Thursday, September 19, 2013

Across the West and Back Day 2: Pequop Summit to West Wendover

On our journey eastward across Nevada, MOH and I were last seen approaching the Pequop exit in the Pequop Mountains. Just beyond that exit — which provides access to such places as Milk House Spring, Adele Spring, and Nanny Creek to the south and East Squaw Creek to the north — I-80 crosses Goshute Valley, heading for a passage over a low spot in the Toano Range.
Large alluvial fan in Goshute Valley.
Around the bend in the photo above, I-80 crosses a large alluvial fan coming southward off one area of the Toano Range. Both sets of mountains in the photo are parts of the Toano Range, with the low point in the center just beyond the fan being Silver Zone Pass.

A little farther on, in the center of Goshute Valley, you can look back toward the Pequops and see the drill roads of Newmont's Long Canyon project, which was acquired by buying Fronteer Gold (link to Fronteer's website now goes directly to a 2011 Newmont announcement about the buyout), who had done a good portion of the work on the property (along with others before them). An inferred resource of 2.6 million ounces of gold has been announced by Newmont.
Long Canyon drill roads on the east side of the Pequop Mountains.
About midway across Goshute Valley, shadows to the south made Shafter Knoll, about 13 miles distant, stand out against the faded blue of the Dolly Varden Mountains, which are about 42 miles south of the highway.
Looking south. Shafter Knoll is on the left, the Dolly Varden Mountains are in the center, and the Pequop Mountains are on the right.
Road construction on I-80 in the Toano Mountains.
As I've mentioned in earlier posts, we saw a lot of construction on the roads we travelled. This is the first time I've seen a mini-tunnel installed over a road to prevent rocks from falling, sliding, or flying through the air into the roadway. Two of these were being used, with the second spanning the westbound lanes of the freeway.

After crossing the Toano Range at Silver Zone Pass, I-80 goes into a straight section in the south end of Pilot Creek Valley. Here, the alluvial fan in the distance, coming off of the Leppy Hills north of the highway, looked as though it was crossing the valley to run up against the mountain range on the south, which is actually an eastern bulge in the Toano Range.
Looking southeast down I-80 at an alluvial fan coming out of the Leppy Hills on the left, with hills of the Toano Range on the right.
The topo maps of the area make it clear that alluvial fans from the Leppy Hills and meet fans from the Toano Range in the middle of the valley at a low, broad juncture between the ranges.
Topography is from the USGS TNM 2.0 Viewer (link).
The associated air-photo view shows a lot of shorelines from ancient Lake Bonneville. I'm wondering if the gravel pit seen in both views isn't in a gravel bar formed during Lake Bonneville times, but haven't found any literature to support that idea (and we zoomed by, not stopping for the fan or hypothetical gravel bar).
Air-photo view of the same area (link).
As we moved farther across the south end of Pilot Creek Valley, this unexpected view of rustic-looking buildings, reminding me of old western movie sets, popped into view.
Looking southwest toward the Toano Range.
Just beyond the buildings on the range front, I could see what looked like a small limestone mine. This turns out to be the Pilot Peak lime plant, operated by Graymont, which processes material quarried on site (you can see the highwall of the small mine behind the plant).
Pilot Peak lime plant and quarry.
A few minutes later, we were across Pilot Creek Valley, and our first glimpse of the Great Salt Lake Desert came into view beyond a low divide.
Looking southeast across  a bit of the Great Salt Lake Desert (white, beyond the closer hills), with Dutch Mountain about 35 to 40 miles away in the distance.
All through this leg of the trip, I'd been keeping my eye on the small portions of old U.S. 40 that hadn't been wiped out during construction of the interstate. Coming into Wendover, you end up looking straight down a still paved portion of the old highway, which is the main street in West Wendover, known as West Wendover Boulevard.
Looking nearly east down the main street of West Wendover to the Bonneville Salt Flats out beyond the NV-UT state line.
We had to get off in Wendover for some travel supplies, so we ended up driving on old highway 40 for a very short distance.

Be sure to check out the map insert below (and a larger view in Google Maps as desired), where I show the day's photos (to this point in the day). I've added a few of the locations mentioned in the post, including the alluvial fans shown above, Shafter Knoll, the lime plant, and an old part of U.S. 40 in West Wendover (which I'm often in the habit of calling Wendover, even though Wendover is in Utah and West Wendover is in Nevada).

View Day 2: Elko, NV to Vernal, UT in a larger map

Related Posts:
Across the West and Back Day 2: Looking for an Old Roadcut
Across the West and Back: The First Day
Intro to Recent Western Loop Trip


Hollis said...

your tour guides are a great service, thanks!

Silver Fox said...

Thanks! Sometimes it's good to hear things like that :)

Utemike said...

The ranch visible at lower left in your picture of the Long Canyon project is sited adjacent to a large spring that was the next stop after pilot peak springs for the Donner party and others that followed that trail.

I've been told the tunnels will be a wildlife overpass when complete. Looking at the cost of these things I can't help thinking Newmont was extorted to chip in as part if their wildlife mitigation. The valley is a migration route but the tunnel (overpass) location seems so far east that it would take some doing to push the herds there from the springs.

Silver Fox said...

Interesting about the springs.

The tunnel area seems like a particularly poor siting for a wildlife overpass because they are having to dig out a massive outcrop on the one side; surely a flatter area would be better.

A picture of a fully installed overpass north of Wells on 93 here.