Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tonopah, Nevada

October 20-23, 2013:

Back on the the road again after our New Jersey trip and quick jaunt to Elmira, NY.  We flew back to Reno on Sunday and stayed overnight at Harrah's Casino.  We then proceeded to eat way too much at the Casino's half price, all you can eat buffet.  Afterwards we played the slots, won some, then as usual, lost it all.  It was a last bit fling of luxury with a big full sized shower before going back to the RV life.  

We picked up the RV at 9 AM on Monday morning and I was pleasantly surprised by the reasonable cost and their sensible approach to the repairs and maintenance that I requested, (for once did not feel ripped off) !  Looking forward to using that smooth working black tank drain valve now.  I had apprehension when leaving the RV with them as it wasn't what I expected, there was no actual shop area, they were working outside in a parking lot. 

We were on the road by 10 AM heading east on Route 80, then south on Route 95  240 miles to Tonopah, Nevada.  Route 95 was a very nice drive, conditions were perfect, a mostly smooth road with light traffic and great scenery. 
View along route 95 at Walker Lake

We arrived at Tonopah about 3 PM, but our destination, the Tonopah Station Casino RV Park was full, it is a first come, first served (No reservations) park.  So, we back tracked a couple of miles to another RV park, It is called the  "New RV Park" according to their sign and as it has cable TV and working WiFi, we decided to stay put there for three days. 

The town of Tonopah is at a 6,030 foot elevation, it gets cold at night, but near 70 degrees in the afternoon.  Tonopah is a dark sky city, one of the darkest places in the country, well known for stargazing. It also seems to be dirt poor here, lots of people living in old trailers, mobile homes and shacks.  The town in it's heyday was a boom town, known as the "Queen of the Silver Camps" with a huge complex of mines.  The downtown has several old historic buildings with the most prominent being the "Mizpah Hotel".  There doesn't seem to be any building codes or much in the way of any rules in Tonopah, except the speed limit through town, which is strictly enforced at 25 MPH for about a 1/2 mile before and after town.

Tonopah mural on Nellis Air Force history

The restored Hotel Mizpah in Tonopah

The "Great Race" from New York to Paris passed through
Tonopah in 1908, the race was repeated in early 2000's

Monument to Tonopah mine fire hero, Big Bill, who
carried many men to safety and then perished in the fire

The historic Tonopah Liquor Co. building

On Tuesday, we visited the "Central Nevada Museum" which has an amazing collection of historical artifacts, old mine buildings and machinery. We then did a town walking tour ending up at the "Bug Bar" for a beer.  The Bug bar is actually very nice, it sits high above Main street on a ledge with an outside deck. 

Jim and Belle Butler who started the mine and founded Tonopah

Central Nevada Museum Exhibit 
Early Nash vehicle behind museum

Old aircraft engines from crashed WWII planes

Twinkles checking out the facilities

OLd Railroad weigh scale house

Monument to WWII fliers killed during training

We visited the local BLM office for maps and information as we may do some boondocking in the next month.  The BLM owns virtually the whole state of Nevada (it appears) and there are lots of places to camp for free, the issue is how to access them and if they are big rig compatible.   

Wednesday was an intensive mining history day at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park which is an extensive self guided mine tour. The legend of how the mine was discovered is a classic.  It all began with prospector Jim Butler traveling through the area on his way to the Klondike mine.  He camped out overnight and in the morning his burro had wandered off.  He found the burro next to some interesting rocks that looked promising.  He collected a few rocks which were latter assayed and found to be very rich in Silver.  His strike resulted in many followers and the town sprang up in 1901.  Tonopah eventually became the second richest mine, only the Comstock Mine in Virginia City, Nevada was richer. 

It is a series of mines shaft that go thousands of feet underground.  The underground part is not open, but you can wander all over the property which is covered with old machinery and remains of mining buildings.  Several of the mine headstocks and hoist machinery remains in good condition and is much like it was left when the mine was closed. This is an excellent museum where you can really come away with a good understanding on how the mine operated.

Tonopah Mine Headstock

Twinkles guarding the Silver & Gold ingot storage vault

An old safe, vandals in the 60's blasted the door off

Dodge Brothers pickup truck at the mine

Tonopah Mine Entrance with original miners shacks on left
The modern metal "Mizpah Mine" Headstock

Ingersoll Rand Air Compressor

The mine was powered by Westinghouse electric
motors in the early 1900's
Railroad trestle at the mine

Early section of the mine where the Silver bearing
Quartz vein was cut out, wood cribbing put for bracing

A Drill Bit remaining in the rock
View of Tonopah from the Mine

An old Fordson Shovel at the Mine

A drilling bit

A five stamp Mill used to crush the ore

Next, we visited the old pioneer cemetary which is kept up pretty well with the graves all marked with metal tags indicating the cause of death.  The miners life was tough, most didn't make it to my present age, something to think about ?

The old Tonopah Cemetery

The grave of "Big Bill" mine hero

Sheriffs grave, he was shot to death

We are picking up and heading south on Thursday morning for Goldfield and possibly the ghost town of Gold Point, not sure what we will find there, but for sure it will be an adventure ?   

Happy Travels,
Twinkles and Slick

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