Friday, June 11, 2010

Finding a Thesis: Battle Mountain to Austin to Gabbs

With this post, I'm going to return to a theme or series I started a while back, part of the overall Highway 8A series, though the sections or chapters in the overall series aren't necessarily being posted in order. I will back in and out of them and bring a few new ones in every now and then. This particular part of Highway 8A is about finding a thesis. The thesis section is not the beginning of 8A, the beginning was here.

It was typical springtime weather for Nevada: mostly cloudy, cool to cold, variably windy, with intermittent and unrelenting snow showers moving across the mountains and valleys. I was driving on I-80 from Reno to Battle Mountain, which is where I would start my search for a thesis area. I-80 is shown on historical road maps of the day as being incomplete through Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Carlin, Elko, and Wells, and also from Pequop Summit to the state line at Wendover. At all those small to medium-sized towns, I-80 unceremoniously dumped one out onto main streets that have now been bypassed, and from the Pequops to Wendover, old Highway 40 still remained, single-laned and winding through mountain ranges.

Photo: The Humboldt Range near Lovelock in the springtime.
Just past the north corner of the East Range (MSRMaps), almost in sight of Winnemucca but still traveling on the relatively new freeway, I pulled over to take a picture of dark clouds hovering over the Sonoma Range and Osgood Mountains, not realizing how much time I would end up spending in the Osgoods a relatively short time into the future. As I stood there, a car with a trailer pulled up behind me. I soon recognized a former office mate of mine from the grad school, one who had graduated and was traveling to a new job outside Nevada. We chatted for a while, then got back to traveling, splitting our directions in Winnemucca: northward for him and his family, eastward for me.

Eventually, I made it into Battle Mountain, where I most likely got a room at one of the joints then open, probably at the Nevada Hotel. At that time, I knew of two places to eat: the Nevada Hotel and the Owl Club, neither of which I would have recommended to anyone because of the real danger of succumbing to food poisoning. [Battle Mountain was known for such things as recently as the late 1980's. I can't say about now — but I'll still drive to Winnemucca for dinner if given a choice.]

Checking out various localities in the Hilltop mining district near Battle Mountain (MSRMaps) — which includes the Betty O'Neal Mine and others — was relatively easy and straightforward — many dirt roads were passable by nearly any vehicle, including my 1972 Opel. A few roads were too steep to drive up, and when they were I hiked. In later years, though I didn't know it then, I'd stay in one of the old cabins up one of those lush, green creeks, one similar to this cabin at Lewis.
After spending some time on the west side of the Shoshone Range, on the steep western range front and up the canyons, I drove up Rock Creek, over Marysville Summit, and down Indian Creek into the east side of the mining district—that part sometimes known as Tenabo or Bullion. Head-high Big Sage hid cows roaming through the wide valley of Indian Creek. I stopped for lunch amidst the sage.

Photo: Triangular facets on the west side of the Cortez Mountains, as seen from the southwest. Mt. Tenabo is the peak on the right.
I then dinked around on some of the many old mine dumps on the eastern slope of the Shoshone Range, scrutinizing various “goody piles” left by old-timers, prospectors, and claim holders. From those mine dumps and prospects, I gazed eastward across the wide, green Crescent Valley at the steep triangular facets along the Crescent Valley Fault, the range-front fault on the west side of the Cortez Mountains.

Reese River, south of Battle Mountain.
After looking around the area, I headed south on Highway 8A (now S.R. 305) toward Austin, making it up the variably muddy, often narrow and creek-like Reese River to Highway 50.

Sign at the junction of old Highway 8A and Highway 50.
I then drove west on Highway 50 to Middlegate Junction, the home of Old Middlegate Station, and then south on old S.R. 23 (now S.R. 361) to Gabbs.

Main Street in Gabbs, looking south from Waterline Street.
See a few more pictures of Gabbs and the Pole Line Road on this post from 2008.

To be continued...


Gaelyn said...

What a great journey for you and the Opel. Must have been difficult to decide which was the most amazing landscape to study.

Garry Hayes said...

Hey, where are the steamers on the Reese River? I've seen the stock certificates for the ore shipping company...

Silver Fox said...

I've seen a canoe on the Reese - do you have a link to stock certificates? I sometimes find links to that story, but other times find it hard to find anything about it online.

Silver Fox said...

Gaelyn, it's a long story... ;)