Highway 8A

Highway 8A was Nevada State Route 8A, one of a few mostly north-south paved roads through the state; it was related in part to S.R. 8 and S.R. 8B. Early in my exploration career, and even in grad school, I became familiar with two particular sections of 8A: the first section ran from Battle Mountain down to Highway 50 just west of Austin; the second section ran south from Highway 50 just east of the old Frontier down to Route 6 just east of Tonopah. It is the second section that I've spent the most time on: from at least one early field trip in grad school, then one summer working out of Austin, then a month or two at the Bowman Creek camp in 1978, and finally what essentially amounted to at least a year driving back and forth between Kingston Canyon and the Frontier Truck Stop (and sometimes Austin) from the summer of 1979 through at least the end of the summer of 1980. I've been back many times: Highway 8A, passing through the elevated Big Smoky Valley, is one of the scenic routes through Nevada.
Highway 8A, for me, started just east of the now burned down Frontier, and went south to Kingston Canyon, and beyond that to the turnoff to the Northumberland Mine Road, and beyond that to Carver's Station. Sometimes (for me) it went all the way to the road to Tonopah. Highway 8A was renumbered as part of the 1976 Nevada highway renumbering program when all (or most, at first) single digit state highway numbers were replaced by harder to remember three digit numbers. Hence, my stretch of Highway 8A is now S.R. 376. The Austin to Battle Mountains segment of Highway 8A is now S.R. 305. Some routes, like the Battle Mountain to Austin to Tonopah part of S.R. 8A were still shown on state highway maps through 1981, and signs may still exist for 8A (these two photos on Flickr, by Zach, were taken in 2006) in the far northwest part of the state.

I've started many exploration stories on paper and on computer, and I have them here and there. I didn't start these stories chronologically and have put only a few on this blog. The stories start, in my mind at least, with Highway 8A because I spent so much time on that road so early in my exploration career. The stories really begin before 1978, with Highway 8A being partly involved from 1975 through 1977 and then beyond. I've started putting these stories together on another, non-public blog, but haven't gotten very far with that project.

The stories all begin with the longest north-south straight stretch of paved Nevada highway, which at the time was on my section of Highway 8A, and which I drove so many times that I came to know every long mile by heart. That straight stretch started at the junction of Highway 50 near the old Frontier. It went south from there, making it past the Kingston Canyon turnoff and barely past the dirt road heading west up Bowman Creek, barely past the old RO Ranch, where the Northumberland Mine dirt road takes off to the east heading into West Northumberland Canyon, a favorite field area. The straight stretch crossed the Lander-Nye County border before ending where the road veers slightly to the right toward the Toiyabe Range. This "longest straight stretch" still exists, exactly 19 miles long, though it is probably not longest anymore: a straightened piece of Highway 50 between Austin and Eureka now spans about 21-22 miles. [Note: I've determined since writing this part, that I was referring only to north-south stretches of pavement and have duly made corrections. There may be additional east-west straight sections of road in Nevada; Highway 50's long straight section between Austin and Eureka, just east of Hickison Summit does not appear to have been straightened.]

All the exploration I've conducted prior and since working along this straight stretch of highway has somehow referred back to it in my mind, maybe just because I spent so much time there, maybe because of a fondness I have for that part of central Nevada. And, as I've said in part of the stories already published:
I'd like to say that it all started on Highway 8A, in Nevada, but it didn't. Nor, I suppose, will it end there, although it could. It all really started before I was born.
And with that, I'll leave the story of Highway 8A, at least for now.

Posts tagged 8A


Prologue:
Where it All Began
Where it All Began II

Introduction:
Highway8A Introduction I
Why Highway 8A?
Single Digit Highways
A Bit about License Plates
Highway8A Introduction II

Post last updated (for clarity or to update links) on 24Sept2014