Now that that's done, on with the show. The writeup is going to be a little
sparser on this entry because I'm not able to research well on a 56K modem,
and there is a rather unpleasant lightning storm going on outside as I
write this that I would rather not have the iBook connected to. (People who
know me also know how irrational I get with lightning. -_- )
Leaving my folks' house in San Diego along I-15, the modern replacement
of US 395 south of Hesperia (mostly, see Old
Highway 395 for the full discussion). Old US 395 can be seen faintly
to the right of the modern freeway.
Note the GPS is not suctioned to the windscreen thanks to California's
stupid law about not having things suctioned to the windscreen, that no
other state except Minnesota cares about!
The modern terminus of US 395. We exit here to get to Bishop.
Crossing the Owens River as we leave Bishop. The Owens River and Owens Valley
and Owens Lake were all named ultimately for Richard Owens, a member of
John C. Fremont's 1845 survey party. We talk about the exploits of Fremont in
US 395 Part 2.
Obviously, we've already done US 6 up to US 95, so ...
... we'll skip to US 95. US 6/95 is actually legislatively US 6, as US 6
predates US 95 in this region.
By the way, this is all that's left of Coaldale Junction.
The landscape here is a lot more arid than before, which we hinted at in the
last portion of the photography.
Crossing into Nye county, we immediately hit Tonopah, the only town of
significance for hundreds of miles in any direction. "tonopah" (likely a
corruption) allegedly is an Indian, possibly Hohokam, term for springs --
in this case in the nearby San Antonio Mountains. Despite the location
thus being known even in
antiquity, the modern town hails only from 1900 when Jim Butler, the
district attorney for Nye county, found silver ore and set up mining
operations in earnest. Tonopah became the richest silver producer in the
nation in just a few years, but as with so many other towns in the vicinity,
faltered in the 1920s when the ore ran out and its 10,000+ inhabitants mostly
moved on. Today the small town remains with a population of 2,627 
serving the local military test range and county government, of which it had
been the seat since 1905.
For its part, Nye county was not one of the original 1861 Nevada counties,
being created in 1864 and named for James W. Nye, territorial governor and
later Senator. First established with its seat at Ione City, it moved to
Belmont in 1867 and finally Tonopah; the third largest county by area in the
continental United States (obviously San Bernardino in California is #1),
it has a population of 46,714 . Along with part of the Death Valley
National Monument, it also houses the Nevada Test Site (nuclear)
and the Yucca Mountain
waste repository. Ninety-two
percent of Nye county is federal property, a source of no small
Downtown Tonopah. It hasn't changed a great deal.
At the edge of town, US 95 splits off south towards Las Vegas;
we cover US 95 from Las Vegas to Blythe
in a separate exhibit.
I thought this was a hilarious picture with the clouds of dust and all.
Leaving Tonopah for points north, the terrain starts to become more mountainous
and there are various small summits as we inexorably climb higher.
There is no gas out this way for miles. If you didn't fill up in Tonopah,
better go back.
Nevada has the best and most whimsical names for their highways, I think.
Not only do they call US 50 officially the Loneliest Road in America,
which does earn its name in some sections (though I think US 6 around here
is pretty darn lonely too), but they have other great names like this one for
NV 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway. Yes, this is an official sign and an
official name. The stars and spiral galaxy really are part of the sign.
Naturally, the name derives itself from the close proximity to Area 51, and
was officially christened in
1996. This sign is at the north end where it terminates at US 6
in Warm Springs; Wikipedia
has another sign style which is less spectacular IMHO.
US 6 north of Warm Springs.
Past Currant, the terrain starts becoming very mountainous and twisty, with
nearly 20+ miles of kinks heading towards the White Pine county line. The
grade also starts to climb more steeply in sections. Notice the stormclouds
Raining in earnest as we pass into
and through White Pine county. White Pine is also not one
of the 1861 original counties, created in 1869 from a transfer from Lander
county with its seat established at Hamilton. Ely took the mantle after
Hamilton's destruction by fire. The modern population  is 9,181, with
roughly half (4,041 ) living in Ely; the
name derives from the white pine, an evergreen that
commonly grows in the local mountains of the same name.
Murry Summit, the highest of the US 6 summits on this alignment at 7,316'.
Murry is named for John T. Murry, who established a stage station along the
creek that bears his name in the 1860s, and Ely was actually known as Murry
Creek until 1878.
Ely city limits. It was rather unpleasant to continue photography at this
point, so we'll pick up with a little look at the city tomorrow.
I still can't believe I didn't get my own joke -- US 6, staying at Motel 6!
Ah well, it's the only Motel 6 reservation on my itinerary.
Time to eat, type and be merry. See you tomorrow!