Nevada State of Mind
(Part 2: Pioche to Great Basin National Park)
by Richard Bangs
Pioche was once the baddest town in the West, badder than Tombstone, Deadwood or Dodge City.
In its heyday as a silver mining center it had 10,000 residents, 100 bars, and 100 whore houses. Now it’s another living ghost town, and we take the night at the only accommodations around, the old haunted Overland Hotel & Saloon.
We break the seal of night with a home-style breakfast at The Silver Café across the street. Then, we hook up with local historian and amateur gunfighter Jim Kelly offers to show us the Boot Hill Cemetery, where, in its boom years, 72 people died of lead poisoning, croaked with their boots on, before anyone died of natural causes.
In 1873, the Nevada State Mineralogist reported to the State Legislature “About one-half of the community are thieves, scoundrels and murderers.”
Meet Richard Bangs
Richard, professional adventurer, writer and lecturer, returns as guest author of our NevadaGram this month. He made it from Las Vegas to Caliente and Pioche in the first installment; now he proceeds to Baker.
Alongside Murderer’s Row, a section in the cemetery with markers for over 100 murderers, Jim hands me a six-shooter, and challenges me to a gunfight. Somehow, I win, and he crumples like a kicked tent down onto the grave of his great grandfather, shot down by local rival.
Back at the long cherry wood bar, both staff and guests alike talk about their encounters with ghosts, including bartender/maid Stephanie Haluzac, who speaks about the many spirits she’s faced over the years. Once she was in the laundry room folding a towel when a heavy glass ashtray came flying across the room. She gave up smoking then and there.
Attention, Nevada photographers!
The 2016 Great Nevada Picture Hunt is here! For 39 years, we’ve highlighted the most beautiful images from around the Silver State, captured by local photographers. You don’t have to make your living shooting photos; you just have to love Nevada and her wonderful scenery and people.
Winning entries will be published in the September/October 2016 issue and on our website.
Contest ends July 20 at 5 pm
Next we hare past fields of alfalfa and through a couple of state parks centered around man-made reservoirs, Echo Canyon and Spring Valley, both of which might be designated Ghost Parks this time of year. Next we hare past fields of alfalfa and through a couple of state parks centered around man-made reservoirs, Echo Canyon and Spring Valley, both of which might be designated Ghost Parks this time of year.
Almost like a Twilight Zone episode, or The Rapture, every human seems to have been plucked from the landscape, though all the facilities…bathrooms, picnic tables, campgrounds, boat launches, information signs, a stamp machine for the state park passports…are perfectly presented, waiting for a dinner party. It’s nice having these resplendent parks to ourselves, and we take some short hikes, skip some rocks, take some pictures, and then start driving north.
Looking at the map, it seems there might be a shortcut over the Mount Wilson Byway Road. It’s a gravel road, almost entirely through BLM land, that crooks through a volcanic caldera overgrown with pinyons, junipers, and, as we climb higher, snow. This is a stunning drive, past high peaks, around councils of aspens, ponderosa pines, and the exquisite non-existence of right-angled civilization. Even in our GMC Yukon, in four-wheel-drive, we skid and swerve in the ice and snow, sliding sometimes like a fried egg on Teflon, but finally crest the snow-covered pass at 8,900’, looking over to the great girth of original country, and beyond to a sere horizon.
Then we slowly unwind the back side, calipering back down to Route 93, and then northeast to the border, passing along the way herds of roan horses, wild and running, more here than in any place in America.
Eureka held a Wine Walk on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.
There was a chill in the air and the sky was baggy with heavy black clouds.
Still, dozens of people bundled up, bought stemless wine glasses ($20), and toured the nine participating locations in a slow, amiably chatting three-hour procession that ended at the Fire House with the final concert of the year by bandmaster Ralph Cuda’s Eureka school musicians.
It was all quite jolly, and so far as I could tell, Eureka’s impending doom wasn’t mentioned at all. Most days it’s the talk of the town.
Wyatt Earp: The Missing Years
Ever so brave, courageous and bold (isn’t that redundant?), I’ve let myself be talked into tracking down Wyatt Earp’s missing years.
Wyatt Earp’s Northern Saloon in Tonopah. Is that his wife Josie on the left?
Face it. Wyatt Earp has been done to death. We know all about those Kansas and Arizona days. I’ve even spent time in San Diego, where Wyatt and his brother, Virgil, lived off and on between 1885 and 1890.
Folks have studied his controversial decision in a San Francisco boxing match, and old Wyatt is buried in nearby Colma.
Heck, I’ve even toured the Earp house in Pella, Iowa, where Wyatt grew up in the 1850s.
So here I am, driving to Tonopah, Nevada, wishing that my editors had sent me to Nome, Alaska.
Raine’s Market, that beloved institution of Eureka, is moving out of town. Not far, only a little more than a mile out of town, and not quie a mile and a half toward Reno from the old Raine’s to the new. But the grand new building that has been taking shape during the winter and spring, is over the hill and out of sight from Main Street. As is often pointed out, it is well beyond walking distance for the elderly. Not only that, the bank is going with it, leaving another building empty on Main Street. This abandonment has darkened the mood of the town.
Not that the mood was sunny beforehand. Mining is flat, highway traffic is down and For Sale and For Rent signs decorate many of the properties around town. And now with the grocery store and the bank headed over the hill, downtown is looming as seriously empty.
It was this bleak vision of Eureka’s immediate future that prompted a group of local citizens to form the Eureka Restoration Project, its mission: to help maintain a pulse at the heart of the historic town. The organization has attained 501(c)3 status with the IRS and is restoring the former Al’s Hardware to serve as a Visitor Center/Art Gallery.
Eyeing the soon-to-be-empty Nevada State Bank building across the street, the Restoration group sent a delegation to confer with the Ely Renaissance Society. This highly effective organization had successfully transformed a former Ely bank building into the Art Bank, a considerable visitor attraction and an ornament to that city.
The Ely group is actively preparing to receive the famously fabulous Nevada art collection of Eureka resident Wally Cuchine, which is so vast and inclusive — more than 2,000 individual pieces — that there is speculation — hope? — that Wally’s bequest might enrich both communities.
Following Ely’s example, the first project outside of the building itself is to be a mural and even though the location hasn’t yet been decided, the Wine Walk provided the money to pay for it.
“We have two finalized conceptual paintings, one from Abby Sweet, the Eureka County Art Teacher Extraordinaire, and another from renowned Reno artist Erik Holland. They are both landscapes. ‘Wild Nevada’ and ‘Roberts Peak’, respectively. We are waiting for one more that will portray the mining and ranching history of our ‘Pittsburgh of the West.'”
On the west side of Main Street meanwhile is the Chevron gas station, Eureka Garage (closed), the Sundown Lodge, J & S Restaurant (closed) and the Eureka Hotel. All but one of these properties have been acquired by a local partnership which has firmly denied the rumor rife around town that it is poised to open a new downtown market when Raine’s moves.
However this plays out, Eureka will be profoundly changed.
Main Street, Eureka
Overheard at the EZ-Kwik at Eureka: “Since when do we have to agree with someone to defend them from injustice?”
The Ely celebration began at 4 pm at the Nevada Northern Railway depot where a waiting crowd was welcomed aboard a special train bound for Renaissance Village. This is a collection of small houses on the northwest side of Ely occupied by railroad and mine workers in the early 20th century. Each little house is devoted to one of the ethnic traditions represented in early Ely and McGill, and each is managed by the modishly dressed docents at each house.
It was a 3-dimensional living tableau and my overwhelming impression as we toured the cottages was that the volunteers who care for them, furnish and embellish them, are so happy to be doing it. Their personal involvement contributes as much to the visit as the antique furnishings and creaky floors. Whatever the magic ingredient, it was a rich expression of the spirit of the community,
At its center was the book, “Where the World Met and Became One”, a collection of biography, autobiography and oral history of the early residents of White Pine County, edited by Ely native Patricia White, Ph.D. She has assembled “an accounting of early Ely residents and influences on the Community’s development, particularly those of women and families.”
Copies are available for $40 which will include $5 for postage. Send your check or money order to Ely Renaissance Society, PO Box 150028, Ely NV 89315.
The banquet, and the hors d’ouvres at each little house were prepared by salt&sucre Bakery and Catering
The Nevada Calendar —
‘Snowbound in the Sierra’
Mark McLaughlin will speak on his book, “Snowbound! Legendary Winters of the Tahoe Sierra”, in a free presentation at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park on Sunday, July 10, at 10 am.
McLaughlin is an award-winning author and professional speaker with several books and more than 650 articles in print. He is a 5-time winner of the Nevada State Press Award. In his book, he focuses on the top 10 biggest winters in the Tahoe Sierra. He will share amazing weather facts and incredible stories of men and women struggling to cope against some of the most powerful storms on Earth.
Nevada is always jam packed with events in summer and 2016 is teaming with great things to do, starting in South Lake Tahoe with Rolling Chrome/Tahoe Thunder, Car & M/C Show at Heavenly Village that is scheduled for July 1st through July 4th. Speaking of July 4th, you can go to any city or town in Nevada and there is likely to be a good show, however South Lake Tahoe’s Red White and Blue 4th of July Celebration is extraordinary and should be mentioned, come on out to Tahoe and enjoy it’s serene quality of live and a masterful fireworks show. Click here for details. At Sand Harbor, starting on July 8th is the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. This excellent series of plays is staged right above the beach amidst the tall pines and granite boulders. This event will last through August 21st. Get your tickets while they last!
Tucked into the southwestern corner of Lake Tahoe is the Valhalla Arts, Music and Theatre grounds, they will be hosting the Wa She Shu It’ Deh Native American Arts Festival on July 30th and 31st. On the north end of the lake on July 9th, you can dazzle your taste buds at Taste of Gold Gourmet Food and Wine Tasting at the Lake Tahoe Community College in Incline Village. Travel down slope to Truckee for the Truckee Tahoe AirShow & Family Festival on July 9th. On the west side of Lake Tahoe at Squaw Valley Resort goto the Art, Wine & Music Festival on July 9th and 10th. Also at Squaw Valley is the Wanderlust Yoga & Music Festival that starts on July 14th and runs through the 17th. Not to be missed is the Celebrity Golf, American Century Championship that begins on July 19th and lasts through the 24th. The event is at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. Click here to see the Celebrity-Player list or browse the Spectator Guide . Up the hill from Truckee is the Donner Lake Triathlon and Truckee Open Water Swim on July 23rd and 24th. Sierra Nevada College hosts the Classical Tahoe concert series on July 26th through August 13th . . . Down the slop in Carson Valley is the 4th Annual “Grillin’ & Chillin’ BBQ Cookoff on July 9. Also on July 9th is the AFGL Footgolf Tournament at Carson Valley Golf Course. In Gardnerville join in on the Freedom 5K Fun Run/Walk & Yankee Doodle Dash n July 4th at 7am to 9am. Meetup at 1447 Courthouse Alley in Gardnerville to participate or cheers on the runners. . . In the state Capitol, checkout the Silver Dollar Car Classic on July 7th at 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. On different dates the event will be at different locations click here to view the itinerary. Let the seasonings melt in your mouth at Carson City’s Taste of Downtown on July 23 at 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Ride the historic Virginia Truckee from Carson and back on July 8th . On July 9th or on July 23rd, feel the spooky chill at Carson City’s ghost walking tours with Madame Curry . . . Up on the Comstock come on out to one of the best 4th of July fireworks celebrations, then on July 9th and 10th ride on the V &T Vintage Motorcar that will travel from Virginia City to Gold Hill and back. The event benefits the Northeastern California and Northern Nevada Make-A-Wish foundation. On July 16th is the Comstock Classic Car Show at Miner’s Park at 10:00am to 05:00pm. The Hot August Nights Kickoff Rally is scheduled for July 29th and 30th
Click here for the Virginia City Event Map and Layout or read the Hot August Nights History. Down the hill in Silver City, checkout the The Women’s Project: The Gift, featuring the last showing of painter Karen Kreyeski’s collection depicting local women and when she gives the paintings to them. . . Down from the mountains in Reno “see stunning chalk art come to life” at the Reno Chalk Art Festival at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa on July 9th and 10th. In Downtown Reno at Circus Circus check out the 24-Hour Mural Marathon Competition on July 15th and 16th. At Wingfield Park the Reno Basque Festival will commence on July 16th, and will provide you with traditional food, music, dancing, and other activities in support of Basque culture that is a big part of Reno’s history and tradition. Burning man is not until September, however artists are already heating up at Compression! Art & Fire at ReTrac Plaza in Downtown Reno on July 30th. Some say diversity is the spice of life and you can engage this sentiment fully on July 2nd at Cultural Crossroads’s West Side Tour, a consortium of chinese herbal shops, Judaism’s early days and a rich African-American heritage, the event includes an inside visit to Lear Theater and the historic Bethel AME Church. Reservations required at historicreno.org. If you’re hungry don’t miss The Biggest Little City Wing Fest on July 2nd, 3rd and 4th at Silver Legacy Resort Casino. On July 2nd at McKinley Arts & Culture Center hosts A Galaxy of Roses, The Reno Rose Society’s annual rose and flower show. This year’s theme “A Galaxy of Roses” celebrates the 21st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s deployment into space. Reno’s 2016 Fashion Show is at the Grand Sierra Resort on July 2nd at 7:30pm. Get your tickets now! Next door in Sparks go to the Wild Nevada art show, a part of Artown on July 9th at 4pm to 7pm. Learn about Urban Sustainability at Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum on July 16th at 6pm to pm. Ages 21 and up, this event focuses on exploring ways to make cities more livable and yet sustainable. . . In central Nevada off Interstate 80 stop in Winnemucca for the Good Times Drag Strip and July Good Times Race that is scheduled for July 22nd through the 24th. Then on July 29th goto the Fifties Fever Car Show. Also off Interstate 80 in Battle Mountain check out the BM Raceway featuring IMCA, Pro Stocks , Pure Stocks, Dwarf’s and Kart’s. July’s races are scheduled for the 8th and 9th. On July 29th and 30th in Battle Mountain you can also goto the Demolition Derby. . . Farther east off Interstate 80 checkout the Wells Fun Run Car Show and Cruise on July 29th through the 31st . . .
In Elko you can visit the Silver State Stampede on July 7th through the 9th. The Silver State Stampede is the oldest rodeo in Nevada. . . Off US highway 50 outside Ely is Lund Pioneer Days, scheduled on July 21st through the 23rd. Also in Ely is the Shoshone Tribe Fandango on July 29th through the 31st. In central Nevada off US Highway 50 in Eureka is a great Hot Air Balloon event on July 29th through the 31st. Even more central in Austin on July 10th, the Travel Channel is investigating many historical sites in town, and will share their findings with TV viewers. . . Towards the west off US Highway 50 in Fallon at Top Gun Raceway is $5 Friday on July 15th at 6:00m to 11:00pm. . . On the west side of Nevada the Tonopah Farmers Market begins in July and runs through October. On July 15the and 16th go to the Smackdown Bull Riding Event at Tonopah Rodeo Grounds. Just over the border in Death Valley National Park check out the Badwater Ultra Marathon on July 18th through the 20th. Then on July 31st through August 2nd goto Goldfield Days Celebration and Land Auction that features Parades, Land Auctions, Live Music & Street Dancing, Pet Parade, Antiques, Crafts, Food, Beer Garden, Old West Gunfights, Miner’s Liar Contest, Horseshoes, Old Fashioned Children’s Games, Western BBQ and More! . . . Farther south in Pahrump, prepare your pallet for the Sanders Winery Summer Concert Series. This event starts on July 9th and lasts through the 23rd. . . In the southeast in Mesquite check out the July Exhibition, “Splash of Color” at Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery that runs through July 31st. . . Down south in Henderson come on out to the 28th Annual Midnite Madness 1-Pitch Tournament on July 8th through the 10th. In Boulder City make sure to go to the 68th Annual Boulder City Damboree Celebration on July 4th, starting with a parade at 9am then a carnival and ensemble of entertainment from 10am to 11pm, with a fireworks display at 9pm. . . In Las Vegas watch the top talents of the NBA go head to head at the 2016 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center. Show dates are on July 8th through the 18th. Get your tickets now while they last! South Point Hotel Casino & Spa hosts the The EMO Western States Championship in their top notch Equestrian Center on July 6th through the 10th. Also at the South Point Casino Hotel & Spa come see the USA BMX Silver Dollar Nationals on July 15th through the 17th. The always entertaining, Blue Man Group performs at the Luxor at 7pm and 9:30pm. Watch the top players from 2016’s NBA season square off with Argentina’s national team on July 22nd at T-Mobile Arena. The announced line up, is Carmelo Anthony, Harrison Barnes, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson.
Parting Shot —