Sunday, January 20, 2008


A few recent and random pics from the neighborhood.

Lost in the crowd. Club Body English - Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

JR's noggin in forground, Aden the closer (notary) behind me.

Body English. (Stupid name for great club).

JR, Phil, Me.

My favorite bartender at my favorite local bar. (Bunkhouse Saloon)
More to come when I get my old PC photies over to this machine.


Had a day off on Friday, and decided to head out into the desert for a walkabout.

My initial destination was a place called Cathedral Canyon, a small natural canyon which has been transformed into a display of icons, statues, and text on stained glass by a since deceased Las Vegas lawyer, apparently as a way to cope with the untimely death of his daughter. If I'd have found the bloody thing where I was told it would be, I'd write about it. But, like Rick in Casablanca, "I was misinformed". I have a fix on it now, and I'll head there soon.

None the less, my trip took me way off the beaten path, south into California, along a road so desolate and long I started to wonder if putting as much distance between myself and civilization was such a fantastic idea. My survival kit was on board, but my spare tire was not.

Just as I was starting to consider turning back, the road began to wind back and forth in order to traverse a mountain. It was fun to drive on, and the view was spectacular, so I pressed on. Below is a short video clip of the winding road as seen coming back, from the cockpit of the A4. (Careful with volume. The car stereo is audible).

After the road settled back to it's straight 'n narrow routine on the other side, I came into the town of Tecopa. I think I saw 2 people in the entire town, and both were driving. One in a mail car, the other in a bright yellow school bus that read "Death Valley School District" on it. A few miles down the road, I found the school. A one story building no larger than the first floor of our home on Belmont Drive, perhaps smaller. The only other nearby buildings were a couple of tiny houses, and a post office. A nearby sign suggested I hang a right and visit the famous hot springs and RV park nearby, but I chose to pass. A couple more miles down the road was a huge cross and a small church. Beyond that, the road sunk back into the desert all the way to the horizon, and it was clear the next town was a long way away. I only got one picture (above) because the silence was a little unnerving, and the town seemed about a half mile wide.

Tecopa: Population 99, consisting of 60 households, and 22 families. The median income for a household was $12,344, and the median income for a family was $16,250. Males had a median income of $0 versus $31,250 for females. They have a shiny new school bus.

The RV park must be popular on weekends. On the return trip I passed no less than 20 RV's towing ATV's, go karts, dune buggies, etc.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Living on a Nuclear Wasteland

Federal officials were investigating the deaths of at least 55 wild horses and an antelope found near a watering hole on a Cold War proving ground for ballistics and bombing experiments in central Nevada.
Tissue from the animals and water samples were being tested, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Hillerie Patton said Wednesday. She said toxicology tests could take up to a week to complete. A water pond on a dry lake bed on the Tonopah Test Range was suspected to be the cause of the problem, the BLM and Air Force said in a statement released Tuesday. The area, about 210 miles northwest of Las Vegas, was home to about 250 wild horses. Patton, in Las Vegas, said workers were fencing off the pond and setting up storage tanks to offer fresh water to wild horses and burros. The Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration were involved in the investigation, which began after animal carcasses were first seen in the area Friday. The secure area is managed by Sandia National Laboratories.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Eldorado Canyon

Today was another old mining town, but a lot closer to home. The Eldorado Canyon is just 20 miles SE of Vegas, and 10 miles south of Boulder City, and unlike Rhyolite, it's still slightly alive. The mine is all dried up, but now it's open to tours by a company housed in one of the old buildings here. They also run a Kayaking tour of the nearby Colorado river. The main building is surrounded by old west decor, old cars, and machinery from the mining days. It's a museum without even trying.

The Canyon was home to Paiute and Mojave Indians before being run off by gold seeking Spaniards in in 1775. Those fella's didn't look hard enough, and moved on. In 1850, white faced prospectors showed up and ended up taking multi-millions out of the place over the next 90 years. At first, a select few mining teams kept the location a secret, but then as steam boats began to make their way down the Colorado river, the location of the gold strike became public knowledge, and the are was mobbed by prospectors who blew holes in every other rock face and dug mines. As you drive through the canyon, all the old mines are still there, boarded up and looking untouched for the last 100 years. Amazing!

The Techatticup mine was one of the most lucrative in the canyon, and few places in the west have more recorded history behind them...

It is said that many of the miners here were Civil War deserters, AWOL and hiding out in the desert, and arguments over gold and women, resulting in lots of violence were commonplace. Lawmen refused to enter the canyon before long, as killings became a daily occurence. Eventually, Federal troops posted a small battalion here to keep order, watch over the steamboats transporting the gold, and keep an eye on nearby Indians who had begun to raid the town. An infamous Indian who raised hell in the canyon was Queho, who murdered 23 people here in the early 1900's, and always avoided capture. A local posse claimed to have found his remains in the canyon in 1940.

The canyon is also home to stories and legends of the ghosts of dead miners, Indians and pioneers. There is a long history that exists to this day of people exploring the area seeing the ghosts of dogs. Miners used to keep vicious attack dogs to protect their property during the turbulent times, and there were hundreds of dogs here in the gold rush days. The locals call them the "Hell Dogs of Eldorado" . Cool!
Legends continue to be created. On the inside of the door at the mine tour building was a picture of a man holding a huge snake someone had recently hit with a car. it was 9 feet long and weighed over 100lbs. Someone had written on the photo, "Eldorado speed bump".

The mine remained active until 1945, after which it had produced more than $250 million in gold, copper, silver, etc. After the mine closed, the population of the town dwindled from it's 500 miners to nobody at all. The site lay abandoned for the next 50 years. Over 100 years of mining, the Nelson mining district and it's many mines produced over 500 Million.

A twin, but cant nail down the type....

Just beyond the old mine site, as I was heading for the Colorado River, I noticed a chained in yard filled with the fuselages of what I think are old Corsairs in coastal Navy paint, with no rhyme or reason for them being there. I would have taken a closer/better picture, but I could hear what I'm sure was a rattlesnake somwhere nearby. I havent seen one in the flesh yet, and I had no plans to see one today.

Finally, the road dead ends at the great Colorado River. You can pull right up with your car and hop out and go swimming, as there is no current here. Locals were enjoying the water, and nearby there was a 20 foot cliff that people were jumping from. Have to remember my swimmies next time....

The road out of the canyon, NV highway 165. Pretty quiet out there.



Just out of Beatty, Nevada, Rhyolite is a ghost town with much character. With a population of over 10,000 at one time, Rhyolite was no small town. The town was founded in 1904 and by 1907 even had electricity. There is one building still standing today in Rhyolite that was made from 10,000 beer bottles of which there was no shortage in Rhyolite. Another building, the bank building, was 3 stories tall and cost $90,000 to build. Ruins of its wall still stand today. The financial panic of 1907 took its toll on the town and businesses started to shut down. Then, the mines started to play out and by 1916 the power and light company had shut down and the people had moved on.

Another example of "counting your chickens before they're hatched" is the story of Rhyolite. Founded in 1904 after what appeared to be a rich strike of ore by an Eddie Cross and a "Shorty" Harris, plans were made to accommodate an influx of people in the thousands. A train station was built. A school was built without anticipating the number of children who would occupy it. The building was totally inadequate. A second school building was constructed on a grand scale. It was used only briefly and was never filled. The panic of 1907 provided the coup de grace from which the town could not recover. By 1910, the population had shrunk to several hundred and continued until only a few dozen remained. The ruins are mostly the concrete structures, one of which is the school that was never filled to capacity.

The Nevada gold rush of 1904-1907 was centered in three towns Goldfield, Tonopah, and Rhyolite. They were not close together but all are on U.S. Highway 95 with Tonopah in the north, Rhyolite in the south and Tonopah in between. Rhyolite's short-lived prosperity ended permanently and abruptly when its mines played out in 1909.

Rhyolite began in 1904 with the rich discoveries in the hills west of what would eventually be the townsite. First a small camp called Bullfrog emerged. Then another camp named Rhyolite took form a mile to the north. It included numerous saloons, restaurants, and boardinghouses—all in tents. One of the first buildings constructed was the two-story Southern Hotel. The first post office was housed in a ten-by-twelve tent opened on May 19, 1905. Water was a rare commodity in the area and was carted in at a cost of $2 to $5 a barrel. It was not until June 1905 that Rhyolite had an efficient water system. In only one year, it had an abundance of water and three water companies. There were several small camps within a radius of a few miles of Rhyolite that eventually merged with the southern part of the rapidly expanding town. By the spring of 1905, there were three stage lines bringing supplies to Rhyolite. The first auto stage from the Tonopah and Goldfield Auto Company became active in 1905. Baseball became the town’s sports entertainment. Rhyolite built its first school early in 1906 and the enrollment soon reached 90. By May 1907 the number of students reached 250. A new two-story brick schoolhouse was built with classrooms and an auditorium. Rhyolite reached its peak in 1907 and 1908. Its population at that time was estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000. The town was served by three railroads during its peak years. In January 1907 a network of 400 electric streetlight poles were installed to light Rhyolite twenty-four hours a day. A number of very impressive buildings were erected including a bank building and a large mercantile store. At its peak, the town had forty-five saloons, an opera house, a number of dance halls, a slaughterhouse, two railroad depots, and countless other buildings. It even had three public swimming pools. During Rhyolite’s brief reign of glory, more than eighty-five mining companies were active in the hills around the city. The financial panic of 1907 spelled doom for Rhyolite. Most of the town’s investors were from the East. When they withdrew their backing, all the mines were forced to close. The devastating effects of the panic did not affect Rhyolite until the spring of 1908. It was then the trains were almost always filled with people leaving town. By the end of 1909, the population was well below 1,000. The town continued to struggle to stay alive hoping for a new boom that never came. The population of the almost dead town had shrunk to fourteen by the beginning of 1920. The last resident died in 1924. Rhyolite is clearly one of the best ghost towns in Nye County and in the state of Nevada.

Hard to believe all that happened here. It's completely silent out there, not a soul to be seen, which simply adds to the spooky feeling of walking around a real ghost town in the American west all by yourself.

(It didn't work. I tried!)

The depot is in remarkable shape. Looks ready to live in. How cool would it be to live in an old west mining town railroad depot, over 100 years old?