Friday, April 27, 2012

Ione, Nevada April 2, 2012

                                                 The now defunct Mercantile

Location: The unincorporated community of Ione, Nevada, is located approximately 40 miles south of Austin, Nevada, and 15 miles from Berlin-Icthyosaur State Park. For any ghost town enthusiast it is worth a stop. There are a number of interesting buildings and ruins in town. Remember this is remote country. Carry extra water and food. There are NO services in Ione. The nearest services are in Austin or Gabbs, Nevada.

History: Ione came into existence in 1863 with the discovery of silver in the Shoshone Range. While Berlin and Union would be the center of mining for the district; Ione developed as a center of trade and milling.In 1864 the town received $800 to build Nye County's first courthouse. In 1867 the discovery of rich ore in Belmont caused many residents to move away. Soon Belmont would become the county seat. The town soon died as well. Through the years a number of small revivals in mining have occurred but nothing has lasted  more than two years. (Information from

                                         Crumbling building

                                    Sign for a now defunct gas station

                              Boarded up buildings along mainstreet                      

Cold Springs Pony Express Station April 4, 2012

                                   Looking towards Highway 50 with the ruins in the foreground

General Information: Located about 50 miles west of Austin, Nevada, is the the Cold Springs Pony Express Station. This station is regarded as one of the best preserved in Nevada. The ruins are accessible by a four mile round trip hike. The trail head is on Highway 50 and not hard to find. The hike itself is straight forward and the path is not hard to follow. Remember to carry water during the summer months and watch out for rattlesnakes. They will leave you alone if you leave them alone.(info from trail side kiosk and

Short history: The Pony Express was a way to transport mail across the United States- from Missouri to California- before the creation of the Telegraph. It lasted only a year from April 1860 to October 1861. The company charged $5 an ounce to deliver. Along the route stations were built every 10-35 miles to change horses and for riders to rest. Stations were chosen because of their close proximity to water and building materials. Riders typically never rode more than 70 miles however; on a few occasions riders rode over 100 miles if a station was burned down or during an emergency. The Pony Express ceased to exist when the telegraph came into operation. The Cold Springs Station was quite large 116 feet by 51 feet. Workers made the station out of rocks and mud. It was heavily fortified to repel the cold and Indian attacks. This station had 4-6 foot walls and gun ports at various locations.

                                        The station with desert country around it

                                                   The station was large

                                                What probably was the kitchen

                                             One of the gun ports used to defend the station

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Grimes Point Petroglyphs April 4, 2012

I left Berlin-Icthyosaur State Park and drove back to Highway 50. When I arrived on Highway 50 I realized that I was only 40 miles from one of the premier boulder petroglyph sites in northern Nevada- Grimes Point. While time and vandalism has taken a toll on some of the rock art; a visitor can still observe dozens of beautiful symbols.

Location and general information: Grimes Point is located 10 miles to the east of Fallon, Nevada, directly off of Highway 50. Ammenities include a parking lot with restrooms and picknick tables. A one mile petroglyph trail gives visitors a chance to see some of the more prominent rock art. A longer trail over two miles in length circles Grimes Point, giving visitors a view of the surrounding area. Hidden Cave is open to visitors during tours.

Short history of the area: Historians believe that Grimes Point was first visited by Native Americans 8,000 years ago when much of Nevada was covered by a network of lakes. In this area would have been ancient Lake Lahotan. As the lake began to dry up, many prehistoric animals would have used this area to find food. The presence of wildlife and water would have attracted Native Americans to the area. One theory for the creation of rock art is that it was part of a ritual which helped to ensure a successful hunting trip. On this blog I have included some of my favorite pictures from Grimes Point. (Information from Hiking Nevada By Bruce Grubbs and )

Berlin-Icthyosaur State Park April 3, 2012

Looking south at the ghost town site of Berlin

Location: Berlin-Icthyosaur State Park is located approximately 23 miles east of Gabbs (route 844) and 57 miles south of Austin, Nevada, on state road 21 (dirt). It is in an extremely remote location so make sure to bring extra food, water and gass.

General Information: The state park was established in 1957 to protect the highest concentration and largest icthyosaur fossils in the world. It also protects the 20th century mining town of Berlin, Nevada. It costs $10 to camp for one night and $7 to enter the park. A picknick area is available for day users. Nearest services are in Gabbs, Nevada, NO services are in the park. The fossil shelter tour is 40 minutes long and runs Memorial Day through Labor Day. The ranger will make accomodations for anyone who arrives in the off-season. Tours of the Diana Mine are avaliable during the summer.

Hiking: The ghost towns of Berlin and Union, Nevada, have an extensive sign system- about 88- which tell the history of many of the buildings. There is also a five mile trail to a remote mine in the Shoeshone mountains.

This post is about the ghost town of Berlin; the following post will be about the Icthyosaur fossils.

Berlin history: Mining activity first occured in May 1863 when prospectors discovered silver in Union Canyon. Within a year the mining camp of Union had formed. In 1864 the original prospectors created the Union Mining District which encompassed many of the communities in the area including: Ione, Union, Grantsville and later Berlin.

In 1896 the Nevada Company bought all the claims in the area and also established the Berlin Mine.Within a year the town of Berlin became more important than Union. The Berlin and Diana mines produced gold until 1908 when the town began to wane by 1911 Berlin had become a ghost town. At its heighth Berlin and Union had approximately 250 residents. Total gold production was around $849,000. (Information from state park brochure and informational signs).

Original hoist works in the mountains

The 30 stamp mill at Berlin

Side view of the Machinists shop with Assayer's shop in foreground.

Looking inside the Machinist's shop

Headstone in cemetery with valley. Only five people died in Berlin; three of which were children.

Icthyosaur Fossil Shelter April 3, 2012

Me with the head of an icthyosaur

I was fortunate to arrive at the state park with another party who had voiced interest in taking the tour at the Icthyosaur Fossil Shelter. The ranger at the park was kind enough to give the three of us a 40 minute tour of fossil beds. On the tour we learned about the natural history of the icthyosaurs and their discovery in the park.

Natural History of the icthyosaur reptile: The icthyosaur was a prehistoric marine reptile (lived during the time of the dinosaur) that ranged in size from two feet to over 50 feet in length. Fossils of the reptile have been found on every continent except for Antartica. They predominately ate mollusks, belemnites, and fish. The icthyosaurs in the Shoshone Range are the largest in the world at 50 feet.

Discovery: Dr. Siemon Muller discovered the fossils in 1928. Excavations began in 1954 under Charles Camp and Samuel Welles of UC Berkely. By the mid 1960s researchers had excavated a total of 40 icthyosaurs. Today three fossilized icthyosaurs are viewable in the Icthyosaur Fossil Shelter. (Information from state park brochure and informational signs).

If you look closely you can see me. This picture shows the size of the reptile.

Big vertebrate in a line. Marked with a W.

More fossils marked with the letters L and M

The shelter at the park

Representation of the skeleton of an icthyosaur

Austin Cemetery April 2, 2012

Beautiful gravestone in the cemetery. This individual immigrated from Ireland.

Eighty miles east of Eureka on US Route 50 is the historic community of Austin, Nevada. It is a small community with no grocery store but a number of hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
Within the town limits are a number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. I am drawn to Austin because time slows down and I can get away from the hustle and bustle of normal life. On this blog I have included photos from the famous and beautiful Austin cemetery at the base of the Toquima Range.

Short History: Austin was founded in 1862 with the dicovery of silver in the area. Within a year the Reese River Mining District had a population of 10,000. With a growth in population came saloons, hotels, stores, a hospital and many restaurants. In 1880 the Nevada Central Railroad built a railroad from Battle Mountain to connect Austin with the Transcontinental railroad. Mining continued until 1887 when the mines became unprofitable. In 1950 the Federal Government had interest in mining Uranium but it was of low quality. Today, a geothermal power plant is built close to town. (Information from Austin Chamber of Commerce)

The cemetery looking north

Ornate gravestone in cemetery

Austin cemetery

Tree of Utah (also known as The Tree of Life) April 2012

On my way back and forth to Salt Lake City, Utah, I have passed "The Tree of Life" many times. Before now it signified 26 miles left until arrival in West Wendover, Nevada. The sculpture is accessible from west bound lanes; however, watch for traffic on Interstate 80 if you are going to stop.

History: The sculpture was dedicated in 1986 by Swedish artist Karl Momen. Inscribed on a plaque at the base of the tree are words from Ode to Joy by Fredrich Schiller. Recently workers built a fence around it to keep visitors from getting too close.