The Great Basin and the Lincoln Highway – Ruth, New Ruth, and Big Mining

This is not an editorial piece about mining. I just found/shot some great photos and discovered some interesting history in this area.

The large mining operations here near Ruth, Nevada, just west of Ely, have been going on for a century.  The Lincoln Highway passed through Ruth in the early days and then over Jake’s Summit, but expanded mining means that the east side of the pass is now mostly inaccessible ( and seriously not recommended).

Ruth 1903

Ruth 1912

Ruth was a company town for Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, the successor to the White Pine Copper Company. The place boomed with the arrival of the Nevada Northern Railway in 1906 and by the late 1920’s had 2,300 inhabitants.

In the mid-fifties the town was closed by the present owner Kennecott Copper Corporation and many of the houses were moved. The site was then covered up by expanded deep-pit mining and New Ruth Came into being, about three miles north of the old location.

New Ruth Store, 2013

New Ruth Store, 2013

Sadly the fluctuation in the price of copper caused repeating bust and boom cycles, and mining in Nevada is often hit hard. New Ruth has not recovered from the last downturn although mining has resumed. The store closed back when gasoline was $1.69 (just when was that?). There are two bars and a post office, but many of the residences are vacant.

Hauling from the Big Pit

Hauling from the Big Pit

Everything about modern mining is big. This is the haulage road near Ruth from a pit somewhere just out of view. Trucks rumble up and down the road at all hours.

Liberty Pit 2012

Liberty Pit 2012

You may visit the Liberty Pit where there is a nice overlook. It will amaze you. Take the road over the bridge just south of Hwy. 50.

Waiting for the Green Light

Waiting for the Green Light

You will be waiting at the crossing on the way to the pit while the big haul trucks pass, but then you will have an opportunity to really appreciate the size of the equipment.

Here is a short video of the dumping operations.

Finally one “art piece” taken just behind where I took the video.

A Survivor

A Survivor

As always, travel wisely.


Posted in Desert, Ghost Towns, Gold Mines, Great Basin, Lincoln Highway, Loneliest, Nevada | 4 Comments

The Lincoln Highway in the Great Basin – The Shoe Tree at Middlegate

I’m sure that you will all be pleased to hear that the new shoetree is becoming well populated. (The old one was cut down in a lovers’ spat.)

The New Shoetree is doing Well

The New Shoetree is Doing Well

Well Populated

Well Populated

And while we are on the subject – This location is the site of the old Middlegate Station for the Pony Express and Overland Stage. Because it was in a dangerous location, it was washed away, twice, and the facility was moved to the site of the current Middlegate Station.

Across from the tree you can see the old Lincoln Highway, hugging the rim of the wash whereas Hwy. 50 boldly goes down the center of the gap.

Old Middlegate and the Lincoln Highway

Old Middlegate and the Lincoln Highway

You may drive on the old road here if you will close the gate once inside.

The shoetree is at  39°17’39.17″N 117°59’11.20″W for the GPS  inclined.

Until next time, travel wisely.


Posted in Desert, Ghost Towns, Great Basin, Landscapes, Lincoln Highway, Loneliest, Loneliest Highway in America, Nevada, Pony Express | 1 Comment

Out in the Nevada Desert

I’m back from the trip, which turned out to be great (thanks for asking). I covered 1500 miles in nearly two weeks, camping most of the time.

Let me begin with a photo from the Steptoe Valley, north of Ely, Nevada. This is a sparsely populated area as is most of the state. Old businesses, now out of business, are found here and there – this one at the bottom of the Schellbourne Pass. Originally this was a Pony Express and Overland Stage station. The original 1913 Lincoln Highway was just a mile away. Debris everywhere inside and the abandoned truck outside, together with the framing of the mountains, made this a delightful photo to compose.

Schellville Nevada

Schellbourne, Nevada

(Technical note: my Nikon D600 has a rated fourteen stops of dynamic range. This single shot, not bracketed, was processed with  Lightroom 5 and Photomatix Pro.)

Posted in Desert, Ghost Towns, Great Basin, Landscapes, Lincoln Highway, Nevada, Pony Express | Leave a comment

The Lincoln Highway in Basin and Range – On The Road Again

I actually did get back on the old road again, perhaps a little later than I thought I would. As a result it has been a very cold trip with lows in the 20’s. I’ll have a chance to post in detail once I get back home and can wade through the photos.Austin at Sunset

This is one of my favorite towns on the Lincoln Highway and I did look at some property for sale. I spent two days doing research and taking some back roads I had never visited before, including the Overland Stage route and Emigrant Pass.

Travel wisely,

Grover and Beasley

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Heading Out Again – LHW Here We Come

I’m packing the van, ready to head out on the Lincoln Highway again. Mr. Beasley will accompany me of course. Actually the van is named “The Beasleymobile” in his honor.

Beasley Pleads "Don't Go In There Dad"

Beasley the Traveler

This time I’m out for a month attempting to finish the “Lincoln Highway in the Great Basin” book so that it will be ready by the Lincoln Highway Association 2014 annual meeting next year in Tooele, Utah next Spring.
In the meantime I discovered a great resource for those who would like to explore the backroads of the state available from Nevada D.O.T.
First of all request a catalog here
What you are looking for is the Nevada State Atlas, all of $12 postpaid. It is a worthy companion to your gps. and as you know your gps is not to be trusted out in the wildlands.

I’ll be in touch. Travel safely,


Posted in Great Basin | 1 Comment

The Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley, California

Most of you know that I tend to favor black and white photography but there are many shots just crying out for color, like this one.

The red roofs are a corrugated tin that is highly reactive. Within two years of the installation of the new roofs, they had turned this color.


Here is an aerial view of the mineyard I took this year. This is just part of the huge park. The Empire was the largest producer of gold in the west. There is so much to see here, including a short trip underground in the main shaft.


Until next time,


Posted in California, Gold Mines, Grass Valley, Great Basin, Sierra Nevada History | 1 Comment

Flickr and The Empire Mine State Historic Park

I have been adding material to my Flickr account if you would care to take a look and comment.

In the meantime here is one more from the Empire Mine. As always, click to embiggen.

Whitewash - Empire Mine State Park

Whitewash – Empire Mine State Park

Cheers to all,


Posted in Great Basin | Leave a comment

The Empire Mine

Dear readers,

I haven’t forgotten you. I’m heading back to Nevada to finish the book in October.
In the meantime I started a photo series on the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley, California.

I am a volunteer here again after an absence of some years; I work in research and also with “The Over The Hill Gang” on maintenance and construction.

Rather than a general view of the mine’s operation and history, which you can find elsewhere on the web, this project is called “The Hidden Empire” or places that are hardly noticed by the visitor.

Some of these are taken in the mineyard where numerous pieces of equipment are on plinths out in the open and sadly rusting away.


Empire Mine Yard – Levers


Empire Mine Yard – Motor

I imagine these as fairly large prints when I mount them for exhibition in a few months.


For the technically curious – camera is a Nikon D600 at 24 MPixels, lens a 50mm f1.8 prime, RAW processed in Lightroom 4 using custom presets.


Posted in California, Gold Mines, Grass Valley, Sierra Nevada History | Tagged | 1 Comment

Dugway Range – Simpson’s Springs

On the Lincoln Highway’s present-day bypass around the south end of the Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds, one comes across Simpson’s Springs, which I’ve mentioned before. Simpson explored the route from the Salt Lake area to Genoa, Nevada in 1859. His work  laid the groundwork for the Overland Stage and Pony Express.

There is a campground there where I spent a couple of days waiting for the right light over the Dugway Range to the north of me. To the south of my campsite in the Simpson Mountains, I noticed this tree bathed in the light from the setting sun. I think it is a Piñon Pine but more knowledgable folks might take this opportunity to correct me.

Simpson's Springs

Simpson’s Springs

Whatever it may be, I love the image. Photographers will note that at least three exposures have been combined in this photo to achieve the balance of light I originally visualized.

Happy travels and beautiful sunsets to all of you.


Posted in Great Basin | 1 Comment

The Lincoln Highway in the Great Basin

Just a  short post to let you know that I opened my show in Grass Valley, CA on Monday.

Installation at Valentina's Bistro in Grass Valley

Installation at Valentina’s Bistro in Grass Valley

Photos in Exhibit

Lincoln Highway Collage – these photos are to be included in a larger exhibit

The show is open for the month of April with a reception this Saturday the sixth at two in the afternoon. The venue is small but quite nice and they have great coffee and meals.

I hope you can stop by. The venue is open only during weekdays from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and is located at  1041 Sutton Way, Grass Valley California 95945


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