In this edition:
Baker, Carson Valley, Elko, Ely, Las Vegas (3), Lincoln County, South Lake Tahoe, Railfanning
South Lake Tahoe
Edgewood Golf Course
A site of a major redevelopment project doesn’t sound like a great place to go for a bite to eat. But at Edgewood golf course at the Stateline of Nevada you can find such a place and see part of the future of the South Shore being built.
Edgewood Resort Project is full steam ahead. Owned by Edgewood Companies, formerly Park Cattle Company, landowners at Lake Tahoe since 1896. They own 500 acres in Nevada. Breaking ground in the spring of 2015, the progress they have made so far is impressive. The site is swarming with workers, all of whom seem very happy to be working their trade in the winter months. Whistling and singing can be heard all through the site, while cranes move steel beams high above and concrete booms fill the foundations below.
The main focus of all the work is on the soon to be Edgewood Lodge, which will feature 154 rooms, restaurant, lakefront pool and terrace, 6,000 square foot conference center, and 8,000 square foot spa, among other things. Next phase will include the construction of 40 cabins along the 8th and 9th fairways, located right next to the lake.
While the construction zooms along, directly across from the project is the clubhouse where Brook’s Bar and Deck is located. A locals’ favorite, it’s open for lunch and dinner at 11:30 – 8:30pm Wed-Sun. In the summertime it’s a bustling place while the golf course is open. But in the winter it’s often overlooked. It is one of only two places on the South Shore’s Nevada side that offers lakefront dining, the other being Zephyr Cove Restaurant. Brook’s, located right off the 18th hole, is very spacious inside and out, with an expansive outdoor patio and fire pit. The views of the golf course are impressive looking up the fairway of the first hole, with the Carson range and Daggett pass in the background.
The environment inside Brook’s is a sort of sports bar inside a log cabin
— a very classy log cabin. The menu offers a variety craft beers and specialty drinks like their Mojito, made with fresh mint grown in the garden on the premises. The food menu has an array of appetizers, from chicken wings to veggie wraps. Most of the food is that of a bar food flare, but with certain little twists, like the Salmon fish and chips and a very good cheese and chicken Panini served with sweet potato fries.
With Brook’s proximity to the lake you can step outside and be on one the South shore’s largest and longest spans of beach. If you feel like working off your meal with a walk on the sand, you may end up at Nevada Beach, a good mile and half North of Edgewood. But if you don’t want to go for a stroll just take in the splendor of Lake Tahoe, with Mount Tallac directly across from you rising to nearly 10,000 feet.
Edgewood is located at 180 Lake Parkway, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, behind Hard Rock Casino.
Music Mondays at Zephyr Cove Restaurant, starting February 1 at 4pm and running every Monday through the month. I’m interested in seeing how this goes. The venue is located in the historical Zephyr Cove lodge, always a fun daytime destination, but adding a night attraction could be cool.
Tuesday Night Blues Night at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. A free Blues show live at Center Stage in the casino. Headlined by Buddy Emmer, a longtime Northern Nevada musician and his band, The Buddy Emmer Blues Band. Every week will feature different Blues artist sitting-in with the band
— everyone from up and coming talent to legends. It’s definitely a good time, with plenty of seating and a dancing area for those who want to boogie down. The January 26 show featured a young talent from Santa Cruz named Jake Nielson, who could shred his Fender Stratocaster with the best of them. Ripping through Cold Shot by Stevie Ray Vaughan was a highlight. Shows start at 8pm every Tuesday.
MontBleu Casino Resort and Spa to watch the big game. If you can’t make it to Santa Clara to watch the Super Big Game, why not visit Lake Tahoe and watch Denver and Carolina butt heads with a couple hundred other football fans. MontBleu is offering a party inside their Blu Nightclub, and for $30 you get a food buffet and a couple drinks to watch it on many big screen televisions. Maybe make a wager. It adds a little excitement to have some cash riding on the game. The game is February 7, doors open at 2:30p.m.
— Brendan Packer
Interesting Things to Do and Places to See in February
February may very well be the quietest month of the year to visit Baker. That can be a good thing, with little traffic, plenty of hotel rooms, beautiful winter light, and lots of clean air. Tours of Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park are offered every day at 1 pm, with additional tours at 9 am on Saturdays and Sundays. You can borrow snow shoes from the Lehman Caves Visitor Center and check out Baker or Lehman Creek trails in solitude. Call 775-234-7331 for more information.
While snow coats most of the higher elevations, some sights at lower elevations are easily accessible.
The Baker Archeological Site, just a couple miles to the north of Baker (follow the signs), preserves a Fremont Indian village that was occupied from 1220 to 1295 A.D. A booklet gives you details along the self-guided 1/4-mile trail about what the Indians ate, how they lived, and how they may have oriented their village with the stars and other celestial objects to help them time when to plant and harvest their crops. You can see where the buildings existed due to some curbs that were constructed in 2002.
Another easy stop is off Highway 488, half-way between Baker and the Park, where a Ranching exhibit explains the fields and meadows seen in the valley below. The informative signs are located under a metal shelter, with benches for relaxing. In addition, some beautiful metalwork by Bill and Kathy Rountree grace one side of the shelter, providing a beautiful frame for the North Snake Range.
More art can be seen along Highway 488. This road art was originally installed by a retiree as “Post Impression Art.” Including works such as “Too Tall Tony,” whose legs don’t quite stay in his grave, the artwork along the road posts often contain tongue-in-cheek humor. See if you can figure out the jokes involved. One notable piece is the newly installed “Wheel-er Peak,” a peak of bicycle wheels with aliens made out of bike seats peering around. (Photo below)
Continuing on the alien theme is an alien hanging out in his wheelchair. (Bonus: there’s a geocache near this site.) If you like the otherworldly, see if you can spot the eight planets and five dwarf planets that are spaced out to scale. (Hint, the last dwarf planet is on the other side of the road from the rest).
Sheepherders’ Gathering a Resounding Success
While sheep herders, sheep owners, trappers, and others associated with the sheep industry were making their way towards the Border Inn in Baker on Friday, January 15, for the annual Sheepherders’ Gathering, performers Sourdough Slim and Robert Armstrong headed to the local school to show off their talents. Students delighted in the variety of musical instruments, including a musical saw, and the antics the two shared.
A few hours later, after the Sheep Industry Appreciation Dinner, the yodeling cowboy and his sidekick were back on stage at the Open Mic program at the Border Inn. The Open Mic program is my favorite part of the weekend, as you never know what you might hear. Over a dozen people got up and shared stories that included glimpses of life as a sheep herder, jokes played, a young girl’s fond remembrances of visiting sheepherders in their camps to eat stacks of sourdough pancakes (“they even had butter and honey for them at the beginning of the month”), and much more. Students from Snow College filmed the evening’s entertainment, while their professors shared with the crowd the efforts to transcribe the oral histories collected over the years at the Sheepherders’ Gathering. Meanwhile, Peruvian sheepherders congregated around the pool table, glad to have a change of pace for the night. A few sheep camps dotted the parking lot, making for an easy commute to bed.
The next morning, following a delicious breakfast buffet featuring stacks of sourdough pancakes made by Dave Okelberry, filmmaker Jared Jakins shared his documentary film Ghosts on the Mountain, about migrant workers from Peru and Mexico tending American-owned sheep herds. The film was nominated for a 2014 Emmy Award for Long Form Student Production.
In the afternoon, more music filled the Border Inn’s packed special events room. Sourdough Slim and Robert Armstrong played different songs from their repertoire, and even broke out a couple different instruments, including a bottle. Yep, you can blow in a bottle and make an incredible noise. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the performance and requested a repeat performance of Ghostriders in the Sky to end the program.
Soon after the music it was time for the Basque dinner. Meat was featured prominently, including in the appetizer, soup and main entrees (beef, lamb, and chicken platters). We also feasted on salad, various breads, dessert, and wine. The wine loosened us up so we were ready to dance to music by the Silver Sage band out of Delta, Utah.
The event was well attended, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The idea was dreamt up by Border Inn co-owner Denys Koyle, and the numerous sheep-related decorations in her business are a testament to her dedication to the sheep industry. The Great Basin National Heritage Area Partnership also is a sponsor for the annual gathering. If you’d like to attend next year, save the third weekend in January.
— Gretchen Baker
You’ll enjoy reading Gretchen’s fascinating blog Desert Survivor. It’s packed with oodles of her great photos, too!
If you have any interest in the history of the Carson Valley or western agriculture, the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park is a must-see. H.F. Dangberg came here from Germany in 1856, and he and his family built a ranching empire spanning nearly 78 square miles. They also founded the town of Minden and were responsible for the construction of numerous prominent buildings in town, several of which were designed by renowned Nevada architect Fredric DeLongchamps (including part of the Dangberg home itself).
Mark Jensen, the park curator, led us on an excellent tour which weaved intriguing family stories with lessons on local history, industry, and politics. And, he gave us a few good laughs! (“Mark” of a good tour guide … ) The photographs and personal relics gave glimpses into the personalities and heartaches endured by these ranching pioneers, as their concerns morphed from daily survival in the beginning, to boarding schools and gambling trips to San Francisco in successive generations, and finally to sibling squabbles over division of the holdings.
Most touching was the Dwight Dangberg trunk. Dwight, the first child of Fred and Gertrude Dangberg, died at the ranch of scarlet fever in 1905, at the age of 5. Devastated, Fred took all of Dwight’s things and placed them in a trunk, which remained sealed for 100 years. Mark, the curator, gave me the goosebumps when he described being the first person to open the trunk which had been hidden in the home’s attic all these years, revealing little Dwight’s toys, clothing, and even his drawings, which are now on display.
Aside from being rich in history, the Dangberg Ranch is just flat-out scenic. With beautiful fields, old buildings, cottonwoods, and views of Job’s Peak, it is a plein-air painter’s delight! Erik spent several days painting there and at the adjacent Park Ranch. The Dangberg Park also hosts an impressive range of unique events in the warmer months including concerts, historical speakers, and family-friendly activities like kite making and craft demonstrations. See their website for details.
88 Cups and Shelby’s Books
After slogging around the Ranch in the cold, we were craving a hot beverage, so we headed over to 88 Cups. This place turns out to be the hippest coffee shop in the Carson Valley, in the most unexpected location, Minden Village on Lucerne Street. What makes it hip? Local art and funky murals adorn the walls, and there are racks of art cards and handmade crafts for sale. Besides the main shop there is an adjacent room which is essentially an art gallery with comfy tables and chairs, where the owners host speakers (covering topics from world religions to local history) and events. From the café there is a “secret entrance” to a fabulous used book store, Shelby’s Books (see below), and across the street is a yarn store and a sushi restaurant! What more could you ask for? It’s a virtual enclave of hipness.
The original owners of 88 Cups relocated from the California terminus of Hwy 88 to the Nevada end in Minden, and decided to open up an “internet café.” The name derives from their journey and also from the fact that the number 8 is considered auspicious in Chinese culture. When the current owners, Eric Warren and his wife Janine, took over the cafe, they kept the great ambience, boba smoothies, fabulous loose-leaf teas and espresso drinks, added more restaurant equipment, and got rid of the technology. As owner Eric points out, “I’m better at food than I am at computers.” We happily allowed him to demonstrate his skills by feeding us a delicious breakfast sandwich on oat bread. They also serve a variety of pastries and breakfast and lunch menu items.
Back to the aforementioned “secret entrance.” Remember books? Those delightful smelling objects made of paper with printed words on them that could transport you other worlds without the use of flashing lights or emoticons? Those stories that demand more than six seconds of your time? If not, it’s time to make your way into Shelby’s Book Shoppe in Minden Village. Proprietor Linda Finch has been in this location for six years, with an eclectic selection of used and new books, including local titles and guidebooks. After being greeted at the door by Linda’s dog Ellie (successor to the store’s namesake, Shelby), and a brief orientation from Linda, I was free to roam the racks in a relaxed manner. There were so many titles that jumped out at me as favorites that I felt that Linda must have stacked the shelves in my honor! Especially intriguing was the hot-off-the-press local guidebook, “Eastern Sierra and Death Valley Camping with Privacy,” by Kimberly and Patrick Wilkes, featuring many of my favorite destinations.
And best of all? I got out with the Guidebook ($22) and three delicious used books for around 40 bucks.
— Amy Meeks
Megateuthis Makes its Debut in Elko
The giant, mechanical squid known as Megateuthis was a Burning Man sensation this summer. Elko artist Barry Crawford spent countless hours designing and making this sculpture. The installation at Burning Man was his second at the renowned art festival and mega party in the Black Rock Desert.
Crawford received a grant from the Burning Man organization to complete his project and a small sum of money from friends through Go Fund Me. But, like any artist, his project was mostly self-financed and completed with a labor of love.
Art connoisseurs in our community recognized the significance of this moving metal masterpiece and got the ball rolling to have Crawford install the piece at the new Elko Convention Center building. The squid will makes its Elko debut amongst a sea of cowboy hats and glad rags as the Cowboy Poetry Gathering commences.
“I love to have people come by and see my work, “ said Crawford. “When it moves I like to see the expression on their faces.”
The enormous cephalopod is a conglomeration of found metal pieces hooked up with 8 wiper motors that digitally power the tentacles and dilating eyeballs.
Catherine Wines, chair of the Elko Arts and Culture Board is responsible for seeking out funding for this installation. Don Newman at ECAC and leaders at Frontier Communications stepped up to the plate to bring this
public art piece to the region where it was created.
“We believe in giving back to the community, said David Robert of Frontier Communications. “We are happy to support this distinguished artist and are thrilled that the ECVA could spare the space.”
— Cynthia Delaney
Ely Renaissance Plans for 2016
The Ely Renaissance Society is ready for 2016. The Ely Art Bank will host at least 5 art shows: Native American art in mid-April for the Nevada Indian Tourism conference, the local student art show in May, the July National Spelunkers Conference display of Lehman Caves in the 1950’s and the same photos today, Anthony Ithuralde’s Andre the Alligator book presentation the end of July, and, finally, a tentatively planned show brought here by Turkey Stremmel from Reno. Exact times and dates will be posted as they become available.
The Ely Art Bank will also undergo improvements, including new carpet, outside planters adorned with mosaic tiles compliments of artist LeiLoni, and more black metal easels now being constructed by our local artist and volunteer Darl Clark.
The Renaissance Village will open on June 4th, after a scheduled cleaning date prior to opening. This year the Village will have 20 new residents from 100 years ago. The residents will have their photos and memorabilia in the
appropriate houses for visitors to enjoy their accomplishments. These stories will be presented in a book that may be purchased after the unveiling party to thank each of the contributors of these (mostly women) who made our community a home. The Village is open on Saturdays, June through September, from 10 am to 4:00 pm.
The Village will host three days of fun during the July 4th weekend, the most successful Art Wine Walk on July 30th, and three Saturdays of Farmers Market Aug. 27, Sept. 3 and 10th . The Village closes Sept 24th.
The Ely Renaissance Society will also see two new murals and one repainted one! Artist John Steinauer will start repainting the mural on the Economy Drug wall once the snow stops and the days warm up.
The Spelunker Association has chosen Ely and surrounding area for their conference this coming summer. They have generously offered to give Ely a new mural as a thank you for hosting this large gathering. The mural they are proposing will be placed on the Park Vue Motel wall facing the County Park. The mural will honor Mr. Lehman, who discovered the caves, and will suggest we continue to care for this treasure. The unveiling for this mural will be on July 16th, followed by a celebration in the County Park. The mural will be done on canvas in Kentucky, where the artist lives.
The second mural being offered will be on the wall next to Hotel Nevada, that has long needed help! The Hotel will pay for this mural, and one of the owners, Paul Kellogg, will be an overseer/advisor of two future artists wanting to have this experience of creating a mural on canvas. The work will be done in Las Vegas, as they go to school there. This mural will tell the history of the Goshute Indians.
Fire and Ice is Great Family Fun
Cave Lake State Park near Ely, Nevada, just hosted the 11th Annual Fire and Ice Snow Sculpture event. This is a great family activity with ice skating, sledding, bowling, horse shoes, hockey, and of course the snow sculptures.The event kicks off Friday evening with fireworks shot from the steam train as it leaves the tunnel coming into Ely. Live fireworks from a moving steam engine against the starry night sky. Wow!
Teams can begin their sculptures early in the week but the final judging takes place at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. First prize winners receive $1,000, second place is $500, and third place gets $250. This is definitely worth the time and effort, never mind the fun, it takes to create this great snow sculptures.
BOOM!!! Did you hear that? It’s the cannon being fired that adds to the atmosphere of the lake. And the event ends with the announcement of the winners and fireworks over the frozen lake at 6 p.m. The hills surrounding the lake with their cover of snow not only echo the blasts from the fireworks but also reflect the lights and color.
This three-day event is a great winter activity with time to play in the snow that the whole family can enjoy.
Complete details are available HERE. The event is held every third weekend in January, weather permitting.
— Lorraine Clark
Beer Park by Budweiser
Beer Park by Budweiser at Paris Hotel is another reason why there is only one Las Vegas. This “park” becomes the city’s first rooftop bar and grill on a 10,000-square-foot deck overlooking the Strip, with an outdoor grill, picnic tables, 100 beers, and dozens of high-definition televisions.
“Beer Park is inspired by some of the great American pastimes that bring people together, like going to a baseball game or a picnic,” said Matthew Silverman, corporate executive chef of Beer Park. “It’s a treat being outdoors and smelling food cooking on the grill while enjoying the Strip.”
That grill is a custom-made Budweiser Beechwood Grill that imparts the flavor of the beer into burgers, brisket and ribs. Popular sweets are gourmet funnel cakes and a signature ice cream cart.
Modern touches are taps that pour beers at 31 degrees as well as cold “plates” at each seat of the bar to keep beers cool. A retractable awning offers shade in the day, and misters and heaters ensure a climate-controlled atmosphere any time of year.
The Beer Park by Budweiser opens daily at 10 a.m. 702-444-4500. For more information, visit Beer Park’s website by clicking HERE
Jim Murren believes Las Vegas visitors seek provocative and unique experiences. With that belief, Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, brought Tatsuo Miyajima to install HOTO in the Shops at Crystals, the 500,000 square-foot shopping mall and entertainment district at CityCenter.
HOTO (treasure pagoda) was formerly on display only in China and Japan. Miyajima, one of Japan’s most influential artists, said he was inspired by Buddhist teachings in creating the thought-provoking art that stimulates interest and energy. The piece combines three Buddhism-inspired concepts: the concept that everything changes, things are connected, and everything continues forever.
Miyajima’s installation is the latest accessory for MGM Resorts International’s Fine Art Collection and joins a substantial display of commissioned and purchased art in the Shops at Crystals and inside the connected ARIA Resort.
View HOTO daily 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. 702-590-9299. For more information on the HOTO art installation and artist Tatsuo Miyajima click HERE.
— Diamond Jack Bulavsky
Valentine’s Day in Vegas
From the romantic, Valentine’s Day, to the down-to-earth, Groundhog Day, to the head-in-the-clouds President’s Day, there is much to do in Las Vegas in February. Obviously, Valentine’s Day is the most important for sweethearts and honeys, and it falls on a Sunday, so you can enjoy the whole weekend with different outings.
If you are pressed for cash there are a couple of ways to still enjoy Valentine’s weekend. A good start is to go to a movie. Not just a casino with theaters but a night at the drive-in. The West Wind Las Vegas 5 Drive-In on Carey Avenue just east of Rancho Drive can be nice and cozy. (It can also be crazy with families.) But, if you concentrate on your significant other, it can be romantic. It is the only drive-in left in Las Vegas and has 6 screens with a capacity of holding 950 cars. It is closed on Sunday; however, it is open Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. General admission tickets are only $7.50 each. and sometimes you can see a double feature for that price, which is a true bargain. You can bring in your own food and drinks or purchase at their snack bar, which offers a free refill on popcorn.
You could drive up to Mount Charleston Lodge and enjoy the beautiful scenery and lounge on the deck of the Mt. Charleston Lodge with hot cocoa or other drinks. Or you could make a reservation for their Valentine’s Day special dinner which starts at 5 p.m. only on 2/14/16. Sitting inside near the fireplace is sure to make you want to cuddle for a while, and you might even be able to swing an overnight stay in one of their cozy cabins if you contact them quick for a reservation, before they are booked solid.
A step up and a truly romantic place to go for either lunch or dinner is the Top of the World restaurant in the Stratosphere. You can save some money and can dress casually if you go for lunch. You will still be able to get a 360 degree view of the Vegas area. If you decide to go for the “business casual” dinner make sure you make a reservation to dine at sunset. It will make your night more memorable while you spend extra bucks for the meals and drinks.
I know everyone has their favorite restaurant to go for a romantic dinner, and an excellent choice is Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Hotel & Casino. This is a classic French Bistro where you can sit on their patio and enjoy the Bellagio fountains while you dine and people watch. When it’s cooler they have heat lamps to warm you, and in the heat of summer the misters keep you cool. The simple Steak Frites is divine, which is steak with their signature hand-cut fries served with your choice of sauces, such as brandy peppercorn, classic béarnaise and Dijon. Or you can choose their pricier filets, ribeyes or strips with accompanying sauces. They also have beef bourguignonne, grilled chicken and various fish entrees. A word of warning – the prices are not cheaper if you go for lunch; however, you can get burgers and sandwiches at lunchtime which are not available at dinner. Also, ask about their specials. And their brunch, available only on weekends, is absolutely delicious.
— Pauline Cimoch
New Ash Springs Proposal
The popular Ash Springs Hot Springs picnic area, about seven miles north of Alamo on U.S. 93, was closed by the BLM in 2014 because they determined the swimming area had become too unsafe after one of the walls to the swimming pool had been broken down. Not by natural means, but by “unauthorized maintenance.”
A big lock and chain on the gate and fence keeps people out.
This year, however, a local group in Alamo, called Friends of Pahranagat Valley, have created a proposal to have the hot springs reopened and greatly expanded. There is a website that people are invited to look at and make comment. The website: Friends of Little Ash Springs Proposal.
The BLM is interested in the proposal and will be reviewing it themselves.
The proposal would create a larger park, but would not interfere with the adjacent Big Ash Springs, that is private property. There would be a limited occupancy, an entry fee charged and seasonal hours of operation.
There will likely be several modifications made to the original proposal, and no funds have been raised as yet, nor is it known how long a period of construction would be necessary.
Ash Springs have a been a popular destination for many years to those traveling along U.S. 93, and desires to continue to be for all visitors, in state and out.
Higbee Named Nevada Coach of the Year
In keeping with the honors the record setting Pahranagat Valley High School football team in Alamo had in 2015, one of the best was Dr. Ken Higbee being named Nevada Coach of the Year in the awards presented by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
This is a unique honor, since normally, such an award goes to the coach of a much higher division school.
Pahranagat Valley plays 8-man football in Division IV, the smallest classification, and usually players or coaches from Division IV are not selected for the All-State team, however there have been exceptions. For example, Pahranagat’s Austin Poulsen was named Second Team defensive back in 2012 because of his 10 interceptions that season. And this year, Pahranagat junior quarterback Tabor Maxwell, Whittell’s Cory Huber, and Division III Lincoln County quarterback McClain O’Connor were given Honorable Mention.
It would also be fair to say that the Panther team certainly contributed to Higbee being selected Coach of the Year. They won a record eighth consecutive state championship, beating Whittell 54-28 in the title game. They also stretched their national winning streak to 93, which ranks as No. 3 on the all-time list as noted by the National Federation of High School Sports in Indianapolis, tied with Shattuck, Oklahoma (2003-2009).
They can break the tie with their first game next season with Wells in Alamo.
Over the past eight years, PVHS has been ranked very often in the top 10 teams in the nation for 8-man football by MaxPreps.com, even No. 1 at one point, one year.
They were the subject of an NBC Nightly News piece in Sept. 2014, when their record was 72 straight.
Higbee, who is also school principal at the C.O. Bastian Youth Center in Caliente, is not one much for award recognition and quickly said he wanted to share the honor equally with the other coaches on the staff. “Our program is about what everybody does, not one individual. It goes just as much to the parents and our community as well.”
— Dave Maxwell
See Nevada from the California Zephyr
For a lot of people, railfanning means finding a location overlooking some railroad tracks, setting up a lawn chair and an umbrella, and listening to a radio or scanner to hear the trains coming. Then, when a train passes by, taking pictures, shooting video, or just enjoying the view.
That is a great way to enjoy trains, particularly if there is an unexpected surprise in the train consist such as a locomotive from a railroad back east, Canada, or even Mexico. Railroads even paint locomotives in “heritage” paint schemes to memorialize “fallen flag” railroads that were absorbed during mergers. Sometimes, an unusual cargo will be transported; military equipment moves by train can be very interesting, or how about watching the fuselage of a new jet pass by on a special flatcar?
We love to watch trains pass by and we often seek out particularly scenic locations when we go out to view trains, but we also like the idea of being aboard a train and watching pretty scenery roll past outside the train window. That is where AMTRAK’s California Zephyr comes in.
The California Zephyr is consistently lauded as one of the top 10 railroad experiences in the United States, mostly because of the stunning scenery it passes on its route between the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago. Much of that scenery is concentrated in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, just west and east of Nevada, but Nevada’s many smaller mountain ranges and wide open spaces can make for some captivating viewing as well.
In addition to the scenery, you have the experience of reliving a small slice of American history; riding aboard the country’s first transcontinental rail route, it was established back in the 1860s. We are just three years from celebrating the 150th anniversary of the driving of the “Golden Spike” at Promontory Point, Utah, and the linking of railroads from west and east. If history appeals to you, you have another great reason to ride aboard the California Zephyr.
Two California Zephyr trains cross Nevada daily. AMTRAK Train No. 5 crosses Nevada from east to west on its way to the San Francisco Bay Area, and AMTRAK Train No. 6 crosses the state from west to east on its way to Chicago. Both trains stop at three locations in Nevada: Reno, Winnemucca and Elko. You can board the train at any of those locations, and you can disembark at any of them, too.
The current AMTRAK California Zephyr Timetable, effective January 11, 2016, can be viewed HERE. The timetable provides the information you need to plan a rail trip across part or all of Nevada, or even to points outside the “Silver State”.
So, with timetable in hand, let’s talk about Train No.6 first. It departs Reno at 4:06 pm daily and arrives in Winnemucca at 7:08 pm. From there, it is on to Elko with an arrival time of 9:31 pm. From Elko, the train continues east to its next stop at Salt Lake City and then subsequent points further east. If you want to ride the California Zephyr to view Nevada scenery, you will want to ride during the summer when daylight lasts the longest.
You can get on the train in Reno, or even Truckee, California, which is really far western Nevada, and ride across as much of the state as suits your fancy and then get off in Winnemucca, Elko or Salt Lake City and check into a hotel for a relaxing stay. After that, you have the option of heading back west on the California Zephyr, or returning home by other means.
Let’s go back to the timetable and review the schedule for a trip from east to west on Train No. 5. We see the train departs Elko at 3:03 am daily. Ouch. You may not want to get up in time to be at the station there by 3 am. But maybe you don’t mind getting up early. Let’s look at Winnemucca. Train No. 5 departs Winnemucca daily at 5:40 am, still early, but much more civilized. Once again, travel in the summer with its early sunrises is desirable for best viewing of scenery. The train rolls into Reno for a still-early arrival at 8:36 am.
One little tidbit to consider. Train No. 5 starts in Chicago and crosses much of the country before it reaches Nevada. That long distance provides many opportunities for the train to be delayed by other rail traffic and by other causes. It is entirely possible the train will be running two or three hours behind schedule, affording you the opportunity to get some extra “shut eye” before heading to the station. You can track the train’s progress and updated arrival times on line with an AMTRAK smartphone application.
You might want to ride the train in one direction or the other, or maybe both. You have options and the train is a great platform from which to enjoy Nevada’s plenitude of scenic mountains and its vast wide open spaces. In addition to the great viewing, you have the historical aspects of a train ride and the experience of being aboard the train for a ride on the steel rails.
If the thought of a ride on the California Zephyr appeals to you, start your trip at the AMTRAK Home Page and enjoy your ride across the “Silver State”.
— John Gaffney