Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Pyramid Scheme

We have seen on various real estate agents' web sites some lots and land up northwest of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, close to the California state line. The prices were good, but the access was questionable. Various maps we have show minor roads into the area, including a platted-out set of roads, but it was unclear just how much development, if any, there really is there. So today we set out on this trip.

The first leg through Sprawlville North Sparks was unremarkable as we headed up NV-445 (Pyramid Way). Clearing the built-up area, the road went down to two lanes and eventually entered the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. We continued north along the highway. The road followed along the west side of Pyramid Lake, paralleling a clearly-visible abandoned railroad grade. Later research told us that it was the route of the Fernley & Lassen Railroad, later part of Southern Pacific connecting the former SP mainline at Fernley to the former WP mainline at Flannigan. Although this line has not seen trains for many years, the bright red ballast left behind makes it very visible.

Somewhat to our surprise, north of Sutcliffe, near a place identified as Warrior Point, NV-445 abruptly ended, as did the pavement. A decent-quality gravel-and-dirt road continued on. Relying on our DeLorme Nevada Gazetteer, we pressed on, as it indicated there were at least some roads that would take us up to where the theoretical land plots shown on the agents' web sites were. We figured that if the road got bad or if it started to snow, we could always turn around.

At the point where the road swung away from the lake is a place identified as George Washington Rock. We stopped for a few minutes here and took some pictures.

That's George Washington Rock behind Lisa posing with Kuma Bear in front of the Small Orange Truck. We don't know why it's called George Washington Rock. It didn't look much like the first President to me from any angle from which we looked at it.

Just beyond Washington Rock, we could look out at The Needles formation at the north end of Pyramid Lake. This photo has not been significantly modified other than to lighten it up a bit. This lake really is bright blue, which is quite striking against the arid surroundings.

Swinging away from the lake, the road and railroad closely follow each other through Astor Pass, first passing through a flat area identified as Zenobia on the map, presumably the name of a siding on the former F&L line.

Continuing over Astor Pass, we finally reached the Union Pacific (ex-Western Pacific) main line and the town site of Flanigan. This is another place with a bunch of streets platted on the desert, but very little to show for it. Possibly this was a more important place when it was the crossing of two railroad mainlines (The F&L/Modoc line and the WP). Today, all that is left is a railroad products recovery business and a few lonely-looking buildings and trailers, most of which seemed unoccupied or derelict.

The former SP Modoc (ex-F&L) line that once continued through to Klamath Falls but now goes only to Herlong where it serves the Sierra Army Depot stretches its lonely way northwest.


The map claims that a road sometimes called Calneva or Calvada Drive closely follows the UP (ex-WP) mainline from Flanigan to the California state line. The photo below shows where the map says the road should be.

We decided that this road (?) was not really for us. It's not that dirt and gravel roads we had been on for the past 90 minutes were expressways, but they didn't have any snow on them and looked like they had seen traffic in the past year or so. Besides, we had a sign on the road we were already on promising that we could get to Doyle and US-395 from here. Reinforced with this promise, we pushed on. Besides, by our reckoning, it was probably fewer miles of dirt road ahead of us than behind us.

So we continued along Fish Springs Road, spying some lonely ranches and a seasonal lake. There weren't many dwellings in the area, and most of them appeared to be temporary trailers possibly used as hunting lodges or shelters for ranch-hands in season.

The area just before the state line has a bunch of plat lines and theoretical roads on the maps. You can see them yourself if you zoom in on that Google map. They lie. They lie like a rug. Someone with enthusiasm for drawing up land plats is trying to flog off 40-acre lots in Nowheresville, located on land that appears to be underwater portions of the year. It's picturesque at times, and there is no doubt that Lisa would like to live on a slightly isolated spot near a railroad line, but this is a bit much!

We reached the California state line, and suddenly, the road, which had been decent if not exactly smooth, suddenly turned pretty bad. By then it was sufficiently dark that we could take no more photos, but by then we weren't all that interested in stopping, anyway. We actually passed a couple of places that seemed to possibly have people. There must be someone out here -- we passed a truck near Zenobia and a beat-up old VW Beetle near Fish Springs. Ironically, as we neared our goal of Doyle, we came perilously close to being t-boned by a pickup coming from a side road. Presumably he didn't expect to see any other vehicles out in this forsaken wilderness.

Finally we reached paved road again and the town of Doyle, and we headed toward US-395. As we turned onto the highway heading south toward Reno, we saw a small herd of deer on the other side of the road, but it was too dark to take pictures.

After having spent much of the afternoon beating our way through the back-roads of Washoe County, Nevada, the rest of the trip back to Reno was fairly uneventful. We made a brief stop at Hallelujah Junction, then headed straight down US-395 -- buffeted by high winds but only a dusting of snow -- to Reno and our hotel.

We were both a bit tired and edgy after this afternoon's trip, but at least we know now not to waste any more of our time looking at land plats on Calneva Way. I suppose we might conceivably go to Flanigan again someday for train-chasing purposes, but probably not in winter.
Tags: lisa, real estate, trains
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