This particular stretch of highway is unusual for Nevada because it passes into three counties in short succession, although not all the way through any of them. The road starts in one county, passes through another, and then passes into yet a third – an unusual feat given the relatively large to huge size of most Nevada counties.
Leaving Old Middlegate Station at 1:30 pm that spring day two years ago, I came to this first county sign 20 minutes later at almost exactly 1:50 pm. I was about to enter Mineral County, having driven about 15.7 miles on S.R. 361.
The sign on the other side of the road facing back to the north indicates that I just came through Churchill County.
A little short of five minutes later, I arrived in Nye County, the largest county in Nevada – and third largest county in the U.S., not counting boroughs in Alaska.
About 10 or 15 minutes later, a side road heading east toward Lodi Valley came into view. Lodi Valley runs north-south between the Lodi Hills in the left middle ground and the Paradise Range in the background.
The Lodi Hills was the site of my first submittal evaluation back in the late 1970's or early 1980's. Whether the submittal was for uranium or gold is something I no longer remember. I do remember a large quantity of quartz vein material, both lying around as float and jutting out as outcrop. I also remember something about barely making it uphill through newly fallen snow.
I drove off the road a little ways to get a good look at the nicely graded gravel road into Lodi Valley – okay, it's a little bit washboarded, but doesn't look too bad .
Just past that turn-off, the main part of the Downeyville mining district comes into view to the east. Downeyville is an old silver-lead-zinc-gold district, which had more zinc production than anything else, though the historic records are spotty. It's also an old ghost town. Directions and a couple pictures here.
About 29 miles south of Highway 50, one of the several signs for Ione that you can see scattered here and there around west-central Nevada comes into view, pointing off to the east. If you turn onto the side road, you'll be on S.R. 844, the Ione Road, formerly known as S.R. 91. Follow the road and you'll go over Brunton Pass, down into Ione Valley, and from there onward to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, and then north to Ione. Gas is not necessarily available in Ione, check local sources or fill up in Middlegate or Gabbs.
Then, at 2:15 pm, almost 31 miles and less than an hour from Highway 50 – and closer to a half hour not counting photo stops – I arrived at the signs for north Gabbs.
An aside: There are lots of signs pointing toward Ione in central and west-central Nevada. Generally, the town seems to be about 20 to 50 miles from wherever you happen to be. I'm not sure I've ever been there, although I've been as close as Berlin-Ichthyosaur. Maybe someday I'll do a post about the many roads to Ione and the many signs pointing the way. I'll have to do a lot more sign collecting and backroad travel to get them all.