The feature known as Sand Springs was an important place on the 1913 Lincoln Highway. It was here that the promoters encountered the dreaded Fallon Sink (nee Marsh) and attempted to get around it. It had an awful reputation. Go to this point in Google Earth (39° 17.664’N 118° 27.461’W) and look to the north; you will see how the early road attempted to skirt the sink.
A little further to the east you will find the Sand Springs Pony Express Station (39° 17.466’N 118° 25.095’W); the Lincoln passed close by here, just one dirt trail over from the road shown on the left in the photograph.
Just behind this ruin is the famous Sand Mountain, not so much of a mountain as one giant sandhill. My van is parked not too far from the LHW alignment. The little dots on the mountain are quads racing to the top.
Here is another view of the area; on the weekends this place is very, very popular with motor vehicles of all kinds. It’s not a quiet place to get much rest, but it is fun to watch the activity. There is a day use fee, but only when the entrance station is in service.
Sand Pass and a Drivable Section of the LHW
Near the entrance to the recreation area ( 39° 16.462’N 118° 24.722’W) is a drivable section of the highway. As you head across this section you will come across several marked LHW culverts. (Click the picture to enlarge.)
A safety note: if you are going to drive on this section, the far eastward end is on a blind curve and traffic is moving fast. I suggest that you use this marker to get on or off the highway (39° 15.934’N 118° 23.330’W).
Finally there is Sand Pass itself, just to the east of Sand Mountain. Here is a wonderful aerial of the old highway in Sand Pass. This would be in the curve shown at the middle right in the upper map.
And just east of this view is another drivable section of the old road ( 39° 15.934’N 118° 23.330’W) which you can access from the summit.
What Am I Seeing?
Now be careful when looking at Google Earth and also when looking out your window, because what may look like an old roadbed may not be. It is common in the desert for the highway department to put up berms, which look suspiciously like roads, for water diversion.
The items you are looking for are cuts and fills, pavement or compacted gravel, and culverts.
Could this be a railroad? Generally the railroads in Austin, Eureka, and Ely run north and south whereas the highway generally runs east and west. This could be a grade of a small mining road but in the instance proved itself to be a roadbed for vehicles. Just look carefully before you make up your mind as to what it is you find.
Very often there are inviting dirt tracks next to Hwy. 50 that just have to be the LHW but in fact are ranch roads, or more commonly pipeline roads (look for the orange markers). In canyons, look to the sides of the main highway. In the early days the roads would often skirt the sides of the washes and build up or cut into the canyon walls to avoid the water from flash floods.
These Are Your Friends
Lincoln Highway: Nevada by Franzwa
A GPS receiver into which you can easily enter waypoints (markers) and which also can take in detailed maps. My favorite device at the moment is a Garmin 60csx.
Next Up: Frenchman Flat