Real Events In Real Places At Some Of The Most Interesting Locations In The Old West!

Rattlesnake Mine, Nevada

What's New?


The second edition of Rhyolite - the Boom Years is now available. It has essentially the same content, except for a few rewrites for added clarity and a few different pictures. It looks a lot different, however. Technology has changed, so the images are a lot better, and the paper stock is different.

Macdonald's Stage Coaches and Stations: Western Oregon 1850-1920 is now available. It complements the book on Eastern Oregon 1850-1920, which was published last year.

The newest issue of Western Places is Settlements of Pend Oreille county, Washington. This publication covers Newport, Metaline, Metaline Falls, Ione, Usk and Cusick, as well as more than a score of other communities which once had a post office.

The next Western Places issue will be Blue Mountains and Mitchell Mill in Calaveras County, California. Following that there will be a monograph on Goldfield, Nevada's boom years.

You can buy issues of the Western Places monograph series individually on this website. Or, if you want to routinely get every new issue as it becomes available, you may want to sign up for a subscription. With a subscription, you would get the next four issues for $40. Contact us if you would like to become a subscriber.

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Nevada May 2011

Delamar NV, Main St. E.

I chose May as a good time for a Nevada trip with my friend Bill Helmer because the weather is reliably nice, and it's not too hot yet on the southern deserts around Death Valley. Unfortunately, this year was exceptional. Two days at Lida and Gold Point were windy and cold, and on the second night there was a little powdery snow. Despite the conditions, we managed to visit the Palmetto and Blue Dick mines one day, and went to Stonewall Falls and Tokop the next.

There were supposed to be four nights of camping, the first at Delamar. The sun broke through the overcast just before sunset, and I took the opportunity to stroll Main Street under a full moon. That was the last we saw of the sun or moon for the next four days. May 17 we stayed at a motel in Ely and it snowed. May 18 found us in a motel in Eureka, where it snowed. I don't think it got above 50 degrees the whole week.

Travel on even the maintained gravel roads was inadvisable, which makes it difficult to get to most ghost towns. But we did manage to visit a few sites, the best of which was the remnants of Junction, a way station in northern Nye County. I had driven by the site many times, but never realized what it was or how extensive it was.

Heading for Hawthorne for Armed Forces Day on May 21, we made an excursion to Marietta, where no one was home but the burros. On the return trip to Oregon I finally got to visit Seven Troughs and its neighboring camps. I had considered the Seven Troughs range to be the most significant mining area in Nevada that I had not explored. It was worth the visit, and I may go back on a future trip.

Arizona May 2010

Cemetery at Fort Bowie AZ

Cemetery at Fort Bowie AZ

Gleeson AZ 100th Anniversary Celebration

Gleeson AZ 100th Anniversary Celebration

A May trip to Arizona with Marge found us walking a trail from the parking area to Fort Bowie, which was delightful and historical.  The trip included a visit to the ghost town of Dos Cabezos and other small towns of Cochise County.  We visited Gleeson to find a celebration of the town's founding going on, with descendants of early townsfolk dressed in costume.

California-Nevada July 2010
Wally Motloch took me on a tour of Blue Mountain City, the Heckendorn mine, and Mitchell's Mill in northern Calaveras County.  This included a visit to what is thought to have been the smallest post office in the United States. A publication is in the works.

Mountain Ranch CA post office

Mountain Ranch CA post office--was smallest PO in U.S.

A drive from Calaveras County to Hawthorne, Nevada included stops at the Chemung mill and the townsite of Masonic.   The stop at Hawthorne included a visit to the ghost town of Coryville.  Coryville is difficult to reach not because of bad roads, but because there is a locked gate at the mouth of the canyon since Coryville Canyon is the water supply for Hawthorne. Even if you can't go up the canyon, there is a nice mill site outside the locked gate.

Coryville NV, mine hoist and cable

Coryville NV, mine hoist and cable

It was a nice trip.  I got to camp out four nights in three different ghost towns - one night each at Gold Point NV and Blair NV with a full moon, and two nights at Belmont NV, where it rained both nights.  The stop at Gold Point was bittersweet; while it's always nice to find oneself in Gold Point, the occasion this time was to attend a memorial service for my friend Pat Miles, who passed away in June.

Another highlight in NV was a visit to Stone Cabin ranch, which has been in the Clifford family since 1883.  I'm working towards a publication on this area that would include Salisbury Wash, Ellendale, Helena, and maybe Bellehelen or Hannapah. Stone Cabin ranch is a focal point for these camps.

Stone Cabin NV ranch

Stone Cabin NV ranch

Montana Sept. 2010
The occasion for this trip was the annual meeting of the Montana Ghost Town Preservation Society, this year held in Polson on the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Flathead Reservation to settlement.  The events included a field trip to several museums, lunch on one of the original homesteads, informative speakers, and a visit to Ft. Connah, built in 1846 and thought to be the oldest structure in Montana.

Fort Connah, the oldest building in MT

Fort Connah, the oldest building in MT, was used as Hudson Bay Trading Post

Prior to the meeting Marge and I spent several nights camping, including several nights on the northwest side of Glacier National Park at Bowman Lake.  The Polebridge Store is still there, its bakery an attraction to anyone in the area.  I wish I had been to Polebridge before the 1988 fire, which burned 25 buildings on the old town site.

Polebridge MT General Store

Polebridge MT General Store

We crossed the Park on the Going-to-the-Sun road, but saw neither sun nor peaks because of rain and low clouds.  Next day we worked down the east side of the Rockies, visiting small farming towns like Dupuyer, Valier, Pendroy and Augusta before heading for Polson.  I'm hoping to have some Western Places publications on Montana places in coming years.

Coming home, I selected a road I had never before taken over the Bitterroot Mountains.  It runs from Superior, Montana to Pierce, Idaho - 90 miles, most of it gravel.  The steep part on the Idaho side is paved, as well as the last several miles into Pierce, and it's all narrow.  It's a beautiful drive, but slow and with no services.

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