchery in the Wildlife Management Area is open for tours plus there are excellent wildlife viewing and photography opportunities.


Hunting: Bird hunting is especially good around the valley with duck, geese, dove, and pheasant available. The state operated game ranch attracts sportsman to a fine hunting area.


Rock hounding: The area abounds in mineral and semi precious gem stones -- minerals such as malachite, copper, iron pyrite, traces of turquoise, peacock ore (bornite) and quartz crystals. Jasper, agate and calcite in several different forms are found in the area. Petrified wood, petroglyphs, and bones of prehistoric animals have been discovered.


Adventure sports abound: Plenty of open lands to enjoy rock climbing, mountain bike adventures, and off road vehicle explorations.


Ghost town exploration:  The region is full of history such as the ghost towns and mine sites of Pine Grove, Ludwig, and Bluestone Mine. Within a day’s trip you can visit Virginia City, Ft. Churchill and Buckland Station, Bodie, and Masonic just to name a few.