National Geographic : 1946 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine Staff Photographer W. Robert Moore Club Signs on Fremont Street in Las Vegas Emphasize the Frontier Spirit of the City At night they blaze with bright neon lights. One of the oldest settlements in Nevada, "Vegas" is one of the State's youngest cities. Its growth dates from 1905, when the railroad came (page 33). hundred elk roam the hills. Its mountain streams are well stocked with trout. Nevada, too, is on the migration route of ducks, geese, and other water fowl, and in autumn its rivers, lakes, and even municipal ponds are pausing places for the birds in flight. Riding along the Humboldt one day I came upon hundreds of white pelicans fishing in the shallow stream. They had flown over from Pyramid Lake to feed. Fish are becoming more and more scarce as the lake grows in creasingly brackish and irrigation dams in the Truckee reduce spawning. An island in Pyramid Lake is the breeding ground for thousands of these huge white birds, and as guest of the U. S. Navy I later visited the rookery (Plate XII). Clambering over the island we found large flocks of waddling young birds not yet old enough to fly. Overhead soared anxious adults, their white bodies and black-edged wings gleaming in the sun against the blue sky. When first hatched, the pelican chicks are about the ugliest birds that Nature ever created; nesting grounds seem like some reek ing, forgotten world of misshapen creatures. From the pelican rookery we cruised around the pyramidal rock which rises above the water to a height of 475 feet. Fremont, seeing this odd upthrust in 1844, named the lake for it. Hot chemical-laden waters spurt from its sides. Numerous tufa, or calcareous, formations surround this 30-mile-long body of water. At its northern end stand many pinnacles, atop some of which also nest numerous cormorants. Pyramid Lake lies within an Indian reser vation, but during the war the Navy estab lished an airbase in the vicinity. Here, and on the open plain, pilots gained some of their final practice in torpedo launching, strafing, and bombing before they shipped aboard carriers to the Pacific. The Navy in the desert-this is but another of the vivid contrasts one discovers in Nevada.