[Floodgap Roadgap presents the Summer of 6]

<< Previous entry
6 June 2006: Bishop to Benton (continued), CA
 
Next entry >>
14 June 2006: Into Nevada
 

8 June 2006: Benton and Eastern Mono County

Before the photographs, though, continuing on with the itinerary. This will be the Interstate 20 leg, leaving Atlanta.

  1. (Atlanta, GA to) Vicksburg, MS. Light photography here, mostly travel.
  2. Dallas, TX. In Dallas I'll also photograph modern US 80's terminus. This is relevant because of one Interstate I'll be focusing on specially :)
  3. Pecos, TX and transition to I-10

I'm not sure what I think about those 80mph limits in Texas that were just declared. A friend of mine makes a good point that if they're allowed to do 80, then people will do 90. This will only fly if there is strict enforcement (i.e., 81mph == ticket) and designated, well-demarcated slow lanes (I sure as heck don't want tractor trailers shooting along at 80mph; inertia can be a very dangerous thing). One good thing they thought of was to reduce the limit at night, and I'm sure some sort of basic speed law also applies, but all that being said you won't find me in the fast lane during that leg -- I don't think my Saturn is cut out for the Texas Autobahn at full throttle.

Back to the photographs:

[Thumbnail - click for 480x360 image]
At Mile 32 we see a better view of the Grand Army of the Republic logo. California is actually not too bad about signing this. (See my entry on 2 June for the history of the GAR Highway.)

[Thumbnail - click for 480x360 image]
Benton Station, incorrectly named as Benton on the sign -- I'll explain. The history of the original town of Benton is a little murky; it seems to have been named for a certain J.E. Benton, likely a local settler or prospector, of which little of his background survives. Modern Benton is not much like the original (and the original is actually around five miles west of it to boot), which grew up around the local hot springs and was established according to tradition in 1852. The discovery of silver ore led to a massive influx of prospectors in the early to mid 1860s, particularly around Blind Spring Hill to the west, and at the foot of the White Mountains to the east in another boomtown called Montgomery City. (The name Montgomery is one that we will keep hearing over and over in this region and there is no record of whom he or she is, although one suspects that Montgomery was probably yet another otherwise ordinary prospector.) Tremendous rivalry existed between the two towns, but Benton became the largest -- likely because of the springs and previous settlements -- to the point where at one time it was the largest town in Mono county. The Carson & Colorado narrow gauge rail line cemented Benton's continued existence and ensured Montgomery City's wilt into the ghost town it is today (compare with California's famous Bodie), but the railroad's planners chose to build the station a few miles east of the original town to facilitate a straighter approach. This is what is now called Benton today, whereas the original faded after the silver ore strike dwindled but still remains a picturesque though sparsely populated little hamlet a few miles down CA 120. Here is a nice photoessay of Montgomery City; here is another; here is yet another; and here is one on old Benton Hot Springs instead.

[Thumbnail - click for 480x360 image]
Junction CA 120. Highway 120 is the old Mono Mills Road in this region, passing through Old Benton and going around the south end of Mono Lake to connect with US 395 south of Lee Vining (see US 395 Part 7), and from there crossing the Tioga Pass over the Sierra Nevada into Yosemite National Park at an acrophobic 9,941'. It then enters the California Central Valley as a major plumb line arterial.

The Mono Mills was built ca. 1880 as a lumber mill town to supply the local mining concessions' thirst for building materials and especially mining mill fuel, particularly towards Aurora and most of all Bodie. A railroad link, the Bodie & Benton Railway, even connected Bodie directly to Mono Mills in 1881 to ensure the vital wood got there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this meant that Mono Mills' and Bodie's fates were inextricably linked, and when Bodie went under, so did Mono Mills; after the closing of the great Standard Mill in Bodie (the only one that has survived to the present day), Mono Mills closed as well, in 1914.

[Thumbnail - click for 480x360 image]
A view of the beautiful mountains, looking east, as we leave town.

Next Wednesday: Nevada and Boundary Peak! Also the I-10 and I-8 itineraries, completing the trip.

Main page
<< Previous entry
6 June 2006: Bishop to Benton (continued), CA
 
Next entry >>
14 June 2006: Into Nevada
 


Subscribe (RSS or E-mail!)

Main page and newest entry | All road log "blog" entries
Send E-mail to Cameron Kaiser
Back to the main Floodgap Roadgap page

Summer of 6 main page | Read the "roadblog"

Copyright © 2006-2014, Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved.
Send me your comments on Floodgap and the Summer of 6.

[Available in RSS]

[Return to Floodgap Roadgap]