Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
roadhound

Part 4; Callao To Ely

Recommended Posts

Part 4; Callao to Ely on the Lincoln (mostly)

 

In July my father, son, and I embarked on a journey across the deserts of Utah and Nevada following old trails, railroads, and highways. On the third day of the trip we followed the Lincoln through the Great Salt Lake Desert from Valley City, Utah to Ely, Nevada. This is the third installment of that day on the Lincoln Highway and Pony Express Trail.

 

callao_ely.jpg

 

We passed through the oasis of Callao at approximately 4:00 in the afternoon and headed north. Our flight plan was going to divert us off of the original route of the Lincoln and rejoin the Lincoln at the Goodyear cutoff. With the Army grounds on our right shoulder we drove past the surreal sight of buses, tractors, and military vehicles spread across the desert in the distance. Targets?

 

The Goodyear Cutoff is marked by a large sign on the north side with faded letters letting you know that it was a dead end road and government property as well as a small marker on the south side with the Lincoln Highway symbol. Other than those two items it looks like any other dirt road heading into the desert.

 

Gooyear Cutoff. The sign on the left says "Dead End Road,No Trespassing, Government Property." The little marker on the right has the Lincoln symbol with "Lincoln Highway" spelled out down its length.

SC10_81_29.sized.jpg

 

After we passed the Goodyear Cutoff and headed further on to Gold Hill my father, who had by now been fully briefed on the story of the Goodyear, and I began to hypothesize about what might have been. What if the Lincoln's route had been funded instead of the one to Wendover? Why wasn't this section of the Lincoln made part of US 50 when it was missing a route through Utah? After the discussion we came to the conclusion that the Lincoln's loss was our gain as we now had an opportunity to drive this road affected little by time.

 

Gold Hill was not what I expected it to be. I was expecting an abandoned town with but a few buildings left standing. What we found in addition to the General Store ruins were shacks, trailers, and pickup trucks that had seen recent use. Our assumption was that the recent surge in metal prices had made it profitable to re-open the nearby mines and Gold Hill once again had a population.

 

Up until Gold Hill our GPS had attempted to lead us astray a couple of times but nothing to the degree that we couldn't quickly recover. In Gold Hill it had us make a number of turns that ran us in a couple of circles. After half a dozen attempts to make us turn down deer paths and long forgotten wagon trails I muted the damn thing and we headed west out of town on the best road we could find. The road dropped us off about 20 miles north Ibapah near White Sage Flat and had added approximately an extra 40 minutes to our trip.

 

It was now after 6:30 when we reached Ibapah and the clouds were getting much thicker. We could see the rain falling off towards the west but didn't know if it was where we were headed or not. After Ibapah, once we crossed into Nevada, the Lincoln Highway markers became much more prevelent. Every few miles there was a Lincoln logo tacked to a fence post.

 

Lincoln Highway between Ibapah and EightmileSC10_81_30.jpg

 

When we reached the site of Eightmile the GPS again ran us in circles. I had forgiven it when we reached Ibapah and took it off of mute as I typed in the coordinates for Tippets. At Eightmile it told us to turn left at a Y in the road. Looking at the two roads the one to the left looked like it was in better condition and therefore I assumed that it was the correct path to take. When we ended up in the driveway of a ranch and had no choice but to turn around I began to suspect something was wrong. When I saw the Nevada\Utah state line show up on the GPS with us heading toward Utah I knew for sure that we were headed the wrong way. Turning around we went back to the Y in the road and took the road to the right this time, which turned out to be correct.

 

We were heading towards Tippets but also into a cloudburst. On one hand a drenching rain might help to get some of the dust off of the vehicle that had accumulated over the last three days of desert driving but on the other hand I had been advised by a fellow traveler that the roads got slippery in that area when they got wet. As it turned out there was just enough rain to turn the dust on the car into a nice coating of streaked mud. My father, who was driving at the time, compared the roads to driving in Saskatchewan in the springtime, meaning that knowing how to ice skate was a plus. Engaging the 4 wheel drive helped to keep the truck in a straight line.

 

Tippets Ranch

SC10_81_32.jpg

 

We stopped briefly at Tippets Ranch but the light was fading fast and we still had to get over the Schell Creek Range. Pushing on we passed by the Stonehouse Pony Express station, crested the Schellbourne Pass, and reached US 93 and Schellbourne just as the sun was dropping behind the hills to the west. I often use the saying "gives me a reason to come back" when talking about something that I have missed out on during a trip and our late arrival at Stonehouse and the Schellbourne area gives me a reason to come back in the future.

 

Schellbourne Pass

SC10_81_34.jpg

 

Last light of the day on the Schell Creek Range

SC10_81_35.jpg

 

We rolled into Ely after dark and found a room for the night. We had considered going a little further to the east to find a campground but the threat of rain helped make up our minds to find a room for the night. Once we had eaten dinner and settled in our room I left my father and son at the Motel while I went to find a car wash where I could blast the mud that was caked on the underside and covering the outside of my truck. I don't mind a little bit of dirt but the situation had now become extreme.

 

The experience of traveling the particular section of the Lincoln that we had just traveled was one that I will always remember. In a single day we had what felt like a weeks worth of experiences, yet there are parts that I will need to go back and revisit again someday. It was extremely easy to feel the isolation that early travelers must have felt. With nobody else on the road you were alone and should something break it was up to you to fix it. I wasn't to worried as we were packed with tools, camping gear, and enough food for a week but it was easy to imagine just the same.

 

Next up: (After a short break to catch up on a few other things) Beehives, Bristlecones, Lonely Roads, and more dirt roads.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Roadhound,

 

I think your experience with a GPS to guide you on dirt roads is what I would have expected...lost half the time. But that doesn’t mean that you didn’t know your latitude and longitude. Right? My Delorme with my laptop could always place me correctly on the map. I never used it to give me turn by turn advice in the “outback” so I don’t know how it would perform, but I’m guessing, about like yours.

 

I wish you had shown more photos of this stretch. But since it is familiar to me, I will satisfy myself with the shots from the sections I don’t know. My “disappointment” is in not being able to see how you would have treated subjects familiar to me. I want to learn from the master.

 

Oh, I wanted to mention that I’m thinking that the point coming out from the right in your Goodyear Cutoff sign photo is the point (Granite Point?) where there were plans to build a lodge and the “Fisher Lighthouse!” Here is a drawing looking the other direction (toward the place you were standing) of the planned facility downloaded from the University of Michigan collection. (Gees....I like that collection!)

 

lhc0437_linchigh.JPG

 

Is there going to be an Austin-Eureka installment soon? Bring it on!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Roadhound,

 

I think your experience with a GPS to guide you on dirt roads is what I would have expected...lost half the time. But that doesn’t mean that you didn’t know your latitude and longitude. Right? My Delorme with my laptop could always place me correctly on the map. I never used it to give me turn by turn advice in the “outback” so I don’t know how it would perform, but I’m guessing, about like yours.

 

I wish you had shown more photos of this stretch. But since it is familiar to me, I will satisfy myself with the shots from the sections I don’t know. My “disappointment” is in not being able to see how you would have treated subjects familiar to me. I want to learn from the master.

 

Oh, I wanted to mention that I’m thinking that the point coming out from the right in your Goodyear Cutoff sign photo is the point (Granite Point?) where there were plans to build a lodge and the “Fisher Lighthouse!” Here is a drawing looking the other direction (toward the place you were standing) of the planned facility downloaded from the University of Michigan collection. (Gees....I like that collection!)

 

lhc0437_linchigh.JPG

 

Is there going to be an Austin-Eureka installment soon? Bring it on!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Keep, I wish I had more photos of this stretch to show. I took plenty but the lighting just wasn't there and they are all flat with no contrast.The sun was never shining on the foreground during that entire section between Gold Hill and the west side of Schellbourne pass. The black and white conversion of the Lincoln marker doesn't look all that much different than the color shot except that I could boost the contrast in the sky which was washed out in the color version. Plus, I don't want to discourage you to much. ;)

 

Considering how many pictures I did get during the day up until that point I am more than satisfied with my click to keepers ratio.

 

Like I said...gives me a reason to go back.

 

The photo of the Goodyear cutoff section was shot from 40 06'44.00N 113 44'06.40W looking to the southeast. It goes in that direction for a few miles, past the fence, and then turns almost 90 degrees in a northeast direction taking it across the Salt Lake Desert to Granite Peak. I believe the mountain in the drawing would have been off of the left side of the picture. Incidently, I described that drawing to my father during our "what if" conversation. That would have been so cool to see that beacon at night shining across the desert.

 

On thing I didn't mention in my write up is how dominant Granite Peak is. On the original alignment it would have been on your right shoulder the entire time as you headed west around the Salt Lake Desert. Once we got over the Dugway Range it was easily the most recognizable geological landmark out there. Very easy to spot in the daytime and the ideal spot to run a road to and from. What could have been...

 

 

I will be working on the next installment shortly but first need to catch up on a few updates with my website and an airshow report that I owe to another website.

 

roadhound

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am looking forward to your next segment because I really am interested in how you “see” some things I have also photographed...and I promise not to be discouraged...I'll "buck up" somehow :P !! Seeing how skilled photographers “see” hones my “eye.” Besides, I’m looking for a photo to glue to my windshield (as DennyG) when the rains come to the Northwest this winter!

 

Your comments about the road brought a chuckle. We were headed east from Tippets toward Ibapah when we got into a series of rain squalls, some pretty powerful. The first I dismissed, but when the third left standing water on the road, and the road surface turned to yellow slime....and we lost traction even on the flat ground, I figured we had gone as far as we would that day in the family sedan. Frankly I was a little worried that we would have a hard time beating a retreat, but as it turned out, we made it back to Stone House in record time, and turned south instead of going back over Schellbourne.

 

I regret that Gold Hill disappointed you. I found it fascinating because I could exactly line up a photo of the mercantile and gas station from the UofM collection with the present day. It was again like stepping back in time.

 

I believe that the road you traveled in the last two postings is about as close as you can come to stepping back in time. There are short segments of other roads that probably equal it, but none where you can go for a hundred miles and be on the old alignment.

 

I find it at least a little interesting that in the three times I have been along the Tippets – Schellbourne Pass segment it has rained twice, and in your case as well, and all during the summer. You would think that desert would be a lush forest instead!

 

Anyway, Keep the Show on the Road!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am looking forward to your next segment because I really am interested in how you “see” some things I have also photographed...and I promise not to be discouraged...I'll "buck up" somehow :P !! Seeing how skilled photographers “see” hones my “eye.” Besides, I’m looking for a photo to glue to my windshield (as DennyG) when the rains come to the Northwest this winter!

 

Your comments about the road brought a chuckle. We were headed east from Tippets toward Ibapah when we got into a series of rain squalls, some pretty powerful. The first I dismissed, but when the third left standing water on the road, and the road surface turned to yellow slime....and we lost traction even on the flat ground, I figured we had gone as far as we would that day in the family sedan. Frankly I was a little worried that we would have a hard time beating a retreat, but as it turned out, we made it back to Stone House in record time, and turned south instead of going back over Schellbourne.

 

I regret that Gold Hill disappointed you. I found it fascinating because I could exactly line up a photo of the mercantile and gas station from the UofM collection with the present day. It was again like stepping back in time.

 

I believe that the road you traveled in the last two postings is about as close as you can come to stepping back in time. There are short segments of other roads that probably equal it, but none where you can go for a hundred miles and be on the old alignment.

 

I find it at least a little interesting that in the three times I have been along the Tippets – Schellbourne Pass segment it has rained twice, and in your case as well, and all during the summer. You would think that desert would be a lush forest instead!

 

Anyway, Keep the Show on the Road!

 

The pressure of knowing that I have to provide a windshield photo for your mid-winter escapes may be more than I can handle.

 

I can hear it now:

Rose of the Road: "Dave, what are you doing out there in the garage?"

Keep the Show on the Road: "Nothing, just driving the Lincoln for a little bit."

Rose: "Waddya mean? We don't own a Lincoln. And why are you making that humming sound?" as she walks into the garage and sees Keep turning the steering wheel from side to side while making the sound of tire screeches with a photo taken of Nevada 722 somewhere west of Carrol Station taped to the Windshield.

 

I suppose a man could have worse vices.

 

Mid July is apparently "monsoon season" in the Great Basin area. I didn't know that before taking this trip but I am well aware of it now. I didn't pack any rain gear with me because I was going camping in the desert. Next time I will throw a couple of garbage bags in the camping box to be used as a rain poncho in case I need it. Fortunately I did bring a tarp for underneath the tent and a shovel to dig a trench around it.

 

I guess Gold Hill is like any mining town that goes through cycles of boom and bust. We happened to drive through during boom times which took away any resemblence to an abandoned ghost town. I think I know which picture you are referring to and although you might be able to line it up with present day there would be a lot of new (and not necessarily attractive) structures that aren't in the older image.

 

Roadhound

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The pressure of knowing that I have to provide a windshield photo for your mid-winter escapes may be more than I can handle.

 

I can hear it now:

Rose of the Road: "Dave, what are you doing out there in the garage?"

Keep the Show on the Road: "Nothing, just driving the Lincoln for a little bit."

Rose: "Waddya mean? We don't own a Lincoln. And why are you making that humming sound?" as she walks into the garage and sees Keep turning the steering wheel from side to side while making the sound of tire screeches with a photo taken of Nevada 722 somewhere west of Carrol Station taped to the Windshield.

 

Roadhound

 

And the Varooommmm, Varooommmm! You left out the Varoooommmm, Varooommmm! :lol:

 

Keep the Show on the Road!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×