The Loneliest Road in America... And We're On It

We headed out today on Highway 50. We will be spending the next two days on the Nevada portion which crosses the center of state and was named The Loneliest Road in America by Life magazine in 1986 (we're celebrating the 30th anniversary of this designation).

The name was intended as a pejorative, but Nevada officials seized on it as a marketing slogan. The name originates from large desolate areas traversed by the route, with few or no signs of civilization.
The highway crosses several large desert valleys separated by numerous mountain ranges towering over the valley floors, in what is known as the Basin and Range province of the Great Basin. For miles and miles, it was just Steve and me.
We stopped for a history lesson at the Cold Springs Station Site, west of Austin, NV.
This historic stagecoach station site was active during 1861-1869 as a passenger and freight station, and later for freight. There remains only stone ruins that give some glimpse into this important place. Nearby is the location of the original Cold Springs Pony Express Station Ruins. A great deal of our path has us firmly in Pony Express Territory.

Most of the Loneliest Road runs along or over the Lincoln Highway. This historic road was one of the earliest transcontinental highways for automobiles across the U.S. Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states. It was so cool to play the "I see the old road" game.

I delighted in the fact that the 'freeway' flowers were Sunflowers. How can you feel lonely on a road lined with these cheery flowers?!
We chose to call it a day in the quaint town of Eureka, NV. The Eureka Mining District, established in 1864, is the birthplace of the silver-lead smelting industry in the US. Like all mining towns it had its boon and bust times.
We met local gal Patty who gave us an amazing tour of the town's best buildings. There was obvious pride in each and everyone. The Opera House (1880) is still used today. How fun it would have been to see a production there.
We were given a behind-the-scenes tour. The walls were autographed by the performers of the past, and the playbill was impressive.
Built in 1882, the General Store has seen better days but there is something about a place with such history and character.
The County Courthouse (1880) was thought to be the finest in the state, outside of Virginia City.
I thoroughly delighted in the Sentinel building. Constructed of locally fired bricks and quarried stone (1879), it housed the Eureka Sentinel Newspaper until 1960. When the newspaper went out of business, all the equipment was left behind. It is now part of the museum. So very cool.

The Lincoln Highway was built by private and public funds. In Eureka, this plaque tells us that the 22 mile stretch, we're traversing, was paid for by General Motors. 
Our campsite was overlooking the Schwamb Cemetery. This cemetery was privately owned in the 1870s and 1880s by C.W. Schwamb, an undertaker here. It lies in a part of town called Graveyard Flat. 

Sadly it seems that the cemetery was abandoned and is in a dilapidated state. That said, it was a peaceful resting place for us, at least for one night. 
Armed with informative guidebooks and an engaging audio tour, we'll complete the Loneliest Road tomorrow, having seen and learned a great deal. Day One was pretty dang awesome.

"Road trips are the equivalent of human wings.
Ask me to go on one, anywhere.
We’ll stop in every small town and learn the history,
feel the ground and capture the spirit.
Then we’ll turn it into our own story
that will live inside our history to carry with us always.
Because stories are more important than things."
-Victoria Erickson 

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Karen Booth said...

Looks like the Artic Fox had fun on Day One. I was impressed that you had already blogged. I guess you don't read a lot of Stephen King because that lonely road seemed like something out of his books. And you camped above a cemetery. I was happy to read about a day two, so I knew you were safe :)

Nick and Deb's Excellent Adventure said...

So happy to see this post!! What an amazing place! Your sunflowers following you on your adventure, I love that! ��

Nesbit Library rocks! said...

That Victoria Erikson quote is so YOU! Happy 29th and have a great trip.

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