NevadaGram #42 – Pogonip, Reveries and Remembrance

What They’re saying About Us

The New York Times Magazine meets Michael Heizer.
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After the great snows of January, a pogonip settled in the valleys of northwestern Nevada, and in the previous NevadaGram I rhapsodized about this freezing fog the Paiutes named Pogonip, or the White Death.

photo by Max Winthrop
Pogonip, as seen from C Street, Virginia City.

Here on the Comstock we looked out on snowy landscapes with blue skies all around, and a spun-sugar sea of white gleaming below. The pogonip, so enchanting and angelic from above, is so cold and dense within that ice crystals condense out of it to spangle the dank air and adhere to every surface.

In the chill and gloomy depths of that frozen cloud the valley cities have been submerged for weeks: Reno, Carson City, Dayton, Fernley, their color drained, cold and dreary in their nether world . . . while in the mountains above, a hot sun was shining in a bright blue sky. While our frienda and loved ones on the valley floors were shivering and suffocating, we were wearing shirtsleeves and catching rays. Life is good.

Here’s my Gold Medal candidate for innovative tourism promotion: The Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority, in cooperation with local environmental, agricultural and wildlife agencies, has developed an exclusive 3-day event that provides a special educational and up-close way to view birds of prey: the Annual Eagles and Agriculture Weekend February 25 – 27.

The event focuses on the influx of birds of prey which come to the scenic Carson Valley to feed on the nutrient-rich afterbirth during the winter calving season.

Bald eagle on its way to lunch in the Carson ValleyThis unique interaction between nature and agriculture attracts photographers, birders and nature-lovers of all kinds to observe eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and other bird species.

On Friday February 25th, the Carson Valley Inn hosts an Opening Reception from 6-9 p.m. featuring guest speakers on the biology of eagles and birds of prey. The $20 per person entry fee includes hors d’oeuvre and a no-host bar. Applications to participate in the weekend’s activities are now available online, but the Owl Prowl Tour is already booked solid. [ More ]

A Parenthesis in Eureka
Eureka about 1940

In 1947, my parents and I moved to Eureka. I was 9 years old My father worked in the Ruby mine. We lived in miner’s accommodations which were ugly green trailers on a hill just outside the town. The only amenities were electricity and running water. Looking back on it, I realize we were “poor”, but I didn’t know it at the time. My best friends were Eddie and Mary Milka. We were very adventurous to the point of putting our lives in danger more than once. We lived in Eureka only about a year when my father was badly injured in the mine. After a long recuperation in Ely, we moved back to Pasadena, Calif. where we previously had lived.

I recently gave a speech about my year there. I titled it “Angel on My Shoulder . . . The Year I Was A Boy”. I was allowed to wear jeans and striped t-shirts. If it weren’t for the long hair, no one would have known I was a girl.I recall a deserted Chinese section of town, an old corral with many old horse buggies, 13 bars, three grocery stores, a drugstore run by “Lefty”. A hardware mercantile store. The Opera house was used as a movie theater a couple nights a week. I remember entering a talent show and dancing on the stage. There was a wonderful roll down curtain with a mural.

I went to the fourth grade at the one school house that also accommodated students up to the 12th grade. I had a wonderful teacher; wish I could remember her name. And, I really did walk to school in the snow! One day our class was allowed to visit a woman that lived near the school. She was celebrating her 100th birthday which would make her birth year 1847. That is an odd link to the 21st century, but never-the-less a link.

I look on that year as a parenthesis in my otherwise Southern California life and one I have always thought would make a good book. A drive from San Diego to Eureka would be too far, but perhaps one day I will fly to Ely, rent a car, drive that winding 77 miles for a nostalgic visit. I was always going to do that trip with my Mom.

Marilyn (Jimerson) Anderson

In the previous Nevadagram I mentioned that we receive many e-mails requesting Nevada travel information. We also get e-mails from people who simply want to share their Nevada memories. Not long ago Rich wrote to say: “Thank you for the page about Tonopah. I was stationed in the Air Force from 1975 to 1979 I worked on the Tonopah Test Ranges and stayed at the Sundowner Motel. I will always have a love for Tonopah and its unique beauty. I have not been back since 1979 and I’m about to retire as an Air Traffic Controller for the FAA in about a year. Tonopah is definitely on my list of Must See. I am looking forward to visiting my youthful playground. Thank You.”

Lots of people send Thank You notes: “I just came back to Calif. after a week-end in your friendly city. I liked the cheap meals, house prices & the nice people there. I had no idea that Pahrump was so large.”

And some people write about their Nevada adventures: David— Back in the 1970s I was working up near Paradise Valley installing an irrigation pump, when three cowboys rode up, with a dog following along.

The Ramada Express is host to Laughlin’s big Saint Patrick’s Day Party March 11-17. Irish troubadour Pat O’Brien will sing in the Caboose Lounge and Victory Plaza will be transformed into Murphy’s Irish Pub. Corned Beef, Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Irish New Potatoes, and Sweet Soda Bread on the dinner buffet, $6.99.

One seemed to be a local, the other two clad in baseball hats and tennis shoes. The two young guys had an attitude about us taking over the area and did not want development here. They were from California and their family had just purchased a ranch close by. We ignored them for a while and kept working. They then said that their dog would attack on command. I nodded to the rig operator and we took a break. One of our crew pulled out his .357 magnum and laid it on the back of the pump rig. “There might be coyotes around”, he said. The uninvited visitors then left, and as they did the grizzled cowboy with them grinned and waved. —Scott

Last time I mentioned enjoying Ron James’ The Roar and The Silence, his excellent history of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode. Now I discover that the Introduction is posted online; you can read it here.

Quick notes from beyond the mountains: Howard Hickson, the former Director of the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko has written a series of Howard Hickson’s Histories that express the character and history of the state. You’re bound to find at least one story that’s new to you in this enjoyable collection . . .

photo by Max Winthrop
With some paint, some elbow grease and some optimistic vision, the Renaissance Society has given Ely a new look.

Feeling ethnic? There’s a Greek Party at the convention center in Ely on March 26, a fund raiser for the Ely Renaissance Society‘s Greek mural project. Greek food, Greek music and Greek wannabees, along with some Greek descendants, some former Greeks, maybe even some actual Greeks . . . a few years ago Austin Justice of the Peace Jim Andersen wrote the classic “Lost in Austin” for Nevada Magazine. Now he’s written a sequel Called “Gold Venture Driving Excursion” describing a series of loop drives out of Austin into the Toiyabes and back again. You can get a copy by sending an e-mail request to the Austin Chamber of Commerce or pick one up along US 50.

Overheard in DuMar’s Market in Gabbs: “It don’t take a backbone to belly up to a bar.”

Happy Highways,

David W. Toll



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