We joined Route 50 in Delta. Many travel writers have designated portions of this road in Utah and Nevada as the loneliest road in America. I have no doubt the 410 miles between Delta, Utah and Fallon, Nevada certainly qualify. There are only three small towns – Ely, Eureka and Austin – between them. There are only two gas stations in the 153 miles between Delta and Ely. This would be like driving from Washington, DC to Columbus, Ohio and seeing only three small towns, no farms, few cars and only occasional cattle.
On seeing Canyonlands, friend Doug said it was “a whole lotta rocks.” Well, at first this seems like a “whole lotta empty.” As part of the Great Basin, one drives over seventeen mountain passes along the way and across some very wide valleys. We noticed in one basin, the road was perfectly straight for about thirty miles.
Just some of the mountain ranges along the way – these caught
our fancy – are the Confusion Range, the Pancake Range, and the Diamond Mountains. Certainly the Toiyabe Range has some of the most spectacular mountains no one (or almost no one) has heard of.
The little town of Ely is full of motels and casinos. But it felt to us like it was taken out of the 1950s or 1960s. However, most places were more up to date than the Richfield gas station where we took a picture.
There were mines along the way, and the 1880s boom town of Eureka has piles of slag at each end of Main Street.
Befitting the Great Basin, we also passed many dry lake beds crusty with salt. One, Eight Mile Flats, seemed to us to more than live up to its name.
The Fallon Naval Target Range (Restricted Area) warns of low flying planes, but there was no bombing on Sunday as we passed through. US 50 goes right through it.
When one gets to Fallon, an agricultural center with a Navy Air training facility, it seems huge after so much nothingness.
Just beyond Fallon is Fort Churchill, built in July, 1860 to protect the settlers and emigrants from the Indians. From this distance in time, it seems like it might have been at least partially a political response to help keep Nevada in the Union. There was no more trouble, and the fort was abandoned in 1869. The construction budget was $75,000 dollars but it actually cost $179,000. The Captain in charge wisely named the fort after the
Army Inspector General, Sylvester Churchill.