Winnemucca to Salt Lake City

Nevada desert

There is over 400 miles of Nevada on Interstate 80 from the California and Utah borders.  If you plan on making this trip you will need to have something to entertain you, besides the view out your vehicle windows.

This is what you will see for mile after mile after mile.

There are small towns that dot the highway.  They are spaced miles apart from each other.  There is a mountain range that winds through this desert.  Mostly it is open range.

Makes me think of a very old cowboy song I heard when I was real young.  Don’t remember who sang the song or all the words to it, but this is what I remember of it.  “Give me land, lots of land with the starry sky above.  Don’t fence me in”.  That’s the extent of what I know of that song but it seems appropriate for Nevada.

Fire Bombers

Somewhere after Winnemucca this airfield showed up.  Yes, it just showed up out of no where.  There are two of these big planes.  The photos I took at a distance of this place had the jitters.  Rough patch of road at the time, or the bug spatters on the windshield were the focus of the camera.  I did find a spot that worked and this is what you get.  A big red/orange and white airplane.

Joe says these are Fire Bombers.  I would imagine these would be necessary way out here in the wilderness should a fire break out in dry season.  There is nothing to stop the spread of the fire.

Now, don’t quote me, but I think these airplanes would carry and disperse a chemical to put on the fire instead of water.  I think these planes are too large and too fast to suspend a big bag then drag it through a lake to fill with water than dump it on a fire.  Besides, lakes and rivers are few and far between in this open range.

Scruffy mountain

While we traveled along and I looked for things to entertain myself, and you, I saw this bit of a mountain range.

Reminds me of a big buffalo that is shedding its winter coat.

Don’t know if you’ve seen many buffalo, let alone after spring comes and their winter coat begins to shed.

There are some of these hills that have loose rock in patches on them, similar to what you see here in the dark areas.  It is not vegetation that is making the dark marks because it does not raise above the height of the ground as trees or brush would.  I just thought this looked interesting.

What can I say, we had been traveling this road for about 30 minutes with nothing to see but the wide open desert so when I saw this it was a change.

Beowawe, Nevada

Far off to the right down a two a lane road is a town called Beowawe – pronounced (Ba-waw-wee).  In a different lifetime, long ago, Joe and I used to repair electrical transformers.  We were called out to a gold mining company near Crescent Valley.  The mine they had been working on in a different area was restricted in its output of gold by the available water.  They searched the valley for water, and found it along with more gold. Lots more gold.  Three to four times more than what they presently had.

Before the water and gold find, they had been processing 4500 tons of rock and dirt a day.  With the extra water and the new found gold deposits, they were able to ramp up their operation to 20,000 tons a day.

To put this in perspective.  They expect to recover .04 to .07 ounces per ton of gold.  Doesn’t seem like much but….at 20,000 tons a day of dirt and rock times .04 ounces per ton would yield 800 ounces of gold.  If they got $400 an ounce that would be $320,000 a day.  Almost double that if the yield came in at the .07 figure.  Half a million dollars a day.  Talk about lucky?  You search for water in the desert and find it, along with gold as well.

Train and vehicle tunnels

There are four tunnels on this mountain.  You can only see three of them.  I had another problem with the bug spatters on the windshield wanting to take center focus.

There are two train tunnels, another one is off to the right out of the frame.

Stephen Ambrose has written a book titled “Nothing Like It In The World”.  This book is all about the building of the Trans Continental Railway.  There is a section of highway, Joe thinks it is I-10 through Louisiana, that is named for Stephen Ambrose.

I tried reading the book.  This is NOT a light read.  There is a lot of detail in this book that begins with people like Abraham Lincoln petitioning Congress to help create this railway and not having much success.  Abraham Lincoln had to go to the men of money of the day to make his pitch.

Stephen Ambrose has found documents ranging from diary entries of the men that surveyed and plotted the best route for the railroad to be placed, letters to the investors asking for money, invoices from suppliers of railroad spikes and lumber companies for ties.

Joe shared with me the highlights of the book.  In my opinion, the salient points.  Heard the expression “Going to hell in a hand car”?  That originated at this time in our history.  As the rail line was built a train car carrying prostitutes and liquor followed, at a discrete distance, the supply cars.

Something that was done during this time, AND can not be done today is…..pulling a fully functioning steam engine, minus the running gear, to the top of a mountain in the Sierra Nevadas when the Central Pacific was putting its long tunnel through the mountain.  A mule skinner with a 20 mule team hitch took the steam engine to the top of the mountain.  Sometime, according to Professor Ambrose, in the 1970’s or 1980’s a Hollywood documentary crew attempted to recreate this situation and failed miserably.  We have lost the ability to handle horses and machinery like they did in 1880.

The steam engine was used to haul the spoil from the tunnel 1500 feet to the top of the mountain.  Thereby clearing the tunnel to allow work to continue.  The job had been done by horse team and rope.  The steam engine allowed them to proceed with full vigor.

This tunnel was built using Chinese labor with hand drills and a hammer, drilling holes in the face of solid granite then loading them with nitroglycerin.  Thus shattering the rock allowing the tunnel to be built six inches at a time.  No one knows how many Chinese were lost in the blasts.  No records were ever kept.  Without them the tunnel would not have been built.  The Chinese hand mixed their own nitroglycerin at the job site.  That is what killed most of them.

In Stephen Ambrose’s opinion, and we concur, the building of the Trans Continental Railway was an even greater feat than sending a man to the moon.  It tied our country together using the technology of the day.  Up until the railroad, the fastest a man could go was some 20 or 30 miles per hour on a running horse.  The railroad some thought would take a man’s breath away at 60 miles an hour.  The Trans Continental Railway, in large part, was built by the men who had laid the tracks to supply both the Confederate and Union soldiers to fight our civil war.


The mountain range here is more of the shaggy, buffalo shedding, variety.  The marked difference in this mountain is the spikes that run along the lower edge.

These seem to have popped out of the ground. They have not rolled down from the top.  As you can see by the one at the left of the frame, it seems to be attached to the hillside.

Now, as I said at the beginning, these things I’m sharing with you are miles and miles apart.  Listening to a good book on CD I would have totally missed these spikes.  Or had we a selection of “tunes” in an MP3 player and were jammin’ I would have, most likely, missed this also.

This long road is so empty, traffic is sparse, and the cities and towns are even more sparse.  This is a lonely place to be caught unprepared.

Beverly Hills

This road will not lead you to a California paradise.  There is no Rodeo Drive anywhere near this exit.

It could be the name of a town far off in one direction or another, or it could be the name of a ranch located out in this wilderness.

I just thought it was funny to see this sign and know there is nothing out here that even resembles the Beverly Hills in California.

See, it doesn’t take much to entertain and idiot.  Well, this idiot anyway.

Think I’m bored?  You bet I’m bored.

The Hills Have Eyes

There is a horror movie titled “The Hills Have Eyes”.  When I saw this escarpment, or whatever it is called, it made me think of that movie title.

There are small holes in the side of this cliff.

I wonder if birds make nests in these holes.  I sure can’t see a fox, bob cat, or mountain lion scrabbling up the sheer wall to get in the cave hole and call it home.

Fascinating how hard rock can have open spaces such as these.

In all of my travels I’ve not come across anything that remotely looks like this.

Wendover, Nevada

Wendover, Nevada

Wendover, Nevada

We are nearly at the end of Nevada on Interstate 80.  This is the town of West Wendover, Nevada.

The Nevada/Utah border is split between this town and they share the same name.  Wendover, Utah and West Wendover, Nevada.

Gambling in Nevada, not in Utah.

The reason I have put these photos in is because of the history of this area.

During World War II, this military base was home to the Enola Gay.  The airplane that flew the Atomic Bomb and dropped it in either Nagasaki or Hiroshima, Japan.

The rusting hulk of a building in the larger picture is the hanger used at that time to house the Enola Gay.  In the first of the two smaller pictures are the rest of the hangars.  You can sort of see them through the telephone lines that split them down the center.  The lower of the two pictures is of the ammunition bunkers left over from this time.

Bonneville Speedway

This is at the Utah border.  The Bonneville Salt Flats is where a lot of speed records have been made on experimental vehicles.

I watched a movie with Anthony Hopkins, titled “The Fastest Indian In The World” or something like that.  Sir Anthony Hopkins portrays an Australian man that dreams of taking his Indian motorcycle to the Bonneville Salt Flats and creating the world record on fastest motorcycle speed.  I enjoyed the movie.  Most especially because the man that this movie is made from, he really did exist, is an ornery old coot that has big dreams and the guts to make them come true.

Many people have come to the Bonneville Salt Flats to beat the speed record of many others.  Some do, most don’t.

Viewing Area at Rest Area

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats

From my vantage point up high at the viewing area I took these photos to show you the vast distance of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

In the lower picture you see a car.  There was a man struggling to change his tire.  While I was up taking pictures, Joe noticed this guy and wondered if he needed assistance.

He did.  We provided air to fill his spare tire and we lent him our jack handle so he could get the tire changed so he and his family could continue their trip home to Boulder, Colorado.  He tried to pay Joe for the help but my “Road Angel” would have none of it.  He told the man to just “Pay It Forward”.  When he has the chance to help someone in need that is how he could repay Joe.  I thank God daily for my Joe.

Lonely Sculpture

Lonely Sculpture

This sculpture is approximately 45 miles into Utah from Nevada.

In the larger picture you can just make out the tall object.  Standing out there with nothing around it but passing vehicles and salt.

In the smaller picture you can see the sculpture up close.  I purposely took this shot with the truck passing to show you the height perspective of this monolithic piece of art.

This tower has been where it is for the past 20 years.  I don’t know when it was erected nor the name of the art piece.  I just know that it has always been there.  Click on the smaller picture to have it enlarged so you can see it better.

Salt encrusted posts

This is the last of today’s post.

Speaking of posts….and I did, these fence posts have to be replaced from time to time.  The salt eats away at the wood and rots them.

There is water out there, covered by a layer of salt.  As you can see there are no aquatic birds bobbing on top of the water.  No sea gulls, no ducks, nothing except the salt layer on top of the water.

Okay.  This will do for today.  I’ve got laundry drying and about done.  Joe is getting antsy and wanting to leave.  I have one truck to get here in Salt Lake City and we are bound for Perrysburg, Ohio.  Depending on how long we are on the road daily, and available time I have, this may be the last post for a few days.


About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

10 responses to “Winnemucca to Salt Lake City

  • Nancy

    So much great information again! Thank you! Now I’ve got that great old song stuck in my head! lol I love that one too! I love the old westerns and the old musicals…that’s where I know this one from! It was originally done by Cole Porter. Then again by Roy Rogers for a movie that he and Dale Evans did. I believe it was also redone by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters…I’m not sure if it was for one of his musicals or just a special! Anyways…I’m pasting the lyrics here for you so you can brush up on the rest of the song! You and Joe can sing it in a video!! lol
    Love & prayers,
    Nancy 🙂

    Don’t Fence Me In

    Wildcat Kelly, lookin’ mighty pale,
    Was standing by the sheriff’s side;
    And when that sheriff said
    “I’m sending you to jail,”
    Wildcat raised his head and cried:

    Oh, give me land, lots of land
    Under starry skies above,
    Don’t fence me in.
    Let me ride through the wild open
    Country that I love,
    Don’t fence me in.
    Let me be by myself in the evening breeze-
    Listen to the murmer of the cottonwood trees,
    Send me off forever, but I ask you please,
    Don’t fence me in.
    Just turn me loose,
    Let me straddle my old saddle
    Underneath the western sky.
    On my cayuse,
    Let me wander over yonder
    Till I see the mountains rise.
    I want to ride to the ridge
    Where the west commences,
    Gaze at the moon till I lose my senses,
    Can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences,
    Don’t fence me in.

    Wildcat Kelly, back again in town,
    Was sitting by his sweetheart’s side,
    And when his sweetheart said:
    “Come on, let’s settle down,”
    Wildcat raised his head and cried:


    • Message In A Fold

      Thank you Nancy for posting the lyrics to that good old song. Oh, Joe and I singing this song?! You want to talk about caterwauling!! :-{

      Ghost Riders In The Sky gives me shivers each time I hear it. Love, absolutely love, that song.

      Over the years I have gleaned a bit of knowledge of just about every state we go through. Some of it is gossip and some of it is historical fact. Don’t know what I’m going to do with all this knowledge, I guess pass it off onto you guys 🙂
      Love you Girlfriend 🙂

  • Pati

    Oh that was sooo cool sis, now you have the words to the song in your head, i find myself singing along with the words.

    What great pictures and stories sis, yep, always leave them wanting more, isnt that what they say in show biz they tell me, always leave them wanting more, keep it up sis, i am enjoying your travels, and the stories you tell, say hi to Joe, love you both. Pati

    • Message In A Fold

      Thank you Sis.

      Even with the words right in front of me I still have trouble with how the song goes. I find myself doing what I normally do….da de da give me land de da dum.

      I am enjoying flapping my yap and sharing what I know, along with pictures in this blog. Storyteller for sure 🙂
      Love you both. Time is ticking by….won’t be long now!

  • William D. Tomany

    A great story you tell

  • Pati

    Yep! It wont be long now sis, so glad, keep sending lovely stories and pictures for us, so glad that everyone else is enjoying all this also.

  • Lynn Claridge

    Love that song and also like Ghost Riders. Think Gene Autry also sang Don’t Fence Me in. The sentiment suits my style of life!
    Oh I saw that film too Leslie and that ‘ornery old coot’ stills holds the record.
    I bet that chap and his family were so appreciative of the Highway Angel, good on you Joe.

    What marvellous engineering skills of all those people labouring away to build the railway. Such grit and determination and I think it has to outshine landing a man on the moon. If the people had had the modern technology what would they have achieved?? They certainly had the vision.

    I can appreciate how boring and bum numbing that trip must have been but love your take on the world that surrounds you especially likening that mountain to a bison moulting his winter coat – so apt!
    Thank you so much Leslie for taking up your valuable rest time to entertain and educate us 🙂

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      You know…this is kind of like an old grandpa or old uncle. Has interesting stories to tell – at first – then you hear them over and over again. I have fresh ears 🙂

      Mostly Joe gets to hear the stuff I learn, and likewise he tells me stuff he learns. We see so much of this country that it is almost a sacrilege not to share it 🙂 So, thank you Lynn for being a good listener and making this a joyful time for me instead of me whining about not being home doing what I really want to do. I do appreciate having a creative outlet – of sorts – since I have to spend so much time away from home.
      Love you – Leslie

    • Message In A Fold

      Sorry Lynn for the delay.

      My rest time seems to be the only time I can devote time to this blog. It is restful to me, anyway. No engine roar, bouncing, watching for darting traffic, keeping watch on the signs for road construction. Quiet time for me to get my thought together and share what I’ve seen and done in a calmer frame of mind. You can just consider this my “Gratitude Journal” that I share with everyone.

      I’ve heard police people say their jobs are dead boring except for the seconds of sheer terror. This job is the same way. Dead boring for most of the 10 hours we drive with mere seconds of something else. Thank God not sheer terror. Those times do come, but they are so few and far between.

      I think I’ll have to rent that movie with Sir Anthony Hopkins so Joe can watch it. “World’s Fastest Indian” I think is the proper name for it. Joe would like it.
      Love you – Leslie

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