2011 Nevada-Mojave Trip


Part Three: Ghost towns, a model T, and flash floods!

Skip to:   Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four

Austin, NV

A silver strike in 1862 started a rush that became the town of Austin. In 1880 the Nevada Central Railroad was built, connecting Austin with the transcontinental railroad. However, by that time the boom had peaked and major silver production ended in 1887.

Austin is currently home to about 300 people. Some high-quality turquoise is mined in the area. Austin has many historic buildings, some dating back to the 1860’s. There are fully restored structures, decrepit relics, and everything in between.

Left: I was thrilled to find this  1923 Model T Ford parked in front of a church in Austin, NV. It’s in mint condition, and I got plenty of photos.

Below: A Single-Drum Electric Hoist used at a mine in Austin. Lots of pics, a great reference for modelers!

Right: An antelope-crossing sign in the Big Smoky Valley, NV. I didn’t see much wildlife this year, due to the frequent heavy rain, but I did see a few deer and a couple of antelope.

Below: Sheer granite cliffs on the Toiyabe Range. There’s a ranch house at the foot of the mountain. How’d like to have that for your backyard?

Park Canyon, NV

In my research online, I’d read about the ruins of a mining town in Park Canyon, on the eastern flanks of the Toiyabe Range. It wasn’t on my maps, but it sound promising. I decided to check it out.

Park Canyon was founded in 1865. The town was deserted by 1870. Another mining boom brought the town back to life in 1905; this lasted until 1916.

The first thing I came to was a large, two-level ore bin near the base of the mountain, a collapsed cabin and an old boiler. After photographing these relics, I hiked up a very steep and rugged trail and found several small mines, one above the other, going up the mountainside. There were no significant structures remaining at any of these small mines.

Moving on, I found a stone dugout a short distance away. Beyond that, I finally came to the main site.

There stood the ruins of a massive stone mill, including the remains of an unusual, stone-lined and covered trench that may have been an aquaduct. Nearby are several smaller ruins, mostly stone foundations and a couple chimneys.

Behind this site is a trail leading to the mines, farther up the canyon. Trees and wildflowers line the path. I only hiked up it a short distance. There was another storm brewing and I didn’t want to get caught in the narrow canyon. I hope to explore it further next year.

Storms and Flash Floods

I returned to the highway and drove south through the Big Smoky Valley. A huge thunderstorm was crossing the valley ahead, and eventually I drove through a wide column of pounding rain punctuated by the occasional lighning bolt.

Right: Rain begins to fall over the Toiyabe Range.

By the time I reached the junction of Highway 377, I was out of the storm’s core. The highway runs eastward into the Toquima Range, to the town of Manhattan, NV. Just minutes early the storms had dumped a load of rain on the Manhattan area. As I drove up the highway I suddenly encountered a torrent of water and debris flowing alongside the road, and beginning to come up over the road.

The flash flood had gone right down the street through the middle of Manhattan. Water, mud and debris were still flowing down the street as I drove through the old mining town.

Click on one of the photos to see additional images.

I have a brief video of the storm and flooding, which you can see below or click the following link to watch it at YouTube:

2011 Flash Flood Video

Consolidated Gulch - Manhattan, NV

On the outskirts of Manhattan is a place called Consolidated Gulch, the site of several mines and extensive mill and smelter ruins tucked away in the mountains. I had explored part of it last year, without realizing I had missed the main site. I only recently found out about the site while doing research for this year’s trip.

When I arrived it was raining steadily, with thunder rumbling and crackling across the mountains. Despite the conditions I was still able to get quite a few photos of these interesting ruins, which you can see by clicking on the images shown here.

Upon leaving the Manhattan area, I continued eastward through the mountains, stopping briefly at Belmont before turning south. I stopped at Tonopah to refuel.

By then the rain had stopped, so I started out westward on Highway 6. My plan was to return to Silver Peak. Two days earlier the rain had thwarted my efforts to visit the Mohawk Mine, so I was hoping to try again.

Alas, I ran into another massive storm. This one had completely washed out the highway between Tonopah and Silver Peak,  so I was forced to turn back.

Below: Storm clouds west of Tonopah, NV.

There were storms all around Tonopah, and I was leery of camping at any nearby sites if there was a chance the trail might get washed away during the night, leaving me stranded. So I drove east, the only direction where it wasn’t already raining.

Eventually I got to an area with clear skies, but it was a largely featureless expanse of desert with no good campsites at hand, and the only interesting historic sites were places I had never visited before. I wasted quite a bit of time trying to find three of those sites, but under the dark, moonless skies I was getting nowhere.

Finally I gave up and turned west again, and was surprised to find the storms had dissipated and the skies were clearing. By this time it was very late and I desperately needed sleep, so I stopped at a place called McKinney Tanks (below). I had explored and thoroughly photographed this site last year, but at least it was easy to find and the lone cottonwood tree would provide enough shade to let me sleep past sunrise. It was after 3:00 a.m. when I got bedded down.

Go to Page 4 to read more about my 2011 Nevada trip:

Nevada Trip 2011 Part Four

At last -- the Mohawk Mine!

Go Back To Part Two


Return to Ghost Towns Page

Return to Photography and Graphics page

Right: A wild horse crossing sign near McKinney Tanks.