Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cherry Creek, Nevada February 9, 2011

A look at main part of town today

On my way to visit the Nevada Northern yard in Ely, I stopped at the historic town of Cherry Creek. I had heard Cherry Creek was a well preserved ghost town in White Pine County. The weather was gorgeous for a February day with warm temperatures and clear blue skies making for a wonderful stop. While walking around town two dogs barked at me incessantly marking the only annoying aspect of my trip. Cherry Creek is north of Ely, Nevada, approximately 10 miles off of US 93. The dirt road to Cherry Creek is dirt and well graded however, the road to Egan Canyon is rough according to locals.

History: Cherry was the biggest town in White Pine County. It was also the largest producer of many different metals, primarily gold and silver. The area had three major periods of mining activity in Egan Canyon (approx. five miles to the south) the last of which ended in 1940. Total production for the area is between $15 and 20 million.

The first major period began in 1872 when John Carpenter located gold in what would become the Tea Cup holding. Within a year the region had boomed with seven major mines in operation and 400 people in town. Many businesses were built including a hotel, black smith shop, boarding houses, and three saloons. The boom was short lived and major mining activity had ceased by 1875.

A second major period began in 1880 with the development of new claims at the important Echequer and Tea Cup Mines. Very quickly the area exploded with workers and three new mills. One of which moved from Hamilton to the south to the Star mine. At this time the town had an astounding 28 saloons, mercantile stores, school, brewery and even a race track. The movement of the White Pine News to Cherry Creek helped facilitate the revival.

This particular boom ended for two major reasons financial panic and three fires. In 1883 financil panic on the eastern seabord caused the closure of three major mines. The first fire burned the hoist at the Star Mine stopping production. The second and third fires, which were accidents burned whole sections of town.

The third revival ocurred in 1905 because of the reopening of two major mines: the Star Mine and Exchequer and the arrival of the Northern Nevada Railway. The railway facilitated the movement of people into Cherry Creek and the movement of ore to the north and south. During the period of 1902 to 1922 $701,000 worth of ore were produced in the area. This period saw six mining companies work claims in Egan Canyon at one time. The most important being the Tea Cup Mining Company. which controlled the Tea Cup mine. In 1927 the Nevada Standard Mining Company purchased most of the claims controlling over 41. From 1920 to 1930 200 men worked the mines and mills. Production continued until 1940 when the company folded.

Today, mining in the area is quiet except for a few small mining claims owned by residents. A museum in the old school is worthwhile; even though, it has eratic hours and was closed today. The area has a number of interesting areas to explore including the town and cemetery, Nevada Northern and Egan Canyon. Remember to tread lightly and respect Nevada's history. Cherry Creek also has the second oldest school in Nevada.The cemetery in town has been vandalized and needs to be rehabilited. (Info from: Romancing Nevada's Past: Ghost Towns and Historic Sites of Eureka, Lander, and White Pine Counties by Shawn Hall)

Mining in Egan Canyon (thanks to the White Pine Historical Society)

Tara on an old Nevada Northern car near Cherry Creek

The cemetery with the Cherry Creek range in the background;

This cemetery has been vandalized by miscreants

Old equipment near the school

Another pic of town showing the old and new

Pic of old car showing modern trailers in the background

Cool pic

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cobre, Nevada February 13, 2011

Desert pic with abandoned Nevada Northern tracks in the foreground

The weekend before Valentine's Day I continued my research of the Nevada Northern by driving to the ghost town of Cobre, Nevada. Cobre was the northern terminus for the Nevada Northern Railway. Trains would then ride Western Pacific rails west or east. To get to Cobre take Nevada 233 north from Oasis for 7 miles. Look for the BLM sign on the left hand sign of the road. Turn and follow road for one mile.
History: Cobre boomed in 1906 when the Western Pacific moved its headquarters from Winnemucca and the Nevada Northern completed its branch from Ely, Nevada. Copper ore trains started to move from mines and mills to the south and passenger trains stopped at a new station. A hotel, post office and saloon opened as well. The town was known for its violence including the murder and robbery of a few saloon owners. In 1910 the town had sixty people and a school opened in 1915.
The town started to decline with a downturn in freight and passenger service. As a result, many people started to leave town. Only twenty people remained when a large pumice deposit was discovered to the north of town in 1930. Within two years a big mill and over a dezen buildings had been built. The mines' owner out of Detroit, Michigan, tried to market the pumice but the operation shut down after two weeks. The end of the town came in 1950 with the closing of the post office. Ore trains continued to rumble on the Nevada Northern until 1980. (Info from: Old Heart of Nevada: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Elko County by Shawn Hall)
Union Pacific train rumbling through the desert

The engine house; one of the only buildings left standing

Manline Union Pacific tracks

Almost nothing left in Cobbre

Nevada Northern East Ely Yard, Nevada February 9, 2011

Looking north into the yard

On February 9, 2011, I returned to Ely to visit the historic Nevada Northern yard. I wanted to see more of the railway after riding the Polar Express with Tara. The yard is a living museum to show what operations were like on the Nevada Northern. The yard itself is about 10 acres and a visitor walk around and observe freight cars and the steam locomotives in the engine house. The Nevada Northern was important in transporting copper from White Pine County to the Southern Pacific at Cobre, Nevada (see December post for more history). The weather during the day was sunny and warm; perfect for visiting historic areas in Nevada.
Caboose showing the importance of the Kennecott Copper Corporation
to the west
Looking towards the water tower in the yard

Tracks leading to the engine house

Cool pic in the yard

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blue Lake, Utah

The main scuba diving lake

Blue lake is a neat destination to the south of West Wendover, Nevada, on the border with Utah. I have visited Blue lake a number times; most recently last fall. The lake is an oasis in the middle of the Great Basin desert. The area has many upwelling geothermal springs which make the temperature of the water on the surface during the winter 70 degrees and and in the water 80 degrees. The main lake is a popular scuba diving area because it is only 60 feet and warm making it a good area for beginners and amatuers. The area is very pretty but there is trash in places making it less than pristine. Remember to clean up after yourself.

Directions: To get to Blue lake take US 93 south from West Wendover for 15 miles. Look for a sign at a dirt road on the left side of 93. The dirt road is drivable to passenger cars in dry weather; however, watch for wash boarding and bumps.

The area is bordered by the Utah test and Training Range. I originally thought the area was no longer active but it is; so stay behind the warning signs around Blue lake.

Another pic showing the lake with surrounding desert

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Golden Spike Historic Site May 30, 2009

Photo commemerating the joyous occasion in 1869

On May 30, 2009, my wife and I took a trip to Golden Spike Historic Site north of Salt Lake City. Needless to say the trip was long ( had to drive to Salt Lake and north around the lake) but very enjoyable. We were pleasantly suprised at the number of things to see and easily spent a day.

Directions and information: From Salt Lake City take Interstate 15 north until exit #365. Turn onto Highway 13 and then 83 driving approximately 32 miles to the monument. The two locomotives- Central Pacific Jupiter and Union Pacific 119- operate during the summer. Crews work on them throughout the winter but visitors can still view them. at the locomotive shop. At various times during a summer day actors recreate the joining of the two railroads. Away from the visitors center, visitors can see such landmarks as China arch, Big fill and last cut. Part of the driving tour is on the old Central Pacific roadbed. This trip is worthwhile for any american who wants to know about its history.

History: As early as the 1830s the United States saw the need for a route to connect the eastern part of US to California. Because of pressing issues with the south; Congress did not pass the Pacifc Railway Act until 1862. This authorized the Union Pacific to start building from Omaha, Nebraska, and the Central Pacific from Sacramento, California. The act created incentives including loans for each mile of track laid (ex. $48,000 through mountainous terrain). Also the railroad received an alternate section of public land on either side of the track. The Central Pacific had to build through the Sierra Nevada Mountains which turned very arduous; culminating in a long tunnel at the crest. The Union Pacific constructed fast across the plains but had to build over the Continental Divide. The Union Pacific used mormon workers while the Central Pacific used mainly chinese workers. The railroads did not want to join in Utah and built side by side for miles until President Grant stepped in to force the railroads to merge. On May 10, 1869, to great fanfare the nation had its first transcontinental railroad. at Promontory Point in Utah. Passenger service to California would start five days later. (info from: transcontinental_ railroad).
Sadly, the original locomotives were scrapped; however, companies in California using original photographs recreated them. They arrived in Golden Spike in 1979. An interesting video at the visitor's center chronicles the building of Jupiter and 119.
Looking toward the big fill on the CP

Drill marks in one of the cuts

The reenactment of the driving of the spike

Union Pacific 119

Central Pacific Jupiter

119 in route to staging area

Central Pacific workers laying track through Nevada