The Lincoln Highway in Basin and Range – Eureka, Nevada and Ford’s Defeat

There are several reference works everyone should have when playing along the Lincoln Highway, and today’s recommendation is a book that is available online: Effie Price Gladding’s Across The Continent by The Lincoln Highway written after her epic journey in 1914. Click on the title above and you will go to the online book.

Eureka is a typical Nevada boom-or-bust mining town and recent gold mining expansion has created a housing construction bonanza to the northeast of town. This is the $16 million Eureka Canyon Subdivision and is designed in part to accommodate the miners now commuting from Ely and other towns far away to work at the mine.

The town itself has a broad main street and quaint buildings. Please refer to this nice historical tour courtesy of Raine’s Market Unfortunately it seemed as though half the town was “For Rent” or For Sale.” I stopped at a little coffee shop just down the block from the Raine’s market and asked the proprietor why? She told me that it is usually that way in Eureka. People come for a few years, love it for a while, and then leave.

Effie Gladding in the book referenced above, said this about Eureka:

“We were glad indeed when the lights of our lamps flashed on the stakes with their familiar red, white, and blue markings, the friendly signs of our beloved Lincoln Highway. It was nearly nine o’clock when we came into Eureka, and drew up at the dim lights of Brown’s Hotel. Brown’s Hotel seemed to be mostly a bar room and lounging place; at least that was the impression made upon me by the glimpse I caught of the lighted room downstairs as I stood on the wooden porch.

” Eureka is a most forlorn little town, perched high and dry, just as if the waves of traffic and of commercial life had ebbed away and left it far up on the beach forever. They told us that it was once a big and prosperous town. But like Mariposa in California, the mining interests have been transferred to other localities and the town is left lonely. As we walked along its silent and dimly lighted main street, we saw the quaint wooden porches in front of the shops and houses, some high, some low, making an uneven sidewalk. Practically all of the shops were closed, only the saloons being open.”

The town burned twice according to Robert Wynn’s great ghost town site:

“The destructive fires in April 1879 and August 1880 destroyed most of the structures in the northeastern portion of town.Thus many of the buildings you see today were erected around 1880 – 1881. In contrast. little construction occurred after 1886 during the declining years when the mines and smelters ceased operations.”

West of Eureka – Ford’s Defeat

Recent construction has erased much of the highway near town. The right-of-way for the Eureka and Palisade Railroad can be seen easily however heading north to the Union Pacific (nee Central Pacific) at Palisade.

There is one feature I mentioned in an earlier chapter named “Ford’s Defeat” for which one should reference Franzwa’s book. I have not driven this section but will try to this year. Based on the directions given by Franzwa, I place the turnoff from Hwy. 50 at 39° 27.728’N 116° 42.360’W. Follow this road for nearly four miles south until you are blocked at 39° 24.796’N 116° 41.813’W. I then followed Google Earth carefully to see the roads and tracks mentioned in the book. Looking to the west/southwest you will see the old highway at 39° 24.256’N 116° 43.325’W. Let’s look at the map (click to enlarge):

Ford's Defeat West of Eureka

Now here’s a closeup from the center of the map above with the LHW delineated (click to enlarge):

LHW Marked at Ford's Defeat

This is certainly one road I’m going to try, fences permitting, when I take the Model T to Eureka in May.

That’s all for now folks. The roads east of Eureka I will cover in the next installment.

Up Next: Between Eureka and Ely

This entry was posted in Desert, Lincoln Highway, Loneliest, Loneliest Highway in America, Model T Ford. Bookmark the permalink.

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