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David A. Wright

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David A. Wright last won the day on March 16

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About David A. Wright

  • Rank
    David A. Wright

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  • Gender
  • Location
    North-Central Nevada
  • Interests
    Ghost towns; photography; historic, abandoned and modern railroads; exploring the Great Basin; Nevada and Eastern California history; 4WD.
  • First Name
    Daffy Duck
  • Camera
    An old Kodak digital and cell phone camera
  • Explore Vehicle
    2002 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4x4

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  1. I was browsing old threads I started and found this one, which I forgot about. The photos are of the Trona Railway. Trona is an old industrial town in the northern Mojave Desert, southwest of Death Valley and northeast of Ridgecrest, California. Trona’s economy is based on borax, its history goes back to the late 1800s. The Trona Railway was built in the early 1900s, after Southern Pacific built its “Jawbone Branch” between Mojave and Lone Pine (pictured earlier). The Trona Railway branched off the SP at Searles, running northerly for about 32 miles and terminating at the industrial complex at Trona. There are miles of spurs and sidings within the plants, but over the past few decades many have fallen out of use as operations have modernized and portions of the plants abandoned and demolished. I lived in Trona between 1987 and 1992. I worked at the borax refinery between 1987 and 2004. When I went to work there, the Kerr-McGee Corporation owned and operated the plants. They stayed until they sold out in late 1992. A consortium called North American Chemical Company bought out KM’s interests and ushered in an era of major downsizing and modernization. I don’t recall the year, but before 2000, NACC’s interests were bought out by IMC Global. Since they owned large potash producing properties in Utah, and the prouction of potash in Trona was of a complex process with the oldest production equipment, IMC chose to shut down and demolish a large section of one of the central plants in Trona. I took a buy out and left in 2004, just as IMC sold out their interests to a corporation from India. Below are some photos of the Trona Railway. Over the years, the Trona Railway took pride in its equipment. The company was early to switch from steam to diesel, and operated the last of the diesels made by Baldwin. When I went to work there, these two Baldwins, sitting and idling in front of the railroad shops, were still in daily operation. There were several other Baldwins sitting on sidings around the shop, but they were slowly being canibalized to keep these two running. However, their capacity was too low to run the mainline all the way to Searles - at an elevation 1,700 feet higher than Trona, other than short trains. So the company contracted the SP to bring in the big coal trains (there were three large, coal fired power plants to produce power and steam for the plants plus for export into the Edison system), and take out borax. During NACC’s reign, efforts were made to get SP out of the picture. SP basically had a tight squeeze and monopoly on the companies operating at Trona and took financial advantage of it. So NACC and IMC were making efforts to buy SP’s line to Mojave. In addition, the company was eying the possibility to expand operations to Owens Lake. SP still owned the right of way to Lone Pine at the north end of that lake, but it was mothballed after the 1982 tunnel fire at Searles and dwindling mineral and timber operations. Rails were still in place to an old, abandoned chemical plant south of Lone Pine on the shore of Owens Lake. So NACC purchased a fleet of used SD-45s (I think that was their designation), and I think they bought eight or ten of them. They were refurbished over the next few years at the company shops. As they came online, SP equipment started to be seen far less on the mainline and in the plants. SP never budged in allowing the Trona Railway to share trackage rights or buy the line to Mojave or north to Lone Pine. But by the mid 1990s, Union Pacific bought out the SP, and scrapped the “Jawbone” north of Searles during 1998-2000. Environmental issues and concerns killed off interest in expanding mining to Owens Lake. In the bottom photo, the main plant complex can be seen in the background. In that photo and the one above, Telescope Peak, 11,049 feet high, is in the Panamint Range. Death Valley is at its eastern foot. In the top photo, a nothbound train is at the northern end of the West End Plant, four miles south of the main Trona complex. The old 20-mule team borax wagons used to run through the country in the background. In the plants during the early years of my tenure at Trona, there used to be around 20 of these GE dinky locomotives running all over the complex, doing various switching duties. These were operated by trained plant employees and not operated on the mainline, except to access the main railroad shops and piloted by TR engineers underal FRA rules (in plant operations fell under OSHA rules). As spurs were abandoned and eliminated, dinkies were pulled up to Searles and sat on an old shoo-fly for several years until sold (the shoo fly was built over the summit at Searles during SP construction in 1907 while the tunnel was being created; during the 1982 tunnel fire, it was bladed of brush and rails relaid to get trains rolling again as the fire burned for more than six months). When this photo was taken, this dinky was the last in operation and in daily use, staging cars of borax and derivatives in the back of a automated packaging plant.
  2. KTVU did another piece last night. The motorhome situation seems to be an area wide one. Each municipality is trying to address it. Some with compassion, some with agression.
  3. Doing fine, thanks! By the way, your screen name looks familiar. Are you a member of one of the Death Valley forums or ghosttowns.com forum?
  4. Today I received my 15-round magazines for my Ruger Security-9 from The Mag Shack. They are a bit different than the 10-round clips. Compare in the image below. The 15-round clips are in between my 10-round magazines. The 10-round magazines seem to have an insert to limit the magazine’s capacity, otherwiseboth are the same size. Now, if this rain would just stop, I can go and play with my new toys!
  5. KTVU News did another piece on the RV parking situation last night. The city is Mountain View. RVs are parking at and surrounding a public park in a residential area. Public opinion seem to lean toward compassion for the plight of the RV’ers situation. City council trying to come up with ideas to accomodate and to eliminate situation.
  6. The Reno Fox station pipes in KTVU Oakland news. I remember a recent piece where some Bay Area city has a street or two that is lined with motorhomes lived in by Silicone Valley and financial district workers who make good money but can’t find nor afford permanent housing. Efforts are being made to locate them somewhere safe and at low cost. Might find the story on the station’s website.
  7. Suddenly, after days of unanswered emails, suddenly my magazines are in transit, expected Friday. It was a beautiful afternoon yesterday, so I took the Ruger to the county gun range. View over the range. The dump is to the right. The upper part of the range (archery and shotguns) is off camera to the left. The lower range is in the center, with rifle, centerfire and long ranges (400 yards). Nice, clean facility with canopys, shooting benches, stands, sand bag gun rests, clay throwers, permanent targets, concrete prefab toilets, sitting benches, trash cans and cleanup tools. Only one family shooting shotguns was there. I backed into the centerfire range and set up with a a paper target taped to a permanent backing at approximately 75 feet stepped off. Paper target in the middle over the sillouette. First taped the target between the round spinner and its frame, and put twenty rounds through it. But bullets shredded the paper instead of making clean holes. So I taped a new target to the solid backing and fired another 80 rounds. I shot using both hands. After expending each magazine, I circled each bullet hole, noting clip number and which hand. Counting holes from the backside I counted 49 hits. I only hit the target four times left handed, all over the map right, but primarily low. Did get a few in the center. Target is 16”x16”. I’m keeping this and future targets in my files to see if I’m getting better.
  8. Anyone in the greater Reno area have any experience with Juggernaut Arms in Sparks? Their prices for the Security-9 mags very close to what Mag Shack defrauded me of and they’re local. Good reviews on Yelp, but I’m skeptical of internet reviews as there’s often too much paid praise online. I know where the store is as I used to go to LKQ nearby a lot when I was still working.
  9. After a week and a day, no apparent progress on my magazines ordered. Tracking still only shows one initial item: A shipping label has been prepared for your item at 4:38 pm on March 7, 2019 in TALLAHASSEE, FL 32309. This does not indicate receipt by the USPS or the actual mailing date. I sent an email today, no response. I plan to call tomorrow. I did a Google search. Wish I had previous to ordering. Seems my situation is not uncommon. The BBB website has several complaints with experiences similar to mine. So do some gun enthusiast forums. If I don’t get a response, I guess I’ll have to contact my credit card company to stop payment if not too late.
  10. Ok. Thought so. The Monarch Mine is farther up in the mountains and is a super place for exploration. Lots of photogenic buildings left at the mine camp.
  11. If the cabin is where I think it is, then I’ve been by it and have a photo of its roof in the view. West of Silver Peak?
  12. Nice opening shot, the castle from a distance faintly visible in the fog/snow drizzle. I bet keeping all three fireplaces stoked and flaming was a full time job. Maybe that’s how AP Stokes acquired his name ... 😎 I only visited once, in the 1970s. Only the state historical marker was present and no fencing. The interior was less deteriorated. With the roof now gone, the elements will take their toll, unless there are plans, and those quickly implamented, to put a roof back on.
  13. Fun video. It would be fun to go back in time when Clifton was active. Nevada Central trains coming and going, the “Mule’s Relief” dinky locomotive of the Austin City Railway and a flatcar or two trundling back and forth to and from Austin. Was part of your walk along the ACRR grade? I’ve been to the site of Clifton, but it was back in the late 1970s. Didn’t take the time to really explore. There was still occupied places and unfriendly stares then.
  14. Early this afternoon I ordered two 15-round magazines for my new Ruger from The Mag Shack. https://www.themagshack.com/ Price including shipping was $60.97. Got an email this afternoon they were shipped. They weren’t the cheapest, but one of few with them in stock. Even Ruger’s website states they don’t have any. Prices range from $26.99 to $39.99. Last Monday I went to Scheels. Their website seemed to indicate they had them in stock, but didn’t, nor were there any tags indicating a spot for them. Employee states that they don’t carry them. Their website priced them at $39.99 each. It was my first time there. Maybe if they didn’t try to be Disneyland they could lower their prices. Ammo prices were higher for 9mm ammo than I can get locally. Cabela’s doesn’t list magazines for my gun, though they stock the Security-9. Didn’t want to drive way up there as all my business was in south Reno. Cabela’s is similar to Scheels, but I like it better as it seems less adolescent and more adult. Maybe it was that silly Ferris wheel. But I thought the glass pillars and archway aquarums were cool.
  • Our picks

    • This is the location of the famous Mojave Phone Booth. Unfortunately not much is left today, but it's still a cool location to visit with an interesting history. 
      • 1 reply
    • South Pass City WY
      South Pass City, approximately 90 miles north of Rock Springs, is a historic site administered by the state of Wyoming.  It consists of over 30 log, frame, and stone buildings, along with the Carissa Mine and Stamp Mill.

      South Pass City Historic Site
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    • Surprise Canyon, California
      Recently, I’ve been going through my old VHS video tapes and digitizing them to DVDs.  These tapes contain my travels and explorations between 1995 and 2009.  I thought I’d start releasing some video shorts of my early travels on this forum.

      The back story for this particular video is as follows.  On March 30, 1996, I made a short hike of about a mile and a third up the lower third of Surprise Canyon, on the western slopes of the Panamint Range, Inyo County, California.  This canyon is just outside of Death Valley National Park.  This canyon has running water running year round through the stretch shown, fed by substantial Limekiln Springs, and the canyon is a water wonderland.  For those not familiar with the area, refer to the two maps.  The first one shows the canyon in relation to the region, the other a close up of the canyon and the ghost town of Panamint City.  The blue line in the close up image shows the route that was taken.

      • 23 replies
    • Exploration Field Trips - March 31-April 2, 2000 - Into the Nevada Triangle with Lew Shorb
      My next series of videos will be based on a trip in 2000 that I took with Lew Shorb.  Lew is a board member here, as well as owner of the popular website http://www.ghosttownexplorers.org/ghost.htm

      In breaking with my past habit of culling out historical sites and ghost towns and creating short videos dealing with these, I decided to keep the exploring part of Explore Forums in and create videos of each day of my travel and exploration, including our camps.  Scenery, travel, camping ghost towns and wide open spaces.

      Part one of this series, as well as subsequent videos, will all appear here within this same thread. Part I will start in my garage, where I was finishing up with the packing my truck.  The following day, after work, I begin my travels to meet Lew Shorb at Rhyolite, Nevada ghost town.

      Our three day, two night travels prowled about the "Nevada Triangle" section of northeastern Death Valley National Park; and will include such sites as:

      1. The Las Vegas & Tonopah Railroad
      2. Gold Bar
      3. Phinney Mine
      4. Strozzi Ranch
      5. Currie Well (LV&T RR)
      6. Mud Springs Summit (LV&T RR)
      7. Happy Hooligan Mine

      This video, that of March 30th and 31st, will start off this series; and is brief, only being 3:28 long.  Nevada-Triangle_Shorb-2000_Part-1.wmv

      So, below is my narrative of part one of this series to give full context of what is seen in the video.  It will probably take longer to read than the video is long.


      • 9 replies
    • Exploration Field Trips: May 1-3, 2000 - Trip with Alan Patera and Alan Hensher into Death Valley
      Exploration Field Trips:
      May 1-3, 2000
      Trip with Alan Patera and Alan Hensher into Death Valley

      What do you do with three authors, two 4x4’s, two two-way radios, three cameras, and camping supplies? Send them to Death Valley, of course. For three days in the first week of May, 2000, fellow authors and historical researchers Alan Patera, Alan Hensher and myself explored Death Valley north and south.

      Alan Patera writes and publishes the WESTERN PLACES series of monograph books.  Alan Hensher has been published in several periodicals as well as authoring several books, centering primarily on the history of Mojave Desert sites.

      Alan Patera, who hails from Oregon, came south to California and picked up Alan Hensher; then the two came my way. At the time I was living in Ridgecrest, California. After overnighting with my wife and I, the three of us took off for Death Valley.  Alan was busy researching and photographing for a future edition of WESTERN PLACES, this time centering on the camps of the Funeral Range, which forms the eastern border of east central Death Valley.  Circumstances and changes of our journey lead Alan to plant the seeds of two more future books, this time centering just outside the northernmost section of Death Valley.


      • 4 replies
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