Friday, May 7, 2010

The Loneliest Road in America

Today we drove Highway 50 from Reno to Ely, Nevada. A long time ago, this stretch of road was called the "Loneliest Road in America" by Life Magazine as it was free from traffic. Last night before taking "the Road" I read about it. Life gave it that name as a deterrent, but the nice folks in Nevada thought it was a great moniker and decided to play it up. Why not as there really is not that much to see in this part of Nevada.

Contrary to internet myth, the road is quite easy to drive; it has fuel and food along the way; it has cell service; and while it is not crowded, it is not empty either. I would say we saw over 200 cars today, but we were not counting. It is a very well maintained two lane road.

We entered the road in Fernley, (US 50 alt) and drove to Fallon. Because we had been warned that diesel might be hard to find, we filled up in Fallon (which is a good sized town with all sorts of franchises...typical of any developing city). Leaving Fallon was where the "lonely" started and we were "on the Road." The wider highway was left behind and a 2 lane "blue line highway" with a dotted yellow line and a "singer strip" to keep you from wandering out of your designated lane.

We stopped in Historic Middlegate Station for lunch. Nothing was there but a turn-around area that had been used by many folks and a sign saying the Ore House Saloon  (established in 1864) was 50 miles south.

If we had stopped about 2 miles further down the road, I would have taken pictures the "Famous Middlegate Shoe Tree" but we were moving along too quickly to stop and take a picture of it. Click here to see a picture of it and find out it's story.

The next stop was Austin which had 2 diesel stations and about 5 churches. I took one picture from the middle of the road as there was not any traffic.

Eureka was the next stop on the road, but it did not have much going for it either. We looked for a diesel station but found a old general store that was closed.

Last stop was Ely. Ely is huge in comparison to all the other towns along the way. Lots of different choices for food, fuel and lodging. After driving through tiny towns all day, Ely was a bit of a a shock. It looked so "normal" I did not take any pictures of it.

So, while we are not completely out of Nevada and we are not completely finished with the Loneliest Road in America, we did survive the hardest stretch of the road. It was fun. We've been driving the highways and byways of North America since the early 70s, and this was our first time on this stretch of highway 50.

The Loneliest Road is also the old Pony Express Trail and this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express. If you want to retrace all 1966 miles of that trail, and find out more about the sesquicentennial of the Pony Express, click here.

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