National Geographic : 1946 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine convened in a building loaned by Abe Curry, Orion strung up a canvas partition at a cost of $3.40. But the United States declined to pay for it and deducted the amount from Orion's salary! For the truth of the story we have the au thority of the secretary's secretary, who later distinguished himself in Nevada-and, need I add, elsewhere-as Mark Twain. Carson City still claims a home where Mark Twain stayed and has several mansions dating from early years. Its Mint, however, which coined gold and silver until 1893, has now been converted into a museum and displays Indian artifacts, mineral collections, and other things Nevadan. The elm-shaded capitol and many other State and business buildings are constructed from gray sandstone that comes from a quarry at the State prison near town (page 5). While blasting in the quarry years ago, workmen uncovered an interesting collection of pre historic bones and found footprints in a deeply buried layer of rock. Here, in hard stone, is the trail left when big heavy-footed beasts squashed through several inches of hardening ooze beside some ancient lake or waterhole. All around are tracks of birds and what appear to have been deer and other small-hoofed creatures. Rodeos Replace Indian Clashes One day when I visited Carson City the towns- and countryfolk had turned out to en joy a rodeo. The men who wore ten-gallon hats, blue jeans, and high-heeled boots were no dudes. They were sun-bronzed cowmen from outlying ranches who had come to have fun. Amid swirls of hoof-driven dust they roped steers, tied calves, and took jolting rides-and spills-on bucking broncos and snorting, kick ing Brahman bulls (Plate IV). There was prize money for the winners, but it was the sport that counted. Seconds of time in roping a wild "critter" were to them what a low score is to a country club golfer. A number of towns throughout Nevada hold rodeos on at least one week end in summer. In most places about the only concession to the mechanical age is that announcers call results over loud-speakers and some riders bring their horses to town in auto trailers. Main highway through southern Nevada is U. S. Route 95. It winds eastward from the Truckee to Fallon, turns sharply southward to Walker Lake, and thence streaks across the desert to Tonopah, Goldfield, and on to Las Vegas. Where the last irrigation ditch in Fallon's farmland ends, the sagebrush desert begins. A narrow banner of green marks the course of the Walker River, but the blue, brackish wa ters of Walker Lake are hemmed by high barren hills. For 20 miles the road follows a ledge high above the shore of this picturesque, though dying, inland sea, which gradually is marking ever-receding waterlines on the hill slopes as did its ancestor, Lake Lahontan. Beyond its southern end, near Hawthorne, the United States Navy has capitalized on the empty areas by utilizing them as another death repository, a big permanent ammunition depot. Innumerable igloos filled with high explosives are scattered over several hundred acres. Wasteland Rich in Minerals Only a few tiny settlements dot the route the rest of the way to Tonopah. Each, how ever, at one time or another has served as a transportation link in the chain of mining operations strung across the desert. An unbelievable variety of mineral wealth has come from this seemingly empty waste land. Off to the south a plain glistens white with borax beds where four companies once worked. In the opposite direction were the gold, silver, copper, and lead deposits of Rawhide and other mines. Back in the 60's, slow-stalking camels lent a Levantine touch to the dusty landscape when they hauled salt from Teels Marsh to the Comstock. For nine busy months in 1944 twenty-two giant Wells Cargo "teapots," or specially con structed hopper-body trailer trucks, hauled 30 ton loads of magnesite ore night and day from near-by Gabbs Valley to the Basic Magne sium plant at Henderson, beyond Las Vegas. At the turn of the century Jim Butler, hunt ing his donkey on a barren hillside, stumbled onto an exposed ledge of ore that gave rise to Tonopah. More enduring than many of the other strikes, its Mizpah, Tonopah, and other mines have brought in $160,000,000 of dore bullion-silver mixed with a small amount of gold. After the Comstock, Tonopah is perhaps the greatest name in Nevada mining, in that its discovery came when earlier finds had largely been worked out. In quick succession new prospecting brought in Goldfield, Rhyolite, and other spectacular strikes. At its height Tonopah had some 6,000 per sons. Its business buildings grew high to keep out of the way of the diggings, and few of its streets go far without having to dodge a mine dump.