Last summer (2016), we sat with our big U.S. atlas book and perused pages of the southwestern states and researched the web figuring out where we were going for the winter months. On a Facebook RV group page we frequent, a poster mentioned a cool RV Resort in Nevada, not far from Las Vegas, that looked like a good place to anchor down for a couple months. We called Wine Ridge RV Resort and was greeted by professional and friendly staff who helped us pick a site that was big enough for Liberty and made a reservation for November and December.
Once we got there, it was perfect for us!! Our aft picture window where our Nomad Cats nap and watch for wildlife backed up to a beautiful view of the mountains. The site was a spacious pull-through that was long enough for our almost 42′ 5th wheel, Idaho Tote with XT225’s and Captain America.
After we set up, we took a walk around the resort to see what it had to offer; which it did…LOTS! We will save that for our RV Park Review blog later, so please stay tuned. The next day, we jumped in Captain America to check out what the city of Pahrump had to offer…Home Depot, two grocery stores, a few diners, a few fast food places, a few other RV resorts and parks, a couple casinos, several gas stations, etc. The city even had a VA center.
Billboards entering the city from Las Vegas boast the city’s reputation as one of the RV meccas for snowbirds because of its milder and drier weather. There is plenty to do if you want to venture out or just the perfect, quiet place away from the big city lights of Las Vegas to take in nice afternoon naps in camp chairs.
After a few days of situational awareness and geographical research, we checked out a little old mining town, Shoshone which was about 30 miles from Pahrump. As you see, there is absolutely nothing to see on the way to or fro. Nothing.
…so, what’s a girl to do? Take a nap, of course!
Oh wait, I gotta take a picture first to show proof we were in California! (Good thing we didn’t have any produce in our lunches!)
So then I drifted off to catch a few zzzzzz’s. Because well, there was NOTHING to see and there was no signal on our phones for me to surf the internet or check our emails.
Meanwhile, 20 minutes later, we neared Shoshone, Dan woke me up from my cat nap. He pointed out right before the town’s main intersection, there was a odd looking, out-of-place, geological wonder on the right side of the road we just had to check out. There was no designated parking area so we just pulled off to the side of the road. It is registered by the local Historical District however, there was evidence of disrespectful past visitors (broken bottles, leftover fireworks, etc.).
Aside from that, we could literally feel the history with every step; wondering who lived here and why? What drew them to such an unforgiving terrain and arrid temperatures; especially in the summer months? We were only a few miles away from where Death Valley and Mojave Desert bordered. The formations and terrain reminded us much of our very first hiking experience in western Nebraska at Toadstool Geological Park three years ago.
Captain Dan hiked several steps ahead of me because I was nursing a back injury and severe sciatica. I told him to go ahead and enjoy his climbs and hikes while I vied to get some good photography shots. The contrast of the white sandstone structures stood out against the vivid blue sky. It was beautifully perfect.
He really enjoyed exploring all the holes and entrances. He left no grain untouched.
We learned this used to be a place where the miners and railroad workers lived back in the day. There were small dugout dwellings that lead from each of the entrance holes. There were some smaller dugouts where we think they may have had small cooking fires or ovens with updraft shoots or chimneys where the smoke could rise. There were also upward tunnels with eroded steps that led to other rooms. He had to be careful with each step because the sandstone proved slippery and uneasy footing. It didn’t help matters that we forgot our trekking poles. If you plan to come here, please take note. Oh, and add a gallon of water for each person too. We seemed to have forgotten that too. We were rather new to this whole ‘desert thing’. We know better now…..NOW *rolling eyes*
After we finished visiting the geological dugouts, we drove into the town just a mile down the road. Shoshone is a rural, unicorporated community in Inyo County, California that was founded in 1910. It is at the southern end of State Rt 894, off of US RT 93, just west of the Great Basin National Park. Its been noted as the southern gateway to Death Valley National Park. It’s population was a meer 31 in it’s 2010 census. The town’s amenities are just north of the southern intersection of California SR 127 and 178. Shoshone was a stop on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad which was shut down in 1940.
It was such a small town but it had the zest and personality of a small city. The citizens of Shoshone are proud of their town…all 30some of them. Coincidentally, the day we visited, there was a small craft fair that we walked about and talked with the locals. I bought a pair of earrings made by a Native American as my memorable souvenir. (RV travelers note…our souvenirs must be small…no…make that ‘tiny’).
We got to chat a little with a couple of Shoshone’s Bravest. These first responders were eager to show off their new ambulance that their town just procured. The past years, they solicited for funds to buy it through raffle tickets and other community fundraisers and grants. I can’t imagine having enough taxes and revenue to support public safety so they did what they had to do. They loved it when I asked if I could take their photo by their new apparatus.
Afterwards, we meandered down Main Street in the heart of Shoshone Village (oh, trust me, it wasn’t far!) to the only happening place in town; the ‘world famous’ Crowbar Cafe and Saloon. Its a well known stop for bikers and travelers because, well…its the ONLY place there to eat. We didn’t eat there however, we did read and hear from others who have that the food is pretty decent. But it sure did look like quite an inviting place to dine amidst the palm trees. There’s a small dance floor and a outdoor band setup. This little hidden gem was built in the 1930’s and continues to serve homecooked meals in a traditional western atmosphere. We promised ourselves we’d stop in for some grub and grog next time we go to Pahrump.
The Charles Brown General Store & Gift Shop (yes, I know…the sign says ‘market’) was only one store there that we patronized by by buying a couple bottles of water, some jerky and browsed the locally made Native American handcrafted souvenirs. This was a “one stop shop”…gas, propane, groceries, booze, souvenirs, hardware and coffee all under one roof. I guess when they have such a small town with few citizens and visitors, it’s all they need. This place was smaller than Mayberry.
Notably though, Shoshone Village has been a stopping point for film crews from Los Angeles who frequent(ed) Death Valley. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that there is an RV park with hookups (meh!), a campground and the Shoshone Inn (again…meh!). Supposedly there is camping, swimming, hiking, birding and many other activities but I’m thinking they are referring to neighboring Death Valley National Park, Ashland Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and the town of Tecopa just nine miles down the road which is a whole different world in itself (something about it’s hot springs). It has its own little Visitor’s Center and Museum (and gift shop) and post office (right next door to the Charles Brown Market) as well as the Death Valley Health Center. Also worth noting, the town does have its own little Shoshone Airport for small planes and helicoptors just in case you want to zip on in for a visit. It records about 58 flights a month.
So, let me tell you, Shoshone isn’t just any ordinary tiny town. It boasts rich history of mining and the beginnings of the railroad. We walked over to Dublin Gulch…which is a ghost town.
The miners sure left their mark in more ways than one. Because of the desert location and lack of building supplies to build homes or huts, they carved out little cave rooms aka ‘dugouts’ to live in…
…and left remnents of their cans of beans…lots and lots of these piles of rusty old cans were everywhere (tetnus anyone?). It must of been an interesting place sitting around the campfires eating their beans and talking about their days.
Now why all those cans? Well, think about it. Its not like the area is fertile to grow their own food and if there was a growing season, it was very short. Add in the lack of abundance of water…well, they were left with eating out of cans because really, did they even have enough water to do the dishes? TRUE STORY!!!
But they do make perfect homes for small desert wildlife, don’t you think?
Oh, and lastly, they perished there…
Many have been intrigued as to why we go these little towns like Shoshone Village. We are eager to learn about America and are interested in how people lived, worked and prospered to make our Country what it is today. Its these little towns that help fill in and connect the map dots. We enjoy sharing what weve learned and experienced with our family, friends and followers. We hope by sharing it will entice and encourage others to leave their own backyards and go on untraditional vacations and journeys.
This IS ‘small town’ America. These are the places where our Country’s blood, sweat and tears have fallen that we don’t learn about in history books, read about in newspapers, travel magazines or even the world wide web. These people were/are equally important and deserve to have their stories told.