roadhound Posted September 1, 2007 Report Share Posted September 1, 2007 Part 5 - Great Basin National Park and Westward to Austin. In July my father, son, and I embarked on a journey across the deserts of Utah and Nevada following old trails, railroads, and highways. This installment covers days 4, 5, and 6 of that journey. After 3 days of heavy historic highway driving it was time for the crew to take a break and stay in the same place for a day or two. After our night in Ely we refreshed our ice and food supplies and headed eastward on US 50 with Great Basin National Park as our destination. We took a short diversion off of the highway to check out the Ward Charcoal Kilns that date back to 1876. These 30 foot tall stone structures were used to turn chords of wood into charcoal to be used in the roasting ovens in Ward that processed the raw ore from nearby mines. Each kiln would convert 35 chords of wood into over 1000 bushels of charcoal. By 1879 the railroad was bringing coke into the area and the need for charcoal in the smelters was eliminated. Ward Charcoal Ovens Great Basin is (in my opinion) one of the great unknown treasures of the National Park System. This lightly visited park lies about 70 miles east of Ely and has a number of interesting geological features. After pitching our tent in a camp site next the Lehman Creek we took the guided tour of Lehman Caves. Our second day in the park was spent hiking among the Bristlecone Pines out to what remains of the glacier that lies below Wheeler Peek. We also drove out of the park for a few miles to the trailhead for Lexington Arch. The climb out to the arch is a 650 foot rise over 1 1/2 miles with an impressive 75 foot tall limestone arch at the end of the trail. As I discovered, the best time for viewing the arch is during the morning hours when the sun would be shining on its face, not the late afternoon. Parachute Formation in Lehman Caves Bristlecone Pine The Glacier, or what's left of it. Our backyard, Lehman Creek. The clouds that had brought us rain while driving through Tippets and Schellbourne the previous days stayed with us during our visit to the park. Although it did frustrate me from a photographic perspective by eliminating all the shadows it did create a memorable experience for the three of us. It's always an adventure cooking over a campstove in the rain. Proof that the Pot-O-Gold lies at the end of a 2 lane road. On day 6 of our journey we packed up our wet tent, folded the mud covered tarps and headed westward on US 50. We once again stopped in Ely to stock up on ice and other essential supplies, spent an hour at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum (Thursday is a quiet day at the railyard) and then continued west out of town. Our next destination was the ghost town of Hamilton, Nevada. At one time this city was the County Seat for White Pine County and had a population of over 10,000. Once the mines dried up the town dissappeared. Not much remains of the town now with but a few visible foundations, lots of rusted tin, and a couple of brick walls still standing. There was some sign of recent activity, perhaps within the last 30 to 40 years, but no sign that anybody has lived there in quite a while. With the exception of the dirt road that is well maintained the area is covered by sagebrush. It is always amazing to me how nature reclaims what's hers. The dirt road had a Lincoln marker at the beginning of FR 401 but none of the maps or guides that I have reference Hamilton. I am still wondering what path the Lincoln actually took through this area. Hamilton, Nevada Hamilton, Nevada Smelter Chimney - Hamilton Nevada After exploring what was left of Hamilton we headed back to US 50 towards Eureka and Austin. We had decided early in the day that Austin would be our stopping point for the evening and looked forward to a meal that wasn't cooked over a Coleman stove. We stopped in Eureka at the Eureka Sentinel Museum where I was able to pick up a copy of the first and fifth editions of the Lincoln Highway Guide before continuing on to Austin. The museum is well worth the stop. West to Austin on US 50 Next up: The Really, Really, Really, Lonely Road Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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