[Floodgap Roadgap presents the Summer of 6]

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3 July 2006: Ely, NV to Provo, UT
 

2 July 2006: Live From The Road! -- Coaldale Jct, NV to Ely, NV

We're in the car and rolling -- The Summer of 6 has officially begun! A few notes now that I'm officially on the road:

  • Due to the way my custom content publishing system works, what you'll see each day is yesterday's pictures (i.e., I took the pictures, tweaked and uploaded them, and did the writeup the previous day). So, "today" being July 2 (but July 1 as I write this), you'll see July 1st's stuff, which is up to Ely.
  • On the "canned" photographs, I could afford to be much more detailed since there were relatively fewer of them and less ground was covered at a pop. However, each day on the live version I'll be driving up to 300 miles total and thus taking around 200 photographs a day on average along the way, give or take (today alone I took 177). I'm not going to crush my server with the load of tons of people downloading 177 images at 480x360, but each day I will try to post around fifteen or twenty to make up for the "detail loss." The full photoessay will have most or all of the pictures I'll be taking in the usual thumbnail-enlargement format I use for my other road exhibits, barring what gets edited or dropped.
  • I apologize if the colours are little odd or the brightness/contrast a bit off. Even though I've ColorSync-ed the iBook for picture selection, I still don't like LCDs for colour proofing. I've marked images with alternate settings for recheck when I get back to my apartment, so the published images in the full writeup will be 100% quality.
  • I hate dialup. Motel 6 in Ely (ha! I just noticed! Motel 6! Get it??) doesn't have broadband, but I suppose it is a no-frills motel. The next couple nights I'll have a high speed link though.
Each day I'm going to post my odometer, too. Today's started at 93902 leaving Bishop, although that's not counting the drive from San Diego to Bishop, which is about 320 miles or so.

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. -_- )

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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!

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The modern terminus of US 395. We exit here to get to Bishop.

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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 ...

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... we'll skip to US 95. US 6/95 is actually legislatively US 6, as US 6 predates US 95 in this region.

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By the way, this is all that's left of Coaldale Junction.

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The landscape here is a lot more arid than before, which we hinted at in the last portion of the photography.

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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 [2000] 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 [2004]. 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 local controversy.

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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.

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I thought this was a hilarious picture with the clouds of dust and all.

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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.

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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.

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US 6 north of Warm Springs.

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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 closing in.

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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 [2000] is 9,181, with roughly half (4,041 [2000]) living in Ely; the name derives from the white pine, an evergreen that commonly grows in the local mountains of the same name.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Time to eat, type and be merry. See you tomorrow!

Next: Ely to Provo, UT! Keep the E-mail coming!

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