The two castles of Austin, Nevada

Tycoons, turrets and the hidden history of a tiny desert town.

  • Highway 50 reaches across the country from West Sacramento, California, to Ocean City, Maryland. A stretch in Nevada is nicknamed, “The Loneliest Road in America.”

  • Left, the three-story granite castle, built by railroad magnate Anson Phelps Stokes in 1896, perches on the bluffs outside Austin, Nevada. Right, is Paradise Ranch Castle, built a century later by Bob Sossa for his new wife, Donna.

  • Donna Sossa now operates a bed-and-breakfast from the castle her late husband built her.

  • Tumbleweeds fill a moat outside Sossa’s castle.

  • Donna Sossa peers out of her bedroom window.

  • Left, the ruins of the Stokes Castle. Right, Sossa sits in a room accessed by a secret network of passages in her castle.

  • A covered pool table in the basement of Paradise Ranch Castle.

  • Light reflects on the wallpaper of the Paradise Ranch & Castle.

  • Another castle sits in a fish tank at Donna Sossa’s home.

  • A portrait of Donna and Bob Sossa hangs in Donna’s living room.

  • A window from the interior of the abandoned Stokes Castle.

  • A historic photograph of the Stokes Castle taken when its balconies were intact.