Peggy Draper Hone & Kathy Hiatt
There are many a mystery within the confines of an old mining camp and it’s not that different for the small town of Pioche, Nevada. For Pioche it has to be the Cross on Lime Hill. This cross that sits as a sentinel overlooking Pioche and the grand valley. Where did it come from and who put it there? Why would someone take the time to place it there? Today, many years later, it still beckons to all who come in close proximity of its grandeur.
Many of the town folks who live here today can recall it being there as far back as the 1960’s and 1970’s. With the loss of so many of the older citizens it has been challenging to answer the questions that we all have.
In the quest to learn the facts of the story we have to go back to the 1920’s. Mining was a busy enterprise at that time and many of the miners were Italian. We have learned about one particular miner that was suffering from homesickness. Where he came from in Italy there stood on a hill a beautiful cross and he would think about it often.
It was the custom of the miners in Italy to place a cross on a hill where they were visible when they would venture into the mines. They would faithfully ask for safety and give thanks as they came out.
The idea came to this unidentified miner to replicate that cross on a hill and Lime Hill that stands so proudly overlooking Pioche was the perfect spot.
So for over 100 years the cross has stood proudly looking over our community and many miners have come and gone. I’m sure there have been many prayers said to that cross on the hill. However, it isn’t the original cross. At some point that first cross was destroyed by fire and needed to be replaced. Sometime in the 1970’s Bill Lynch built a metal cross and eventually, an electrical cord was run up the hill to light it up at night. It has been a beacon for all.
The cross had also been planned to be an inspiration for religious services. There was no longer a Catholic church as it had burned and the Episcopal Church became the strong religious denomination which attracted many of the citizens. They have also celebrated their sunrise services at the foot of the cross.
Very recently it became necessary to do some upgrading of the electrical presentation of the nighttime cross. The Lincoln County Power District donated and replaced the system with solar lighting. Both sides of the cross are now lit up. Many thanks to the Power District and to Dell O’Connor and Steve Lucchesi for their time and effort. With their help the cross can continue to give its warm welcome to the community and surrounding area.
Now we know the origin, reason and purpose for the stately cross that guides our daily lives. Hopefully it may shine for many more generations to come. Perhaps we should glance at it as we go about our days and do as the miner did, say a little prayer for safety in the morning and give a prayer of gratitude as we finish out our day. What a blessing to have that beautiful Cross on Lime Hill.