The city of Caliente is located in Central Lincoln County on U.S. Highway 93, 150 miles north of Las Vegas. William A. Clark, senator from Montana, and E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad established the town in 1901 during the construction of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. It prospered as a division point on the railroad for nearly fifty years, until its shops and roundhouse were deactivated after World War II. Caliente's large mission-style depot was constructed during the years of the railroad. The structure became a museum, community center, and library in the 1990s.
Situated at the junction of Meadow Valley Wash and Clover Creek, Caliente has an attractive natural backdrop. Beaver Dam State Park and Ryan Kershaw State Park are nearby. The Lincoln County Hospital is located on the northern edge of the community. In the 1950s, the Nevada legislature located the Nevada Girls School at Caliente. Now called the Caliente Youth Center, the co-educational juvenile correctional facility serves young people from ages twelve to eighteen.
In the 1990s, Caliente received notoriety because some of its leaders offered to make their community a transmission point for nuclear waste on the way to the proposed Yucca Mountain depository.