Thursday, August 19, 2010

Island Lake Ruby Mountains August 14, 2010

Location: The trail to Island Lake starts from Road's end trailhead in Lamoille Canyon. It is extremely easy to find. The trail is good for beginning to intermediate hikers because it is easy to follow and only two miles one way to the lake. Be advised that the trail has nine switchbacks and no shade. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
The hike: Today I left my car at 8:30 am and blitzed the two miles to the lake. Remembering how beautiful the lake was from the top, I continued hiking until I had a great view and relative solitude. Because it was a Saturday the lake had already gotten crowded with two backpacking groups and a 15 member Boy Scout group. On the way down I passed 10+ groups and the parking lot was overflowing. If a hiker wants to escape the crowds hike the Rubies on a weekday or wait for school to start.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mountain top hike off Liberty pass Ruby Mountains August 13, 2010

The blue of Liberty lake taken part way up mountain

Location: Today's hike will take at the road's end trailhead in Lamoille Canyon to the south of Elko Nevada. This part of the Ruby mountains is spectacular and offers many off-trail hiking opportunities.
The hike: Today I will attempt to scramble up two peaks from Liberty pass. At eight am I left roads end and hiked on the Ruby Crest trail by Dollar lakes. The weather was beautiful and temps were cool. I easily made it up to the pass by 10:30 in the morning. The scramble up to the top of the peaks was not very hard except I was hiking on loose rock and straight up. After approximately an hour and half I summitted the tallest of the two mountains where I ate lunch. The wind at the top made me cold and I was glad I had brought my coat. The view was spectacular. To the south I looked toward Wine's peak and Harrison pass. To the north I could see Lamoille canyon and Ruby Dome along with Spring Creek thousands of feet below. Probably the most special aspect of the view for me was the number of lakes I could see. Among them were Liberty, Favre, and Castle to the south, Lamoille, Dollar and Echo to the north. After over an hour on top I hiked back to the pass, down to Lamoille lake and back to the car.
At the shore of Lamoille lake

Looking down at Liberty and Favre lakes

The incredible view to the south

Looking toward the north-west from on the mountain

Looking back toward Elko and Spring Creek

Sprucemountain, Nevada August 12, 2010

Old cabin on the upper part of the mountain

Today I returned to Sprucemountain to explore more of the extensive mining remnants of the area, especially the historic Ada and Bullshead mines (for driving directions refer to my May post). I arrived after nine in the morning and hiked passed the Monarch mine ruins seeing some of the ruins of the Ada mine high up on the mountain. The weather was spectacular with 80 degree temps and clear blue skies. On the upper parts of the mountain I could clearly see the Ruby range to the west and the Pequop and Goshute ranges to the east. Remember all Nevada desert is rattlesnake country so be vigilant. Also be careful around all historic mining remnants.

Looking west high toward the Ruby range

Beautiful mountain desert scenery

Stereotypical Nevada: Sagebrush with mountains

Monday, August 9, 2010

Soldier Creek Hike August 6, 2010

Above Robinson lake in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada

Location: To get to Soldier Creek take State Route 227 south of Elko towards Lamoille Canyon. Near the main canyon take a left towards the town of Lamoille, Nevada, (the turn is well signed). Drive straight through the picturesque town of Lamoille until you reach a crossroads. Turn left and follow the gravel and oil road nine miles to the turnoff for Soldier Creek. The road crosses private road for the first two miles and into the canyon. Two miles later is the Soldier Creek trailhead.
The Hike:The first two miles of the hike follows Soldier Creek up Soldier Canyon. The trail is rocky and muddy in places so watch your footing. The canyon is the only place a hiker has shade from the Nevada sun. Today the canyon was very picturesque with Fireweed blooming, rock walls, and a beautiful creek. After two miles the trail reaches the beginning of Soldier Basin which is treeless and meadowy. Today I saw an explosion of Larkspur and Paintbrush along the trail which made for a beautiful hike. After about mile and a half of hiking in the basin the trail for Krenka Creek goes to the left. Continuing another two miles a hiker will get into the main part of the basin with Hidden lakes, Soldier lake, and Robinson Lake as possible destinations. Robinson lake is the farthest from the trailhead at about five miles.
The trail in the canyon

Pack animals grazing near Robinson lake

Trail with Soldier Peak in the background

Soldier lake with surrounding vegetation

Tuscarora, Nevada August 3, 2010

Picture showing some of the modern buildings in present day Tuscarora

Directions: Tuscarora is an old mining community to the north of Elko, Nevada. To get to Tuscarora drive north on Nevada 225 for 27 miles going toward Mountain City. Head east on Nevada 226 for 17 miles. A sign for Tuscarora shows the turnoff.

History: Mining began in Tuscarora around 1867 when a group of men from Austin, Nevada, found gold while placermining. Initial mining operations remained small because of water limitations and few prospectors. In 1869, the community got a boost when chinese workers came from the Central Pacific Railroad. The new workers were more successful because they worked harder than the original prospectors. The community remained small even after the discovery of silver ore to the north.
The beginning of the boom occured around 1876 with the discovery of a three-foot vein of silver-ore. The first ore was sent to the Leopard Mill at Cornucopia, Nevada, which was considered some of the best in the district. Because of advertisments settlers flooded into the area. One of the first companies in the area Grand Prize Company brought the Windsor Mill which increased production.
By 1877 the town had blossomed and the mines were producing ore in large quantities. The population of the town was 3,000 citizens and businesses and companies sprang up. Tuscarora had 12 saloons, entertainment, a baseball team, and a brewery. Stage lines were created to facilitate the movement of people in the county. The same year two newspapers began publication: the Mining Review and Tuscarora Times Review. Examples of some of the mines in the area: Grand Prize, Susan Jane, Young America, and Grand Prize along with three mills. The best years for the mines were during the years 1878 and 1879. Each of these years production was well over million dollars.
The first boom would not last and by 1881 the town started diing. The major reason for the decline was a slow down in the area mines which ultimately led to many of them closing. Likewise, the town suffered a number of major fires which burned important structures.
The second boom began in 1887 when two new companies entered the area: Nevada Mining Company and East Grand Prize Silver Mining Company. Likewise, three new mines broke ground in the area bringing the total number to eight. However, the boom would not last and 1890 would bring a mixed distinction: total production was high but one of the most productive mines closed the same year. During the years 1890-1891 the mines closed one by one. The last mine to operate in Tuscarora was the Dexter Mine which closed in 1903. The newspapers also folded in 1903.
Today, the town is surviving because of a pottery shop in town. The town is small but has a nice mixture of old and new building. There are also many ruins in and out of town. The cemetery is very historical and a worthwhile visit. The town is currently restoring the old tombstones.
(Source: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Elko County By: Shawn Hall)

Some of the old and new tombstones in the cemetery

Old store front in town

Car with old shack in Tuscarora

One of the old mills to the north of town

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ophir, Utah July 30, 2010

The historic Town Hall in Ophir

Location: Ophir, Utah, is an old mining community south of Tooele, Utah. The town is located 3.5 miles up a canyon, east of State Highway 73. A sign on Highway 73 shows the turnoff for Ophir. The canyons to the north and south of Ophur have mining history and ghost towns. I would not suggest going to Mercur because Barrick Gold has the road gated up the canyon. If you go, all the historic mines and much of the remnants are on private land. I did talk to some very nice residents who let me photograph on private property.
History: The mining boom in the Oquirrh Mountains began in the 1860s when tales of indians using slugs made with lead and silver reached General Patrick Connor of the California Volunteers. After some investigation the group found crude mines near present day Ophir.
In 1870 Ophir had a big mining boom. A town sprang up with saloons, a red light district, and crudely build shanty homes. Miners rushed in to mine primarily silver, lead, and zinc. The names of the mines in the area reflected the excitement: Miner's Delight, Wild Delerium, Ophir Hill. Ore mined in the area was sent to a smelter in Connor, Utah. In the mid 1870s, it was apparent that the boom would last and more stable buildings of stone and wood were built. In these years the town had its highest population of 6,000 people with drugstore, two schools, and a theatre. Production:1870-1900 $329,000 in gold and over $13 million in silver, lead and zinc.
By 1880 the easy silver was long gone and many of the miners moved on, however, a core group of miners resorted to vertical deep rock mining with shafts over 1,000 feet deep. The mines were profitable enough that a wealthy man W.A. Clark owned many of the mines in the area even building the St. John and Ophir Railroad which was active from 1912-1918. Some mining occured into the 1970s. Today, all seven of the silver mines are not active. (Information from Utah Ghost Towns By: Stephen Carr).

Remnants of the St. John and Ophir Railroad down canyon

Slag piles with old railroad tracks on top

Railroad tracks with ore bucket

Old shack in town