John and I were having a good trip traveling the back-roads of Nevada. We visited the Valley of Fire and Death Valley. It was now time to leave Beatty and travel north on US 95 to our next overnight destination, Tonopah, NV.
We decided to meet in Tonopah at midday at the Clown Hotel, where we would spend the next two nights. On the drive between Beatty and Tonopah there were a few roadside brothels and the landscape was much more interesting than Hwy 95 between Vegas and Beatty. It also starts to cool off somewhat as the road makes a gradual ascent to higher elevations.
After climbing some small mountains, I came upon the town of Goldfield which, at one time was a booming gold mining town. Although it is the county seat of Esmeralda County, there are many abandoned houses and some mining areas that did not show much activity. My previous visit to Goldfield was several years ago when my friend Steve and I went on a road-trip to Area 51. We arrived in Goldfield mid-morning on a day of low lying fog that gave the town an eerie appearance. Compounding that appearance, we did not see a single car moving in the town or even anybody walking the streets. John said my description of that day was straight out of a Stephen King novel. While driving north on 95, I noticed a cut-off to Alkali and Silver Peak. Silver Peak was one of our options to see while we were in the area but I thought going as far as Alkali might be fun. Alkali was sorta disappointing - only some alkali flats and a small spring - so I whipped a uee and drove back toward 95. On the way there was a wild burro and also a couple of Pronghorns so the little side trip was worth it.
After meeting John at the Clown Motel in Tonopah, we piled into his 4Runner and made our way to Belmont, Nevada. A couple of years ago John had sent me an image of the old courthouse there which inspired me to want to go there. It was even cooler once we got to Belmont, a strange little place which appears to be a combination of ghost town, tourist attraction and a place littered with summer homes. We spent quite a bit of time there. John engaged some people in a conversation and found that the old hotel there had been bought by some guy but he was unable to get a liquor license so dropped plans to open it. Just another example of people's lost dreams in the desert. There are many examples of lost dreams in the Desert Southwest. Later, we sat in front of a small store/cafe before trucking back down the mountain to Tonopah and the Clown Motel.
The Clown Motel - Tonopah, Nevada
The Clown Motel is an interesting place (bikers are welcome). There is a great neon sign out front, the office front is cool and inside the office there are hundreds of clown figures stuffed onto shelves in the lobby. The Clown Motel has a big Internet presence and John and I were excited to be there to see what all the hoopla was about. Much of the myth surrounding the motel is based on people's negative response to clowns, which I have never understood, and the cemetery right next door to the motel. The second night of our visit, I walked thru the cemetery at about 11:00 PM. I was hoping for a deranged clown or crusty old miner to jump out at me but alas, I was disappointed.
We got up the next morning and started out for Silver Bow and Golden Arrow, a couple of ghost towns east of Tonopah. After about 35 miles we turned right on a dirt road to find Golden Arrow, our first stop. We followed a well-maintained dirt road until we came to its end and decided to back track to a secondary dirt road that headed south and east. John had a Nevada trails guide but the description of trails and mileages was pretty spotty, at least for the area we were in. After driving the secondary dirt road for a bit we came upon a lone, old man on a dirt bike. We got some general instructions to Golden Arrow and went on our way. In a short time we saw a herd of wild horses in the distance so we stopped to take a few shots. Getting back in my truck, I noticed one of my tires seemed low but we continued on. After arriving at Golden Arrow which only had a couple of old rock buildings with less than four walls, I looked at my tire and saw that it had gone down quite a bit. Luckily it was relatively early in the morning and we were at a higher elevation so it was not very hot. Did not break out in a sweat changing the tire but maybe was a little red-faced.
Me Changing a Flat Tire on My Truck
Soon we left for Silver Bow and after several miles we found another dirt road heading east toward a buffalo humped mountain. We took that road because the trail guide that John had featured a picture of that mountain. The road started to get a little rougher and I was concerned about not having another spare but after not making it to the Racetrack in Death Valley, I did not want to turn around. Still the thought of getting another flat and having to hoof a lotta miles back to the pavement and then hitch into Tonopah to get the tire fixed did not sit well with me. Anyway, we drove thru some beautiful country and arrived at Stinking Springs which we thought was pretty close to Silver Bow. We snapped a few images and headed down the road again. The road started to narrow quite a bit and we had to maneuver through a pine forest getting "desert stripes" on the sides of my truck. Luckily these surface scratches wash off easily but that means I have to wash my truck - not a common occurrence. Soon we came upon a meadow of high grasses. Stopping and exiting my truck, I trod over over the grasses before heading in with my truck. It was not marshy so in we went. Further on the road began to really narrow and we turned around. We never found Silver Bow. John later did some research and discovered the trail to Silver Bow turned into an ATV trail. On the way back to the pavement we saw another Pronghorn near a watering hole for cattle.
The next morning we headed off for Hawthorne, Nevada. On the way to Hawthorne, I stopped in Mina, another old mining town. One of my uncles used to live there and managed the Railroad Cafe. He had met a woman in California who owned the cafe, married her and moved to Mina. As a kid, I visited him and my cousins there on a road-trip to Utah with my grandparents. Upon entering Mina, the Railroad Cafe was not to be found nor were the railroad tracks. Drove around taking some pictures and saw a sign for a senior citizens center. I headed in that direction but noticed a woman standing outside the small post office. I asked her about the Railroad cafe. She said it burned down in 1971. She then called the oldest living person, Carol, in Mina and asked her about my uncle. Carol said that she remembered my uncle. I then hopped in my struck and headed to meet John at the hotel in Hawthorne.
After hooking up with John in Hawthorne, we took his car to make our way to Berlin, Nevada, an old mining town that is now a Nevada State Park. The drive up there was pretty nice and we were pleasantly surprised when arriving. There are mucho old buildings that have not been restored. It really did make up for not finding Silver Bow. The mill at Berlin is still mostly intact and there is even a lot of the old machinery inside. We spent a couple of hours there before heading back to Hawthorne. That night we ate at Maggies Once More restaurant. The food was good.
The next morning John took off for California and I left for Kingman. On the way home, I stopped in Pahrump to visit my aunt and uncle. It had been a few years since we last visited. My cousin Kent was also there. After spending the night I got on the road for Kingman. Could not wait to get home and have an onion and butter sandwich.
Another good trip for John and I.