First a word of advice for those of you who wish to travel through our desert area. The desert can be treacherous, in winter as well as in summer. There is no water, carry it with you. If you get stranded in the desert stay with your vehicle, it is easy to spot from the air. Let people know where you plan to go and at what time you plan to return. We have had cases, more than once, where hikers died within half a mile of water. Hikers in the Grand Canyon seem especially vulnerable. Hundreds have died there. A book is available that lists all those tragic cases.

Do not mess around abandoned mines or mine shafts. They are prone to cave-ins, support timbers are rotten, water fills the bottom etc. Once you slide into one of the shafts it is lights out, in more ways than one.

Leave those desert critters alone!  They have a tough time surviving in our deserts. Besides, it is against the law to pick up those desert turtles.

Two types of snakes that are poisonous the Coral snake and the the Rattler.  The Rattler is dormant during the winter and hides in the shade during the hot summer months. Some of the various rattlers around here are the Mojave Desert Sidewinder, the Mojave Rattler, the Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, the Western Diamondback, the most dangerous of them all. The Rattler is extremely dangerous when provoked. Luckily he doesn’t like people and tries to take off whenever possible. He also mostly strikes low, below the knees. That’s why folks who live in these areas wear cowboy boots.  See, I knew there was a good reason for wearing them. Should you get bitten you might as well kiss your behind goodbye. You have two to three minutes to get help, after that it is all over. Luckily most of the bites are so called “dry hits” where no venom is released at all. Coral snakes I never encountered, but I have been assured they are around. There is also a poisonous lizard, I have never seen one of those either. Then there is the latest import: killer bees (a.k.a. Africanized honey bees). If you stumble across them in the desert there is no advice I can give you. Tarantulas look dangerous but are harmless. Scorpions are around too. I’ve had them in the house. They inflict a nasty sting but are not deadly unless you are allergic. Isn’t all this uplifting? It is not as bad as it sounds so long as you take the proper precautions.Two types of spiders. The Black Widow is recognized by the red hourglass on its belly. I have had many of them in my house. The Brown Recluse (it actually is the Western Recluse), hides in dark spots, clothing etc. Said to be pretty dangerous. The Mountain Lion, also called the Puma, Catamount, Silver Lion, etc. lives in the mountains and usually stays away from people. When cornered or surprised it could get nasty. Coyotes roam all of these deserts. I have seen them here in town many times. They go after cats and other domestic animals. They usually travel alone and cover vast distances, trying to stay alive. There are also Black Bears in the hills (anything under 10,000ft is a hill around here.). Not so much in Southern Nevada, but more around Reno and Lake Tahoe. L.T. actually has a bear problem with marauding black bears looking for food.


Old Nevada

1 Gun Fighter Lane, Tel: 702-875-4191

This is a man made attraction, built for the tourist industry If you want to see the real thing then read my stories below.

Drive west on State Route 160, take the Red Rock turn off, follow the signs. I like it out there. Sure it is a replica, sure it is not the real thing. But you have horses, ducks, goats, a buffalo, pseudo old buildings, guys dressed like cowboys, gun fights, hangings and more. There is a restaurant, a small motel, mini railroad. All in all a very cozy setting. And the scenery is unbelievable. And it is next to the Krupp Ranch. Yes the munitions Krupp. They are long gone and the ranch now belongs to the State and is open to the public. The whole area is perfect for hiking, biking, rock climbing and just hanging out. And you might just spot real wild horses and wild burros. Go ahead, explore for a few hours. Perfect for our friends from Euroland too.


If you have the time, the interest and the inclination to see more of the remnants of the Old West as it played out here in Nevada, and adjoining states you could take up on a few of my suggestions in the following list. If the above does not turn you on! Some of those places are in AZ and/or California.


Boulder City

One of the first “planned” cities in the U.S. It was built to house the workforce that built the Hoover Dam and was designed by a Dutch landscape architect Saco Rienk de Boer (I am of Dutch descent myself). It still has many of the original buildings. The Hoover Dam was a joint project of the Fed. government and the states of Calif. and Nevada. Because of that one can find two distinct building “designs” or “styles”. The dam was constructed during the Great Depression and workers flocked in from all over the U.S. Those were desperate days and the many stories and pictures of those days can be seen at the Hoover Dam museum which is located inside the historic Boulder Dam Hotel on Arizona St. in downtown Boulder City.


Nelson and Nelson’s Landing

Nelson is in the vicinity of Searchlight, off Highway 95 south of Boulder City. Lots of old stuff and buildings. Folks get some income from the odd photoshoot and film making. Nelsons Landing (or should I say the earstwhile Nelsons Landing)?, is (was) in a narrow canyon, prone to flash floods. They were told to move from there but they refused. Sure enough, a flash flood came down and the whole shebang wound up in Lake Mead.


Oatman

This is a very interesting small town. Constructed entirely of wood it is a miracle of survival. Most, or probably all, towns constructed that way in Nevada burned to the ground. Either by accident or by vandalism. It is actually in California I believe and sits on the old Rte.66. Two ways to get there. You could follow Highway 93 into Kingman, AZ and then follow the markers that direct you to Rte.66. That road, once you leave Kingman is treacherous and full of curves and has mostly no passing lanes. I would avoid it. The other direction is as follows. Take H’way 93/’95 south out of Las Vegas. Before you get to Boulder City take the turnoff onto 95S. This route will take you past Searchlight and into Laughlin, NV. Searchlight is locally famous because it is the home of Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader. If you were to stop in at the small casino and coffee shop you may run into him. He is there frequently.Once in Laughlin you should cross the Colorado River and continue South until you get to Fort Mojave. There you will see a sign pointing towards Oatman. I would not go there in the summer months, it gets blazing hot. Temperatures of around 120F are not rare. I figure the one way trip to be about 125 miles, more or less. There are numerous resting/dining places and gas stations on this route.


Jerome

Jerome, Arizona “America’s Most Vertical City” and “Largest Ghost Town in America”.

A Tale of Mines, Men, and Money The Early Years Jerome was built on Cleopatra Hill above a vast deposit of copper. Prehistoric Native Americans were the first miners, seeking colored stones. The Spanish followed, seeking gold but finding copper. Anglos staked the first claims in the area in 1876, and United Verde mining operations began in 1883, followed by the Little Daisy claim. Jerome grew rapidly from tent city to prosperous company town as it followed the swing of the mine’s fortunes. The mines, the workers, and those who sought its wealth, formed Jerome’s colorful history. Americans, Mexicans, Croatians, Irish, Spaniards, Italians, and Chinese made the mining camp a cosmopolitan mix that added to its rich life and excitement. Jerome was the talk of the Territory, a boom town of its time, the darling of promoters and investors. The mines were nourished and exploited by financiers who brought billions of dollars in copper, gold, and silver from its depths. Changing times in the Territory saw pack burros, mule drawn freight wagons, and horses replaced by steam engines, autos, and trucks. Fires ravaged the clapboard town and landslides destroyed whole sections. Jerome was always rebuilt. At the mercy of the ups and downs of copper prices, labor unrest, depressions and wars, Jerome’s mines finally closed in 1953.

From Las Vegas take the Hwy. 93 to Kingman AZ, about 85 miles. From Kingman Rte. 66 north,and turn off onto Rte. 89.


Pioche

It’s a living ghost town — about 900 people, though it had 8,000 people in it’s 1860s mining boomtown days.Pioche ( pronounced – pee-oach) is located 180 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Hanging on the side of a mountain in Nevada’s high desert, it enjoys old-west charm, mild summertime temperatures, fine trout fishing, hunting, and some of Nevada’s most scenic state parks. I get quite a kick out of all those abandoned mines around there. Mine buckets still hanging on cable running across the street. The have the original “Boot Hill, an old opera house and that infamous “Million Dollar Courthouse”.


Pioneer Saloon

In Sandy Valley. The bar consisted of three parts originally. It was built in the east and shipped around the Horn. One part was lost a t sea, one part burned and the third part is what you see. B.t.w. , Sandy Valley has no post office. All mail for that location is delivered to Primm, NV.


Rhyolite

Of the many ghost towns in Nevada, Rhyolite by far lives up to the name. No one lives here. The tall stone and concrete buildings are in ruins. You can’t buy anything, stay anywhere or fill up your gas tank. But for photographers and people with a love for the Old West, Rhyolite is a dream. The few standing walls with their gaping windows are picturesque—and pretty much all that’s left of the once-thriving, early 20th-century city. The concrete jail, with its big iron door and barred windows, is still in good shape. A few wooden structures perch precariously. A house made of beer bottles twinkles in the sun. I recall a railroad depot being there too. That was in good shape last time I visited, some years ago.


St. Thomas

This town was abandoned when the rising waters of Lake Mead reached it. Its ruins can be seen from time to time during periods of drought when the lake experiences low water. It is in Nevada at the north shore of Lake Mead.


Tonopah

Ever heard of Wyatt Earp? Well, he served as either U.S. Marshall or Sheriff in this town. Wyatt was a shootist and became quite famous because of the “gunfight at the OK Corral” in Tombstone ,Arizona Territory. I have seen several movie versions of it. He was involved in a few shootouts but never received as much as a scratch. He died peacefully, in his sleep, in Los Angeles, California sometime in the 1920’s I believe.For detailed information contact “Nevada Silver Trails” Another thing to keep in mind, Tonopah is at about 7,000 ft elevation, enough for you to bring a jacket, even in the summer. T. is about 125 miles north of Las Vegas. There is also a town called “WYATT” in California. Everything there is Wyatt. Then there is Jack Dempsey, famous pugilist, who was the bartender and bouncer at the Mizpah Hotel back in the day.


Goldfield

The last major gold rush in the West. A lot of the old buildings are still standing, notably the hotel. The whole thing lasted but a few years. A soon as the mines petered out all those folks moved on. Had to, no way to make a living any longer.

It was also the scene of a historic boxing match. Goldfield’s Golden Battle: The Centennial Anniversary of Joe Gans – Battling Nelson, Labor Day Sep 2, 1906.

The fight lasted an astounding 45 rounds, something unheard of these days.The fight was decided by a low blow.


Battle Mountain

The last major encounter between white settlers and Native Americans took place here. They were the “Ghost Dancers” so called because they wore white shirts. Some shaman had told them it would make them invulnerable/bullet proof. That did not work out very well. I think their leader, a shaman, called himself “Wowoja” (?) Im not sure about the spelling.


Berlin

Yes, we do have a Berlin. One of about 32 Berlins around the U.S. It is located in the center of the state and is home to the Ichthyosauros State Park. I have never been there myself but I have heard good things about it. Quite a few skeletons of those ancient dragons were found here. Check with the Nevada State Park Service. Oh, Berlin itself, or what remains of it, is also mostly a ghost town. It is very hard to reach over long, lonely roads. Not much going on in central Nevada. No water, no life! While most ghost towns in the West are left to the wear and tear of weather and time, Berlin is preserved by the State of Nevada. In this turn-of-the-20th-century mining camp you can peek into wooden miners’ cabins and see what it might have been like to live in these flimsy quarters. If you have any questions, a Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park ranger will gladly answer them.


Belmont

Dominating the skyline in Belmont, a 19th-century mining camp where ruins outnumber residents, is the 1876 Nye County Courthouse. The county conducted its official business here until 1905, when the county seat was moved to Tonopah. The two-story brick building is the centerpiece of the Belmont Courthouse State Historic Site. Belmont’s old metal jail cells with their heavy iron doors are stashed behind the courthouse. You can step inside the cells to get a feel of how uncomfortable it was to be a jailbird in the old days—baking in the summer and freezing in the winter. The best time to visit Belmont is in the summer. In fact, July 4th is the ideal day to stop by this central Nevada town. That’s when former Belmonters come home for a big Independence Day party.