Saturday, December 27, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0132 - Red Rock Canyon NCA, Fossil Canyon, Clark Co., Nevada

Fossil Canyon is located in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA) just outside of Las Vegas (Nevada) and makes a great day hike with the grandchildren and some of their friends. Plus, this part of RRCNCA is located outside of the fee area!

Fossil Canyon is located in the "fingers" area of RRCNCA. which receives its name from the shapes of the canyons and cliffs. When standing at the trailhead looking southward, the ends of the pointed cliffs resemble the finger tips of a hand and the canyons look like the space between the fingers. Fossil Canyon is the western most "space" between the two western "fingers." The canyon receives its name from the large number of sponges, gastropods, corals, and scallop-like shell fossils that cover the canyon walls and rocks. 

From the trailhead, the bottom of the canyon ascends rather rapidly with several dry pour-overs that can be negotiated without too much difficulty. The trail is not well maintained, so many hikers (along with all bikers and horses) use the well-maintained trail that stays high on the western edge of the canyon. 

Once at the top of the canyon, the return trip can be made by any of the trails that descend between the "fingers," or by way of Rock Garden Trail that swings out to the west and then arrives back at the trailhead. The Rock Garden Trail is popular because there are a large variety of cacti along the trail.

No trip to the "fingers" would be complete without  stopping to see "Jackson, the Red Rock Canyon Burro." Jackson is from a wild nuisance burro gather that descended from pack animals released by miners over a century ago. Jackson was adopted by the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association in 2012 and now lives in a fenced area near the trailhead.

Friday, December 19, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0131 - Cathedral Gorge, Lincoln County, Nevada

Cathedral Gorge State Park is located near Panaca, Utah, and a great weekend destination. 

In the 1930s the CCC built a campground and picnic areas in the park that are still in use today; however, the stone water tower that they constructed did not ever work very well, so years later it was abandoned and new wells were drilled.

Million years ago there was volcanic activity in the area, followed by block faulting and a fracture in the bedrock that allowed two sides of the fault to move independently in opposite directions. The faulting formed a depression in earth’s crust that is now known as Meadow Valley.

Over millions of years rains eroded and exposed the volcanic ash and pumice, forming the multi-colored cliffs and spires that we see today. Because the ash and pumice erode at different rates, there are many passageways that can be negotiated between the spires. Kids love this place because it is a great place to explore slot canyons and discover “new passageways.” 

About 15 years ago we visited the park during the winter after a snow storm, which adds a different perspective to the formations.

Friday, December 12, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0130 - Lincoln County, Nevada - 2014 Part III

In 1863 William Hamblin was scouting the Meadow Valley area of Utah Territory for new places that could be settled, when a Paiute Indian showed him some rocks that the Paiutes called “Panagari” or “Panacker.” When it was determined that the rocks contained silver, Hamblin and some other men formed the Meadow Valley Mining Company and returned to the area in 1864 to established mining claims on “Panacker Ledge.” 

In 1869 Francois Pioche bought part of the Meadow Valley Mining Company Claims and as workers and other prospectors drifted into the area, “Panacker Ledge” became known as “Pioche’s City” or “Pioche.” In the rush to file mining claims, some of the claims overlapped each other; and since there was no law in the area, guns were the law and gunfights and killings over mining claims were common occurrences. Historians say that Pioche was so lawless that it made Bodie, Tombstone, and other mining towns look like church socials. A sign at boot hill states that 72 men were buried “with boots on” before anyone died of a natural causes.  

(Shot by a coward as he worked his claim. No one even knew his name.)

(John Bass. June 26, 1875. Shot by Officers 5 times)

Today visitors come to Pioche to see the historic ruins that cling to the hillsides. As you enter Pioche the first thing you encounter is the Pioche Aerial Tramway that carried ore from the mines on Treasure Hill to Godbe’s Mill located several miles away in the valley north of town. The tramway was primarily gravity powered and only needed the aid of a 5 horsepower motor to help return the empty ore buckets. (Part of the aerial tramway can be seen in the above Boot Hill Cemetery picture -- if you look closely you can even see the ore buckets still hanging on the steel cables.)

The “Million Dollar Courthouse” and adjacent Mountain View Hotel are located in the Pioche downtown business district. The Courthouse is now operated as a museum.

The Hotel was built by the mining companies in 1895 for visitors who had business at the Courthouse. Over the years many U.S. Senators, Nevada Governors, President Herbert C. Hoover, and other dignitaries stayed at the Hotel. The food, wines, accommodations, and services were reportedly unmatched throughout the west; but the wood-frame hotel has now been abandoned and is in poor condition. 

The Pioche main Street contains the Overland Hotel, Thompson Opera House, The Commercial Club, Lincoln County Museum, The Pioche News Stand, The Pioche Oddfellows Lodge, the Nevada Club, and numerous other historic buildings.  

The ghost town of Caselton is located directly on the other side of the mountain from Pioche; but the mines are connect under the mountain, so that ore could be moved underground to the mills at either Caselton or Pioche. Even though the old town of Caselton and the original mine have been abandoned, there is a "New Caselton" and new mine in the same area.