View Full Version : Northern Nevada Expedition - Part 3: Lovelock, Austin, Park Canyon & Ophir

08-05-2012, 07:47 AM
Our last day in Tahoe just happend to be on a Friday and, rather than just make a bee line back home, Cindy and I decided to take a round about route and use up the whole weekend to get there. And, being that there was still so much more that we've been wanting to see and explore in Northern Nevada, that's where we headed off to - northeast along the historic Emigrant Trail, out to explore the area surrounding Lovelock, down to Fallon, east to Austin, south to Tonopah and then back into California via Highway 6. It was an epic journey taking two days to do but man, was it ever awesome! Here are some photos highlighting our trip back, I hope you enjoy.

Day 1
East of Fernley and north of I-80, there's an area near the old mining town site of Jessup that is known to the locals as, the Devils Postpile. Similar to the one in Mammoth Lakes, CA, this area has acres of pentagonal shaped rock formations which are essentially, crystalized lava flows...







Perched up on rocks everywhere were these guys checking us out...



On the move again, we hopped onto the old Emigrant Trail right where the Carson Route separates from the Truckee River Route...

What's so cool about this trail is that there are cool markers like this bearing information and quotes from weary travlers from a long time ago...

Along the way, we took a side spur to explore an old Indian cave known as Ocala Cave...


Deep inside the cave, the temperature was a lot cooler than the 100 out in the sun...

It's hard to imagine that over 10,000 years ago, Rubicat would have been sitting under about 50 feet of water right here...

Further east, we came to the point where the Emigrant trail split off into Carson Route and the Trukee River Route...

Of course, there was a neat marker here as well...

I can only image what it was like to cross this rugged terrain in a covered wagon in the middle of summer - If you look carefully, you can see where the waterline of the ancient Lake Lahontan was sat at about half way up the mountain in the distant...

On the move again and heading further east...


If there was any doubt, this is a route that is most definitely less traveled...



Taking yet another side route, we headed out to the archaeologically important, Lovelock Indian Cave...

Back in 1924, archaeologist Llewellen Loud and Mark Harrington excavated 40 storage pits in this cave that yielded over 20,000 ancient artifacts including sandals, fishing tackle and if you can believe it, duck decoys. Today, you can explore this cave on a modern wooden deck...



That's pretty much all we were able to get in for Day 1 of our 3rd Northern Nevada Expedition. If you would like to see all the photos we took along the way, simply click on the link below:

Northern Nevada Expedition - Part 3a Photo Gallery
Devils Post Pile, Emigrant Trail & Lovelock Indian Cave (http://project-jk.com/wpg2?g2_itemId=293486)


08-05-2012, 05:11 PM
Day 2
The 2nd day of our round about route home would take us further east along Highway 50, the Loneliest Highway, and well into the heart of Northern Nevada. Our first stop along the way would be to the old mining town of Austin, which in so many ways looks like a place frozen in time...

View of downtown looking back west...

Unfortunately, the hardware store was closed so we couldn't get validated...

Taking a steep trail that gives you a good view of the town from above...


Back in 1897, people used to build monuments commemorating themselves and this summer home, known as the Stokes Castle, was made for J.G and Anson Stokes who were inspired by Italian castles they once saw...



Leaving the Stokes Castle and heading out to our next destination...

Heading south, we pulled into the small town of Kingston. There, we found this great fixer-upper. It's a little drafty but, with a few minor repairs, I think it would be a great buy...

Further south, we headed back into the Toiyabe Range to explore an old ghost town that legend says, back in 1867, Queen Liliuokalani, the deposed Hawaiian monarch, lived in and owned several mining claims...


Estabilshed back in 1863, Park Canyon was worked on and off until 1941 producing primarily silver ore. In 1867, a 10-stamp mill was established in this enormous stone and brick building that overlooks the Big Smokey Valley...






Nearby, there are multiple foundations that belonged to homes in the area and this one still had a better part of its stone built chimney...

With all the work being done in the mines, it's amazing that anyone back then would take the time to do nice stone work like this...

Not sure what kind of berries these are but, there were several trees bearing them surrounding one of the homes...

Heading south down the Toiyabe Range, our next stop would be over at old ghost town of Ophir. Heading up the canyon, we first made a stop over at the Ophir cemetery...




Laying on top of this grave is a large piece of granite with details of its occupant crudely inscribed into the stone...


Back in 1865, a 5 mile wagon road leading into Ophir was constructed for the sum of $8,000. This was a lot of money back then and the extreme cost was due to the steep grade, 10 degrees in some places, and 9 bridges that were needed to cross the creek flowing through the canyon. Of course, today the road is more of a brushy but fun trail for any Jeep...

In its heyday, the town of Ophir was quite a big town and had about 400 residents, a post office, school, church, various lodges and saloons...

View looking up Ophir Canyon and at all the mine tailings...

In 1867, the Twin Rivers Mining Company constructed a massive stone 20-stamp mill near the Murphy Mine and at a cost of $200,000. Today, this is all that remains of it...




Amazingly, the town of Ophir was also the location of the very first Stetefeldt furnace ever built...


All along the hillside, the remains of stone built homes can be found...





People had to be resourceful and used everything from old pipes, kerosene cans and even boiler plates to make their homes...

The doorway to this home still had blacksmithed hinges...

Under close examination, pieces of really old denim that were once used as weather stripping could also be found as well...

Of the few beams that still remain in the structures here, many still bear tooling marks left behind while squaring off whole logs...

The processing of ore required some deadly chemicals to be used...

Down on Main Street, most all the building in this town were made out of local stone and brick...



Here you can still see pieces of plaster and floor joints sticking out of the wall...


Hard to say for sure but, this signature appeared to have been left behind a long time ago...

With the sun going down, it was time to head on out...

Here's a parting shot of equipment near the mouth of the canyon that was left behind from a more recent resurgence in mining activity back in the 1970's and 80's...

I hope you enjoyed our final Expedition across the Northern Nevada Desert for the summer. If you would like to see all the photos we took along the way, simply click on the link below:

Northern Nevada Expedition - Part 3b Photo Gallery (http://project-jk.com/wpg2?g2_itemId=294035)


08-05-2012, 07:52 PM
I managed to get my girl to stop cleaning and look at the three parts of this adventure. She was in aw. She looked at me and asked how come we haven't done something like this. I had that deer in the head lights look and said......I don't know. I never really gave these long adventures much thought until recently. She was wondering how you guy do it. If you camped. Or how exactly you managed to enjoy so many places. She said you must carry tons of food and camp gear. I just don't get it. That's when I told here these were day trips and at the end of the day you would roll out and head to town to a cozy hotel room. That's when she slapped my shoulder. As she swung she said...you never do that. We always camp for days at a time. At that moment, I just slid my chair out of reach and smiled. All I could think was........so much for camping. :)

08-05-2012, 08:09 PM
LOL!! we love camping but sometimes, it's nice to end your day in a nice town, get cleaned up and have a good hot meal. it just takes planning and, more times than not, trips like these give us ideas as to where would be fun places to camp. :cool:

08-05-2012, 08:38 PM
You know what's going to suck. Now my girl has a link to this thread and she will bust my balls if I try and bullshit her. About this kind of trip. Lol.

All kidding aside. Maybe next year I can plan a week long trip with some of your input. I think both my wife and daughter would love this kind of trip.

Once again, thanks for the three part thread. We all here at home really enjoy seeing your adventure.

08-05-2012, 08:58 PM
This has got to be the first time I've seen the top on RubiCat! LOL. Great images. I look forward to your little trip reports and images.

08-06-2012, 02:04 AM
You know what's going to suck. Now my girl has a link to this thread and she will bust my balls if I try and bullshit her. About this kind of trip. Lol.

All kidding aside. Maybe next year I can plan a week long trip with some of your input. I think both my wife and daughter would love this kind of trip.

Once again, thanks for the three part thread. We all here at home really enjoy seeing your adventure.

LOL!! again, while camping is tons of fun, there's a lot that can be done with a little planning. :yup:

08-06-2012, 06:00 AM
What a great pictorial trip. Looks like you guys took in a lot of sights and did some cool historical sight seeing in between some "light" wheeling :)

Thanks for sharing your adventure with us Eddie and Cindy. Gives me something to look forward to when the kiddos get a bit older.