By Harold Fuller
One of the oldest buildings in Mineral County was destroyed by fire Saturday Sept. 19, 1949, when Fletcher station burned to the ground. The fire is said to have started in the second story of the old frame building from a wood stove stack. It was discovered soon after it started but the few people at the station were helpless in their effort to extinguish the blaze as there was no local fire fighting facilities at this remote locality and the Hawthorne fire fighters were unable to get there in time. Fletcher is located 22 miles from Hawthorne, via the Lucky Boy grade, on the road to Aurora and Bodie.
The old stage station had been renovated by Cal Bromund in recent months before the fire and was gaining popularity as a resort center for hunters and fishermen, complete with a bar, restaurant and “sleeping quarters”. Management of the property was taken over just a few weeks prior to the fire by A.A. “Tiger” Noble of Hawthorne. An earlier announcement by Noble stated they were having a “goose and duck shoot on Aug. 20th with matches starting in the early afternoon. Entrance fees were set at $1 for five shots and the best group of five won. Three judges were provided to determine the winner. A dance followed the matches in the early evening with good music being furnished”. Noble was in town at the time of the fire but Mrs. Noble, with the aid of visitors, was able to save some of the personal property before the flames reached the lower floor of the building.
This building, and the others in the vicinity, were built during the Aurora boom during the 1860’s by the H.D. Fletcher family which for years operated it as a “switching station” where fresh horses were made available for the passenger stagecoaches and freight teams that were operated between Carson City and the outlaying mining and milling camps of Columbus, Candelaria, Belleville, Marietta, Aurora, and Bodie. This area was formerly known as “Six Mile Station” or “Six Mile House” being that it was located six miles from Aurora; and Fletcher purchased hay from George A. Green family at the “Nine Mile Ranch”. The Fletchers also raised garden produce and did good business selling fish and frogs from their vast pond network.
The station became of even greater importance with the arrival of the Carson Colorado Railroad into Hawthorne in 1881. With increased passenger and freight traffic into Aurora and Bodie and the expanding local population, a post office was established on October 24, 1883 and named for H.D. Fletcher, the first postmaster. The post office was closed on November 30, 1913.
Footnote: In talking to Efton Swindler about this article, I found that he was one of those who responded to the fire, for the Mineral County Power Company, and he passed the fire truck going up over Lucky Boy and beat them to the scene. Upon his arrival he saw the fire “survivors” had managed to save a few bottles of whiskey and chairs from the burning building and were sitting, sipping and watching the dying embers. I remember camping at this site the following summer with the Boy Scouts and digging through the rubble, looking for, and finding, nickels and dimes that were melted together. Cal Bromund later became a noted artist in Virginia City and a great part of the west and several pieces of his art were destroyed during the Fletcher fire.