NevadaGram #114 – Finding Sam Clemens Cove at Lake Tahoe

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One of the most memorable episodes in “Roughing It” recounts how young Sam Clemens hiked up to Lake Tahoe from Carson City.

He told how he and his companion staked a timber claim and accidentally set the forest on fire. The two escaped with their lives by rowing their skiff out into the lake and waiting for the flames to die down.

But for all its admirable qualities as prose that flirted now and then with poetry, Twain’s description of his Tahoe excursions — he actually made two visits to the lake, but conflated them into one in his book — lacked

The forensic literary investigators who found Sam Clemens’ Timber Ranch: Schmidt, Stewart, Watson (seated), Makley, Layne.

geographical specificity, and scholars ever since have wondered just where it was that he had made camp. Speculation placed the camp at several different places on both the Nevada and California sides of the lake. But it was just last summer that a group of curious Twainiacs figured out exactly where it was.

Art at Fallon
Art dominated the discussion at Fallon.

Lead investigator in this effort was Bob Stewart, who had already become conversant with Clemens’ Nevada adventures from the research he did for his book “Aurora, Nevada’s Ghost City of the Dawn”.

Here we diverge from the usual narrative path of these Nevadagrams. There are four main parts of the story, and each one is linked in order below.


Artists at FallonThey each open in a new browser window, so you can move through the series by returning here and clicking the next link in order, and then either closing the new window or setting it aside and returning here for the next one.

Chapters XXII and XXIII in Roughing It by Mark Twain.

Locating Clemens Cove by Bob Stewart.

Finding the Faro Table by Larry Schmidt

Making it Official by McAvoy Layne

In the waning days of January we realized that one of the great art events of the year was taking place only an hour away at the Oats Park Arts Center in Fallon: an exhibit of paintings by four northern Nevada artists — John Bogard from Planet X near Gerlach, Jeff Nicholson and Jean LeGassick from Silver City and Ron Arthaud from Tuscarora — plus an hour’s public conversation with them led by Bill Fox of the Nevada Museum of Art.

Photo courtesy Poinsettia Chamber of Commerce
Dave Ericson, one of the older guys from Hawthorne who used to come out and visit us in Poinsettia in his jeep, has passed away. He came home from Gil’s one night, fell asleep in his Lay-Z-Boy and never woke up. [ More]

The paintings are magnificent and the painters’ talk was entertaining and even edifying.

The show will be up through March 11.

If you are anywhere near Fallon before then, do your eyes a favor and make a detour to point them at this exhibit. This is Nevada art at its highest level. Spectacular!

Our group of six stayed over and had breakfast at Jerry’s the next morning. We all wanted to go back over to the center and look at those paintings some more.

Quick notes from beyond the mountains: The Nevada Northern Railway in Ely is offering“Winter Steam Spectacular Photo Shoots” the first two

Fire and Ice train
This is the “Fire & Ice” fireworks train; for the Valentine’s Day run the fireworks will presumably take place inside the train, in the tenderest fashion.

weekends in February, details here, and the debut of the Be Mine Valentine Limited, Valentine’s Day Train on Monday, February 14.

Bulletin from Gold Point

Sheriff Stone writes from Gold Point:
Dennis and I have been working next door again on the Gold Central cabin, which was the Gold Central Cafe in 1908. We have cleaned up and vacuumed out the old wood cook stove and laid down a simple sub floor for the lino in the kitchen and carpet in the living room. We are going to paint the wood stove a flat black and paint the trim and lettering with a silver or gold paint.

When the cabin is finished, the stove will be put in the corner and used to hold spices and such on the top and maybe keep some pots and pans inside the oven. When Dennis comes back up at the end of the month he will be bringing some paint with him, and our good neighbors Dan and Diane have donated some very old wallpaper. It has a very light green color background and some fruits on it and we believe it will be just perfect for the kitchen.

Red Dog found a real treasure this year while doing our recycled Christmas card exchange from the Wiley collection!!!!!! check out the story here.

With seating for just 20 couples, this exclusive train will feature an intimate, romantic ambience. Passengers will be treated to aphro-disiacs, including chocolate truffles and cham-pagne. Beer, sparkling cider and soft drinks will be available. Rumors persist that the train may make its way through the “Tunnel of Love,” though they may be just eager fantasies.

The 75th Anniversary Edition of Nevada Magazine is on newsstands. It’s a very stylish presentation of the Magazine’s transformation from its beginnings as a highway department publication devoted to culverts and other arcana of an infant highway system into the slick, sleek and modern tourism publication of today. The folks at the magazine have sent us a historical overview: “First, to get you warmed up (2009 to current), click here, and for the grand finale (reverse order from 2008 to 1936), click here.

Spouses, friends, and lovers, those infatuated and significant others are encouraged to get tickets now, as seating is extremely limited aboard this romantic train. Tickets are just $64 couple ($59 for White Pine and Eureka couples). The railroad has posted this disclaimer: “The Love Train of Old Ely assumes no liability for anyone who becomes love struck during this ride and, certainly, magical things have been known to happen at this sentimental time.

Please contribute your Nevada Haiku

Big Little City’s
‘fraid of Virginia Lake?
It leaves me trembling.

Jim McCormick

In fact, anyone wishing to get married aboard the train or renew vows, please call the NNRY to make arrangements. Board the train for a memorable evening of nostalgia and romance – don’t let the moment pass. We look forward to having you ALL ABOARD!” . . . Roadside America subscribers were alerted to three noteworthy Nevada oddities in the latest bulletin: the world’s largest chocolate fountain at the Bellagio and the Hawaiian King Kamehameha Statue at the Hawaiian Marketplace, both on the Las Vegas Strip, and the Wilbur D. May Museum in Reno. If you visit the site you’ll find plenty more Nevada goofiness represented . . .

Overheard at Clemens Cove, Lake Tahoe: “Lazarus, you long-eared old hound, wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.”

Happy Highways,

David W. Toll



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