Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Sunday Driving

US-50 across Nevada is famously "The Loneliest Road in America" and the state of Nevada has capitalized on this by having a US-50 "survival guide" program, where you collect stamps at various locations along they way, and you get a prize. Lisa drove the road from east to west long before we moved here, but it turns out that she didn't actually drive the entire route of US-50 because in order to put Fernley on the trip route, it takes you through Alt US-50. US-50A diverges from US-50 at Leetville Junction west of Fallon, runs through Fernley to within a couple of blocks of our house, then turns south to Silver Springs where it meets US-50 again. The Fernley-to-Silver-Springs section is also Alt US-95.

As it happens, neither she nor I have ever had a reason to drive over the section of US-50 between Leetville Jct. and Silver Springs before, so yesterday, being bored and with the house losing ground on air conditioning, we took a little drive in the (air conditioned) minivan to fill in the last segment of US-50 in Nevada for both of us.

We headed east toward Fallon, but turned back before we got there at Leetville Jct. and proceeded east. This took us across the north side of Lahontan Reservoir, which is filled by the Truckee Canal that diverts water from the Truckee River at Derby Dam and makes the Fernley-Silver Springs-Fallon area inhabitable. It was part of the very first project of the US Bureau of Reclamation, and is called the Newlands Project, not (as I initially thought when I heard the name) because it reclaimed "new lands," but after Francis Newlands, US Representative and later Senator from Nevada, who was a driving force behind the 1902 law that established the US Bureau of Reclamation. That this personally benefited him by making his large land holdings in the area significantly more valuable is not likely to be a coincidence. (Newlands was not a very nice person, but if weren't for him, I wouldn't be able to live here because there wouldn't be enough water to support a city of 20,000 people.)

We briefly stopped at the overlook at Lahontan Dam, but things were much too crowded as lots of people were out due to the hot summer weather, and we stayed safely in our car before continuing west, crossing the Union Pacific (ex-SP) "Mina Sub" (the tracks from Hazen on the main line that currently run as far as Hawthorne NV and once led all the way to Bishop and beyond and also formed part of the line that would take you to Tonopah and eventually Las Vegas) and entering Silver Springs.

Rather than turning right and going home immediately, we continued on to the south end of USA Parkway (NV-439) and then went up and over the hill into the enormous Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, possibly best known as the site of Tesla's Gigafactory 1. We generally don't go near here on weekdays as it's crowded with big rigs and workers going to and from the many warehouses and industries that have taken advantage of Storey County practically giving away half of the county to them. On weekends it is much quieter, and the many wild horses in the Virginia Range mountains come down out of the hills and wander about. We slowly puttered through the park after getting off the main road and watched horses, looked at the various businesses, and also watched for train activity. The industrial park is rail-served, and we're glad to see that many of the businesses there do actually use rail for their businesses.

Swinging farther west along Waltham Way, we drove past NV Energy's Frank A. Tracy Generating Station (a combined gas-turbine and steam-turbine power plant) before getting onto I-80 and rolling home. So we got out of the house for a couple of hours and saw a few things of interest to us without compromising social distancing and our safety. We won't have any long road trips this year (even the drive we made last weekend wasn't all that long by our standards), but it was helpful to have something to combat boredom.
Tags: nevada

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