Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shafter Valley November 3, 2011

The Jeep in the ghost town of Shafter next to the Union Pacific

Directions: There are two ways to get to the ghost towns of Decoy and Shafter. First way, take I-80 west 22 miles until the Silverzone exit. Follow dirt road eight miles until Shafter. From Shafter take a rough dirt road south following the Nevada Northern south. Second way, take Rt. 93 south of Wendover, Nevada, approximately 38 miles. Turn onto dirt road at sign for Dolly Varden. Follow dirt road skirting the Dolly Varden Range until you reach the Nevada Northern. Follow unincorporated dirt road next to Nevada Northern.

The trip: I have been planning this trip for a while but I needed a vehicle with high clearance. The dirt road in the valley is extremely rough. The ruins in Decoy and Shafter are interesting to see and the views of the Goshute Range on the eastern side of the valley and Dolly Varden range on the western side are extraordinary. In the southern end of the valley I saw a herd of wild horses and antelope. Remember this is remote desert country carry extra water, full tank of gass, extra food and a good atlas. Mileage from start to finish was approx. 80 miles.

History: Decoy-Prior to 1917, Decoy was a siding which served a few dry farms nearby however, these farms would fail because of drought and rabbits. In 1917 the Decoy mining company started mining manganese ore eight miles to the east. From 1917 to 1918 4,500 tons of ore were shipped on the railroad. The mines folded after three years. At its heighth Decoy had a loading platform and a small population associated with the railroad.

Shafter was a small railroad community on the Western Pacific and the Nevada Northern. In 1909 forty people lived in town and businesses sprang up. Both railroads also had section houses and maintenance buildings in town. A school opened in 1909 and did not close until 1933. In 1950 Shafter started to decline as businesses moved away. By 1957 all businesses had closed. Today, there is very little left of either community. (Information from: Old Heart of Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining camps of Elko County by Shawn Hall)

Signal tower on Nevada Northern south of Shafter
The Jeep in Nevada desert

Abandoned tracks to the south of Decoy

Foundation in Decoy

Remnants of loading platform in Decoy with Goshutes in background

Cool pic of NNR tracks and Nevada scenery
The siding at Decoy
Old crossing gate