The old Gridley Store is still a famous landmark in Austin. Owner R.C. Gridley, upon losing an 1864 election bet, carried a 50-pound bag of flour up through town to the tune of "John Brown's Body." While post-race libations flowed in the local hotspots, the sack of flour made the rounds at auction. Auctioned many times, it raised $6,000 for the Sanitary Commission, the Civil War precursor of the Red Cross. Other towns challenged Austin and the sack of flour toured the country. Its repeated auctions raised $275,000 for the cause to help battlefield casualties. Traveling around the country ruined Gridley's health, and when he returned to Austin, he found the mine played out and his store close to bankruptcy. Two years later Gridley and his wife and four children were living in poverty in Stockton, CA. Upon learning of Gridley's plight, newspaper editors in California and Nevada raised $1,400 to buy him a house and small farm, but Gridley's health continued to decline. He died in 1870 at the age of 41.
Today, Gridley Store is marked by Nevada Historical Marker 119. For more information about the old Gridley Store, visit austinnevada.com. For photos of the store, go to visit the Gridley photo album on the Austin Flickr page.