One of the allures of the West Desert is the incredible sense of isolation and expansiveness. On any given weekend you could have an entire mountain range to yourself. Despite the overwhelming sense of loneliness one typically feels out here, nearly every mountain range at some point in the past has been home to hundreds or even thousands of hearty souls trying to make a living off of the land. Typically, these were miners and those that provided goods and housing for them.
Well, until I get some time to get back out into the desert this fall, here are some pictures from a few past memorable trips.
These buildings housed the miners that worked the Revenue Mine in Pine Grove Canyon of the Wah Wah Mountains. Very few have ever heard of Pine Grove and it is a long ways a way from any modern settlement. Thus, places such as this are very well preserved and have not been shot up or torn down for firewood like more conveniently accessed ghost towns.
Looking inside the flooded Revenue Mine.
Pine grove is an oasis in the desert with a nice flat, grassy valley bottom that has a year-round stream and a large population of giant ponderosa pine.
Above: Modena is one of several near-ghosts along the Union Pacific line to Pioche.
Gold Springs near the Utah-Nevada stateline is even more remote than Pine Grove and has the best-preserved cabins from the gold-mining days that I've seen.
Above: One of the most modern ghost towns in Utah is the Desert Range Experimental Station. Imagine if someone took a quaint little subdivision (with nice paved streets, sidewalks, and even a tennis court!) and plopped it out in the middle of the desert.
The nearest town is Milford about 50 miles away. The station was established in the 1930s by President Hoover and was mandated to conduct studies on the effects of sheep grazing on high-desert rangeland. It is still maintained by the Forest Service and there are ongoing studies, but I'm pretty sure no one has permanently lived there since the 1970s. A pretty creepy place to visit today.
Old Frisco: a well known ghost town born in 1876 west of Milford. From all accounts, Frisco was one of the wildest towns anywhere in the west. There were 23 saloons in town, and gunfights and murders occurred daily requiring a regular "meat wagon" to haul the dead to boot hill. In it's hay-day Frisco boasted a population of 6000 and had a large business district with fine hotels and stores. Frisco's mines produced several tens of millions of dollars in Silver, but it all came to an end when the entire mine caved in early in 1885.
Charcoal kilns at old Frisco.