2010 Nevada-Mojave Trip


Part Three: More adventures through history!

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McGill, NV

A few miles north of Ely is the town of McGill (above). McGill is a former company town, and was the site of a large copper smelter that processed ore from the mines west of Ely.

The smelter was shut down in the late 1970’s. Its giant, 600’ tall smokestacks remained as landmarks, visible for miles around, until they were demolished in 1993.

McGill is also home to the McGill Drugstore Museum, a preserved, old-fashioned drugstore complete with soda fountain.

Ward, NV

Several miles south of Ely is the site of Ward, an early mining town dating back to the 1870’s. Very little remains of the town, but the cemetery is interesting.

Three miles further south are the famous Ward Charcoal Ovens. Built in the mid-1870’s to produce charcoal for the smelters at Ward, they are now part of a state park.

There is a fee of $7 just to go look at them, so I just snapped a telephoto shot from the parking area and left. By comparison, it only costs $5 to visit the Tonopah Mining Museum, and you could easily spend hours looking at all the things they have there.

Baker, NV

Baker is a very small town in extreme eastern Nevada, just a few miles from the Utah state line. It is the main entry to the Great Basin National Park.

There are several interesting old buildings to see here -- some inhabited, and others in decay.

One that I found particularly intriguing is this old railroad car which is being converted into a home (below). I would love to find out more about it, such as when it was built and what railroad it came from.

Ford F-800 Tank Truck

If you’re into old trucks, you’ll like this. It’s an old Ford F-800 tank truck I spotted in Baker, NV. I think it may have been a sewage hauler, for emptying septic tanks. It has a 1964 license plate on the front. Click the photo for more images of this truck.

Above: Another incredible sunset! This was shot from just across the state line, in Utah.

Osceola, NV

After spending the evening attempting to photograph a distant thunderstorm, I ended up camping in the mountains north of Osceola, and explored the site in the morning.

Gold was discovered here in 1872. A vast placer deposit was discovered in 1877 which really stirred things up. By 1900 mining activity was dwindling and the town began to wither. The post office shut down in 1920. A fire in the 1950’s destroyed nearly all the wooden buildings in the town.

Mining has continued sporadically over the years. There are several old mines in the area, as well as a few active mining operations.

The Osceola cemetery is also of interest, with many well-preserved old headstones and some cast iron fences.

While exploring the cemetery, I came across this beautiful Great Basin gopher snake. He was very calm and let me handle him as easily as a pet. Go to my Desert Wildlife page to see more images of this snake, or click this YouTube link to see video:

See Ray’s gopher snake video on YouTube

Sawmill Canyon, NV

From Osceola I returned to Ely to refuel, then headed south into Cave Valley. From there I took a trail that cut westward across the Egan Range via Sawmill Canyon.

Eventually I came to this small, unnamed mining camp. There were two or three old mine tunnels nearby, but none were safe to explore.

I also took a side trip up an incredibly long, narrow, winding trail to the Johnson Boys Mine.  But that was a dud -- just one collapsed tunnel, and no buildings or ruins.

Below: I came across this strange sight on Highway 375, near the junction of Highway 318 south of Hiko, NV.

Warm Springs Mine, NV  

I spent the night at this small mine on a ridge near Warm Springs, NV. It had a somewhat unusual structure. Ore was dumped via a chute into a very small ore bin attached to a building. Apparently the ore was inspected and sorted by hand inside the buiding.

After leaving the mine, I explored some of the trails in the area and spotted two bighorn sheep. I briefly became stuck after reaching a dead-end.  I had come down a steep hill on the way in. On the way out, I couldn’t get up the hill without four-wheel drive.

I made three attempts to get up the hill before giving up and making my own trail, cross-country. I had to scout out the route on foot first. Fortunately the terrain was not too rough, with only minimal vegetation.

While scouting out the route, I saw this large collared lizard sunning on a rock.

McKinney Tanks, NV

My next stop was a place called McKinney Tanks (below). There I found the ruins of a stone building, plus a small dugout and a stone foundation near the large cottonwood tree.

While I was there I hiked up to the top of a large stone bluff and found that someone had recently embedded two sets of steel bolts into the rock.

But wait, there’s more! Go to Page 4 to read more about my 2010 Nevada trip:

Nevada Trip 2010 Part Four

From ghost towns to a ghost airfield... more adventures through history!

Go Back To Part Two


Return to Ghost Towns Page

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Right: New bolts embedded in the top of the bluff.