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Reconnoitering Trips
Northern Nevada, Southwestern Idaho
(and a Blip of Southeastern Oregon Thrown in for Good Measure)
June 19 - 28, 2001


This is the trip that I consider to be my favorite trip I have ever undertaken.  It had been in the planning stages since the previous December.  Originally, quite a number of people were invited and had semi-committed themselves to come along.  Over time, however, eventually the number of people whose semi-commitments became firm commitments to this trip narrowed to four.  And I was one of them.

Between June 19 and 27, 2001, I undertook a trip throughout northern Nevada, southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho in search of ghost towns, adventure and to enjoy the wide open spaces that the Great Basin is known for. Beside myself, there was Alan Patera, of Oregon; Graham, of the California Bay Area; and Gil, of southern California. Since we were coming from different points on the map, we elected Midas, Nevada - located in the far western side of Elko County northeast of Winnemucca, as a meeting point. Gil was originally going to drive to my primary home, then at Ridgecrest, California, and ride with me.  However, at the last minute, he changed his mind and drove his car the entire trip.  Graham and I chose to meet at Hawthorne, Nevada or at Mono Lake, depending on the circumstances of our first morning travels.  Alan was to meet Graham and I in the evening at Midas on our first day out.  Gil planned to meet us at noon the following day at Midas.

My 4x4 rig at the time was my 1996 Chevrolet S-10. It was bone stock, with standard suspension. It was powered by the 4.3 liter V6 with the higher power option; a 5-speed manual transmission; standard, lever activated 4x4 transfer case. The interior sported the LS option package, which included upgraded interior materials; but the truck still had manual crank windows, no tilt steering wheel; and had an aftermarket cruise control installed. Other options were bucket seats and console. The truck had nearly 100,000 miles on it when we started. It turned over the century mark during this trip, on a dirt road in the wide open spaces of north-central Elko County.

Graham drove a 1990 Chevrolet ¾-ton 4x4 pickup with a low profile, pop-up camper. The truck is scarcely optioned, running a 350 cubic inch V8 and a 5-speed manual transmission. Graham has equipped the truck over the years for expedition and is well equipped to tackle everything.  However, his truck became problematic over the course of the trip.

Alan Patera drove his bone stock 1997 Ford Explorer. It's the most stripped Explorer I've seen, virtually no options. It's well used off road and the lack of fluff has suited this rig well.

Gill tagged along in his 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix. He slept in it, ate in it and drove it over miles of dirt roads. The car would have escaped unscathed, if not for his hitting a deer on the dirt road between Tuscaurora and Midas after he split from our group on the last day we all were together. He continued to drive his wrecked car for a couple more days, until he stopped to visit friends in Reno.

My camera at the time was one of the original Sony Mavica digital cameras, with a resolution of 640x480. For storage of photos, it used standard floppy disks. The Mavica was in its dying stages at the time, I had owned it about three years. It started acting up on the second day of the trip; completely quit, inexplicably began working again, then died completely on the last day of this adventure. I took a 35mm Pentax camera along as a backup, but had taken along a roll of old film. None of the photos I took with the Pentax came out, I had shot one roll. When processing the many disks of digital photos, I found that about ten or eleven disks had been corrupted by issues with the camera, so that I was not able to extract the images from the disks, loosing around 200 images. Many of the lost images were of ghost towns, such as in the case of National, Nevada; so that I have no images whatsoever of that location, others few.

My written documentation for each day of the trip will be in a rather paraphrased format, but includes all travel and most experiences.  You can gather the rest of the trip from the video and photos.  I will break the six plus hours of edited video taken and cut down to videos for each single day, along with a photo slide show at the end.  This thread will contain all content from this trip from start to end.

In a break from my past custom when presenting video on this forum, and due to the volume and number of ghost towns visited, I will not write up a history for the ghost towns or historic places visited.  That is far too time consuming and labor intensive.  There are plenty of written and web resources if one wishes to pursue their quest for knowledge of these sites.

Below, a list of historic locations we visited – in the order that we visited them:

1. Bodie & Benton Railway, California.
2. Stillwater, Nevada.
3. White Cloud City (Coppereid), Nevada.
4. Unionville, Nevada.
5. Midas, Nevada.
6. Spring City, Nevada.
7. Paradise Valley, Nevada.
8. Buckskin, Nevada.
9. National, Nevada.
10. Delamar, Idaho.
11. Silver City, Idaho.
12. Rio Tinto, Nevada.
13. Pattsville, Nevada.
14. Aura, Nevada.
15. Cornucopia, Nevada.
16. Edgemont, Nevada (from a distance – on private property)
17. White Rock, Nevada (from a distance – on private property)
18. Tuscaurora, Nevada.
19. Dinner Station, Nevada.
20. Metropolis, Nevada.
21. Charleston, Nevada.
22. Jarbidge, Nevada.

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Part I
Packing and Preparing June 13/18, 2001.
Drive from Ridgecrest to Big Pine, Tuesday, June 19, 2001.


It is my custom to camp in the back of my truck, and I like to do it on the simple and cheap.  On this trip, each participant navigated and camped in their own vehicles.  For this trip, the video shows some of the preparations and new additions to my gear.  I did the majority of the preparation and gathering of supplies in the two weeks previous to departure, I packed the truck during the evening of June 18th.  My truck also had been in the shop for a few days during this time; one, for its recommended 100,000 mile tune-up; and two, to refurbish the AC system, which had failed a short time earlier.

On the 19th of June, 2001, I officially started Trip 2001 when took the trip north to my secondary home at Big Pine, north of Ridgecrest in the Owens Valley.  My truck had 98,677.9 miles on it when I pulled out of my garage at 2:51 PM.  I arrived at my Big Pine driveway at 4:40 PM.

I had worked eight hours of my 12-hour day down at my job at the borax refinery in Trona, returned to Ridgecrest, then drove to my secondary home in Big Pine after picking up a few last minute items before leaving town and gassing up.

At the time, my wife and I spent about eight to ten days monthly at our mobile home there in Big Pine, located in a very small park at the western edge of town.  My back yard butted up against public land and we had a wonderful view of the eastern face of the Sierra Nevada Range.  Working in the heated furnace of Trona, Big Pine was a pleasant respite from the Death Valley region heat and we enjoyed it on a regular basis.  Since there was still plenty of sunlight, I mowed the grass, then relaxed in the back yard having a beer and enjoying the early evening scenery.  Since I had a big day ahead the next day, I watched a bit of TV then hit the sack fairly early.

Mileage driven for June 19th: 120.9.

This video is 14:04 long.


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1 hour ago, David A. Wright said:

Part I
Packing and Preparing June 13/18, 2001.
Drive from Ridgecrest to Big Pine, Tuesday, June 19, 2001.


It is my custom to camp in the back of my truck, and I like to do it on the simple and cheap.  On this trip, each participant navigated and camped in their own vehicles.  For this trip, the video shows some of the preparations and new additions to my gear.  I did the majority of the preparation and gathering of supplies in the two weeks previous to departure, I packed the truck during the evening of June 18th.  My truck also had been in the shop for a few days during this time; one, for its recommended 100,000 mile tune-up; and two, to refurbish the AC system, which had failed a short time earlier.

On the 19th of June, 2001, I officially started Trip 2001 when took the trip north to my secondary home at Big Pine, north of Ridgecrest in the Owens Valley.  My truck had 98,677.9 miles on it when I pulled out of my garage at 2:51 PM.  I arrived at my Big Pine driveway at 4:40 PM.

I had worked eight hours of my 12-hour day down at my job at the borax refinery in Trona, returned to Ridgecrest, then drove to my secondary home in Big Pine after picking up a few last minute items before leaving town and gassing up.

At the time, my wife and I spent about eight to ten days monthly at our mobile home there in Big Pine, located in a very small park at the western edge of town.  My back yard butted up against public land and we had a wonderful view of the eastern face of the Sierra Nevada Range.  Working in the heated furnace of Trona, Big Pine was a pleasant respite from the Death Valley region heat and we enjoyed it on a regular basis.  Since there was still plenty of sunlight, I mowed the grass, then relaxed in the back yard having a beer and enjoying the early evening scenery.  Since I had a big day ahead the next day, I watched a bit of TV then hit the sack fairly early.

Mileage driven for June 19th: 120.9.

This video is 14:04 long.


Thank you Dave for the great videos.


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Part II
Wednesday, June 20, 2001
Big Pine to Midas


This video is 28:00 long.


Get up @ 4:00am. Make coffee. Shower. Leave Big Pine @ 5:20am. 48º in Big Pine.

Northbound, US395.  A Honda Accord spun out and off road at Bishop Country Club. Noted an example of the newly released Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck on lot at Perry Motors (Bishop). Rearranged truck to make it handle better, heavy water container at rear made truck slightly squirrelly.

Meet Graham a few miles east on CA167 (the "Hawthorne Road") north of Mono Lake (we had been in contact on our FRS two-way radios briefly when I was atop Deadman Summit, constantly since I hit Lee Vining). Photo stop at Bodie Railroad. Air temperature warming significantly as we approach Hawthorne, NV. Eat breakfast at the El Capitan Casino.

Northbound, US95.  Drive to Fallon, NV, arrive at 10:03am. Get gas - Texaco, $1.74 per gallon. About 90º in Fallon.  Stop at WalMart, my Sony microcassette recorder acting up and won't record because it keeps stopping during recording; buy new microcassette recorder - $29.95.

Drive east on US50 a short distance, turn off to semi-ghost of Stillwater.  Photograph and video Stillwater.

Drive north on dirt road through Carson Sink, about 50 miles of dirt road. Stop at ghost town of White Cloud City (also known as Coppereid).  Drive north through Carson Sink, then cut across southernmost end of Humboldt Range and into Buena Vista Valley, then north again.

Tour semi-ghost of Unionville. Tour Unionville.  Woman stops me to ask me what we're doing, seems suspicious of our stopping every few feet to photograph the town.  I explain and ask her if she recalled Alan Patera in town several times doing photography and research for his Humboldt Range issue of WESTERN PLACES on a hunch that she might have met him. She does, says to tell Alan hello from the her and her husband.

Drive north on paved road to I-80 at Mill City. Drive I-80 to Winnemucca. Stop and gas up - Chevron @ $1.64 per gallon. Find that I have a low tire. Drive up to WalMart, located on hill above station. Tire center open, no customers. Tire fixed - apparent stone puncture. Cost only $6.50 to fix leak. Winnemucca a great place to get a flat! Buy a second ice chest (need more room for food + beer w/ice), it cost me $14.95.

Eastbound to Golconda on I-80. Turn off to drive to Midas, NV, much of it over dirt roads. Best dirt road I've ever driven on - better than many paved highways I've traveled.
Meet Mrs. Bennett, who Alan Patera had made prior plans with her husband for us to stay in town, and who directs us to our camping site at school building. About 90º at Midas. I drive up to a small hidden mine above town, strip and shower. Drive back down to school and begin to set up camp.

Back of my truck coated in flour like dust from 150 miles of dirt road driving - I had the camper windows closed, which caused vacuum inside shell, pulling in dust. Wash out back of truck with hose at school. Set up camp. Alan Patera arrives after dark. Pull out 12-volt compressor to blow up air mattress, find that compressor is broken. Graham and I pull apart compressor to find that electric motor pulled out of compressor crankshaft. Repair, blow up mattress. Go to bed.  My last note I made of the day on my microcassette recorder, as I lay in my sleeping bag in the back of my truck was:

"I don’t know what it is. Maybe this new mattress. The way it smells. It smells like plastic, but within this camper it smells like when you walk in a public restroom after somebody’s used it."

Mileage driven for day: 432.4.

UPDATE: Sadly, on a trip to Midas in April, 2008, I found that the school house had burned down and is totally destroyed with much of the rubble removed. As per a woman who has written two books on the history of Midas, the cause is undetermined. 

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Part III
Thursday, June 21, 2001
Midas to Lye Creek Campground


 This video is 36:07 long.


Awake at 4:53 AM. About 55º. Shooting video standing in schoolhouse lawn, automatic sprinklers came on, wetting me down and waking me up.  Break down camp. Fill water jug and camp shower.  Try to wake up Graham, unsuccessful. Alan snoring away. Continue cleaning up camp. Graham wakes up.

Graham and I walk over to saloon at Midas for breakfast. Have breakfast with the owner, Les, an opinionated, super-salty sea dog of a man whose vocabulary is liberally salted with four letter words, but seems to have a heart of gold - if you can mine it. We talk about life at Midas, life in the West, liberals, conservatives, eco-Nazis, Timothy McVeigh, more Midas. Great breakfast - three choices only - sausage, ham or bacon - with two eggs and white toast, take it or leave it. Sausage was huge Polish type sausage, each link nearly a foot long. Nearly couldn't eat it all. Spent 1½ hours eating and discussing and arguing above subjects. Mr. Salty wasn't such a bad guy after all. I pay for both breakfasts - $17.00. Go back to camp. Alan just waking up.
Go to the Bennett’s home. Meet Dana Bennett, the Bennett’s youngest daughter. She talks to Alan about reprinting her book on Midas (NOTE: Since then she has published a second book on Midas history). She has three copies left, which are snapped up by Alan, Graham and myself. Autographed. Graham only has $20 bills, so he buys my copy.

We hop in the Bennett 4x4 Suburban for tour of Midas.  Up canyon north of town, we tour a photogenic mine, the Miner’s Gold.  (NOTE: Mine adit shown – the one with “cold air” exiting the tunnel, has either caved in or has been blasted shut.  The rear building, the one with sagging walls, is now collapsed).

My digital camera (Sony Mavica FD5) starts acting up - won't eject disk. I spend 45 minutes trying to coax camera to spit out disk. Tour cemetery. Back to the Bennett's home. Camera suddenly and without warning ejects disk as if nothing happened. Have refreshments with the Bennett’s. While there, a Schwan's truck and UPS truck come by. Graham buys box of drumstick ice cream from Schwan's guy and shares with all. Bennett's buy lots of frozen food for the Midas July 4th celebration coming up. Look at the Bennett workshop with old blacksmith tools. Mine tunnel goes back into mountain inside shop.  Graham whacks his head inside tunnel, nearly dropping him to his knees, finds out the hard way why miners wore hardhats.  Stand and talk out in yard. Bennett's dog scares up a big bull snake (pine gopher). Graham goes after snake - Graham is English by birth and raised from infancy in the Australian outback and is fascinated by snakes.

Go back to schoolhouse. I go up to top of hill by cemetery for photographs lost when camera was acting up and to watch for Gil, who is to arrive at noon. Top of hill is known in Midas as only place a cell phone works, so make a call home. Gil seen driving up canyon at 12:05 PM in his blue early '90s Pontiac Grand Prix. All meet at schoolhouse.

After Gil gets tour, we leave Midas. Gil uses my spare FRS radio, everyone else has own. Drive back out dirt road for I-80 at Golconda. Rock flies off Graham's back tires and chips my windshield – the first of several to come. Drive to Winnemucca. Get gas.

Drive north on US95 to NV290. Drive to Paradise Valley. Photograph old abandoned buildings in old business district. Beautiful valley with high, snow capped mountains on west.

Try to find road leading to Spring City and Queen City ghost towns. Get lost - once, twice, three times. Graham and Gil had enough and decide to drive north over Hinkey Summit to Lye Creek Campground high in the Santa Rosa Range.

Alan and I drive our separate vehicles to Spring City. Axle deep fine flour-like dust in the valley floor, narrow and cliff hugging road in mountains. Find Spring City - several stone walls, mill ruins, milling and mining machinery. Walk up into superb bowl with cottonwood trees and super campsite. Drive back to Paradise Valley.

My digital camera suddenly acts up again, refusing to recognize the floppy disks. Loose opportunity to photograph the most wonderful sunset colors on the Santa Rosa Range. Used my Pentax 35mm camera to shoot scenes along the way, but also trying to keep Alan in sight as he raced up the range. Chase Alan up into and over Hinkey Summit.  Wonderful road switchbacking up under and over high and dramatic basaltic cliffs. Aspens and meadows all along.

Arrive at Lye Creek campground at dusk. Set up camp in thick aspen grove. Cook supper. Eat and drink. Toast of beer all around (except Gil, who had coffee) to celebrate all of us finally getting the trip started. Set up bed in truck, fall asleep. Gil sleeps in his car (which he does each night of the trip).

Mileage driven for day: 153.8.

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Part IV
Friday, June 22, 2001
Lye Creek Campground to Silver City, Idaho.


This video is 43:00 long.


I am up at 5:37 AM.  Cool, about 45°.  Coffee and breakfast at Lye Creek Campground. Campground has water, fill up my water jug.  Check digital camera, find that it is working normally as if nothing happened. Break camp.

Drive north down mountain into interesting badlands country north of Hinkey Summit. Good dirt roads. Drive back up into northern Santa Rosa Range to high summit of Windy Gap (definitely lives up to name).
Park Gil's car and Graham's truck at Windy Gap. Graham hops in with me, Gil with Alan. Drive up dim route on 9,000 foot high Buckskin Mountain. Find superb little ranch with houses, fixtures and furnishings (buildings locked, but peek through windows allows look back into time).

Drive to top of mountain to the Paradise Mine. Ruins, machinery, superb views across northern Nevada, southeastern Oregon, southwestern Idaho.

Graham and I drive down to Buckskin ghost town site. Log buildings, collapsed frame buildings, milling machinery, superb views.

Drive back to Windy Gap. Drive down most thrilling, switchbacking drive from 9,000 feet to 5,000 feet in very short distance.
Drive to US95. Drive north a short distance. Park Gil's car and Graham's truck on highway. Drive back into to canyon in Santa Rosas to ghost town of National over flour fine dusty, bumpy path for seven miles [NOTE: no photos available - my camera, which was acting up, corrupted this disk as well as others, so I could not retrieve the photo files]. Dropped hard into creek bottom, bent front fender out, cut part of the tread on front-passenger side tire. Hot in National. Nothing except sage, cows and little else - boards, metal, cans and tailings piles.

Drive to McDermit, straddling the border between Nevada and Oregon; a small, 2-block town w/one block in Oregon and one in Nevada. Eat lunch in casino on Nevada side. I have patty melt, bowl of clam chowder.

Drive north along US95 over featureless terrain for 100 miles across SE Oregon to Jordan Valley. Passed into Mountain Standard Time Zone along the way - my bored mind contemplates if whether it was near sunset on the Pacific Standard Time Zone on one side of the sign, if it would be dark on the other...

Very warm outside - 100º most of the time. I note along the way that my air conditioner fan is blowing but no air coming from vents - gets hot inside truck.

Jordan Valley is a nice town at foot of mountains. Gas up, get ice and water - Texaco @ $1.74 per gallon, and you get full service (against the law in Oregon to fill your own tank). Leave Jordan Valley. My air conditioner working normal again. I figure a vacuum flap directing air under the dash froze up.

A mile after leaving US95 at Jordan Valley, we cross into Idaho and road turns to very good dirt. Drive to Delamar ghost town. Neat buildings (appear to be occasionally occupied, one for sale), huge mill ruins. Delamar founded by same Captain DeLamar who founded DeLamar, Nevada and had large interest in Keane Wonder Mine in Death Valley.

Drive to Silver City over rough dirt road with lots of water on it. Set up camp along stream just out of town. Walk back into town. Talk to locals.

Graham has pie and ice cream at saloon in the Idaho Hotel. Good pie and ice cream, but served in paper fish & chips box, coffee served in Styrofoam cup. Graham didn't care for such ambiance. I simply have a beer. Locals get rowdy in the saloon – a bit of a nuisance since we're all tired – but likely fitting with Western history. Probably life in general in isolated, historic Silver City, and tame compared to life back in its glory days as a wild west mining town.

Graham finds Rubber Boa snake. Docile. Walk back to camp, shower and crawl in. Read newspaper purchased at Jordan Valley. Read about death of Carol O'Connor and blues musician John Lee Hooker. Lights out (we're on Mountain Standard Time, so go to bed after midnight local time, 11pm the time our bodies are used to - mini jet lag). Sleep.

Mileage driven for day: 186.9.

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Part V
Saturday, June 23, 2001
Silver City, Idaho to Camp in Bull Run Mountains, Nevada.


This video is 34:26 long.


I awake at 6:15, Mountain Standard Time, not really raring to go due to time zone change and late night the day previous.  Set my watch back to Pacific Standard Time because our plan was to return to Nevada this day.

At 7:45 AM, Graham and I commence on a walk all over town for a couple of hours photographing and videotaping beautiful scenery, cemetery, picturesque homes and businesses. Walk back to camp.

Have coffee, oatmeal for breakfast. Break camp. Drive around northern part of town. Look for great photo spot for overall town view. Find one on northwest side of town on big mine dump up on hillside.  A female deer lies under tree and allows us to walk within a few feet of her, then slowly ambles away.

Leave Silver City at 12:38 Mountain Standard Time, our watches say an hour earlier. Drive north out over pass and down mountain. Fairly heavy weekend traffic, near misses with speeding pickup trucks, ATVs. I’m progressively irritated as I drove down mountain, start making irritated comments which are recorded by my videocamera sitting atop the dash pointed at me (I edited to eliminate my soapbox rant).

Arrive at main highway a couple miles east of Murphy, Idaho at 12:32 PM Pacific Standard Time.  Graham had gone down a bit before rest of us do. Find Graham at a pullout at junction putting air in his tires (he lowered the air pressure to give better ride on dirt roads). I stop behind Graham, Alan behind me. Gil, who was running between Alan and myself kept going. He drove short distance to junction of Silver City Road and highway and stopped. All of us figured he was going to stay put until we came. After Graham airs up tires, we resume.
Gil nowhere to be found. Repeated calls on the radio results in no answers.  We drive six miles east toward Grand View, ID when we stop and wonder where Gil went to. I decide to drive to Murphy, ID, west of junction of the Silver City road, on hunch he went there, as the town was spoken of a bit earlier that day between us. Alan and Graham continue east, we planned to meet in Grand View.  I get within a mile of Murphy when I hear Gil on radio calling. Gil had gone to Murphy, back to Silver City road, then back to Murphy. Batteries went dead on his radio, so he drove to Murphy to purchase them.

Gil followed me back to Grand View, where we found Graham's truck parked in front of the Y-Bar & Café, he inside having a bite to eat and coffee. Alan went into town (a mile off the highway) for ice and fruit. I decide to have a bite myself and ordered cheese fries and a cup of coffee. $2 for the cheese fries and 50¢ for the coffee. Expecting to have a small amount of fries smothered in Velveeta. Pleasantly surprised to find huge plate piled high with fries, smothered in grated Mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Gil has same. Alan doesn't eat.

Leave Grand View.  Graham stops to inspect his truck.  He pushed in his clutch to shift and something popped.  We find a small piece of what appeared to be the clutch return spring on the floor.  Clutch still seemed to work normally.

Drive east then south over featureless roads to near Nevada border, then enter scenic Duck Valley and cross state line. Drive through Owyhee to tiny Mountain City. Gas up at one pump Chevron station (unleaded and diesel only), taking 45 minutes to get our vehicles through the line and taking turns with other vehicles, including Indian Reservation Police car, at pump. Gas $1.89 per gallon. Ice and soda for me and others.

Drive to Rio Tinto ghost town. Remains of orderly company town of the Anaconda Copper Co. era of the 1920s - 1940s. Site is now Superfund site - water down Rio Tinto Creek runs orange.  We explore Rio Tinto for about an hour.

While at Rio Tinto, I was quite irritated to find that I thought I had been recording my notes and thoughts for more than three hours since trying to locate the problem with Graham’s truck at Grand View; but since my microcassette recorder did not have auto stop at the end of the tape, I had lost them all.  I summed up what I could recall while at Rio Tinto.

Drive to nearby Patsville ghost town. We find filthy hippie sitting Indian fashion inside a tent he set up inside old store building. When Alan finds him, he jokingly inquired if he was “Pat of Patsville”.  Mosquitoes eating him alive and they also ambush us.  We leave post haste. I scratch and itch like crazy, continue getting bit by mosquitoes that were still trapped inside my truck, worrying if same mosquitoes who bit me had also bitten the hippie, and what diseases “Pat” might have had.

Turn off on dirt road leading through beautiful meadows, aspen groves into snow covered Bull Run Mountains. Drive over Maggie Summit. Drive to Aura ghost town, much of it on private property nearby.  Attempt to locate Columbia ghost town, road to it fenced off and inaccessible.  We then double back to unnamed summit just south of Maggie that looked to be a good place to camp.  There is just enough wind to keep the mosquitoes away.

Set up camp on mountain top amid thick aspens with superb view of snow capped peaks.  Space is a bit tight due to dense sage and “mule ears” plants (in the video, I called them "skunk cabbage", my personal nickname for the plant).  I find huge trash dump from previous campers a few dozen yards behind camp back in thick aspen grove.

We all make our individual meals, sit in front of Graham’s truck, eat, talk and watch sunset.  During our conversation, we learn a new word, “crepuscular”, which we found in a book that Graham had on snakes, which he retrieved in his camper to look up what kind of red snake we had found the evening before at Silver City.  We have a lot of fun with the word.

At dusk, Alan, Graham and myself take two mile walk along road that we are parked on to a mountaintop overlook.  Alan likes what he sees and decides he wants to camp here.

We walk back to camp.  Alan leaves to set up camp where he, Graham and I were earlier.  I set up my camp and crawl in.  It was 10:23 PM when I shut out my lights for the night.

Mileage driven for day: 192.6.


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Part VI
Sunday, June 24, 2001
Camp in Bull Run Mountains, Nevada to Jack Creek, Nevada


This video is 42:30 long.


Wake up to wonderful view at 5:30 AM.  Made breakfast and coffee.  Gill quipped that he took a teaspoon of Vaseline with his coffee to keep his parts moving.  Not sure if he was pulling my leg or not.

Break camp. Alan and Gill leave. Graham and I go and clean up trash dump left by so-called "campers." Beer cans, Ripple bottles, shotgun shells, .22 caliber shells, ripped tent. Rake dirt, left no trace.  We complete task and leave at 8:05 AM.

Drive down dirt road through cattle ranches and creek fed meadows to Deep Creek and junction with paved road. Continue on dirt road to south end of Bull Run Mountain. Near Deep Creek, I am disgusted to find several vehicles abandoned in the creek, nearly invisible in the dense willow growth along the creek.  We ponder if these were “stolen cars of Elko”.  We continue on west to access Cornucopia ghost town.  Park Gil's car and Graham's truck where we turn off main road to access the site.
Drive along dim route eight miles along Deep Creek to Cornucopia ghost town. Along way we encounter a man on a motorcycle, with a rifle strapped to his chest and a Wild Turkey in his knapsack (the kind comes in a bottle and you don't have to pluck). Arrive at Cornucopia and start exploring.  Graham and I venture into mine tunnel and find two swallow's nests. One occupied by two tiny swallow chicks. Leave Cornucopia and head to a smelter site on Deep Creek that reduced ores of Cornucopia.
Back to vehicles. Drive northeast around to west side of Bull Run Mountains. Try to find Edgemont and White Rock ghost towns. We can see Edgemont on mountainside, but fences and no trespassing signs keep us away. One structure can be seen about a mile off road, mine dumps amid thick coniferous forests. No sign of White Rock. Signs suggest inquiring at office at Petan Ranch, so we drive south to Petan and find office closed. Woman drives up in battered 4x4 truck to use only phone (set up in an outhouse-like building) and suggests taking to man in one of the houses. Alan seeks permission. Permission denied due to man not having authority to authorize entry to Edgemont and White Rock.

Drive back to Deep Creek and Graham and Gil's vehicles. Upon start-up, Graham's smog pump making bad noise, but not vibrating or anything else ominous. Stop for refreshments. Man and son in nice 4x4 truck drive up, both dressed like city people and we find that they are from Las Vegas. Asking incessantly about deer and where we might have seen them. I am suspicious of their motives and weary of his incessant questions and drive off.

Drive south on paved road to dirt road to Tuscaurora semi-ghost town. Enroute, Graham stops occasionally to check on cause of the increasing noise and odors coming into his cab.

Walk all over Tuscaurora, taking photos.  Site has an air of general decay and junky.  Or maybe my opinion of the place was due to weather.  Wind picks up, bringing in a bad pall of dust that turns the clear air to murky gray – not a good mood builder. Alan calls his wife from a pay phone located on the front wall of the town’s post office.

Leave town and tour large cemetery located nearby.  It’s very windy, the dust blowing into the area makes the ambience of the place depressing.  I find a child’s grave in the cemetery, a small stuffed animal was laying on the grave, which left me somewhat emotional.

Drive back north on paved road to Jack's Creek. Alan stops in a bar to have ice tea. Graham, Gil and I drive up canyon to Jack's Creek campground. Set up camp in a very nice setting of cottonwoods and willows along creek.  It helps my mood considerably.  I make dinner and share it with Graham and Gill.  Graham and Alan take long walk up on hillside, while I clean up my camp and sit and converse with Gill.

Graham finds large rubber boa snake. I shower and am about to retire. Graham came over to show me that he put the snake in his sweatshirt pocket and plans to keep it there for the night.  I crawl into the back of my truck at dark and review in my Nevada ghost town book the sites we have visited so far on this trip.  Turn off the lights at 10:10 PM.

Mileage driven for day: 119.2.


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Part VII
Monday, June 25, 2001
Jack Creek, Nevada to Jarbidge, Nevada


This video is 29:28 long.


Up at 6:25 AM.  Breakfast, Put away camp supplies.

Graham brings my attention to a meadowlark that is admiring himself in his truck mirrors. Bird flies in front of mirror and attempts to hover. At one point bird brings bug offering to prospective "mate." Bird poop all over mirrors and windows, telltale sign that bird spent a lot of time wooing his new "mate."

On this trip I brought only one pair of long pants, three pairs of shorts.  I wished that I had brought another set of jeans, as I only wore shorts on the first two days of the trip – from Ridgecrest to Big Pine and Big Pine to Midas.  Since, it has been too cool for shorts.  And my only pair of jeans were getting filthy.

Graham comes out with rubber boa wrapped around his wrist. Video and photos of snake. Graham says he slept with snake on his chest, feared that he might roll over and crush it. Graham released snake, snake reluctant to go away, loosing nice warm spot.

I note that my truck will turn over 100,000 miles somewhere on this date. Plan to videotape the milestone. Leave Jack's Creek.

Drive south over paved roads to Elko, NV, passing through historic Dinner Station.

At Elko, Gil and I go to WalMart for batteries for radios. Graham goes to Chevrolet dealer to have smog pump checked. Alan goes for gas. I go for gas after getting batteries, Texaco - $1.59 per gallon. We meet at same gas station as Alan. Graham has no luck at Chevy dealer. Woman blows him off, telling him there are no smog pumps in Nevada and refuses to allow a mechanic look and listen to his truck. Graham doesn't want to chance the run east with us to Wells and Metropolis ghost town, so decides to venture north to Jarbidge and wait for rest of us to come in later.
Alan, Gil and myself run east to Wells. Top off gas tanks and eat at Burger King. Weirdo guy hangs around us and Burger King, the result of which all of us have an uncomfortable lunch. He leaves just before we do.

Drive over to photogenic, old downtown Wells along railroad tracks. Photos and video. Some buildings occupied with business, others vacant. Each structure has a plaque with history and historic photo of building.  Gill, a collector of old stock certificates and other historic ephemera, finds a store there that sells such.  Some grubby looking man in a clapped out old Ford economy car comes over to us, trying to bum money.  (NOTE: A large magnitude earthquake in early 2008 heavily damaged this section of Wells.)

Drive out to Metropolis ghost town. As we drive up, two couples in VW van drive up. We ignore them for a while until all of us met at school building. In conversation, Bodie came up, older man a California State Park Ranger near San Francisco, but spent many years at Bodie. His son, who was there, is BLM ranger at Elko.  I had last been in Metropolis in 1986 with my son, I note some major changes for the worse since I was last here.

Drive back out south road to Wells. I nearly roll my truck as I came over a hill on dirt road at 50mph, road took off camber 90° turn to the left. I managed to keep off my brakes and gas the truck in 4x4 around corner completely sideways, skirting the edge of road. Took out sagebrush along edge of road, it's a wonder that the heavy brush didn't cause me to roll. Adrenaline rush continued for at least an hour after that stunt.

Go back west on I-80 to Deeth ghost town. Drive north on dirt road out of Deeth 50 miles to ghost town of Charleston. Road is a she-devil - lulls you into a bit of speed; then beats you up with heavy blows of flour-like axle deep dust that hide two foot deep holes, cows, off camber curves on blind corners, antelope, big rocks. First 20 miles over featureless badlands, then gets more interesting with aspens, meadows. Lots of cowboys and cows in road. Lots of cow poop on tires and truck bodies.  Hit one invisible, bad dust bowl at speed, with my windows open and nearly choked on the dust that filled cab.  Interior now covered with dust so heavy that the odor of it is strong.

Remembered that my truck will turn over 100,000 miles this date, find that it now has 100,057 miles and am disappointed that I didn't catch it to videotape the landmark.

At Charleston, Alan took the lead along with Gill.  I hung back to enjoy the drive and to take my time taking photos and video.  Drove into Jarbidge Mountains over dirt roads (over 100 miles total of dirt roads since leaving I-80 @ Deeth). Up and over 8,500 foot Coon Creek Summit through tall conifers, aspens, abundant wildflowers, meadows, jagged and spectacular cliffs. Big snow fields on mountains, lakes below road. Scenery and road reminiscent of Rocky Mountains, not stereotypical Nevada. Cross over 8,500 foot Bear Creek Summit. Nearly had a head-on collision with a southbound driver, who was going too fast and slid into my side of the road.  Drive down super steep and switchbacking grade down to Jarbidge River.

At canyon bottom drive up to Pine Creek Campground, arriving at dusk. Graham had gotten there early that afternoon, set up his camper, and had walked down into Jarbidge, four miles below, and back.  Graham told us that he found that Jarbidge observes Mountain Standard Time.  I decided I was going to keep my watch and my body on Pacific Standard to keep from screwing up my biorhythms. 

Set up camp. Gil makes campfire. Talk around campfire. Crawl in truck, read USA Today newspaper (purchased in Elko) for a bit, then hit the sack at 10:30 PM Pacific Time.

Mileage driven for day: 229.6.

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On 4/17/2017 at 8:13 PM, Bob said:

Just finished this one, now I have to add Silver City to my must see Semi Ghost Towns. I liked the added photos at the end from the trip. 

Silver City is a pretty cool place, and I've been wanting to take my wife there one of these days. Back on that trip I was a bit put off by some very minor touristy things, but in comparison to Virginia City it was miniscule in comparison. Glad you like the photos at the end of each segment.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2001
In and Around Jarbidge


This video is 28:01 long.


I wake up late - 7:30 Pacific Standard Time.  Cloudy, looks like it could rain. Very cool - Alan's thermometer reading 33º.  Canyon is very deep and the sun was shining well above camp.  Made my coffee.

Gil had left camp before dawn (Graham heard him leave at 5:30am) without saying good-bye.  He told us night before he was leaving in morning to head for friend's in Reno, but we all figured he'd leave after everyone was up. 

I enjoy a breakfast, drinking coffee and reading while Alan and Graham hoof it up switchbacking mining road on mountain above camp.  They keep me posted of their progress over the two-way radio.

By noon, Alan and Graham had returned.  Alan is planning to leave later in the day, so stays in camp and cleans up.  Graham and I take my truck up narrow, switchbacking road that he and Alan had gone over, our goal to be the Rex Mine shown on my atlas.  We drive high up the mountain to point where we found that the road had caved in. Investigation showed that a mine adit that exited the earth at the road down at a lower level had caved in.  Graham tries to guide me over a steep and very narrow spot; forcing me to put my passenger side wheels up on side of cliff, while driver side wheels skirted edge of cave in. Have to drive over big, loose rocks. Wheels spitting rocks up under truck, while I'm face down looking out window into abyss below. Truck slithers and slide sideways closer to the edge.  I likely could have made a fast dash through it and made it through, but decide it wasn’t worth the risk of failure, risk of damage to my truck and myself, so abort forward momentum and back up to switchback apex and park truck.

Graham and I walk up road about a mile, finding mines, log cabin ruins, mining machinery. Graham is in far better shape than I, so he continues onward while I amble on at my own pace, keeping in touch by radio.  Alan is down in Jarbidge and comes over radio telling us he can hear us clearly.  Graham climbs high up mountain, with magnificent views of snow capped mountains, dense forests of heavy conifer trees and aspens. Like Colorado, not Nevada. I meet up with Graham at a high point with tramway towers extending far down canyon to millsite down near campground, appearing to be 3,000 feet below us. We celebrate our experience with hand slaps and photos, then return to my truck.

Back to camp. Alan is in Jarbidge, so we meet at cafe in town. I have patty melt lunch, Graham his usual pie and ice cream. Alan was finishing up a hamburger. Since I came in late, Alan and Graham walked down through town while I finished my lunch. I find them on porch of resident Don Mathias, author of books on Jarbidge.
We talk for a couple of hours, Alan and Don talk publishing the revision of his books by Alan. Alan buys ten copies for resale, Graham and I get Don to autograph copies for ourselves. Alan leaves Jarbidge, planning on a two day trip for home.

Graham and I return up to main part of Jarbidge. We find four antique trucks and cars on main street - an original and rusty 1929 Ford Model A pickup truck, a 1929 Dodge phaeton with a star on it, a rusty and original 1930 Ford AA 1-ton flatbed truck and a restored 1931 Ford Model A sedan with "Jarbidge Taxi" on the side. Photos. The Ford AA flatbed pulls out, I pull in my truck in between other antiques and photograph.

Go back to campground. I find three men camped next to me who came in just after Graham and I had gone up the mountain. Introduce myself. One older gent from Reno, other two from Portland, OR (one was Nevada native). The Nevada native stepson of older man, other man friend. They serve Graham and I wonderful "Hangover Stew," and peach cobbler he made in Dutch oven heated on charcoal in fire ring. Great stuff.

The old cars of Jarbidge descend upon the campground near dusk. All drinking beer, in party mood. Four men - one in 40s and the others 70+, one woman in 40s. Lots of talking and photos of cars. 1929 Dodge with star was former Elko County Sheriff car. Siren works, driver wailing siren for all to hear and videotape. Ford AA flatbed truck just started this day after sitting for over 60 years. Ford Model A pickup just started this day after sitting since 1970. At dark, all take off back to Jarbidge, for only two cars have working headlights.

Talk with campground neighbors until well after dark. Sponge bath in dark. Crawl in bed.

Mileage driven for day: 9.2.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2001
Jarbidge, Nevada to Elko, Nevada


This video is 33:17 long.


I had a bad night of fitful sleep.  Even though cold, I am sweating.  My damp sleeping bag keeps me from falling into a good sleep.  It had been a week since I left my home in Big Pine.  At 3:27 AM I muse into my microcassette recorder that I miss my hot shower, I miss my comfy bed, I miss my wife.

Up at 5:55 AM.  By 8:30 AM, Graham and I had broken down our camps and go down to Jarbidge. Spend several hours walking town, photographing and video. Old homes, new homes, mobile homes and travel trailers with either snow roofs or built into larger structures. Visit inside of Jarbidge Jail. Graham and I take turns being the "prisoner" for photos, video. Coffee and short stack of wonderful, fluffy pancakes at café. Explore the cemetery north of town.  Graham goes to post office (open only Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and sends post card to his mother in England.

Left Jarbidge at 12:30 PM.  Our destination was to be the Ruby Mountains and Lamoille Canyon southeast of Elko that afternoon. Drive up slowly and enjoy superb mountain scenery to Bear Creek and Coon Creek Summits. I find a knoll at Bear Creek Summit and make 360º panorama photos.
Find Graham a short distance south of Coon Creek Summit at wonderful viewpoint. He makes tea for us both and we sit in chairs watching beavers through binoculars working in the lake below us.

Drive slowly down dirt roads to bottom of Jarbidge Mountains. We drive to Charleston, then west for NV225 for Elko. Rain off and on as we drive 25 miles to pavement. Graham stops at junction of dirt road and NV225 to air up his tires. Junction is 60 miles north of Elko in wide open range. Upon starting his truck, his serpentine belt squeals. Inspection shows his smog pump red hot and seized. We try to break pump free by wrenches, pry bars and cold water. No luck. We decide to go to Elko and find AAA.  It is 5:07 PM when we leave Graham’s truck.
We arrive at Checkers Auto Parts (affiliated with Kragen) at 6:05 PM. Graham finds smog pump and purchases. He decides to call AAA to bring his truck into town just in case replacement doesn't go well. We hoped that the truck would be dispatched a bit later so we could sample the well known grub of a noteworthy Basque restaurant in town, but the AAA truck arrives within a few minutes. We make arrangements to meet in the morning. Graham makes arrangements to have the driver drop off the truck at Checkers, where Graham would spend the night in his camper and attempt to replace the smog pump in the morning. Graham rides with AAA flatbed truck north to retrieve his truck.

I drive into Elko and take up a room at the Super 8 motel on the east side of town. I wanted a real shower - BAD!! I take my room, throw my suitcase on the table, then go across the street to Burger King for dinner.

Returning to my room, I take in a couple of beers and take a shower. Disappointment. Shower head throws water in a broad circle around one's body, not touching the body at all. Only standing with my nose crammed into the front of the shower, or with my butt crammed against the back wall results in a light sprinkle of stingy streams of water. To top it off, loud and obnoxious grinding of plastic on plastic wails each time I shift my weight from one foot to the other, or move front to back, making me wonder what the heck the neighbors must think. And then the towels were filthy.

I drink my beer and watch TV until 9:30 and then hit the sack.

Mileage driven for day: 108.3.


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Part X – Two Days
Thursday, June 28, 2001 / Friday, June 29, 2001
Elko, Nevada to Big Pine, California /
Big Pine, California to Ridgecrest, California

This video is 29:45 long.


Thursday, June 28, 2001
Elko, Nevada to Big Pine, California


I get up at 6:00. Make in room coffee. Shower and grimace at noise and poor shower characteristics. Put stuff together while listening to the morning news.

Graham calls me on cell phone, says he couldn't get the pump off and wants to take truck to shop recommended by AAA driver. Shop very near my motel.

I gas up across street from motel (another Texaco again - $1.59 per gallon), drive across town to pick up Graham, take him to shop, where he makes arrangements to have truck repaired.  News on the radio that actor Jack Lemmon had died overnight.

We drive back to Checkers. Put serpentine belt back on truck (Graham had found that the pump would alternate between spinning and seize up momentarily, so he could limp truck over to shop). Graham drives truck to shop while I follow.

We go to nearby restaurant (also recommended by driver) around corner from shop. Very good food.

My camera starts acting up again.  Refuses to work.  Then starts working again.  Then stops again.  For good.

We go over to Northeastern Nevada Museum and spend 2½ hours browsing. I buy two books (Shawn Hall's book on Elko County ghost towns and a book on Nevada period post cards) and a historical quarterly on Metropolis. Pretty lady makes me a copy of another out of print quarterly on Metropolis. I drive Graham over to Forest Service Ranger Station across town so he could buy map of Rubies. We go back to his truck.

I say good-bye - Graham wants to have a last tea stop before I leave, but I insist on leaving. Long trip ahead and I want to get it over with.

Stop at an Elko mini mart for water, hitting the Interstate at 12:39 PM. Drive I-80 west to Carlin.

Turn south on NV278 to Eureka, all the while within sight of the grade of the Eureka & Palisade Railroad. I want photographs of the grade, but can’t due to the camera situation.  Road work in Diamond Valley, delays by flagmen.  Further down the valley, a Nevada Department of Transportation dump truck laying on its side in the road, Highway Patrol investigating. 

Stop in Eureka for gas (Chevron - $1.69 per gallon) and to take a quick look at the town, arriving at 2:45 PM.  It was 15 years after my only other visit to Eureka.  I wish I had more time and a working camera to capture it.  A tank truck with Minnesota license plates and Minnesota based company logo on doors washing gutters in a little historic Nevada mining town.

Drive west on US50 to near Austin. Turn south on NV378 and drive the length through the Big Smoky Valley to US6 east of Tonopah.

Arrive in Tonopah at 5:30 PM.  Gas up (Texaco - $1.79 per gallon) and eat dinner at McDonald's in Tonopah.

Drive on US 6 headed to Bishop.  Some guy in a clapped out Ford Ranger is acting strange as we exit Tonopah, incessantly slamming on his brakes to a complete stop, then taking off to a maximum of 25 miles per hour.  As soon as we hit the 70 miles per hour speed limit sign, he takes off at a far higher rate and before long he’s only a tiny speck in the distance.  At Bishop, turning south on US395 the remaining 16 miles to Big Pine, arriving at my home there at 8:02 PM.

Tired but wired.  Stayed up until past midnight writing lengthy email about my trip [which I kept a copy of and which provided the narrative of this entire thread], copying in several friends, some of whom were invited to come along but opted out [at my home there I kept an older computer, and I had Juno dial up email service].

Mileage driven for day: 410.1.

Friday, June 29, 2001
Big Pine, California to Ridgecrest, California.


Slept in.  Finished composing and sent email to friends about trip.

Left Big Pine home at 12:44 PM.  Lunch at Carl’s Jr. in Lone Pine.  Video of me narrating my final thoughts of the trip were taken as I drove south of Lone Pine.  Arrival at Ridgecrest home at 2:50 PM.

Mileage driven for day: 121.3.
Ending mileage on my truck 100,782.9.
Total mileage for trip: 2,105.0


On the last morning of the trip, as I attempted to photograph from the motel in Elko, my digital camera started acting up again in the same manner that it did trying to photograph the Hinkey Summit area north of Paradise Valley. I tried in vain to take photos of the last day on this trip.

In the days after returning home, I began processing the floppy disks with photos of the trip. I found that several of the disks were corrupted by my digital camera, thus I lost the images contained on each one; I estimate that I lost around 200 images, give or take. The last photo I was able to open was that of Graham and myself near the top of Coon Creek Summit; I lost all photos of the return to Elko and a couple taken at the motel, even though I had reviewed the last of them in the camera’s LCD screen.  In total, 513 photos make up my collection of this trip, though there are some glaring holes in the continuity of my photo journey.  Fortunately, my video filled in the holes.

I tried everything I could think of to restore the camera to working order, but in vain. Later, in October of 2001, I traded the dead camera, plus an old flatbed scanner, to a buddy who likes to tinker with electronics; getting in return an old but working Toshiba T-4600 laptop computer, running Windows 95 and black & white LCD monitor, which I found handy and put to regular use in my researching and writing activities for a few years.

As for the video, I shot around seven hours of Super-8 video tape in my Sony videocamera.  I edited it down to about five and a half hours. In the days of this trip, transfer of the video was between my videocamera and my VCR.  My only tools for editing was the remote control for the VCR and use of the pause button to edit out unwanted video.  So thus a lot of glitches made their way to the VHS tape.  Today, transfer from the original 3-VHS tape set to DVD and utilizing Adobe video editing software has helped to present this rendering a little better.

So that was my big trip for 2001. Hope you enjoyed the ride-along!


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An addendum to this thread. Graham Cooper, whom I’ve referred to as “Graham C.” in written form, and whose last name I edited out in the videos (he had no online, or published public presence, thus I wished to protect his privacy) has passed away last week, November 22, 2017, after battling cancer for much of the year. He was 73 years old.


As for other trip participants, I have lost contact with Gil S. Based on my estimate of his age at the time of the trip, if still alive, I would think to be well up into his 80s. I have not seen him since his visit to my home  about six months after the trip.


Alan Patera is still busy running his WESTERN PLACES business with his wife, research, writing and publishing.


As for myself, about a year after the trip, I traded that brown 1996 Chevrolet S-10 in on a new 2002 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4x4. I sill own it and drive it daily and it still looks and drives well. Yesterday it took my wife and I over part of the trip - a nice day drive on a crisp autumn afternoon into the Hinkey Summit country near Paradise Valley, which has been my back yard for almost a decade now since moving north-central Nevada. I am sixteen years older, just as fat and my hair and mustache are all silver.


I was watching last night video of part of this trip on my computer, reminding me that I should update with the sad news of Graham’s passing.

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Wildfires during the summer of 2018 has destroyed some sites visited in 2001.

The Martin Fire, which started east of Paradise Valley in early July, destroyed Spring City. At its height, it was the largest wildfire in the US.

The South Sugarloaf Fire, still burning as of this writing, destroyed the sites of Patsville, Rio Tinto, our campsite atop Maggie Summit, the sites of Edgemont and White Rock.

The fires will have cleared a lot of brush, destroyed standing collapsed wooden structures. Stone ruins will be easier to locate in the future.

I am glad to have memories, video and photos.

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