Trip Reports – NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network Telling Nevada's story 365, 24/7 Sat, 16 Feb 2019 00:07:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 NevadaGram #211 – Power Dining in Carson City, Skiing Elko, Driving Dirt Roads and More Sun, 03 Feb 2019 19:42:02 +0000 19 Carson City Restaurants Legislators and Lobbyists Will Visit in 2019 You Should Too! by Barry Smith When 63 legislators and hundreds of lobbyists arrive in Carson City for the 2019 session of the Nevada Legislature, which begins February 4th, they’ll continue a tradition that dates to the beginnings of Territorial government when Abe Curry [...]

The post NevadaGram #211 – Power Dining in Carson City, Skiing Elko, Driving Dirt Roads and More appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #210 – 2019 Must-See Must-Do and a Whole Lot More Thu, 13 Dec 2018 23:28:46 +0000 Silver City residents and friends

 2019 Must-See Must-Do in NevadaAs always, this is Not a Best List but a list of some of the people, places and things we encountered in the past year that we feel deserve a shout-out.

Enter your own nominations at our Facebook page or in the Comments at the bottom of this page.

And please, treat yourself to these Nevada wonders, excitements, pleasures, comforts and satisfactions and others like them in 2019.

Travel Hero - Don Newman

2019 Nevada Travel Hero

Don NewmanRaise a farewell toast to Don Newman, the recently retired 12-year E.D. of the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority and Convention Center. Don is a native of Las Vegas but escaped young to Elko. He was General Manager of the Red Lion when he came to the CVA in 2006. He has represented rural Nevada on the Tourism Commission since 2011 and was a member of the Nevada Sesquicentennial Commission, which sponsored or approved more than Garcia Sesquicentennial Saddle600 projects statewide 2013-2014, including Don's favorite, the Garcia Sesquicentennial Saddle.

He's been an energetic and capable manager of an Elko Convention Centerimportant public asset and has served as master of ceremonies at events as diverse as the Mining Expo in June and the wonderful Festival of Trees in December. In his calm, quiet way he has set a high standard for achievement that we can all take pride in.

Here's to you, Don. You done good!

City of the Year - Silver City

2019 Nevada City of the Year

Silver City Nevada

Silver City, pop. 180, was settled in the mid 1850s by placer miners working claims on Gold Creek. It became a staging point for freighters making the 3-mile haul up the steep canyon road through Gold Hill to Virginia City and suffered along with the rest of the Comstock as mining slowed and, by 1950, Will and Sheree at Doodad's in Silver City Nevadastopped.

Silver City has put its mining past behind it and become a serene family-oriented community ever since. By 2015 only one commercial business remained on Main Street, the happy little store called Doodad's, but it closed when the mining company toppled the highway into the huge Lucerne Pit upcanyon, and through traffic was diverted around Silver City.

And now that mining company is threatening to destroy the rest of the town.

Pitmining just north of Devil's Gate from Silver CityNot by the 19th century variety of 'classical' underground mining that built Silver City, but pit mining, which is a brutal heavy-industry assault on the landscape and all living things within breathing, hearing and seeing distance. Previous Lyon County Commissioners have denied efforts to poison the community in this way, but the current bunch, has been 'persuaded' to abandon the long-standing Master Plan and allow open pit mining within the town itself.

This is a death sentence for Silver City as it now exists.

Silver City residents and friendsThe town is fighting to prevent it of course. Most of the people who live here have made major investments in homes that will have very little value next to an ever growing hole in the ground that's dusty and noisy and toxic to boot.

If you'd like to help or simply curious, visit and for current news, and Comstock Mining Updates for a rough history of this mess.

Hotel of the Year - Incline Village Hyatt Regency

Hyatt Regency beach at Incline Village Nevada2019 Nevada Hotel of the YearTravel sophisticates rate the Incline Village Hyatt Regency as one of the company's finest. Across the street from a sandy beach and Big Blue, it features the exquisite Stillwater Spa, a casino and sportsbook, and an outdoor pool. The elegant Lone Eagle Grille is right on the beach, the family-friendly, casual dining Sierra Cafe is in the hotel itself, with outdoor service available in season. Food and drink also available in season at poolside, on the beach, and at the end of the pier. It's a great place for banquets, weddings, or for a slow, sensual romantic getaway.

3 Restaurants of the Year

Saltgrass Steakhouse in Laughlin

2019 Nevada Restaurant of the YearSaltgrass Steakhouse in he Golden Nugget Casino, Laughlin NevadaFor great service, great food and a welcoming atmosphere, make a point of stopping at the Saltgrass Steakhouse in The Golden Nugget at Laughlin. Their homemade baked potato and chicken tortilla soups are delicious. So are their double-bone pork chops, tender melt-in-your-mouth steaks, fish specialties of blackened redfish and salmon oscar. Plus the range rattlers, texas tea, and drink specials. Enjoy the free loaf of bread with your meal, scratch-made daily, like all the breads, dressings, soups and desserts here. Sunday through Thursday early dining is from 4 - 6 pm, and happy hour from 3 - 5.

Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas

2019 Nevada Restaurant of the YearBacchanal Buffet

So many award-winning restaurants in Las Vegas but limited time and money. What a conundrum! The Bacchanal Buffet is the answer. Voted the “Number One Buffet in the Country” by the New York Post, it offers truffle deviled eggs, Osso Buco, roasted baby quail, smoked beef brisket, crab legs and other delicacies, and features an Asian station that transports you to Hong Kong. The upscale buffet at Caesars Palace employs nine chefs and 124 cooks who prepare 300 food items daily. And the dessert station is aglow with a large and colorful display of gelato plus made-to-order dessert crepes.

Kerouac's in Baker

2019 Nevada Restaurant of the YearKerouac's in Baker Nevada

This full-service restaurant (with 10-unit motel attached) and bar in beautiful downtown Baker is a bonus for visiting Great Basin National Park between late spring and late April.

Kerouac's serves fresh takes on American classics and offers a dining experience that is both sophisticated and approachable. We are a meeting place in town, where locals and travelers can enjoy a satisfying meal in a convivial atmosphere.

The Motel is called Stargazer because with one of the darkest night skies in the country, this is an excellent area for exploring the night skies. The Park offers astronomy lectures and telescope viewings three nights a week during the summer.

Attraction of the Year - Zephyr Cove Lake Tahoe

Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe Nevada2019 Nevada Attraction of the Year logoZephyr Cove has no mayor, no police force, and no taxing powers, so we were ready to name it City of the year because it has a Post Office (zip code 89448) and so much more than most small Nevada cities can offer visitors — the cruise boat Dixie II makes her lake cruises year-around, a lodge with rental cabins on the lakeshore, a venerable restaurant, a riding stable, a fleet of snowmobiles, an RV Park and campground in the pines, plus parasailing, water skiing and wakeboarding. If you're not sure how much fun you can accommodate all at once, here's where you can find out.

Hidden Treasure of the Year - Last Chance Joe

2019 Nevada Hidden Treasure of the YearLast Chance Joe at Victorian Square, Sparks NevadaThere’s a paunchy, nearly toothless be-whiskered old guy with a goofy grin who has been a familiar figure on Victorian Avenue in Sparks for more than 50 years. When he became suddenly homeless in 2014 a number of local folks made a big effort to help get him cleaned up, rehabbed and relocated. Last Chance Joe has finally returned to his old neighborhood, in front of the Sparks Heritage Museum. You can’t miss him, he’s 32 feet tall. A great Treasure, hidden in plain sight.

Event(s) of the Year - Virginia City Parade(s)

Nevada Day Parade, Virginia CityNevada 2019 Event of the YearVirginia City will throw a parade at the drop of a hat, and it does a marvelous job of it. The old city droops from age and shows gaps, but on parade day — ten of them in 2019 — the air is festive on C Street, paraders and their audience enthusiastically recreating the spirit of the young city, with the shopkeepers, restaurateurs and saloonkeepers keeping the 19th century fresh and alive. This year's calendar starts on March 17th — that's St. Patrick's Day — and ends in December with the Parade of Lights.

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Editor's Choice —

Gerlach School Moves From Remote Town
to National Stage

Keeper, Gerlach Nevada school teacherOn November 28, Burning Man Rangers Keeper and her partner Crow sat proudly among the audience at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in President’s Park, Washington D.C.

Nestled among the tree branches were ornaments that Keeper’s Gerlach K-12 students hand-painted after they were chosen to represent Nevada in this annual tradition. School paraphernalia from Gerlach NevadaThe ornaments highlighted a range of animals, industries, and elements of Nevada, including our very own Black Rock City.

“People don’t necessarily always see us because we’re a tiny little rural place that’s isolated from the rest of our district,” Keeper says. “So I think that there’s a lot of pride around being chosen to do this. It feels like it has put us on the map.”

Read More Here

Lovelock's Marzen House Museum memorializes mining history

by Suzanne Featherston

Marzen House Museum, Lovelock NevadaOre carts and rusted mining equipment line Marzen Lane in Lovelock, hinting at the wealth of mining and Pershing County history at the Marzen House Museum in Lovelock.

One fall day before museum hours, a visitor strolled among the relics when neighbor Devoy Munk pulled into the parking lot.

“Did you want to see the museum?” she asked through an open car window. “Because I have a key.”

 Read More Here

Nevada's Wovoka Wilderness
Wovoka Wilderness Area, Nevada

Thousands of beautiful acres of wild Nevada landscape

In the mountainous backcountry of western Nevada is a roughly 48,000-acre tract of land left relatively untouched by human development. There are no roads, cars, or houses encroaching on the natural environment, just miles of scenic, serene land dubbed the Wovoka Wilderness.

This nature reserve became a protected wilderness area in 2014 and was named Wovoka after the Paiute spiritual leader who was born and raised in the region. Wovoka, a shaman mystic, is best known for starting the Ghost Dance movement that many Native American tribes in the West adopted at the end of the 19th century.

Today, the Great Basin landscape that shares Wovoka’s name is the last stretch of wild land in Lyon County.

 Read More Here

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5 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Comstock Mining Update: At its regularly scheduled meeting on January 2, the Lyon County Commission broke all precedent by ignoring its Planning commission’s recommendation to deny the Comstock Mining Inc’s Master Plan Amendment and Zoning change requests. Instead, the Commissioners voted 4-1 to impose a “compromise” made between CMI and Commissioner Vida Keller to reduce the size of the acreage affected.

Unfortunately, Silver City was not invited to participate in making this compromise, and so gets nothing from it except the intimation of doom. Every property in and adjacent to town was suddenly made more vulnerable and less valuable. That’s a high price for the people of Silver City to pay for a “compromise” that doesn’t include them.

How it was done: I defer to Nancy Dallas, who follows Lyon County affairs from her News Desk and is more knowledgable on this topic than I. Here is her report, titled “Master Plan integrity loses to money & power”.

Read it All Here

Overheard at the Toiyabe Cafe in Austin "I'll tell you this, Harley, it's hard to stay religious when certain people never get incinerated by bolts of lightning."

10 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The Lovers' locks at Lovelock NevadaLovelock will host a group wedding and vow-renewal ceremony to commemorate the second anniversary of Lovers Lock Plaza at 11 am on Feb. 14. Couples engaged, married, dating or otherwise are invited to join in this special Christian-based ceremony to tie the knot and lock their love behind the famous round Court House.

Lovers locking love at Lovelock NevadaCouples wishing to legally marry at the ceremony need a Nevada marriage license before the ceremony. A reception will be held afterward, and participants not soaring on the wings of love may take a hot air balloon ride over the town, weather permitting. Lovelock’s annual hot air balloon festival begins the next day and carries through the 17th. Registration is required and can be made here or by telephone at 775-273-7213.


Read It All Here

What they're saying about us: Via Magazine discovers "nature, art, and Reno's unique culture" — all within downtown and the Riverwalk.

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

OneMcAvoy Layne as Mark Twain night recently McAvoy Layne was hurrying from an engagement at Lake Tahoe to a dinner date in Carson City. As he was about to crest Spooner’s Summit and begin the long descent of the east slope of the Sierra, his car began to sputter and stall. He had run out of gas.

He steered the car over to the shoulder, and as it slowed he opened the door, jumped out, and pushed, hoping to maintain his momentum and crest the summit so he could roll down to the bottom of the grade. But there was just enough of an uphill slant to prevent it, and he had to park at the side of the road and hitch-hike.

McAvoy had already changed out of his white suit, so he was just a shadowy figure by the side of the road and the cars whizzed past. At last a pick-up truck pulled over and Mac jumped inside, effusively thanking his benefactor, a Hispanic man of middle age as they swept down the grade to Carson City. After a few minutes the man looked over at McAvoy and said, “Should I know you?”

McAvoy Layne's Toast to Bobby FitzsimmonsWell, maybe so.” said McAvoy, “I’m Mark Twain.”

The man regarded him silently and then returned his attention to the road. Eventually he turned back to McAvoy and tapped himself on the chest.

“Me, Ponce de Leon.”

Read it All Here

Parting Shot —

No Trespassing

Beginning of the Lucerne Pit in Gold Hill just upcanyon from Silver City. Not a good neighbor. Photo by Max Winthrop,

The post NevadaGram #210 – 2019 Must-See Must-Do and a Whole Lot More appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #209 – Christmas Trains, Secrets of the Picon, and the Guy from Tahoe Straps on his Skis Wed, 14 Nov 2018 20:21:15 +0000 Choo-choo Santa

Nevada is blessed with a handful of historic railroads operating around the state, and they all devote considerable energy to creating forever Christmas memories. If there's a child in your world, these train rides can stay with you for the rest of your lives.


Two of them welcome trainloads of children and their adult companions aboard the Ely Polar Express and the Carson City Polar Express at the east and west sides of the states repectively.

Conductors at the Ely depot call out "All Aboard" and the train whisks its passengers off to the North Pole, sipping at hot chocolate and nibbling on cookies served by elves in the exotic enviroment of a swaying, creaking, clickety-clacking railroad car. Some of them are dressed in pajamas, but none of them are sleepy. When they arrive at the North Pole, Santa steps aboard and each child receives a gift to remember this night. Even without a gift, the memory is indelible for the grownups too.


just as they do In Ely, families in Carson City climb aboard historic coaches dressed in sparkling holiday lights for the magical journey to the North Pole. They curl up and listen to the story of THE POLAR EXPRESS. They too sip at hot chocolate and they also nibble on cookies! VIP parlor car tickets are available.

You might think there is a mighty traffic jam at the North Pole as Polar Expresses from all over the country pull in, but the engineers are so deft, so graceful and so skilled that they never even catch sight of one another.


Christmas on th V&T Virginia CityVirginia City's Candy Cane Express has a busy weekend schedule of festively decorated departures through December 16th. Steeped in holiday spirit, this whimsical train has become a cherished local tradition for families of all ages. On the scenic 50-minute journey over the 140-year old V&T railroad route, you will enjoy hot cocoa or cider, candy canes & cookies, and sing-a-long carols.

And the State Railroad Museums in Carson City and Boulder City both operate Santa Trains.

Each rider on the Carson City Santa Train receives a candy cane from Santa Claus upon boarding. Tickets are $5 for all riders; children 2 and under sitting in an adult lap are FREE.

Refreshments are offered for sale. Explore the museum and have your photo taken with the magnificent locomotive Inyo (for an additional fee). Online ticket sales close 24 hours before departure and only select trains are available for ticket purchase online. Walk-up tickets are available for purchase each day of Santa Train.

The Boulder City Santa Train

starts up at 10 am on December 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd. This 40-minute ride along the Boulder Branch Line features fun on board with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a toy train exhibit, Santa's sleigh for photos, North Pole mailbox and depot gift store. Purchase Santa Train Tickets.

The Boulder City Pajama Train makes two runs each evening, at 6 and 8 pm, on December 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st. Purchase Pajama Train Tickets

From a Trip Advisor Review: Last year I wrote the pajama train was fun but the kids couldn't see out the window because it was so dark out; so this year we went at 3:00. Seeing out the window is highly over rated, next year I'm back on the PJ train in the club car. Santa and his helpers were great though, day trip takes about 25 minutes; longer for the PJ trip.

More about Nevada's Historic Railroads here

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Editor's Choice —

Nevada Magazine logoMelvin Dummar: The Man Howard Hughes Left Behind

by Shaun Astor

Melvin Dummar“I grew up in Fallon. There was an airport, where the Churchill County rodeo grounds are at,” Melvin Dummar, now 74 years old, recalls on a warm evening as the sun falls behind the Resting Spring Mountain Range to the west of his home in Pahrump. “I was 6, 7 years old, it was still open, and I would watch the planes. I wanted to fly.”

From its mining to the casinos that make up a portion of the state’s tapestry, Nevada’s past has been guided by the oscillations between boom and bust. Wealth can be made and lost at the flip of a card, the spin of a wheel, or the swing of a shovel. It may appear at a moment and disappear just as quickly.

This is the story of one man’s brush with fate that made history and almost destroyed his life.      Read More Here

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

Bikepacking Nevada's backroads

Day Tour; Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

by Kurstin Graham

Adventure Cycling has promoted Bike Your Park over the last three years to celebrate National Public Lands Day. I have promoted rides out of the Black Rock Desert and Dayton to Fort Churchill State Parks in years past.

This year I wanted to visit the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. I had been considering this park on the western slope of the Shoshone Range in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. I planned a ride from the historic Middlegate Station to our state park, then returning on gravel roads through the Ione Valley back to Middlegate. As the route was planned it was 90+ miles with over 5,000′ of climbing. As a group ride, open to all, this was a bit intimidating.            Read More Here


On the final days of “The Fellowship of Highway 95,” Lindsey Rickert and Francesca Berrini process what they experienced in Nevada.

Time was top of mind as Francesca Berrini and Lindsey Rickert began the final days of their week-long artistic adventure from Las Vegas to Reno up Nevada’s “Free-Range Art Highway”.

In continuation of the previous days’ journey into the mythical “unknown,” the women headed to Walker Lake to catch a glimpse of Cecil the Serpent, the elusive 'sea monster' said to reside in the lake. Read More Here

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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram — A Bad Day for Comstock Mining Inc.

The struggle over pit mining in the Virginia City National Historic Landmark has shifted south through Devil’s Gate from Storey into Lyon County.

At last month’s scheduled hearing before the Lyon County Planning Commission, Comstock Mining Inc asked for a continuance, saying it hadn’t had time to prepare. This time company CEO Corrado De Gasperis delivered the applicant’s response to the Planning Commission Staff Report just 30 minutes prior to the meeting, giving no-one time to prepare a reasoned response.

He was rebuked by two board members for introducing new and irrelevant material relating to the drawing of the town boundaries, materials requiring careful review, but allowing no time to do it. Commissioner Wahrenbrock mentioned CMI’s incompetence, Commission chairman Davies criticized Mr. De Gasperis’ manipulating and misleading the Planning Commissioners.

Read the whole thing here

Overheard at the El Capitan in Hawthorne: "Torture is designed to produce confessions, Ted, and it always works — confessions to anything you want."

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram — Staying at the Hotel Nevada in Ely

Stayed at the Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall in Ely, got room #417, and consulted the Guest Book for my bedtime reading. Some excerpts:

Big orange ape at the Hotel Nevada in Ely7/6/02 "Wonderful room, great staff (except for Gary the 21 dealer)” 8/28/03 “We’ve been coming here for about 20 years picking pine nuts and garnets.” 11/27/03 “Awesome — He asked me to marry him! Great night!” 12/10/06 “Great place, great room – fun things. Mirror is placed very well too – why didn’t anyone tell us our butts were that big?” 12/13/06 “Love the large orange ape” 3/9/07 “Our favorite stop on the way to the races. Good food. Great bartender (Bad monkey!)” 12/01/07 “A year later and I’m still in love with that large orange ape.” 4/11/08 “We had to evict the monkey out of bed — wasn’t room for us all” . . . 5/20/08 “Next time we have to cover the big orange ape’s eyes — he likes to watch while we tested the bed” 5/30/08 “The room was great. Food was great. Always have a lot of fun here. Only bad thing was my husband was violated by the monkey.” 9/25/08 “Just Married 2 weeks ago. 3 years and Eric still loves that big orange ape” 10/21/08 “Another fun time in this great old hotel. We always stay at Hotel Nevada — our favorite hotel anywhere in the state. Love this room — even the giant chimpanzee”


Read the whole thing here

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15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram — 2003 Governor's Conference on Tourism

It wasn’t the Tourismic oratory that made this Conference exceptional, it was Deepak Chopra.

When I’d seen his name on the agenda I’d wondered what in the world he had to say to us about Tourism. The answer turned out to be: nothing.

He spoke instead about overthrowing the superstition of materialism, of the way the human mind exists in every cell of the body, and how coincidence is a glimpse of the universal mind. He delivered us into a realm of science-based spirituality, far more challenging than we had any right to expect, and light-years beyond interest in the bottom line.

Shar PetersonOne striking omission from the proceedings was any mention of Shar Peterson and the people of Battle Mountain who have performed a miracle of grace under pressure to transform the stunning “Armpit of America” insult by the Washington Post into a positive achievement. The Old Spice Festival in the Pit drew national attention, and Battle Mountain is way up on people’s ‘must-see’ lists not just because of the notoriety, but because of the cool way the folks there have dealt with all the hubbub. Claudine Williams‘ tribute was well deserved, but I think Shar Peterson should have got a medal — she was Nevada’s Travel Hero of 2003.       Read the whole thing here

Parting Shot —
Fly Geyser, Gerlach Nevada

Fly Geyser at Gerlach by Robin Cobbey

The post NevadaGram #209 – Christmas Trains, Secrets of the Picon, and the Guy from Tahoe Straps on his Skis appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #208 – Nevada in Paris Thu, 01 Nov 2018 12:42:08 +0000 Merry-Go-Round on Rue de Rivoli

Last year Robin and I spent several magical days following Sam Clemens around Paris and when the opportunity came to come back again, I decided to see what else Nevada people have been up to here since Sam came to town in 1867.

Marie Louise MackayEmma NevadaI discovered, though, that Nevada's impact on Paris was mostly over by the end of the 19th century, and that the two Nevadans responsible for most of it were women, one from Virginia City, the other from Austin.

These were interesting and remarkable women, and they had great successes in Paris — Marie Louise Mackay (left) was a bright star in the social life of the cité (after failing in NYC even though her husband was one of the richest men in the world. hint: No Irish Need Apply), and Emma Nevada (right) was an internationally acclaimed opera singer. They contributed to Paris' "Belle Epoque" (1879-1914), but most of what makes them interesting happened before they got here. [Read about their earlier years here]

They didn't leave anything behind in Paris except their addresses (they both moved on to England). Louise lived at 9 rue de Tilsitt, a 5-story mansion on one of the streets circling L'Etoile, with the Arc de Triomphe in her back yard. Emma lived a long haul up the Avenue de Wagram, one of those streets that radiate like spokes away from L'Etoile, at #121. Once you've laid eyes on the buildings there's not much else to do except find a convenient cafe and call for a Côte de Rhône.

Jack ArmstrongAnd then we met an ex-Nevadan who lives here, and so one afternoon we took the Metro to the rue Vasco de Gama residence of Jack Armstrong and his wife Catherine. Once upon a time he was the Carson City correspondent for the Associated Press — until he decided to become a Foreign Correspondent, resigned, and moved to Paris. Here he got a job writing photo captions at the old International Herald-Tribune, and not long after moved on to United Press International where his job title was indeed Foreign Correspondent. He wasn't yet 25.

Three years later he was working for Radio Luxembourg as a part-time weekend dj, and from there worked himself into the heart of the music business.

He learned the art of producing records, established a music publishing company and began working with French composer/singer David Christie, (nom de plume James Bolden). They sold more than 50 million units with their songs.

Robinson then went on to produce a ton of music, including a string of songs at the top of the European charts, nine songs for Grace Jones and "Dancing In The Moonlight", a massive hit in The USA with the group King Harvest. Now he's writing the libretto for "Walking the Dogs" a musical comedy being developed for the London stage.

That's a splendid ride from Carson City, but when I asked him about other traces of Nevada we could find in Paris he drew a blank. To be fair, he was a Seattle guy, not long out of college, only in Carson City for seven months and so wasn't much sensitized to Nevada after he arrived here.

We stay in the Marais — that part of it between the Seine and the rue de Rivoli, centered loosely on the Village St. Paul — because it is so marvelously old. Just down the street to the left is an ancient church from which one of the Crusades set out for the Holy Land and a section of the wall that once enclosed the cité. And our quiet neighborhood is surrounded by the modern cité. This puts everything in the central cité within walking distance, and walking through Paris provides the same sense of wonder as gazing at the Toiyabes, but noisier.

Paris map

rue du prevot, ParisFrom our little rue we take a turn and walk a loooong block down a narrow street, the rue du Prévôt — for piétons only, too tight a fit for cars — to the rue de Rivoli, Merry-go-roundwhere this medieval passage gives out onto the busy modern city, thronged with people, busy with traffic, buses lumbering by, one of the busiest shopping streets in Paris.

There's a Metro station here — St. Paul (on the 1) — with an escalator that brings people up from underground in a constant parade, and a stairway that swallows down just as many. There's a news stand were you can get all the French papers, plus the New York Times, and if it's raining as it is just now, an umbrella. There are three police with automatic weapons (not always, but several times a week) — and there's even a merry-go-round! This corner will always be the living heart of the cité for us!

And if we walk in the other direction we're in the Village St. Paul, two or three blocks from the river on quiet medieval streets. No sense of the city surrounding this ancient urban oasis except here and there a glimpse from afar, like the one from the restaurant ten steps from our front door — the Tour Montparnasse. You might almost be looking at the moon.

But even this teeming boulevard in one of the greatest cities in the world is part of a local neighborhood. People don't just do recreational shopping here. There are grocery stores rather like ours (with lots of little differences), three within a few steps of the rue du Prévôt's opening onto the busy boulevard, and a Monoprix Supermarket toward the Place de la Bastille about three blocks away.

choucrout royaleI mentioned little differences, let this be an example: I bought a can of saurkraut (Choucroute Royale) to accompany a sausage that had come into my possession (Robin was away at Lyon).  If there’s an Imperiale version it must have two weenies in it. You can’t imagine how surprised I was when I opened the can. At least it wasn’t a thumb.

Parisian MarketWe go to these stores for routine household stuff, and to the street Markets for the fresh food so invitingly presented. When the weather turned cold, which it did after we'd been here a few days, we shopped at the open markets for écharpes, chapeaus and gants, for ourselves and for some of the gifts we'll bring home.

A walk to the market might take half an hour, shopping most of another hour at least, and then the walk back, perhaps with a stop along the way for a glass of Côte de Rhône or a nice Bordeaux, and to let the world walk on by. When we set out again we pass any number of landmarks — that's not extraordinary, you can walk by landmarks almost anywhere in this part of the cité: Place des Vosges! Rue des Rosiers! Les Halles! Centre Pompidou!

Hotel de Sully, ParisWe like strolling past the Hôtel Sully (and into the Place des Vosges). This was once the grandest and most modern structure in Paris, constructed over six years, completed in 1630. When Baron Haussmann was remaking Paris he made sure to spare it.

The grocery stores carry wine, but if you're serious about it you'll find three wine shops within one long block, one of them named Nicolas. The French system seems to favor this friendly practice: there's also a boulangerie named Paul and cafes run by Richard scattered all over town. They're all chains.

Permanent Wave in Paris

Permanent Wave in ParisOne encouraging trace of Nevada in modern day Paris is this representation of the iconic "Permanent Wave" by the late Doc Sherman of Baker. It is a brilliant addition to the artistic traditions of Paris and is being hurriedly added to the guidebooks.

If you're not familiar with French wines, here's a quick guide. Good wine is very very cheap. Very good wine is very cheap. And very very good wine is cheap. Trés bon!

Need I say that restaurants abound, and spill out into the streets in all weather? And that they are an advertisement for the generous sense of humanity that the cité represents to us? Well, they are.

We especially liked Chez Mademoiselle and Pinot Grigio in our neighborhood, Le Petite Bofinger on the rue de Bastille has the best Croque Monsieur we've found since the street machines were outlawed, and the frites are as good as the ones they make at the International in Austin. Its parent Bofinger across the rue at #7 is our choice for the glamor meal. I felt positively Napoleonic as we clinked our glasses. One more? Au Bougnat, at 26 rue Chanoinesse on the Ile de la Cité where Paris was born. Its antiquity is palpable, and the chef is an artiste. And one more: Au Pied de Cochon within a few steps of Les Halles [hint: boeuf tartare].

A few glimpses of the cité —

Parisian market

sculpture at Les HallesLovers in Paris



Swans on the SeineCroque MadameModern gargoyle in ParisA word of warning: there are a number of Basque Restaurants in Paris and none of them are anything at all like the Martin Hotel in Winnemucca or the JT in Gardnerville or any other Basque place in the state. Our beloved Basque dining halls are named for their clientele, the sheepherders who came in from months with the sheep. The left bank in ParisThe Basque restaurants here are named for the cuisine that they serve, which is the food Basque people eat in their homeland. You can get a nice steak au poivre, but they also offer things that turn out to be warm little bags of guts.

Night Life isn't our strong point but we liked the jazz we heard on a previous visit and we make a point of hearing more of it. At home we'll walk barefoot in the dark across a floor sprinkled with Legos to catch Sourdough Slim. Here we'll walk over to the river, along the Quai des Célestines to the Pont Marie and stroll over to the Isle St. Louis, keep going across it to the pont Louis Phillippe and all the way over to the Left Bank.

Then we turn right and continue along the river past Shakespeare & Co. to the Boulevard St. Michel. There we take a left a short block to the rue de la Huchette where we turn left again, and then a right on rue de la Harpe to number 51: Monk La Taverne de Cluny. On Sunday nights Christophe Brunard and his son Julien play here [hint: nobody comes to Monk for the food, but the music is delicious]. Afterward we float back over more or less the same route, past Notre Dame all lit up, into the medieval maze of narrow curving streets.

We'll be floating all the way home in another few days.

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Editor's Choice —

Panhard et Levassor

Nevada Mines Provided Funding for France's 'Great Race'

John W. Mackay, unlike many of his ultra-rich contemporaries, wasn’t enamored with the automobile. Then again, not a lot of people were in the mid-1890s, before the invention had yet to prove itself as reliable transportation.

Nevertheless, he invested a few thousand dollars in a highly touted automobile contest in the summer of 1895, and in the process sealed Nevada’s place in automobile – particularly French automobile – history, as one historian will argue this month at the National Automobile Museum.

“He just saw it as a way to further mankind,” said John Peterson, president of Les Amis de Panhard & Deutsch-Bonnet USA, referring to Mackay. And, of course, Mackay had the dough.                   Read More Here

Max Batzer at the Throttle

Train Nuts get Chance

to Play Casey Jones

by John Hollenhorst

Would you be willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for an hour or two of fun?

Well, if your idea of fun is to drive a train — yes, a full-size, real-life locomotive with you as the engineer out on the open rails — there's a deal waiting for you just across the Nevada state line. On a recent sunny morning in Ely a train nut took a joyride and it cost just under $1,000.

"I love it, hah, hah!" exclaimed Max Batzer as he sat in the engineer's seat and throttled up an enormous, century-old, steam locomotive. He's more accustomed to sitting in the back seat of a taxi or sitting behind a desk in Manhattan.

Read More Here

Interstate 11 in Nevada

Route Choices Narrowed for North-South Freeway

by John Seelmeyer

Plans for a new north-south interstate highway that would connect Las Vegas to Interstate 80 are taking shape.

But leaders in central Nevada say the detailed planning shouldn’t stop at I-80. They say the state also needs to look closely at the final leg of the new interstate, the stretch that would link the I-80 corridor with cities in Oregon and Idaho to the north.

In a study released a few days ago, the Nevada Department of Transportation said it will focus its planning on two possible routes from Tonopah to Interstate 80. (The new interstate, dubbed I-11, would follow the existing U.S. 95 route from Las Vegas to Tonopah.)                    Read More Here

Overheard at the Canvas Cafe in Virginia City: "Here's the trouble with women, Phil: they're too much like men."

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram — A Call from Joe

Joe Conforte - Rolling StoneI had a telephone call from Joe Conforte the other day.




“I’m fine Joe!” (I was in the hospital with ivs in both arms and wires coming off my chest)


And once again Joe puts a smile on my face. I feel the pull of his energy, as he buoys me with his exuberance — sometimes he makes me laugh out loud.

“Joe, you sound great!”


For an excerpt, click the cover.

Breaks, Brains & Balls - The Story of Nevada's Fabulous Mustang Ranch by Joe Conforte and David W. Toll

I hadn’t heard from Joe for two or three years, and it was four years since I’d laid eyes on him at his Rio De Janeiro penthouse.

For those readers younger than 40, Joe Conforte was the hustler/trickster/entrepreneur who, with his wife Sally Burgess, transformed the Mustang Ranch from a broken down shack in the desert into an unofficial National Monument. It was the first licensed brothel in the USA, famous around the world, and he did it with all the cards stacked against him, with every lawman in the state eager to bring him down.Joe Conforte

They put him in prison, they made him run for the border, they burned him out — and Sally too when he was in prison — but each and every time, he came back stronger than before. Today he’s living like a king in Rio on the proceeds from his Nevada life.

Read the whole thing here

[ Our bookstore is closed temporarily, but we do have a small number of Joe's book, both hard cover and paperbound. Send an email for details ]

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram — Mark Twain in Hawthorne

McAvoy Layne as Mark Twain in Hwthorne NevadaOn November 22 Mark Twain performed in Hawthorne for the first time in history, before a packed house at the old USO building, now the Convention Center.

It wasn't the original Mark Twain, of course — Hawthorne didn't exist when Sam Clemens came to Aurora, 15 miles to the southwest, as a hopeful gold miner in 1861. For that matter Mark Twain didn't exist then either — the letters that Clemens sent from Aurora to the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City were signed Josh.

McAvoy Layne as Mark Twain in Hwthorne NevadaBy the time Hawthorne was established as a division point on the Carson & Colorado Railroad in 1881, Sam Clemens was firmly established as Mark Twain, living back east and revered as the author of Innocents Abroad, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and other hugely popular writings.

McAvoy Layne as Mark Twain in Hwthorne NevadaSo this was Mark Twain's first appearance in Hawthorne, courtesy of McAvoy Layne, and the town turned out in force to attend. They packed the theater — extra chairs were hurriedly gathered and set in place — and were treated to his reminiscenses of steamboating on the Mississippi:

McAvoy Layne is the Ghost of Mark Twain"Every tumblerful of Mississippi River water holds nearly an acre of land in solution. I got this fact from the bishop of the diocese. If you will let your glass stand half an hour, you can separate the land from the water as easy as Genesis; and then you will find them both good: the one good to eat, the other good to drink. The land is very nourishing, the water is thoroughly wholesome.

"The one appeases hunger; the other, thirst. But the natives do not take them separately, but together, as nature mixed them. When they find an inch of mud in the bottom of a glass, they stir it up, and then take the draught as they would gruel. It is difficult for a stranger to get used to this batter, but once used to it he will prefer it to water. This is really the case. It is good for steamboating, and good to drink; but it is worthless for all other purposes, except baptizing."

Read the whole thing here

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram — Winnemucca and Austin

The only disappointment of my recent visit to Las Vegas was that Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas was not yet open.

Hofbrauhaus, Las VegasThe $12 million, enclosed beer garden, a replica of the famous one in Munich, Germany, was supposed to have opened across Harmon Avenue from the Hard Rock Cafe in October. The structure is to have a 45-foot ceiling and accommodate 800 beer drinkers gulping down the authentic German suds from authentic German steins while listening to authentic German oom-pah bands. Can you understand my sulky mood? Can you feel my pain?

Hofbrauhaus, Las VegasBut the local people were not completely discouraged, as the proprietors, when they realized they would not be open in time for Oktoberfest, erected a 1,000-seat tent in the parking lot at Terrible's Hotel and Casino at Paradise and Flamingo. From October 10 - 26 they provided sit-down service by a wait staff brought over from Germany, along with the food (including a 40-foot container with 75,000 frozen pretzels) and the beer. I can hardly wait.

Parting Shot —

Paris street by Robin Cobbey

Paris by Robin Cobbey

The post NevadaGram #208 – Nevada in Paris appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #206 – A Visit to Carson Valley, Goldfield Days, Bicycling in Nevada and More Fri, 31 Aug 2018 11:35:35 +0000 Jacobs Family Berry Farm, Carson Valley Nevada

Carson Valley has the distinction of being one of the most beautiful places on earth, just a half hour's drive, via the Kingsbury Grade with its stunning views, from another of the most beautiful places on earth, Lake Tahoe. Last week I was in the Valley for an afternoon with nothing but pleasure on the agenda.

Carson Valley Nevada Visitor CenterI began as you should do, at the Visitors Center, located in the former Douglas County High School on the east side of US 395 in Gardnerville. Welcome to Carson ValleyYou should do this both for the practical information available about what awaits you here — lunch, for example — and for the Douglas County Museum, located just a few steps back down the hallway, to help put modern Carson Valley into the context of the pioneer era when it all began.

Genoa first blossomed in 1851 when John Reese opened what became known as Mormon Station at the base of the Sierra, a trading post serving California-bound wagon trains. Every visitor to the Valley should visit Genoa — food, drink, the Court House Museum, the old Mormon Fort State Park and B&B accommodations.

Carson Valley, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada

Gardnerville was established in 1879 at a crossroads nearer the center of the Valley, more convenient for commerce than the fading Genoa on the far west side.

In 1906 Minden was established on the north side of Gardnerville to accommodate the V&T Railroad line from Carson City. When much of Genoa burned in 1910, the county seat moved to Minden, still a tidy picture-book town built around the train station.

If you asked about lunch at the Visitors Center you'll have a candidate or two on your mind — here's their list to choose from. For me it was the Country Club on Gardnerville's far south side, where I met with Gage Smith, our newly engaged connoisseur of Nevada's Dirt Roads (see below). Gage posts to Facebook as Picon Drinkers of the American West and is an eloquent spokesman for the famous Basque elixir. I noticed he'd ordered one and asked him how it measured up.

"Georgia's behind the bar right now, she worked for Carlos Irrabarren when he owned this place, and she has poured umpteen million picons. She's a good picon hand and I know that I am going to get a good one here. A few years ago, I had the privilege of sitting in Carlos' kitchen for a lesson in making picon . . . with the good stuff. My take away on that," he said with an extreme Basque accent: "Stir the crap out of it!".

Jacobs Family Berry FarmAfter lunch, back north into town on the highway to Sharkey's, then west on Gilman Street about half a mile, around the sweeping turn to the south until St. Gall's Catholic Church is on the left; turn left just beyond it, where you see the modest sign for the Jacobs Family Berry Farm.

Jack and Diana JacobsDiana and Jack Jacobs bought this parcel containing the headquarters of the old Lampe Ranch, and as an experiment devoted some former pastureland to seven rows of berries. There are now 25 rows and 16 different berry varieties, selected for flavor, climate compatibility and ripening schedule, and the farm is in the midst of its best season ever.

Jacobs Family Berry Farm, Gardnerville Nevada"We had a very cold fall last year," Jack told me, "and we picked not quite 2,400 pints, our worst harvest since we established the farm. This year I believe we will pick over 5,000 pints — our Chester blackberry plants are full of berries, mostly red now but they will ripen over the next several weeks, giving us our biggest harvest ever.

"Otherwise our black raspberry harvest is nearly done, along with the summer red raspberries. The autumn red raspberry plants are also loaded and we have started harvesting them and will continue until we have a sustained cold spell, typically the end of September or early October."

Vanessa and Pietro picking berries at the Jacobs Family Berry Farm, Gardnerville NevadaWhen Jack says 'we' have started harvesting them, he's referring to Pietro and Vanessa, nearby neighbors in the Valley. With high schooler help from time to time, the two of them tend the vines and pick the berries (thus the importance of planting berries with staggered ripening cycles). They are skilled in every aspect of production and as Jack says, a major factor in the Berry Farm's success.

We're standing in the small brick building that was once the Creamery, where a pair of large coolers contain the inventory of ripe berries, freshly picked, $8/pint. A woman visiting family in the Valley had noticed Jack's sandwich board sign as she was driving to the grocery store and ventured in. She was from Oregon and has loved the flavor of fresh berries from childhood. She bought two pints of Chesters.

"Now if you don't get to these right away," Jack told her, "you may notice that they've lost their luster and gone a little dull, or even turned gray. When that happens, there's only one thing to do —" She gazed at him with rapt attention. "Eat them!" he said, "That's when they're at their sweetest." She left with a little skip in her step.

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"Yesterday we picked almost 250 pints of blackberries," he told me. "I want to move them quickly while they are fresh so we are offering a 25% discount for full flats (12 pints). That puts the price at $72.00 per flat. Our raspberries are in transition between summer and fall, so this offer is for blackberries only, and when the available flats are gone it will be over."

Jacobs Family Berry Farm, Gardnerville NevadaSo, until sometime around mid September you can take advantage of this splendid harvest and make pies, jam or freeze the berries to enjoy all winter. The Farm is open 10-6 daily, closed Mondays. Call 775-783-4868 or send an email.

In gambling on berries, Diana and Jack created a productve side business as well. They now provide their bucolic premises for weddings, family and corporate events. We should all have such unintended consequences; they are fully booked up for Weddings and Events in 2019 and are taking reservations for 2020.

Dinner was with a friend in Minden and included the coming-from-behind of the beloved Phillies over the despised Red Sox.

Historic Dangberg Ranch, Minden NevadaAnd then a drive toward the setting sun and the Historic Dangberg Home Ranch, at 1450 Highway 88, about ¾ mile south of the roundabout at the intersection with County Road. In addition to being a County-owned heritage site open for tours, the property presents a popular series of music and Chautauquas from May into October. On this evening it was Chautauqua, with Deke DiMarzo in full regalia portraying Alex Coryell, a Virginia City policeman who died in the line of duty in 1891.

Deke Dimazio as Alex Coryell"I've come to visit you from the grave," he said to begin his performance and went on to give us a glimpse of a policeman's life on the Comstock, starting with his uniform: the distinctive hat, the "Thunder" whistle, the billy club (but he didn't twirl it). Coryell's beat was the Third and Fourth wards at the south end of the city all the way to the Divide and including the "Barbary Coast" a blocks-long cluster of low dives and whorehouses on B Street, like the one it was named after in San Francisco.

Coryell's career — and his life — was cut short on June 24 1891 when a miner named Dan Connors became an unwanted guest at one of the Barbary Coast deadfalls and had to be scuffled with, cuffed in front and walked along B Street to the Court House. But before he could be marched up the front steps and inside to the jail, Conners swung his cuffs into Coryell's face, breaking his nose, and dashed north on B Street. Coryell ran after him but at the end of the block by Mooney's Stable, he suffered a heart attack or a stroke, fell to the ground and died. He was 59.

And then Deke resumed his own persona and closed the show with a knockout a capella performance of "Danny Boy". He made the welkin ring! — if this had been in a casino showroom instead of a temporary stage under a plastic canopy and the audience in folding chairs brought from home, there would have been a standing ovation.

Just another lovely day in beautiful Carson Valley.

Battle Mountain Speed Challenge

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The fastest bicycles in the world, pumped by the fittest cyclists in the world, will be burning up Highway 305 south of Battle Mountain September 10th - 15th.

Teams from ten nations will vie to surpass the Human Powered Speed Challenge record of 89.59 mph that Todd Reichert of Canada set here last year.

The women's record was set here in 2010 by Barbara Bautois of France at 75.69 mph. The record for the newly adopted category of Multi-track is 73.95 mph, held by Gareth Hanks of Australia.

A Visit to Goldfield by Gage Smith
For the casual traveler motoring along US 95, the slowdown for Goldfield is just exactly that . . . slow down . . . and slow down you must because Goldfield is famous for doling out speeding tickets to motorists who don’t heed the strict speed limits entering and leaving this dusty town.

Goldfield Hotel Goldfield NevadaBut there is more to Goldfield, and as motorists drive through the old buildings call out. Something big happened here but when? And why did it go away? Goldfield is a town rich in Nevada history and lore but the empty streets and boarded up buildings just hint at what really happened here in the early part of the 20th century.

Once a year, on the first weekend in August, Goldfield once again comes alive with the annual Goldfield Days celebration.

This is the second time I have attended this event with the first one being three years ago. 2018 Goldfield Days was much bigger and much better.

Goldfield Days, Goldfield NevadaThe event list that revelers could partake in was extensive beginning with the mucking contest where contestants, vying for a coveted gold shovel, filled an ore cart as quickly as they could with loose dirt.

Goldfield Days, Goldfield NevadaFollowing the mucking was the annual parade down Goldfield’s main drag. Twenty five entrants in total ranged from old cars, old people, people dressed in period garb, fire trucks, ATVS and even a few race cars were thrown in. Bands played, flags were waved and candy was thrown liberally for the young uns along the route.

2018 Goldfield Days ParadeThe centerpiece of this celebration is the annual Esmeralda County’s delinquent property tax auction which began right after lunch. The list of properties ranged from in town lots to patented mining claims to other parcels scattered over this 3500 square mile county. Many of the properties aroused some spirited bidding!

Unique to this years celebration were the tours of the old Goldfield Hotel. There has been some renovation activity and the owners offered tours of the first two floors. Impressive is a word that comes to mind . . . not only for the hotel itself but the work that has been put in to it. I hope that someday this grand old lady of Goldfield throws open her doors and welcomes guests once again.

The list of activities during the two days is too much to list here but the Poker walk was a favorite with the winner pocketing $300!

Goldfield Days, Goldfield NevadaThere were several money raising raffles in progress during the weekend, the biggest being promoted by the Goldfield Chamber of Commerce. For a buck, you could buy a chance to win a solid gold one oz. gold bar. That was just the grand prize of an extensive list of prizes.

Santa Fe Saloon, Goldfield NevadaOf course, Goldfield’s two saloons, the Santa Fe and the Hoist House were jumping all weekend with music and just plain socializing with friends new and old. There was dancing (at least at the Santa Fe) into the wee hours of Sunday.

Goldfield is approaching another pivotal event in its history. It’s no secret that the new I-11 will bypass Goldfield, dealing yet another economic blow to this community. County leaders are trying to be proactive in making Goldfield a destination for history seekers, the curious and anybody else that is interested in the rich and colorful history of this area.

I’ve already marked my calendar for next year’s event.

Gage Smith, Picon Drinker of the American WestGoldfield Historical SocietyWhen Gage Smith isn't rousting around the Nevada back country, he is posting to his Facebook page, Picon Drinkers of the American West. Now he will also provide a monthly NevadaGram dispatch about the finery of Nevada’s favorite Basque drink and unique commentary about his travels along Nevada's Dirt Roads.

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Editor's Choice —

The Silver Slipper at the Neon Museum, Las Vegas Nevada

Las Vegas Boulevard Just Took

a Step Back in Time

SINNERS SEEKING A TASTE OF old Las Vegas can now get one step closer, thanks to the just-completed restoration and repainting of the iconic Silver Slipper.

For decades the Silver Slipper — a 10-foot-tall, illuminated, rotating piece of ladies’ footwear — adorned its eponymous casino with just the right whiff of desert decadence.

Read More Here

Bikepacking in Northern Nevada

Toiyabe CrestTrail, photo by Kurstin Graham

Beat the Heat

A Short Section on the

Toiyabe Crest Trail

by Kurstin Graham

Austin Nevada is the mountain bike town that could be. It boasts a variety of trails right out of town and is nestled in the Toiyabe Range off US Highway 50, the loneliest road in America. There are a variety of campgrounds, historic points of interest, hot springs, and other attractions to bring you to the middle of Nevada. Are you loading up the car yet?                Read More Here

Atlas Obscura Looks Us Over

Nevada Obscura

Sharp Glances at Nevada

Six chapters for a clued-in travel guide to modern Nevada.

1. Hometown Stories From Nevadan Notables

2. 107 Unusual Things to Do in Nevada

3. The First Protected Wilderness Area in Nevada

4. Incredible Parks Just a Short Drive From Vegas

5. A Historic Pinball Paradise

6. The Ruins of a Gold-Rush Boomtown

Read It Here

Here's a visit to Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park

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What They're Saying About Us — Javi Perez of San Antonio (TX) Channel 5 booked a Junket flight to Wendover and loved it.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

First Train to Winnemucca

Locomotive "Champion" at Winnemucca Nevada 1868When the first through train, with four carloads of notables, arrived on May 11, 1869, the town put on a celebration suitable to the occasion — firing guns, blowing horns and whistles, ringing bells, driving souvenir spikes, and drinking champagne — the usual drink of early Nevada when it wanted to show it could spend with kings. From then on, the one regular town spree came on the day the Central Pacific pay-car came through.

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That night the more peacefully inclined Winnemuccans would resignedly give up all thoughts of sleep as choruses mounted in the favorite: “Oh, for a home in a big saloon, on the banks of some raging canal.” Black eyes and broken noses often identified the celebrants on the morning after.
— from “Nevada: A Guide to the Silver State” by the W.P.A Writers’ Project, 1940.             Read the whole thing here

Overheard at Gema's in Beatty“In the USA there are probably half a million Mexican restaurants and not a single Canadian restaurant. And it turns out there aren’t any in Canada either. In even a small city like Victoria you can find food from everywhere around the world — even Tibet — but if you want blubber and beans you’re out of luck.”

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

There's a glow around Joe Robinson's house in Hawthorne these days — his son Rocky set a new world's record motorcycle speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats last month, and Joe can't get the grin off his face.

Read the whole thing here

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

I drove north from Tonopah, and as I was accelerating out of Mina I saw an old man standing by the side of the road, his luggage (a plastic bottle full of pocket change and a carton of Pall Malls) at his feet. He was wrapped in a greasy blue jacket and a pair of gray sweatpants, barely standing up, actually supporting himself with the flimsy plastic marker sign, looking as if a gust of wind would bowl him over, and send him blowing across the sagebrush like a tumbleweed.

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He was going to Hawthorne. As I helped him into the car I saw he had stuffed his chapped and swollen feet into a pair of bedroom slippers. Was he 70 years old? 80? I don’t know. His voice-box had been rubbed smooth by decades of Pall Malls and alcohol and he didn’t have a lot of energy to push air through it anyway, so I couldn’t understand most of what he said. Off we went, and he mumbled quietly about this and that. “I’ve got four pockets in these pants, and $400 worth of gold coins in each pocket”, he said. He showed me a roll of gold coins and offered me one for the ride. For a hilarious moment I felt like a bizarro Melvin Dummar with Howard Hughes.

I took him to the El Capitan, carried his ‘luggage’ through the casino and tucked him into a restaurant booth. He ordered some food, and I went back outside, into the car and back on the road. Alone now, no more Howard Hughes. I decided I’d done the right thing. He was fragile and weak, but he knew where he was, he knew what he wanted and he could pay his way. And if it turned out he needed more help than a ride and a hand into the restaurant, the folks at the El Cap were well equipped to get it for him — the El Cap has been the community triage center for a couple of generations now.

Parting Shot —
Lightning strikes in Tonopah 1904

Lightning strikes in Tonopah, 1904 — Photo by Mimosa Pittman

The post NevadaGram #206 – A Visit to Carson Valley, Goldfield Days, Bicycling in Nevada and More appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #205 – Hold that Tiger (and those Bears) Wed, 01 Aug 2018 13:43:31 +0000 Lily in her pool at Safe Haven Refuge Nevada

I don't quite know how to introduce the strange place in the desert we visited early in July. Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge billboard, I-80 Nevada at Mill CityIt is only ten miles off Interstate 80 at Mill City but far removed from what you expect to find in the Buena Vista Valley. It's called Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary. You're welcome to visit, but call ahead first — 775-538-7093 — to make sure the gate is open. From Mill City drive south on Nevada 400; about 10 miles along you'll pass a small tan cinderblock structure on the right and then take the first road to the right, maybe a quarter mile farther on.

This graded gravel road leads straight to the base of the mountains, but the marked turnoff to Safe Haven is about a half-mile along. Pass through the gate as pre-arranged and continue to the small compound that is headquarters for the fenced and double-gated retirement community for wild animals unfit for the wild.

Photo Tour of Safe Haven Wild Animal RefugeIt is not a zoo, it is a refuge. For a variety of reasons — defanged or declawed, born in captivity — the animals here can't survive in their natural habitat. The tigers, the bears, the lion, the coyotes and the various cats will live out their lives here.

The extreme fencing is one of many requirements imposed to ensure the animals don't wander off. The enclosures are quite spacious, furnished with shade and climbing platforms, and constantly overseen and maintained by a paid staff of two and as many as five interns depending on the season.

[caption id="attachment_35976" align="alignleft" width="235"]Black Bear at Safe Haven Wildife Refuge, Nevada Photo Tour[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35974" align="alignleft" width="235"]African Serval at Safe Haven Wildife Refuge, Nevada Jasper[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35981" align="alignleft" width="235"]Bengal tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge Carli[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35978" align="alignleft" width="235"]Bengal tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, Nevada Lily[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35975" align="alignleft" width="235"]Bobcat at Safe aven Wildlife Refuge Mandy[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35979" align="alignleft" width="235"]White tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, Nevada Christopher[/caption]

Safe Haven Tours

Tours of the grounds are available seven days a week, at 9 am, 11 am or 1 pm depending on the season, by appointment only (775-538-7093).

  • Personal tours are available to the general public and offer a comprehensive view of our facility and residents for $10 per adult. Kids 12 and under are $7.
  • Educational tours are available to classrooms hosting children in grades 1-12 for a nominal fee. These tours offer children a first-hand educational experience with exotic wildlife and well-researched presentations from our staff.
  • Photography tours are open to amateur and professional photographers for $50 an hour, with a 2-hour minimum. Meet our residents, while exercising your creative muscles.

Demanding as the care and feeding of the residents can be, raising the money that pays for it isn't easy either. White tiger at Safe Haven Wildlife Refuge, NevadaCorporate sponsors include mining companies active in the area and a number of foundations that have supported the effort since it relocated here in 2006. In addition to the daily tours described at right, fundraising events include a Full Moon Tour just completed (Snores 'n' Roars), and a Tee off for Tigers golf tournament held at Reno's Arrowcreek Country Club on Saturday, September 29.

This story began more than 20 years ago when Lynda Sugasa was driving in rural Illinois and saw a little raccoon lying beside the road. She stopped and began a frustrating search for help that taught her how little help is available for injured wildlife, and how hard it is to find.

She eventually located an animal rehab center where the raccoon was taken in and by the time it was released back into the wild, Lynda had enrolled as a volunteer. There she helped heal and rehab the local wildlife brought in for treatment: orphaned fawns, injured opossums and flying squirrels, all kinds of critters to be restored to health and released back into the wild.

As America celebrated the 4th of July 2016, four African servals and two caracals, approximately 2-6 months old were seized from individual who had allegedly intended to sell them illegally as pets.

In 1998 Lynda and her husband David established the 5-acre Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary in Illinois, and for the next eight years they cared for and reintroduced hundreds of native fauna, and took in an increasing number of abandoned and surrendered exotics. These can't be reintroduced to their original habitats even if they haven't been declawed and/or defanged by previous owners, because they've become habituated to humans and lack appropriate fear, or they've never learned survival skills in the wild.

The required security improvements and the space limitations impinged on the operation. David Sugasa had been baptized in Winnemucca and has relatives in Lovelock; his awareness led them to Buena Vista Valley.

In the dozen years since they arrived, Lynda, David, the Board of Directors, the interns and volunteers have made the Refuge into a highly respected, fully licensed and accredited facility that receives rescued animals from all over the USA and around the world. Neighboring ranchers, wary at first, have become enthusiastic supporters.

Safe Haven’s suggestions for necessary animal rescues

1. Prepare a container. Place a soft cloth on the bottom of a cardboard box with a lid, a cat or dog carrier will work as well. Make sure there are air holes. For smaller animals, you can use a paper bag with air holes punched in.
2. Protect yourself. If possible, wear heavy gloves. Some animals may bite or scratch to try and protect themselves, even if they are injured or sick. Wild animals commonly have parasites such as fleas, lice and ticks, and may carry diseases.
3. Cover the animal with a light sheet or towel.
4. Gently pick up the animal and put it in the prepared container.
5. Warm the animal if it’s cold out or if the animal shows signs of being chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low or fill a Ziploc bag with warm water. Wrap it in cloth and put it next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn’t leak or the animal will get wet, increasing its chill.
6. Tape the box shut or roll the top of the paper bag closed.
7. Note exactly where you found the animal. This will be very important for later release.
8. Keep the animal in warm, dark quiet place. Do no handle it. Do not give it food or water. Keep children and pets away.
9. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Keep the animal in a container; don’t let it loose in your house or car.
10. Wash your hands after contact with the animal. Wash anything the animal came in contact with such as towels, jackets, blankets and pet carrier. This will prevent the spread of diseases or parasites to you or your pets.
11. Get the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Make a visit to Safe Haven, maybe you will become a supporter too.

Editor's Choice

Kids at Burning Man

Bringing Kids to Burning Man

So, you’ve decided to bring the kids? Great! It may prove to be the best field trip you could ever take them on.

With a little thought and care, the experience can be more fun for you, your kids, and everyone around you. If you’ve taken your kids camping, you’re already halfway there. Many of these ideas apply to different age ranges, of course, so make your judgments based on your kids’ ages and abilities.

Anybody under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian aged 21 or older in Black Rock City. Read More Here

Independence Lake

Bikepacking in Northern Nevada

Gravel Rides, Summer 2018

by Kurstin Graham

I went into Great Basin Bicycles to chat with Rich Staley asking what was hot in bikes for 2018. Gravel bikes were at the top of the list along with mountain hardtails and full suspension trail bikes. From other popularity reports I've gotten I think 2018 will be the year of the gravel bike.

While the discussion of what is a gravel bike might be lengthy, let it be a fat tired (28mm and wider) disc brake road bike.

Read More Here

Here's your invitation to Nevada's Reno-Tahoe Territory.
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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Since late in 2010 the necessity of defending the Virginia City National Historic Landmark against surface mining has meant interrupting the NevadaGram from time to time.

Comstock Mining Inc is hard at work putting toxic dust into our air

Comstock Mining Inc is hard at work putting toxic dust
into our air.

Compared to the other frustrations and annoyances we and our neighbors have been subjected to since the arrival of CMI, this is minor but it still leaves gaps in the story.

I’m now filling these gaps retroactively by writing Updates about the open pit mining situation here.

I started in January, working forward to catch up, and backward as I can find the time (I have the complete CRA archive of correspondence and documents to draw from).

The Updates are all presented below, most recent at the top.

Read the whole thing here

Overheard at Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City: If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

John Toll back home in Gold HillMy son John and I arrived in Elko late on a sunny summer afternoon.

photo by Max Winthrop

Elko: the coolest little city in the world.

John had spent 15 months as a platoon leader in Baghdad, and this excursion into the sagebrush was our first chance to spend time together since his return to the States. We’d spent our second day traveling from Winnemucca by way of Golconda, Midas and Tuscarora, and we were ready for a taste of city life.

And what a tasty little city Elko has become! It’s a favorite of mine, right up there with Paris, Prague, and Pahrump.

photo by Max Winthrop

Upstairs at Capriola’s: old Elko.

Elko still shows its cowtown roots everywhere you look, but it’s also showing cosmopolitan touches it never had before.

The best place to see this for yourself is on the sidewalk at Fifth and Commercial Street. Capriola’s is on the same corner it has occupied since time immemorial, selling everything for the rancher, cowboy and dude. Downstairs is a rich display of snap-button shirts, broad-brimmed hats, tooled belts and purses, and precious metal doodads ranging from belt buckles to spurs.

Upstairs is the rope and saddle shop and a small museum dedicated to the shop’s heritage which dates back to the famous J.S. Garcia store established in the late 19th century. This is the Elko your grandfather would recognize, and you're welcome to come up and have a look.

Read the whole thing here

What They're saying About Us: "Let's make Hoover Dam into a giant battery."

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

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The First Annual Festival in the Pit was a huge success, and Battle Mountain is still experiencing the bliss.

Battle Mountain Armpit billboardThis flamboyant and flourishing offspring of the Ultimate Insult and the Old Spice deodorant company, drew several thousand visitors over its three-day run. Visitors enjoyed a varied schedule of activities and events at Elquist and Lions Parks and informal activities at the Owl Club and other hot spots around town. Hot spots in Battle Mountain? Yes, and a big parade. Gene Weingarten, author of the Washington Post Magazine article which branded Battle Mountain as The Armpit of America, was an honored guest. There will be a statue of him here some day, he’s done more for Battle Mountain than anyone since the railroad came through.  [ MORE photos and stories about the Old Spice Festival in the Pit ]

Read the whole thing here

Parting Shot —

The post NevadaGram #205 – Hold that Tiger (and those Bears) appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #204 – Kingston, Night Out at Lake Tahoe and Mountain Biking Trails of Carson Valley Fri, 06 Jul 2018 15:12:05 +0000 Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada

The best way to get to Kingston is by way of US 50 to Austin, then west down into the Reese River Valley a couple of miles and then south on the road marked for Big Creek. At Big Creek you turn east and climb into the Toiyabes.

But don't do it in the family sedan. There are some tough stretches in the heights, and the switchbacks are a special challenge; for these you want a four-wheel drive or an atv.

The easy way to get there is by driving Old Lonely to Big Smoky on the east side of the Toiyabes, where US 50 is the top bar of a tee with Nevada Highway 376 as its stem leading south. Kingston is about 16 miles from the turnoff, beyond  the little cluster of homes in the sagebrush at Gillman Springs.

Access to Kingston is by two inconspicuously marked access roads from Highway 376, Tahoe Road and Kingston Canyon Road, both of which will take you to the third largest community in Lander County (after Battle Mountain and Austin) at the mouth of Kingston Canyon.

Groves Lake near Kingston NevadaSilver discoveries higher up Kingston Canyon in 1862 brought a community called Bunker Hill briefly to life, and mining persisted in a small way into the 1880s when a serious revival took place. The ruins of the Victorine mill at the top of town date to this revival. There have been flurries of interest, but no mining activity currently in the canyon.

Groves Lake near Kingston NevadaInstead there is camping, hiking, fishing and lollygagging under a shade tree going on here now. The road up the canyon is good until it isn't, but you don't need to go that far to enjoy yourself.

Groves Lake is a favored spot, for obvious reasons, and is seldom crowded.

Kingston is home to about a hundred people in the mostly modest homes scattered around in the sagebrush. The splendid Miles End B&B, is at the center of town. Across from it is a minimally stocked General Store and the Silver Spur Saloon, hours 2 - 9 pm, is just down the road. The one-room Kingston 376 Motel & RV-Park-in-progress occupies Jim Kielhack's former Sales Office. There's a volunteer Fire Department, a clinic and a Town Board.

Kingston is as quiet as a ghost town. There are dozens of occupied homes and a small handful of businesses, but nothing moves except an occasional car, seldom more than one at a time anywhere in town, and then it is quiet again..

Miles End B&B, Kingston NevadaAnd there is a ghost, although he doesn't haunt the place. At the beautiful little pond near the center of things, a cluster of ducks gliding about making eye music, there is a bench with a name on it: Carl Haas. Sit down, enjoy the quiet, the greenery, the water, the reeds, the ducks. Carl isn't like the Lady in Red at the Mizpah (where he was an enthusiastic visitor) — he didn't leave any ectoplasm behind and won't appear suddenly on the bench beside you — but his presence is everywhere you look.

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Carl owned the RO Ranch 20 miles farther south, and had "created, from what was generally accepted to be a wasteland in Central Nevada, a cattle empire that would ultimately encompass an area larger than some eastern states" as he wrote in his autobiography "Around the World in Eighty Years". It's available at the Miles End B&B for $20, all proceeds to the town —

When a California developer gave up his option on the abandoned Schmidtlein Ranch at the mouth of Kingston Canyon, Carl stepped up and bought it.

For the Schmidtlein property Carl had a grand vision. "It should be master-planned to resemble a European Village," he wrote. "Home sites designed to fit the terrain with deed restrictions, a village site, open spaces. . . ."

His next paragraph begins "The cost would be enormous".


Converting an abandoned 19th century ranch without electricity into a modern living village in the later 20th century turned out to require constant expenditures: two motels, a restaurant , a water system, intensive research into deeds and water rights, costly title searches, endless efforts to persuade the power company to bring electricity, expensive lawyers and expensive heavy equipment. Plus moving the Miner's Union Hall up from Tonopah; that's the General Store. Oh, and the twin-engine Cessna for flying in the pigeons who didn't have planes of their own.

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I visited Kingston during that hectic period, in company with Don Bowers of Nevada Magazine and had the unforgettable experience of hearing Carl Haas recite Edgar Allen Poe's "Cask of Amontillado", from memory, start to finish. I am still in awe of that performance. I'll bet he did it for the pigeons too.

The village-building project came to involve Jim Keilhack who had a real estate license and an enormous fund of optimism, and Don Cirac, Carl's old pal from Tonopah High who became Kingston's ambassador to Las Vegas.

And Don's son Paul —

Kingston! 14 years old, living at the RO Ranch 20 miles south.

Get up at 6, feed the horses, milk the fucking cow.

Cook breakfast, pack a lunch (lotsa canned corned beef) THEN go to Kingston to work. Clearing brush, greasin’ equipment, moving 4” sprinklers (effin mosquitos!!!) All the stuff slaves do, and the lifestyle too: slave wages, $5 a day, room & board — cook your own grub from Vigus’s store in Austin (a branch of the fabled Kent’s Market in Fallon).

A workman’s lunch of baloney sandwiches, and cold Campbell’s soup out of the can — Chicken Gumbo was a fave — and hard-boiled eggs, and eating cherries and pears from the trees in the village orchard . . . I learned how to drink brandy in that orchard, taught by an old itinerant jack-mormon brick layer (he did the Washoe County Library, too) and then catching a trout or two by hand to take home for dinner, and putting them on a willow gill stick to stay cold in the crick til work was over.

Friday nights, swimming at Darrough’s, diving for pocket change. An old guy named Cleo Bordine would toss it into the pool so we could then go to Carver’s and maybe get a cheeseburger and shoot a game of 8-ball. Then home on the ass end of Chris Loomis' Hodaka 100, me holding a flashlight ‘cause the headlamp didn’t work. Ha! Never hit a cow. Petted a few, but never hit one square-on.

Best summer of my life.

Del and Carl were married in the late '60s. Del’s father Bud Loomis owned the Bundox Restaurant in Reno across the river from what was Norman Biltz's Holiday Hotel back then. They were both pilots, so the village had an airstrip off to the side, not just for their own convenience, but for the pigeons — prospective customers — flying in to look at property.

Miles End B&B, Kingston NevadaThey pulled down the old ranch house to make a place for Carl's big stone house. He called it Valhalla, "a rock house with walls of stone 3½ feet thick, which would withstand the elements for 1,000 years" and it is now the Miles End B&B at the center of town (note the round window).

Candace and Chad Kelly at Miles End B&B, Kingstn NevadaThe great stone structure is the unexpectedly modern Miles End Bed & Breakfast (and dinner can be arranged too), created and operated by John and Ann Miles over the last 10 years, and now by Chad and Candace Kelly (at left). With its ancient apple orchard in the lawned back yard and the outdoor kitchen and bar, the wood-fired hot tub, the unbroken quiet, the mountains rising up against the star-spangled sky at night, this place is a secret you'll never keep to yourself.

Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada
Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada
Miles End B&B, Kingston Nevada

Carl-freakin’-Haas built it, and Del's brother Chris and I hauled endless truckloads of rock from a quarry at the south side of the crick at the mouth of Kingston, just up the hill from what used to be the “Lodge”.

jsloane+jdaniels275x350The guy who actually built the rock house was named Jim Sloane (left, in the photo). A good guy, and the first “hippie” to invade Smoky Valley. He was fond of kicking off a meal with:

“Here’s to you and here’s to me.
And may we never disagree.
But, if, my friend, we ever do,
Well then my friend, to Hell with you.”

He was a man of conviction and a pretty fair painter — his watercolor of Cloverdale hangs in my living room. His wife Greta was a concert violinist, and I got to hear her play Bach for us in the meadow at Cloverdale as we put up the hay with Edsel Ford’s ne'er-do-well kid Tom, who was hiding out in central Nevada dodging divorce papers. We just about killed that poor sap by handing him a pair of T-handled hay-hooks. Haha!

Carl Haas at the entrance to his 1000-year stone houseThe best story about the rock house is that Carl decided, in his strange, forward-looking way, to set an old steel tank in one of the walls in order to provide “natural" wood-heated hot water for the manse — an automatic wall cracker, due to heat expansion. I believe it’s now a circular window adjacent to the kitchen, on the north wall.

When a pigeon was flying in, he’d buzz us and waggle his wings to let us know he wanted to land, and then it was up to the nearest kid to grab one of the chariots — the 1914 REO touring car or the ‘32 12-banger Lincoln limo — and haul ass down to the airstrip to open the barbed wire gate that kept the cows in.

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In three years Carl was broke. Not just because of the development costs, which were humungous, but also because of the "100-year flood" that destroyed one of the motels and many of the homes, and the rise in gasoline prices, and the collapse of the water system, and, and, and. He sold everything he'd accumulated, a lot of it at discounted prices because he needed the cash in a hurry, and spent the money on his dream until it was all gone.

"Kingston Village was a financial failure," he wrote, "so i felt i might as well walk away and let Kielhack, Cirac and the other brokers have it." He paid what debts he could with land and moved from his Valhalla back to the Wine Glass Ranch. Don Cirac moved to Las Vegas with Paul and little Lisa, and launched a barrage of publicity about Kingston, and when a curious pigeon drove up, there was Jim Kielhack to meet him.

All of that is ancient history now. It has mostly faded from memory except for those who were there to experience it first-hand. But if you have a taste for digressions, make this one the next time you're driving US 50. You'll see the remnants of a dream, an inviting Bed & Breakfast, make a beautiful canyon drive, explore the roadside ruins of the Victorine mill, sit for a quiet moment with Carl at the pond. Time well spent.
Robin and I attended a unique Chattauqua at Lake Tahoe a few days ago in which a talented group of presenters created a vivid history lesson in the South Shore Room of Harrah's. It's called “Solid Gold Soul” and led by Bobby Brooks Wilson, the presenters acted, sang and danced the story of how American music evolved from Motown to Disco. It's an ambitious pageant to produce, and it's terrific!

Solid Gold Soul at the South Shore Room at Harrah's TahoeI was barely aware of these cultural currents as they swept past from 1959 into the 1970s. I lived in the canyon in Gold Hill with an old (tubes) Philco console radio that only got one station, and only at night: WGN Chicago. I don't recall any music at all.

My musical awareness ended with the Beatles but when Bobby threw himself down on the stage and burst into song, I got interested.

Bobby's father was Jackie Wilson, one of the early stars in this universe of song, and Bobby's lineage was obvious when he sang the first million dollar hit "Just Say You Will". And he told how Alonzo Tucker wrote music with his dad, and when Jackie was rehearsing "Baby Work Out" Alonzo would yell at him, "Shout Jackie, Shout!"

Jackie shouted.

Solid Gold Soul at the South Shore Room at Harrah's TahoeAnd Barry Gordy heard, which is when Motown was born. Maybe it wasn't quite that simple but soon enough Bobby was singing Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" and telling how Otis had been a roadie, and at a recording studio one day he was tinkling around on a piano while the band was setting up. Someone failed to show up at the session and Otis was recruited to take his place. Kismet.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Little Anthony and the Imperials, they moved down into the audience shaking hands, high-fiving, bumping knuckles, giving little hugs, blowing kisses and otherwise connecting. Sam Cooke, Diana Ross and the Supremes,  Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Donna Summer, and Marvin Gaye.

Bobby introduced one big name after another to sing one big hit after another. "Good Golly Miss Molly!", "In the Name of Love", "I Just Called to Say I Love You", "the Book of Love", "Natural Woman".

The audience by this time had risen so often in standing ovations that many of then stayed on their feet, boogieing in place as the band wailed on. It's a rich show, smartly produced and beautifully performed. The musicians, the costumes, the dancers, the singers — there is so much to it, all top of the line, and Bobby did his daddy proud.

Solid Gold Soul at the South Shore Room at Harrah's TahoeSolid Gold Soul runs five nights a week through September 3, with Tuesday and Wednesday dark.  It will also be off for two days during Celebrity Golf, Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14.  On Friday and Saturday nights they turn the room following Solid Gold Soul and open at 10:30 as PEEK Nightclub.

Editor's Choice

Cutting, Pasting, and Rearranging Reality in Las Vegas

by Francesca Berrini and Lindsey Rickert

Sprouting from the desert brush, dinosaurs nudge post-modern pyramids. The Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building topple. A cowboy waves and the Statue of Liberty salutes her torch. Neon signs overshadow world-famous works of art, and kitschy stars circle the scene like party decorations hung from the ceiling.

No single component of the scene is artificial, but none of them are quite real, either. The image above, titled Vacation Delirium, was assembled using photographs of sculptures and landmarks in Las Vegas, many of which themselves are recreations of natural phenomena, prehistoric beasts, and iconic monuments. Together, the elements combine to create, as the collage artist Francesca Berrini and the photographer Lindsey Rickert describe it, “an impossible postcard.”

Read More at Atlas Obscura

From the history of Carson Valley

The Lampe Story

140 years ago in Hanover Germany, Wilhelm Lampe and Marie Winkleman fell in love. He was 20 and she was 13. Marie’s brother, Henry had already come to Carson Valley and was working on a dairy farm. Shortly thereafter, Wilhelm also decided to immigrate to our valley and worked for Henry and others until he could afford to bring Marie to join him. It took 9 years of hard labor, but finally, he was able to go back for her. Her father accompanied them to make sure that she would be provided for, and when he was satisfied she was able to stay with Wilhelm.

Read More at Visit Carson Valley

Is Elko a Destination for International Tourists?

The Commercial, Elko

by Toni R. Milano

With media writers from around the world arriving to see and experience western culture – and encourage others to visit – the answer is quickly becoming: “yes.”

Read More at the Elko Daily Free Press

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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

I can tell you where to get coffee in Battle Mountain at 4:30am: Bakker’s Brew, within a stone’s throw of the central freeway exit on Battle Mountain’s busy south side. . . . And the Cookhouse Museum, 905 Burns Street, will hold its annual sit-down barbecue dinner on September 14. The Museum, once the cookhouse at the 25 Ranch northwest of town, is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am – 4 pm, an impressive building now put to effective use as exhibit and activity space . . . Jack Jacobs writes from the Jacobs Family Berry Farm in Carson Valley:

“We picked 59 pints of Triple Crown blackberries today — they are delicious! Also, we received our first 48 jars (16 oz) of honey this week and are selling it for $8. This honey is from bees working at our berry farm. Let us know if you want honey in larger sizes as our bee keeper is holding 250 pounds and there is a price break for larger containers.” . . . At their last meeting the Storey County Commissioners approved a liquor license for the Virginia City Tourism Commission. If you think that’s strange, the Storey County School District has one too. Meet you in the Principal’s office for Happy Hour . . .

Read the whole thing here

Overheard at Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City: I know there are decent honest caring people in the world, and when I was somewhere in my 40s I decided I would try to be one. I wish I'd thought of it sooner.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Since he went to Baghdad at the head of the Surge, my son John and I have been planning a celebratory cruise through the sagebrush sea on his return home.

John Toll back home in Gold HillLast month we spent four days out in the quieter parts of the state, and I recommend the experience (and the route) to anyone who wants to explore the wilder regions of Nevada.

We set out from Virginia City, just a mile from home (no, we don't live on the Ponderosa Ranch) and the perfect jumping off point for a Nevada journey.

Carson River NevadaWe took the steep, twisting Six Mile Canyon Road to US 50. This was once a major highway, and it was up this road that a galloping rider brought the news of Lincoln’s assassination to Virginia City in 1865. It was paved a few years ago and now serves as a commute route from the bedroom communities of the Dayton Valley to Reno and Sparks.

We continued across US 50 and followed the Carson River to Fort Churchill, about a 15-mile drive on a well-maintained dirt road. It took well over an hour because the river is so inviting we stopped three times to let Shorty prospect for jackrabbits and give ourselves a chance to enjoy the cool river moving quietly through the desert landscape.

It was here, as we paused to watch the river slide by, with Johnny Cash and Louis Prima filling our world with music, that I finally believed he was home. And wondering just how it was that the chubby-cheeked 5-year-old who used to pedal his bike around Gold Hill had become this big ranger-trained paratrooper. How did that happen?

We spent most of another hour inspecting Fort Churchill. After 15 months in Iraq John found it easy to imagine the lives of the soldiers in their adobe barracks, serving under the burning sun.

Read the whole thing here

Ward Charcoal Ovens Historic Park near Ely

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park near Ely Nevada

Nevada’s 25 State Parks offer ample photo opportunities, and from now until July 31 participants can submit their entries for America’s State Parks 2018 photo contest on the official parks photo contest website:

In last year’s contest, the #1 winning photo above, chosen from more than 8,000 entries, featured Nevada’s Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. The six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens here were used from 1876 through 1879 to help process the silver ore discovered in the area. Once mining ended, the ovens were used to shelter travelers and even had a reputation as a hideout for stagecoach bandits. The ovens remain today, and are open for touring.

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Goldfield’s 4th Annual Land Rush Auction will take place August 23. Dozens of parcels, in town and out, will be auctioned off (but with no guarantee of clear title).

Goldfield HotelThe magnificent Goldfield Hotel is the most spectacular property on the list, but the Coaldale Junction truck stop is also for sale (with some EPA clean up requirements attached) and there’s Fish Lake Valley acreage too. I’m planning to be there, hoping for a stake in Goldfield. If you’d like to be a modern-day Tex Rickard, call 800-884-4072.

An E-Mail from Ely, Cambridgeshire, England brought greetings from John Sime. “It’d be fun to be in touch with fellow Ely people particularly as my wife and I are planning a trip to California next year, and may visit Ely. So it’d be nice to get some more info about the place — meet some folks. Hope you can help.”

We forwarded John’s note to our friends in Ely (Nevada, that is), and we wonder how White Pine County compares with Cambridgeshire. Perhaps we will find out.

Read the whole thing here

Parting Shot —

Groves Lake, near Kingston Nevada

Groves Lake, Kingston Canyon - by Max Winthrop

The post NevadaGram #204 – Kingston, Night Out at Lake Tahoe and Mountain Biking Trails of Carson Valley appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #203 – Last Chance Joe, Wandering, Cold Springs Station, Old Time Fiddlers Sat, 02 Jun 2018 12:16:30 +0000 Last Chance Joe, Sparks Nevada

There's a paunchy, nearly toothless bewhiskered old guy who's always wearing a goofy grin and has been a familiar figure on Victorian Avenue in Sparks for more than 50 years — since it was still B Street in fact. When he became suddenly homeless in 2014 a number of local folks made a big effort to help get him cleaned up, rehabbed and relocated. Last Chance Joe has finally returned to his old neighborhood, but across the street, in front of the Sparks Heritage Museum. You can't miss him, he's 32 feet tall.

Joe had stood for 56 years at the entrance to the Sparks Nugget when a new owner decided he was old and in the way. Now, after four years in limbo he's back on the Avenue, all spruced up and glowing with . . . fresh paint.

All this has been accomplished at considerable expense and effort; the whole Last Chance Joe story is here. If you live in Sparks, or just want to dress up your ride, you can put Joe on your car fore and aft in the form of this Special Plate from the Nevada DMV.

He has also been patched and puttied, painted, polished and placed just west of the entrance to the Museum where he will be dedicated and welcomed home at 5:30 pm on September 22. There's something contagious about that smile he's wearing . . . I think I'll go.

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I like to think about just getting in the car and driving out some randomly chosen road, following my nose out into the mountains (the car is a 4wd FJ-Cruiser), making spontaneous decisions about which way to turn, stopping whenever the impulse demands it, and ending up God knows where.

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I don't allow myself to do it very often — only once since we got this car four years ago — because of the demands of my trade, which hold me to a schedule. Every drive I take is timed to take in any available attraction because we're always looking for what's new and interesting along the main lines of travel — paved roads — and that's the antithesis of wandering.

It's easy to imagine wandering in to Cold Springs Station Resort when traveling on Old Lonely, not so easy to imagine it as the Pony Express station it once was. The resort is a combination restaurant, bar and gift shop with two rows of motel units and two RV areas. This place is positively modern — there are banks of solar panels deployed out back.

So it's not the Cold Springs Station that greeted the Pony Express riders dashing in from Middlegate Station In 1860.

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In that year Sir Richard Burton, a famous British explorer and writer of the time, traveled with a mule train along the Pony Express Trail. His diary provides some of the clearest glimpses we have of central Nevada in that period, including this entry made two stations west at Sand Springs Station, on October 17, 1860.

At last at 2:30 am thoroughly 'knocked up,' we sighted a roofless shed, found a haystack, and reckless of supper or of stamping horses, fell asleep upon the sand. . . .
"Sand Springs deserved its name. Like the Brazas de San Diego and other mauraises near the Rio Grande, the land is cumbered here and there with drifted ridges of the finest sand, sometimes 200 feet high and shifting before every gale. . . .

The water near the vile hole was thick and stale with sulfury salts: it blistered even the hands. The station house was no unfit object on such a scene, roofless and chairless, filthy and squalid, with a smoky fire in one corner, impure floor, the walls open to every wind, and the interior full of dust. Hibernia, herself, never produced aught more characteristic. Of the employees, all loitered and sauntered about desoeuvre's as cretins except one, who lay on the ground crippled and apparently dying by the fall of a horse upon his breastbone.

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Tuscarora is about 50 miles north of Elko via the Mountain City Highway (Nevada 225) and Nevada 226. There is no store. No cafe, no saloon, no commerce in the usual sense. There are only homes, studios, workshops, the post office and now the Society Hall, which will be staffed by volunteers on August weekends.

Jan Peterson pays homage to Tuscarora's pioneers.

On this Open Studios day Jan Petersen’s cemetery tour provided intriguing glimpses of life in and around Tuscarora since the discovery. The Curieux, the Packers, the Van Normans, the Pattanis, all in their quiet rows. Guitardo Pattani died young in 1902. He was out with a couple of his cousins rounding up strayed horses, and he climbed a power pole to get a good look out over the rumpled landscape.

“Hey, Guitardo,” one of the boys yelled up at him, “I dare you to touch the wire!”

Rest in Peace, Guitardo.

Read the whole thing here

So much for the romance of the frontier.

And because we are not wandering at all, we haven't stopped for a glimpse of historic authenticity but for its precise opposite.

We've come for the fish.

Specifically we've come for the "Fish Fry in the Desert", a Cold Springs tradition on the 3rd Friday of each month (except December) for the past ten years or so: A delicious clam chowder and as many big chunks of Atlantic cod as you can put away.

Furthermore the modern Cold Springs Station is now a Resort under new owners George and Barbara McNeil, with a roof and chairs and everything, all sparkling clean and nobody dying quietly in the corner.

We couldn't accommodate any more than the three big pieces of cod that came on a bed of french fries, but the fellow at the next table was a shark. George told me that the house record is six pieces.

So . . . Most times we whiz right by (if we didn't bypass it altogether by taking Old 50 — now Nevada Highway 722) but we knew about the 3rd Friday Fish Fry and made sure to get there early. If you'd been driving that evening and decided on a whim to pull in for dinner, you'd still be describing the experience to friends. And Cold Springs is open every day. . . .

We drove on to Eureka after dinner and were up early for another experience available to wanderers: we swept the downtown sidewalks.

Editor's Choice

World’s Fastest Motorsport Comes to Ely

New Air Races in eastern Nevada June 13-16

When you have around 4,000 people in your town and you consider putting on a show, you might not endeavor to be the biggest. But there needs to be that special something that catches a person’s eye…something to make them stop and think,

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“Whoa, I can’t miss that!” So while the inaugural Ely Air Races and Air Show — held June 13-16 — may not be the largest air race you’ve ever seen, it will be the highest.

Read More at Nevada Magazine

More Important for Nevada's Future than Tesla

Recreation is redefining the value
of Western public lands

Visits to public lands and consumer spending grow, as agency budgets atrophy

Once, the West’s public lands were valued primarily for the timber, minerals and fossil fuels they held, which were extracted and then sold around the world. Small communities swelled with loggers and miners and the businesses that supported them, providing an economy that helped preserve the West’s rural feel.

Today, though, natural resource economies are waning and the West has joined the Northeast as the two most urbanized regions in the country.

Read More at High Country News

Discover the biking trails of beautiful Carson Valley!

If you had wandered to Eureka and were drifting past the Library on Monroe Street a little after 8 o'clock, you'd have seen us. Clean sidewalk in Eureka NevadaWe were among the volunteers pulling on t-shirts, collecting brooms, shovels and voluminous plastic bags, and then setting out to sweep the sidewalks on Main Street.

And if you'd wandered up and held out a hand, somebody would have put a broom in it.

About a dozen of us worked both sides of the street for a couple of hours. Highly satisfactory.

And if you had lunch and then strolled around exploring the town for a while, you could have joined the crowd at the Eureka Opera House for the Nevada State Old Time Fiddlers' Contest that afternoon.

Nevada Fiddler's Contest at the Eureka Opera HouseOf course we come to this event in complete ignorance, and that may be the best way. Nevada Fiddler's Contest at the Eureka Opera HouseIt certainly didn't interfere with enjoying it and it encourages discovery. A series of contestants came out on the hallowed old stage with one or two accompanists, generally guitar and bass, and fiddled like mad.

By the second round we were ranking the contestants and picking winners like experts. And had to restrain our impulse to object to wrong-headed decisions by the judges.

Old Time Fiddlers at the Eureka Opera House on US 50 in Nevada
Among the 100 or so in the audience — most of them out-of-towners — was Kathy Bly of Carson City Community Radio KNVC who recorded her visit here:


“Discover Nevada State Parks” Saturday June 9

Everyone is invited to “Discover Nevada State Parks” on Saturday, June 9 for a free day-use admission and free fishing (no license required) at all of Nevada’s State Parks.
Click here for details.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

In Reno and Las Vegas, landmark structures are being demolished. In Silver City a rock wall fell down.

The Grosch BrothersThat rock wall in Silver City had been built by two brothers from Pennsylvania, Allen and Hosea Grosch, who had come west to California as ’49ers. After a season placer mining they had crossed the Sierra to Nevada and found men panning for gold in the little creek flowing down Gold Canyon.

Like their neighbors they built a rough cabin, dry-stacking rock against the wall of American Canyon, building the other walls and the roof of logs and limbs. In 1856 they wrote home, “Native silver is found in Gold Cañon; it resembles thin sheet-lead broken very fine, and lead the miners suppose it to be. . . . One of these veins is a perfect monster.”

But before they could record their claims, Hosea drove a pick into his foot and died of blood poisoning. Allen struck out for California, was caught on the Sierra by winter snows and died there of exposure.

Through the years of bonanza, and the borrasca that followed, the significance of the stacked rocks was forgotten. No plaque, no-one left to remember. Yet the wall remained intact.

Until last spring, when it tumbled down into a heap, and the last remaining handiwork of the men who located the Comstock Lode became just a meaningless jumble of rocks.

Grosch brohers' wall runs in Silver City NevadaAround the state there are many historic treasures that are being protected, restored and revived. But at the mouth of American Canyon a big piece of our history was lost when that little wall came down. And it's still lying there.

Read the whole thing here

Breaks, Brains and Balls

"Joe Conforte, whose battle with Nevada legal authorities, "Breaks, Brains and Balls" by Joe Conforte and David Tollpoliticians and the public spanned some 35 years, is one of the state's most notorious 20th century figures. Over a series of interviews with respected Nevada historian and author, David Toll, Conforte tells his story in his own words, sparing no one including federal judges and prominent lawmakers.

It is a breezy read that often borders on the comical yet sheds light on the history of legal prostitution albeit with a prejudiced view.

Although it is difficult to find any sympathy or decency in the derelict protagonist, it is a must read for those that want to understand the brothel business and Nevada in the 60's,70's and 80's." — A review by KG Guy of Las Vegas at

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The other day someone drew my attention to a website purporting to offer Nevada travel information. When I visited the site, I found this:

Northern Nevada is a vast expanse of mostly unexplored desert terrain interrupted by stark and jagged mountain ranges. The region is primarily comprised of the high desert of the Great Basin.

Few of the cities in the north are well known. Carson City, the state capital at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, is technically in the northern part of the state, though just at the southern edge. The few notable cities in the region are all along the I-80.

Coming down the Cascades from Lake Tahoe traveling northeast the I-80 first passes through the city of Winnemucca, then Battle Mountain, followed by Elko and then Wells. Perhaps the most notable attraction in the area is Ruby Lake in Humboldt National Forest. This region is popular with rugged outdoor types, who like to explore the harsh and unforgiving desert wilderness.”

After I stopped laughing I fired off a note. “I am rendered nearly speechless by the wildly inaccurate info you are publishing,” I fumed. “There are a few correct facts here, but the overall impression is of profound, abysmal ignorance.”

A reply came the same afternoon, offering me the opportunity to rewrite the text for them gratis. “Neither [my writer] nor I have been to Northern Nevada making it that much more difficult to accurately describe.”

Bummer. But the skiing is great in the stark and jagged Cascades!

Read the whole thing here

A few copies of the first edition have been found still in shrinkwrap from the printer These are the last unsold copies of the first edition, available here for $75 hardcover, $45 paperback.

Here's a revealing excerpt about local Nevada politics in the 1970s — the Nevada history you seldom see written down.

The Nevada Division of State Parks is getting ready to unveil a pair of new state parks.

Ice Age Fossils State Park is located in North Las Vegas Valley near the Floyd Lamb County Park.  The park is an important paleontological site where Carbon 14 dating technology was first used to determine the age of fossils. Its abundance of fossils date back to the most recent ice age.  The park will embrace interpretive walks, a Visitor Center and campsites with a grand opening in July.

The Walker River Recreation Area, in Mineral and Lyon counties will incorporate 29 scenic miles of the East Walker River in Western Nevada and is made up of four former ranches. Much of the property of the park has not been open to the public for 125 years. Besides hosting fishing, hunting, hiking, equestrian use, OHV use and camping, the park will be important to the restoration of Walker Lake and protection of the Walker River watershed.  A grand opening for the Recreation Area is planned for September.

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Nevada State Parks Administrator Eric Johnson talked with Roger Moellendorf about these interesting additions to our state's attractions on Carson City Community Radio KNVC in Carson City.

The post NevadaGram #203 – Last Chance Joe, Wandering, Cold Springs Station, Old Time Fiddlers appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #202 – Rural RoundUp in Tonopah, Big Spike in Boulder City, Reno Night on the Town Tue, 01 May 2018 00:40:30 +0000 Peter Barton and Gernor Brian Sandoval at dedication of the new NSRy bridge to Henderson

Rural RoundUp, the annual grand conclave of tourism workers from all around rural Nevada, was held this year in Tonopah. The speakers were insightful and entertaining, the workshops apt and informative, the meals ambitious and delicious and the schmoozing pleasant and productive . . . but what we most remember is the wind.

The bitterly cold, furiously battering wind that blew without letup, disturbed our hair, chilled our bones and drove us indoors.

We were greeted at the Opening Reception by Fred and Nancy Cline on the ground floor of the Belvada building. The Clines' arrival in Tonopah was like a heart transplant for the old city. They restored and reopened the Mizpah Hotel in 2011.

They've since opened the Tonopah Brewery and rib house up the street and the Mizpah Club across the small parking lot on the north side of the Mizpah, and now they're rehabbing the Belvada.

Belvada Building, Tonopah Nevada
Belvada Building, Tonopah Nevada

This was the toniest business address in the brash young city in 1910; but after the boom, as the air went out of the economy in the 1920s and the professional class departed, it became apartments, at first desirable and then less so. By the time the Clines acquired it from Nye County, which had acquired it for nonpayment of taxes, it had been looted of even its windows and interior doors. It will be — guess what? — another hotel. Thus are the Clines restoring Tonopah's grandeur piece by piece. What an amazing gift!

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

My posse was down to one when we arrived in Laughlin. I don't know where the other one went. Much of life is a mystery to me, actually, but as long as I have a full belly and a warm place to sleep I don't worry about it.
Shorty the Wonder Dog at Harrahs LaughlinWe checked into Harrah's for two busy days of photo shoots and research. I conduct research by nose, up close and personal, so we were up early the next morning. Even in May the days get hot; early mornings and early evenings are the best times to explore the North Reach Trail to Davis Dam.

There's a fascination to the river, even for a little yellow dog. It's perfectly stationary, and yet it's constantly moving. That is, it flows past but it stays just where it is. It's a puzzlement.

I have to admit I'm a little miffed that the posse has absconded with one of the very nice bowls the Harrah's people included in my Doggy Swagbag when we checked in. They use it as a candy dish and think they're very funny.

The Wonder Dog

Larry Friedman's absence was deplored and three of tourism's silverbacks were paid tribute — Ed Spear of Ely, Bob Perchetti of Tonopah and Jim Marsh, who is at home all over Central Nevada.

We left after the Awards Banquet Thursday night and drove south to Pahrump where we took a space at Camp Wal-Mart for what was left of the night, and hurried on at dawn to Boulder City and the Nevada State Railroad Museum, home of the Nevada Southern Railway.

The little depot on Yucca Street was just coming to life when we arrived, not with choo- choos but with railbikes. These are industrial grade quadricycles-built-for-two that run on railroad tracks when pedaled, and they can be joined together so that whole groups can travel as one, all pedaling . . . gently at first, and then going like mad. Great fun!

Their adventure takes them west on track originally laid in 1931 to connect the UPRR from Las Vegas to Black Canyon and the Boulder Dam construction site, ending just northwest of the Railroad Pass Hotel/Casino at the US 93/95 Freeway. This has also been the end of the line for the weekend excursion trains since they began in 2002.

But on this day that would change in a big way. A special train was waiting to carry invited guests to a ceremony at the opening of a new bridge carrying the rails across the new Freeway to Henderson.

Celebrities arrived one by one and two by two; Governor Sandoval, Senator Heller and 40 or 50 people representing constituencies, contributors and participants in the project. And at 11 o'clock we got on board the two coaches, a dining car, an open-sided observation car (all acquired from Utah's "Heber Creeper" in 1992) and the VIP Caboose and a vintage diesel pulled us gently to the bridge.

In 1985 the Union Pacific Railroad sold its Las Vegas-Henderson spur to the City of Henderson with an agreement that the city would maintain the rails and the UP would continue 5-days-a-week service to the city's industrial businesses. Beyond Henderson the line was unused, and in 1988 NDOT paved over the rails that crossed the highway.

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By 2000 the State Railroad Museum consisted of the track, the big shop across Yucca Street, the shaded platform and the fully rehabbed equipment from Utah. All of this was accomplished by the sole employee on site, Greg Corbin, working with contractors.

All that was lacking was running trains, so in 2002 Museums Administrator Peter Barton contacted southern Nevada members of the National Railroad Historical Society and asked if in addition to loving railroads they'd like to run one. It turned out they would, and they formed the Friends of the Nevada Southern Railway to fire up the locomotives and carry 2000 riders on the run to Railroad Pass the first year.

Annual ridership is now about 37,000 on the weekend runs plus the Special Trains — during December the Holiday trains all sell out, and carry some 10,000 passengers.

Preparations for the advent of Interstate 11 have had a big impact on the operation of the NSRy, starting with the redesign of US 93 and US 95 at Railroad Pass. When those plans were announced, Corbin reminded NDOT that the original rails had been paved over 20 years before, even though the right-of-way, despite being unused at the time, had never legally been abandoned. As a consequence the bridge we'd gathered to inaugurate was added to the highway realignment plans and constructed by NDOT. The small bridge a little farther west carries the bike trail.

Another consequence of I-11 was that Boulder City officials realized that rerouting highway traffic around the city would hurt local business. They came to the Railroad Museum wondering if it could be expanded to become a more significant attraction.

Governor Sandoval drives spike spike at new bridge over US 93/95 FreewayThat, of course, is up to the Legislature and it's

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anticipated that funding the three phases of development will take a mix of public and private financing. A federal grant is being sought to develop and maintain the biking/hiking trails, and the museum itself will be a mix of State bonds and private money. Phase One is a $15 million Visitor Center/Passenger Depot at the now undeveloped east end of the property. Phase 2 is to be development of the access drive from Yucca Street into a landscaped greenbelt roadway, and phase 3 fills in the gap between the current platform and the new Visitor Center with more exhibits.

Oh but that's just the beginning. After the ceremony by the bridge (after hearing that Governor Stanford went 0 for 3 when trying to drive the Golden Spike at Promontory Point in 1869, Governor Sandoval practically got onto his knees to tap-tap-tap the Silver Spike carefully into place) we reboarded the train and made the first passenger run to Henderson.

The tracks don't extend very far beyond the highway crossing yet but preliminary plans suggest that an operating agreement now being negotiated with the City of Henderson will extend the run on a regular basis by about a mile, to the end of current UPRR directed freight service. An anticipated operating agreement between the City, the Museum and Union Pacific would allow Special trains to a Henderson passenger platform where the tracks run near to Water Street, the original downtown, and ultimately to the area of the Fiesta Casino, about seven miles west of the bridge.

Tourist trains back and forth between the two cities are a natural; there are even giddy thoughts of establishing daily commuter trains from Boulder City all the way to Las Vegas.

Hurry up with it, ladies and gents. We want to ride that train too.

She came out dancing

I’ve never seen Tina Turner perform, and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard her on the radio or tv, so when Stephanya came skipping out from the wings at Sammy’s Showroom in Harrah’s Reno and announced that this would be a Rock and Roll night, not a Sinatra night, I was a little bit disappointed. I like Sinatra.

But along with her there were four dancers, two back-up singers and a five-piece band wailing away in the antic sprays of color spiraling down from the lights spinning and doing cartwheels on the ceiling.

And in out there in the middle of it all was Tina, head shaking, teeth flashing, singing loud and nonstop:

We don’t need another Hero!
We don’t need another Waco! (Can that be right?)

And then a surprise! In came a man in a pink dinner jacket, prancing in time to the tumultuous music and flinging himself — OMG! It’s Mork!

It wasn’t though, it was Rod Stewart, singing his heart out at the top of his lungs:

I want your hind legs!
Hind legs and saddle shoes!

That doesn’t sound right either, but it didn’t seem to matter at all in the endless flood of music, the audience and the performers alike iridescent in the lights sparkling down from above, Tina back on stage, standing in the spotlight but not standing still: arms up, arms out, head back, voice enveloping the room, high energy buoyed up by high spirits.

What’s love got to do with it?

And then Rod was back with a sob in his throat:

Maggie I really tried!

And he waded into the flood, pulling the audience in behind him:

He sang: I wish                    We sang: I’d never seen your face
He sang: Forever Young      We clap-clap-clapped

And throughout it all the dancers danced, the singers sang, and the musicians each (except the drummer) stepped forward for a showcase solo that suggested a wider repertoire than allowed by the relentless, urgent, ecstatic drive of tonight's playbook.

If Tina Turner was as good as Stephanya it's no wonder she was so popular.

That effervescent show was the high point of our night on the town, but there were a couple of other events that made it perfect.

Before the show we had the Friday/Saturday night Steak and Seafood buffet at Carvings. The experienced buffet browser understands the difficulty of keeping food both warm and fresh indefinitely, and deploys his tongs accordingly. The rare roast beef makes every other offering on display into a side dish; choose the ones you see as they arrive from the kitchen. The desserts are excellent.

After the show and a nightcap in the Sapphire Room we returned to the dog-friendly 4th floor where we'd left Jones and Mojito watching Fox News in one of the recently renovated pet-friendly rooms.

Pet-friendliness seems to consist most obviously of tile floors replacing carpet for the sake of cleanliness. Unlike, say, Bert Woywod's Prospector Casino/Hotel in Ely, there's no big dogbed in the corner for Pooch to spread out on. Still, with a walk on the rainy streets of Reno, and a visit to the postage stamp size poop zone on 2nd Street the dogs were quite content, and so were we.

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And speaking of downtown Reno hotels, there's one — the Whitney Peak — that's included in a list of the World's 12 Coolest. Not the World's 12 Coolest Hotels, although it is a very cool hotel, but the World's 12 Coolest Climbing Gyms.

Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno NevadaSay what?

"The popularity of indoor climbing has skyrocketed in recent years, and so have the number of gyms," says the Travel Channel. "We looked all over the world to find some of the coolest, many of which have saved historic buildings from being demolished. Pack your climbing shoes next time you travel. You'll want to see these places first-hand."

First on the list is CityROCK in Colorado Springs, Colorado, followed by fabulous-verging-on-astonishing climbing venues in Spain, Scotland, Germany, even Canada. And then, #6:

Fifteen Years Ago
in the NevadaGram

One of the unforgettable images I carry around in my mind is from the Carson City Rendezvous a few years back. Participants are intensely committed to practicing the lifeways of the frontier, each striking his own chord in this mad mix of historical moments. The men wear extravagant whiskers, the women are subdued. I was strolling past an Indian village in a crowd sprinkled with civil war soldiers, Scottish clansmen and gun-toting desperados of every colorful kind when I noticed a couple walking toward me through the turbulence.

They were splendidly made up as Mountain Man and Mountain Woman in dressed hides and furs. Their breeches were decorated with conchos and fringes, and they both wore big knives in their belts. Maybe they were on their way back to their booth, but they cut a majestic figure as they promenaded along together, accouterments ajingle. and as they passed me I turned to watch them go. And saw that their breeches were seatless — chaps, really — and that these two large people were butt-naked at the back-end of all their finery. Their butts were big and dead white, refrigerator white, huge beacons of brilliance reflecting the early summer sun, the King and Queen of Authenticity on parade. You’ve gotta like that.
Overheard at The Stockmen’s in Elko: “So I asked this Swiss guy, ‘How come you’re so docile about paying such high taxes?’ and he said, ‘What’s it worth to live in a country with no homelessness, no hunger, where everybody has access to health care and a good education?'”

Basecamp at Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno, Nevada

It probably does not surprise you that the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall is at a hotel in Reno, Nevada — little Vegas. It’s worth a visit. The 164-foot-tall climbing wall at Basecamp scales the side of the posh Whitney Peak Hotel. If that’s a little too tall for your liking, you’ll also find 40-foot auto-belay routes alongside the big one and a 3,200-square-foot bouldering gym indoors.

Don't let the dismissive silliness of that "Little Vegas" remark start a fight; most people outside Nevada are ignorant about our cities, even the famous ones. (An article about the hotel in the Huffington Post had this notice at the bottom: "CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated Reno was “not far” from Las Vegas. If you plan to hit Sin City after your climbing adventure, be advised that Las Vegas is about a seven-hour drive away.")

But these guys do know Climbing Gyms, and the Whitney Peak may be the only one you can rent a room inside of. It is indeed posh, but not in a way you've seen before. Everything about it seems ultra new, already halfway into tomorrow. As such, it's the opposite of Harrah's (see above) which is all about nostalgia, from the superlative Steak House to the international buffet to Sammy's Showroom itself, all still reliably top of the line as they've been since Bill Harrah's day.

We enjoyed the contrast between the two and recommend you visit them both in either direction during your next night on the town in Reno.

A Foodie Find in Las Vegas:
The International Marketplace at 5000 Decatur in Las Vegas is a great food shopping experience with thousands of products from all over the world.  You could easily spend an hour or more just going down the aisles to see what’s available. It’s a huge store, more like a warehouse than a standard grocery store.

Lots of canned and packaged goods as well as fresh produce and fresh and frozen seafood.  The fresh seafood is beyond anything you’ll see in traditional food stores.  Some fish are even raised on site and you can see them in the huge tanks.

The produce was interesting with unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. There is also Asian kitchen equipment, accessories and dinnerware.  We purchased some products we were familiar with like haggis, assorted pates and dolmas.  And we purchased many that we had never seen before or even knew what to do with, like some soy bean pastes from South Korea, which we’ll experiment with for flavor additions.

The one thing we didn’t find was lamb bouillon which I brought back from Scotland many years ago and have never been able to find again.

— Robin Cobbey

Parting Shot —

The post NevadaGram #202 – Rural RoundUp in Tonopah, Big Spike in Boulder City, Reno Night on the Town appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

NevadaGram #201 – Art, Skiing, Driving Old Lonely, the April Calendar Sun, 01 Apr 2018 16:41:07 +0000

Skiing in Nevada

by Curtis Fong “The Guy From Tahoe”

Miracle March? March Madness? During this past month the Storm Door finally opened and Mother Nature brought winter back to northern Nevada… Gotta hand it to Punxsutawney Phil!

And, as I write on this first full day of Spring, a Winter Storm Warning is posted with the caveat that this system includes an Atmospheric River (i.e. Pineapple Express) to bring much needed rain to our valleys and snow at higher elevations. How much more snow before the end of the month? Stay tuned, as it’s not over until it’s over or until the Fat Skis sing! . . .

Read More

Art and Artists in Northern Nevada

by Dana Nollsch

ana NollschHere's how April is shaping up in Northern Nevada.

Carson City
Carson City has a very positive arts community with many summertime events and art galleries as well as the Nevada State Museum.

Next month we will come back for a closer look at the art happening Carson City.

In the meantime, check out an artist reception at one of my favorite Carson City art galleries, Artsy Fartsy.

(Also Ely, Fallon, Reno and Sparks) . . . Read More


Robin and I drove east along The Loneliest Road and made our first stop in Fallon. This old farm town has become surprisingly well-known for its eminent cultural presence at the Oats Park Art Center, and now — even more surprisingly — it's known for its food. We count half a dozen excellent sources of deliciosity in Fallon. And the Churchill County Museum has some interesting quirks.


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Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram

The signature scene that remains in my mind from Rural Round Up 2013 took place in a hallway leading off the casino floor past the poker room and the big bingo parlor to the meeting rooms, where it makes a right-hand turn to get to the bowling alley.

It’s not a particularly wide hallway, although it widens out after the turn, and Jack Sanders was set up in the narrow part with a long table from which he and three assistants were pouring tastes of the wine they make at the Sanders Family Winery. Right at the corner was the cash bar.

Rural Roundup, Pahrump 2013So at six o’clock when the corks were popped and the tasting began, the hallway was jammed with people. Eventually they all had tastes, some more than one, and after priming their pumps with these thimblefuls of bottled sunshine, graduated to the bar for bigger glasses of lesser stuff. As they did, the wider part of the hallway at the entrance to the bowling alley slowly filled up with people from around the state happily babbling together.

I was a part of it, immersed in a conversation with a couple of guys about the nature of life, humanity and civilization, and back around the corner the corridor was still jam-packed at the tasting table. The hallway was buzzing like a hive full of bees.

Rural RoundUp in Elko 2017Which is when the bowlers arrived for Thursday Night league play, two, three, four at a time, pulling little carts full of accouterments and pushing silently into the mass of chatter. The crowd of eagerly conversing wine tasters parted before the silent advance of the bowlers, and closed back up again behind them until the next little cluster came pushing through. This went on for a semi-surreal five minutes, so zany it could have come from Jacques Tati or the Marx Brothers.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

I am talking about the Photo Booth which sometimes travels with museum Director Dan Ingram to public events, where it quickly becomes the center of attention.Photo booth at the Churchill County Museum Fallon Nevada It's not really a booth — i would call it a funny-looking gizmo — but it does what a photo booth does, which is to accept a $1 bill and snap a picture of whatever is in front of it. If that's you, when the photo appears it shows you standing in front of a hallowed Fallon landmark! It's hard to snap just one!

History Sox at the Churchill County Museum Fallon NevadaIn the Gift Shop, along with History Socks at $10 a pair there are lots of Nevada books . . . pus a collection of head-scratchers. "Cool Comfort: America's Romance with the Air-Conditioner" was one, along with "Jesus & Gin", "Toothpick: Technology & Culture", "Footnotes on Shoes", and "Eating for Beginners". This oddly charming agglomeration of strange books lends a mite of whimsy to the atmosphere.

More fun: Tours of Hidden Cave are offered on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month (excluding federal holiday weekends). On these days the museum opens at 9 am, the BLM guide arrives at 9:30, and at 10 participants caravan out to the cave site.

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Fallon is the jumping off point from the solid ground of modern civilization into the shock of the desert. The deeply rooted havens of Middlegate and Cold Springs Stations cater to the travelers on the Lonely Road.

Through Austin, over the Toiyabes, down the other side and out again into the sagebrush. Finally, at the last rise before Eureka — we see . . . a mirage.

Not the shimmering dazzle across the pavement ahead that we see on a sweltering afternoon, but — a Supermarket!

Out here?

Raine's Market was a tradition on Main Street since the Raine family bought it from the Kitchen family about three generations back, and began decorating the walls above the shelves in the high-ceilinged old building with taxidermy. They seemed to stock all of life's necessities on the jam-packed shelves and could help you find them. "Wax paper is right below the moose head over there." The Raine's met the needs of the community with graceful efficiency but increasing difficulty because of the old structure's limitations and stricter health codes.

Raines Market in Eureka Nevada

This big new store — it's no mirage — contains a Nevada State Bank and an Ace Hardware as well as a cornucopia of groceries and a full-service deli. It is spacious and open and sparkling new, a striking contrast with the old store's maze of narrow aisles and oiled wood floors. This would be a very nice store anywhere. Out here it is spectacular.

Customer service at Raine's Market in Eureka NevadaIt's good to see the old city looking busy again. The closing of the Ruby Hill Mine just uphill to the west and the Pancake Mine east of town had sucked some of the energy out of this happily remote community. Without those jobs, For Sale signs sprouted in dispiriting profusion.

And now the profusion is of white pickup trucks, most of them mud-spattered with red banners flying, cruising in and out of town. Mining has come awake again, and Eureka is waking up with it.180 N.Main Street in Eureka Nevada The Gold Bar Project on the southwest slope of Roberts Mountain — formerly the Atlas Mine — is expected to put about 200 people to work in construction, and 150 to operate it once it's built. The Tonkin site around the mountain on its northwest side is also being evaluated. To the east the Pan Mine is being prepared to go back into production and the word on the street is that a second pit is being considered there as well. Rentals are scarce and the For Sale signs are coming down.

Baskets at Eureka Restoration EnterpriseThere is no Visitors Center in Eureka, but out-of-towners are welcome to bring their curiosity about Eureka County, food and lodgings included, to the Court House where the staff is glad to answer your questions during business hours. On weekends during spring and summer the Eureka Restoration Enterprise, a local organization devoted to to helping create a more inviting community (thus the murals beginning to appear around town) opens its doors at 180 N. Main to offer regional art and homemade Nevada products. The volunteers are happy to help you find your way around.

The Owl Club has been at the center of the action for visitors to Eureka since Ted Carrion bought it in 1981 and his son Ron came from Lake Tahoe to manage it in his convivial style. Now Ron's daughter Eleny Mentaberry runs it with her husband Scooter. The tone that Ron established for his restaurant has been retained, with a full bar adjacent and a big room used for banquets and dances just past the bar.

Rich McKay grew up here, and in 1983 he confronted the career options facing every graduate from Eureka High: #1) live and work on the ranch (if you have one, which Rich's family did), #2) go to work at the mine (if the mines were running (which they were in '83), or #3) go to work for the County. Rich took Option #4) which is to leave, and went off to college in Idaho. That became his springboard to a career in high-tech in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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He didn't have any thoughts about coming home until he had kids, and then he did, more and more. So when Aunt Margie's Sundown Motel across Main Street (US 50) from the Owl Club became available, Rich came home. With his nephew Giovani Minolete, he bought it, along with the Chevron station at the uphill corner and the Eureka Hotel/Cafe at the downhill corner. Now it's likely to be his wife Crystal who checks you in at the motel while Rich is stocking the shelves at the gas station,  or working on the hotel rooms he's renovating above the Eureka Cafe. This was a Chinese cafe for more than 50 years beginning in the 1940s. It's not ready to reopen yet, but the Eureka Saloon is going strong, just a few steps up the block.

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram

CMI drill rigs poisoning the air in Gold Hill

Stayed home to resist the destruction of the Virginia City National Historic District by Comstock Mining Inc.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin Cobbey

One of the town's great treasures is underneath that Cafe: an intersection of elaborate brick tunnels built to connect various buildings in town to facilitate moving around in the frozen winter. One tunnel connected the home of Governor-to-be Reinhold Sadler to his store on Main Street so he could walk between them without concern about the weather. Or to avoid talking with his neighbors, as another story has it.

Rich is thinking about how to conduct tours of this underground wonderworld, but he is pretty sure it wasn't wasn't built by Chinese workers. "At the time the tunnels were built the Chinese were relegated to menial tasks and trades and it's doubtful there were skilled Chinese bricklayers available for a job this big. The style suggests a European tradition, and I'm guessing the tunnels were built by English or Italian workmen who were here in large numbers."

I was struck by Ely's plan to beautify 12 downtown blocks by way of an NDOT grant. Add that to the murals already on so many walls, and to the Cuchine Collection Art Show, an exhibit of nearly 200 pieces from Wally Cuchine's fabled collection of Nevada art. At this rate we will have tourists from all over the world visiting Ely and descending eagerly into the basement gallery beneath the Garnet Mercantile.

The Opening will be April 1 with a reception for Wally from 2-4 pm.

But that's not all the excitement in Ely. Mark Bassett, Director of the Nevada Northern Railway says that last year was the best for revenue in the lt 30 years, and this year is shaping up to be even better.

"We hit the Trifecta of publicity last year!" he told me.

First, he said, the New York Times included the railroad's "Be the Engineer" program in a December article about unusual Christmas gifts and they sold lot of 'lifelong memories'.

Then, on Christmas morning CBS broadcast a special on the railroad's Star Train and the phone immediately began to ring. "We had to break away from Christmas and come to the office and book orders. The Star Train schedule was sold out for the year before it even started!"

Then in February the photographer who manages the traditional Winter Photo Shoot phoned to say that the railroad was featured on "The Big Bang Theory" in an episode all about Sheldon getting a "Be the Engineer" ticket on the Nevada Northern!

And finally (check my math, but I think this makes it a Quadrifecta), there is an Iron Rule that engine crews are to be on hand and ready to roll 45 minutes before the scheduled departure. One morning as Mark was checking the railroad's Facebook page he was horrified to see a that video had been posted showing the engine crew cooking bacon on a shovel in the locomotive's firebox. Mark sprang for the telephone.

"David!" he cried when he reached the volunteer who'd posted the video. "Get that video down! That's a clear violation of the rules! We can't have that up there!"

And as he waited he noticed that the video, posted two hours before, had already been viewed 20,000 times.

As Mark watched, the video was deleted.  He sprang for the phone and called the volunteer again.

"David!" he cried. "Put the video back!"

The restored post accumulated clicks at the rate of 20,000 an hour and eventually totalled 1,200,000 hits.

And on September 2nd this year the NNRy will host the first Iron Horse Cook-Off at the depot in East Ely.

Upcoming Events

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Click Here to browse the Nevada Events Calendar

Fifteen Years Ago in the NevadaGram

Laughlin is a great place for having fun and I am a big Fats Waller fan, so I’m snapping my fingers and strutting on down to the Ramada Express where Ain’t Misbehavin’ is playing for 10 days. So unless your feet’s too big, bring your honeysuckle rose and get there, because the joint will be jumpin’. Across the street at the Flamingo The Comedy Stop is performing two shows nightly, 3 comedians each show, with new comedians changing out each Monday. Laughlin NevadaThe following weekend is Laughlin River Days, a citywide boat racing spectacular with a Beach Boys concert.

David Walley’s Resort about 1.3 miles from downtown Genoa (oldest settlement in Nevada) is welcoming guests for a Memorial Day Weekend of peace and quiet in the bubbling hot springs pools with their beautiful views of the surrounding valley and majestic mountains.

Walley's Hot Springs pool, Genoa NevadaIt’s delightful and serene with lots of amenities: restaurant and deli, massages in a full spa, swimming pool. They have time shares they also use as a hotel open to the public, Yep, that’s the event, peace and quiet. A little slice of heaven.

Are We There Yet? - photo by Robin CobbeyRead the whole thing here

[caption id="attachment_32947" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Truth is Beauty at Burning Man in Nevada
Parting Shot
'Truth is Beauty' by Marco Cochrane, photo by Eleanor Preger, in the New York Times

The post NevadaGram #201 – Art, Skiing, Driving Old Lonely, the April Calendar appeared first on NevadaGram from the Nevada Travel Network.

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