Nevada Correspondence – October 2015

In this edition:

Baker, Las Vegas(3), Lincoln CountyMesquite, Tuscarora, West Wendover, Railfanning in Ely



Fall colors on Strawberry Creek
Fall colors on Strawberry Creek

October is one of the most beautiful months to visit Great Basin National Park. The cool, crisp air and changing colors makes it a great time to explore. One of my favorite places to visit in October is Strawberry Creek, where trails lead through meadows and riparian zones and connect with the historic Osceola Trail. The recently opened Snake Creek road is another great option, and the newly-constructed Serviceberry Trail is a rolling 3.6-mile scenic jaunt.

One special event coming to Baker in October is the Scales and Tails program at noon on October 6 on the Baker Hall lawn. The local Parent and Teacher Association is sponsoring the event and it’s open to the public. Here’s a great chance to get close to snakes and lizards and learn more about them.

The Farmers Market in Baker features delicious homegrown goodies
The Farmers Market in Baker features delicious homegrown goodies

If traveling on a Saturday fits your plan, the Farmer’s Market by the community church will continue Saturday mornings through October. The market often offers local produce, fresh farm eggs, pinenuts, herbs, baked goods, and more. Afterwards, go for a hike and then stick around for the Astronomy Program at Great Basin National Park at 6:30 pm (6:00 pm the last two Saturdays). Learn more about the dark night skies and then peer through telescopes into the vastness that surrounds our planet. Bring a lawn chair and a warm coat.

Among the phantasmagoria of mineral formations in Lehman Cave is this "parachute shield"
Among the phantasmagoria of mineral formations in Lehman Cave is this “parachute shield”

We can expect some snow on the mountaintops this month, so if you’re feeling chilled, head underground to the constant 52 degrees of Lehman Cave. Cave tours continue daily through the month and aren’t so crowded, so you can ask your guide more questions.

With the slowdown in seasons is also a slowdown in visitation. The Lehman Caves Gifts and Cafe closes October 11. However, the Border Inn, Hidden Canyon Ranch Bed and Breakfast, Silver Jack & Electrolux Cafe, Whispering Elms Motel & RV Park, T&D’s convenience store and restaurant, Magic Bean Coffee Cart (a new addition to town!), End of the Trail-er, Hidden Cabin, Gateway Accomodations (also newly opened), Rock Sage Room, and Baker Gas and RV will continue to be open. For more information on all these businesses click here.

One last thing: Happy Birthday to Great Basin National Park on the Full Hunter’s Moon, October 27! The park was created in 1986, which means it will be 29 years old.

Gretchen Baker

(Check out Gretchen’s wonderful blog, Desert Survivor)


Las Vegas

It’s time for Oktoberfest in Las Vegas!

Clark County Amphitheater - Downtown Brew Festival October 2015Motley Brews presents the Las Vegas Downtown Brew Festival on October 24th for adults over 21 years of age featuring unlimited samples from over 60 breweries with over 200 craft beers.  Tickets were a little cheaper had you bought them in September; however, until 10/24/15 you can get general admission for $40 for entry from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.  Early bird tickets are $50 if purchased by 10/24/15 and will get you in an hour early, at 4 p.m.  The price includes beer, water and entertainment.  There is always food available for purchase.  They also have a $20 ticket for designated drivers, just to make sure you don’t get caught sampling the beers!  The event is located at the Clark County Amphitheater across from the Premium Outlet Mall at 500 Grand Central Pkwy.  Previous festivals have had steady visitors without there being a crush of humanity with the exception of the opening of the gates.  The festival is well organized including the clean-up during the event so you can feel comfortable while enjoying the music and crafts of the brewers.

Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in Summerlin is having an all-you-can-eat-and-drink celebration of Oktoberfest on October 6th.  The restaurant is located in the new Downtown Summerlin area just south of Red Rock Casino off of I-215 and Sahara Avenue.  The cost is $50 per person and, besides food and drink, includes a souvenir beer stein.

The Springs Preserve at 333 S. Valley View Blvd. and Alta Drive is having their Grapes & Hops Festival on October 3rd from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m for adults over 21 only.  Tickets in advance are $40 for single or $70 for two.  This includes unlimited beer, wine, food samples and entertainment.  Restaurants participating are Mon Ami Gabi, Strip Burger, M Street Kitchen and others.

The Springs Preserve is also hosting the Haunted Harvest on October 16-18, 23-25 and 30-31 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for $6 per adult and children ages 3-12 and is free for ages 2 and under.  They have a number of activities with trick-or-treating booths, entertainment, petting zoo, family bingo, crafts and their spooky hay maze.  This is a beautiful location for visiting, whether you attend this event or just go there to explore the grounds with the family.

Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas 5The Hofbrauhaus in Las Vegas is a must for an Oktoberfest celebration.  Every Friday and Saturday in October they have keg tapping by Las Vegas celebrities, from Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars, October 3rd, to Thunder From Down Under, October 30th.   Check out their event calendar to see which celebrity will be tapping on the specific dates you are in town.  The crowds are always fun and the food “isn’t bad” either!  If you go on their website and sign up for their newsletter they will send you a coupon for a free beer.  Don’t miss out on their best festival of the year!

Pauline Cimoch


Football season is underway and I find myself at the Palms Casino on West Flamingo Road. What has drawn me here since my man cave is equipped with the very best television and sound technology?  Oh, I know why … Palms is home to the world’s largest Hooters restaurant. This 15,000 square foot, two-story dining room has 50 televisions, a great poolside bar, delicious chicken wings, and those iconic Hooters girls.  They’re everywhere.  They’re beautiful.  There are hooters no matter where I look. That’s why I’m at the Palms Casino.

Pawn Stars is the highest-rated show on the HISTORY television network and is broadcast from Las Vegas. No surprise. Rick Harrison, who I met before he became a television personality, has taken his Gold & Silver Pawn shop at 725 Las Vegas Blvd. South and turned it into Pawn Plaza. And what is Pawn Plaza?  It’s Inna Gadda di Pizza, Pawn Donut & Coffee (donuts names and flavors influenced by Las Vegas celebrities), Vegas Flip Flops, Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ & Tavern, Smoke’s Poutinerie, So-Cal Speed Shop, and Rita’s Italian Ice. Pizza, donuts and coffee? Now I know where to find Rick when he isn’t in his office!

Olivia Newton John at the Flamino LVIn 1978, Olivia Newton-John, now performing at the Flamingo, rose to national stardom in the movie Grease and became everyone’s girlfriend. Her popularity continues and is so great that aspiring singers and Olivia fans are encouraged to submit a video of themselves singing a classic Newton song from any era and submit to the Legends in Concert website. Participants must dress up as the real life music icon, or one of the characters she made famous such as Sandy from “Grease” or Kira from “Xanadu.”  One fan will win a chance to perform at one of the Legends in Concert venues. The lucky winner will be determined based on overall looks, mannerisms and vocal ability to match the star’s likeness. A judging panel, including Olivia, will crown the very first Olivia Newton-John tribute artist.

Diamond Jack Bulavsky


Whale Shark in Sea Monsters RevealedSea Monsters Revealed’ exhibit will open adjacent to Shark Reef Aquarium inside Mandalay Bay on Oct. 1 and run through October 2016. Sea Monsters Revealed will open at 9:30 a.m. daily. Tickets are $5 for guests who also purchase a ticket to Shark Reef Aquarium and $12 for the Sea Monsters exhibition only.

The exhibit has been on display at some of North America’s most prestigious aquariums. The use of a revolutionary polymer preservation technique, commonly known as plastination, allows the collection of once living aquatic creatures to be brought together on dry land. The process allows guests to see the outside and inside of some of the sea’s most magnificent inhabitants, including an 18-foot, 3,000-pound whale shark. The exhibit also features a 15-foot-long mako shark and giant sunfish among its more than 18 full-body sea creatures. Additional displays include 150 individual organs and smaller specimens such as tropical fish, crustaceans and octopuses.

Tiger Cubs of Siegfried & RoySiegfried and Roy Introduce Four New Tiger Cubs at the Mirage. Siegfried & Roy introduced the newest additions to their animal family when four six-week-old tiger cubs made their first appearance at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage last month. These are the first tiger cubs introduced at The Mirage in five years. They were born Aug. 5 to mother Indira and father Svengali. Animal lovers can watch and follow the cubs using the Twitter and Instagram handle @SARMOTIcubs.

Fabulous Thunderbirds 2015The Fabulous Thunderbirds Perform at the Silverton. Multi-platinum Texas/Swamp Blues sensation The Fabulous Thunderbirds, featuring the original band member Kim Wilson, will be performing at the Silverton on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. inside Veil Pavilion.

Wilson has been spearheading the band through 30 years of musical evolution, as well as extensive tours through the U.S. and Europe. Wilson has remained true to the band’s American music history but has also introduced new styles and sounds and acquired a more contemporary style. Tickets start at $29.

Jackie Brett


Lincoln County

Lincoln County Fall – October

It’s October. Everybody knows what that means. Halloween. But the biggest event in Lincoln County before that, and aside from high school sports, is an event that is ever growing in popularity: the Fifth Annual Park to Park Pedal October 10 (Register by clicking on Link ). It begins at 7 a.m. at Kershaw Ryan State Park in Caliente. It is also called the Nevada Extreme 100 because part of it is the 100-mile bike ride, not a race though, that covers four of the County’s five state parks. then back to Kershaw-Ryan. However, there are shorter rides too: the 40-mile Helix and the 60-mile Double Jack.

Park to Park Pedal has grown so much in popularity, organizer Dawn Andone at Cathedral Gorge State Park was even asked to provide another ride that went to Beaver Dam State Park, so she created the Gravel Grinder event that takes place in June.

Nevada State Parks photo, courtesy of Dawn Andone & Barbara Rhode
Nevada State Parks photo, courtesy of Dawn Andone & Barbara Rhode

Nevada Extreme 100
This ride takes you through the scenic beauty along Nevada’s first Scenic Byway, U.S.  Highway 93. Peddle past the 1920’s mission-style depot in the railroad town of Caliente and through the historic mining town of Pioche. Tour through four of Nevada’s scenic State Parks: Kershaw-Ryan, Cathedral Gorge, Spring Valley and Echo Canyon. Take in the breathtaking view of Meadow Valley as you coast down the hill from Pioche on your way back to Kershaw-Ryan for a mouthwatering Dutch oven feast. This ride is the most challenging, with approximately 5,600 feet of climbing as you pedal through four state parks, two old west towns, and up Pioche Hill. Since you went uphill on the way most of the return ride is downhill!

60 Mile Double Jack
A more moderate challenge, this ride does include Pioche Hill which is approximately 1,400 feet of climb in about 10 miles. Once you hit the old mining town of Pioche, it is all downhill from there! You’ll see two state parks and two old west towns along the way.

40 Mile Helix
For those of you who are looking for a shorter ride without extreme hill climbs this is for you! This ride takes you to Cathedral Gorge State Park in Panaca, ending just before Pioche Hill. You see two state parks and the old railroad town of Caliente.

Later in the month, October 24, Kershaw-Ryan Stage Park is holding their annual Pumpkins in the Park activities. Another fun activity for families.

Dave Maxwell



Mesquite’s “Best of Fest” Film Festival, Oct 5-8

Just in time for the arrival of snowbirds and all film fans, Mesquite welcomes you to its third  annual Best of Fest, an ancillary of Docutah International Documentary Film Festival staged by neighboring Dixie State University.  As its name implies, the Mesquite event gleans the very best from the 77 fine films screened at Docutah, and brings them to an even wider audience.

The Festival opens with a kick-off, “Lights, Camera, Action” cocktail party at the Eureka Casino Resort on October 5.  Eureka’s Community Initiative sponsors the festival in partnership with Docutah.   The reception includes a meet and greet with Chris Waddell, 13-time Paralympic Medalist and a showing of his award-winning documentary, “One Revolution.”  This event reflects Mesquite’s support of the paralympic long drive golf competition and other events that foster sports participation to all who wish to play.

Another top attraction at Best of Fest will no doubt be “Flying the Feathered Edge: The Bob Hoover Project” (link to Youtube video trailer). Nevadans and worldwide aviation enthusiasts are well-acquainted with the name Bob Hoover.  Hoover, often proclaimed “the pilot’s pilot,” is a legend at the Reno Air Races. This 90-minute documentary of his remarkable career tells of his many aeronautical achievements and scrapes with destiny.

About 20 films covering a gamut of topics of current interest will be shown over the five-day festival.  Films will be screened at Mesquite’s Redd Hills Cinema from Tuesday, Oct 6 through Thursday, Oct 8, and at the Mesquite Megaplex, on Wednesday, Oct 7 and Thursday, Oct 8.

The Big Lonely, one of many outstanding documentaries to be shown at the Mesquite Best of Fest film festival, tells the story of a homeless man struggling to survive in the Oregon wilderness.The Big Lonely, one of many outstanding documentaries to be shown at the Mesquite Best of Fest film festival, tells the story of a homeless man struggling to survive in the Oregon wilderness rather than suffer a brutal life on America’s mean streets.

Multiple showings allow film lovers to enjoy all the featured documentaries.  A poolside VIP Festival Wrap Party concludes the festival on Friday, Oct 9 at the Eureka.

Prices for the event are $5 per film, $40 festival pass for all films.  The Kick-Off event pass for Oct 5 is $20, and a $50 Patron Pass provides admission to all films plus the VIP Wrap Party. 100% of ticket sales go to benefit Mesquite Reads, a literacy programs that aims to assure that all Mesquite children read at grade level or above by third grade.  Passes are sold at Eureka’s J.S. Merchant Shop, and single tickets are available at each showing.

Linda Faas



Taylor Canyon Club bar Tuscarora 2Shipping cattle, hunting season, and getting ready for the Wild Women Show in Reno — it’s fall in Tuscarora.  The cattle have shipped out and hunting season is well under way.  Business picks up down at the Taylor Canyon Club, our go-to place for a beer and burger or Tom’s special prime rib on Saturday nights.  Hunters like to gather here to exchange information, but once you step inside the dark bar they are hard to see because everyone is in camo.

Bill Dell presents a copy of the letter proclaiming his grandfather "Wheezer" Dell a member of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame to Gail Rappa, at Society Hall in Tuscarora.
Bill Dell presents a copy of the letter proclaiming his grandfather “Wheezer” Dell a member of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame to Gail Rappa, at Society Hall in Tuscarora.

The annual Wild Women Show in Reno is an outstanding gathering of artists and craftswomen and their friends.  We are particularly partial to Gail Rappa’s jewelry and Sidne Teske’s paintings.  They are long-time Tuscarora residents.

Friends of Tuscarora and Independence Valley, (FSTIV), the board of Society Hall, our community center,  met in September and there are high hopes for a deck and a landscaped picnic area by next summer.  We would like to host a Wheezer Dell Day, to celebrate Nevada’s first professional baseball player who was born in Tuscarora.  We have to get through winter first.

Nancy Harris McLelland


West Wendover

Local Pedicab Service Hits Casino Roadblock

Pedicabs, or bicycle powered rickshaws, will not be coming to Wendover as soon as expected, according to Salt City Cycle owner Lewis Gasper.

“We have had some problems getting the casinos on board,” Gasper said Tuesday. “They have to get the okay from corporate, but we still plan to come.”

Pedicab-West Wendover -October 2015The major issue, Gasper said, was whether the pedicabs would be allowed to wait for fares on casino property, have to wait off property or to be called like a regular taxi.

“Whether or not the pedicabs can queue up in the casino parking lots or not is between the pedicab company and the casino,” said WWPD Lt. Don Lininger. “Most casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have taxi queues, and  I guess so do some hotels in Salt Lake, but we never had them in Wendover.”

“The police have been super supportive and so has the city,” Gasper added. “We will come out to Wendover, even if we have to pick up fares on the street.”

The West Wendover City council changed the local law to allow for and to regulate pedicabs at Gasper’s request. And According to the Salt Lake businessman, the business plan is sound.

“The casinos spend $700,000 a year operating their shuttle service, and the town also supports a taxi company.” Gasper explained. “We think Wendover could easily handle a pedicab service. We were out there a couple of months ago just to check out the terrain and see if we could handle the hills. It looks great.”

With the pedicab service and a new liquor store set to begin construction,  it was hoped that West Wendover may be coming out of a more than decade long decline in the number of small businesses.

While there were signals that West Wendover could report a significant gain in the number of local businesses for the first time since 2003, that increase will have to wait until next year.

Howard Copelan



 Railfanning in Ely

Last month, we took you railfanning in Verdi, Nevada, and watched Union Pacific freight trains and AMTRAK passenger trains pass by on their runs between California and points east.  This month, let’s head across the state to the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely, about 330 miles east of Verdi, and 100 years back in time.

Nevada Northern No 40The Nevada Northern Railway is a true gem from the steam era of railroading. The railroad was established by the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company in 1905 to support copper mining in White Pine County.   Steam locomotives led long strings of hopper cars laden with ore downhill from the mines at Ruth to the smelter at McGill. Trains also ran north carrying processed copper about 140 miles to Cobre, a station on the transcontinental “Overland Route.”  Additionally, trains also carried passengers and freight between Ely and Cobre, and there were “local” logistics runs between Ruth, Ely, and McGill.

Kennecott Copper Corporation gradually took over the mining operations with a formal merger occurring in 1942.  The railroad was part of the deal.

Advances in technology brought diesel locomotives to the Nevada Northern during the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Most of the steam locomotives in the fleet were sold for scrap during the 1950s, but four were retained and are still at Ely.

In the late 1970s, ore reserves at the mine waned and prices slid.  This prompted Kennecott to shutter the mine, smelter, and railroad.   The doors were closed and silence prevailed at the railroad shops and yard.

Happily, this was not the end for the Nevada Northern.  In 1986, Kennecott began the process of donating the locomotives, rolling stock, 32 miles of track, rail yard, shops, depot, and equipment to the recently formed White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and interpreting the historic railroad.

Because Ely is relatively remote and most of the railroad equipment on hand was obsolete at the time of the shutdown, things were left as they were.  Almost nothing was sold off and few items were scrapped.  As a result, the Nevada Northern Railway is among the best-preserved steam railroad operations in the entire country. Two of the steam locomotives are now operational and pull excursion trains regularly.  There are plans to restore a third locomotive to operational status and fund raising in support of the project is underway.

The Nevada Northern shop complex and rail yard are national historic landmarks, and the Nevada Northern was selected by the Nevada Travel Network as its “Attraction of the Year” for 2012.  Additionally, the Nevada Northern is consistently selected by Nevada Magazine as a “Best of Nevada” attraction, and Trip Advisor gives it plaudits too.   If you haven’t visited the Nevada Northern yet, you should.

There are many different ways to experience the Nevada Northern and many different levels of immersion from which to choose.  You can take a simple walking tour of the facilities or a ride on a train for a relatively short experience lasting about 90 minutes.   Or, you can spend a week there during a “Railroad Reality Week” and lay track, work on locomotives and rolling stock and perform other needed duties in the yard and shops.  You can even become a volunteer and work for the railroad on a continuing basis.  Some of the volunteers like working at the Nevada Northern so much, they commute from southern California every month to perform crew member duties on the trains.

Have you ever thought about sleeping in a railroad caboose?  You can do that at the Nevada Northern; or you may choose to sleep in the railroad’s bunkhouse.

Not many people in the United States have ever driven a steam or diesel locomotive.  You can be a guest engineer at the Nevada Northern.  After completing a training and orientation program, you will take the locomotive of your choice on a run up to Ruth and back.

If you just want to ride as a passenger, the Nevada Northern has a wide variety of themed excursions that may be of interest.  The special trains include geology, astronomy, Fourth of July, Halloween, wild west, and dinner trains.  In December, the “Polar Express” is a family favorite.

There is something for everyone at the Nevada Northern Railway.  To learn more about the railroad and the wide variety of activities it offers Click Here.

If you weren’t a railfan before visiting the Nevada Northern, you will be one by the time you leave to head back home and back to the 21st Century.

  John Gaffney