Sunday, March 27, 2016

Nevada tripping, Metropolis and Bishop Hot Springs

Alright, because I know I would be pissed if someone dropped these amazing photos and didn't explain them, here is what I know. The town of Metropolis, Nevada (closest real town: Well, Nevada) was founded in 1910 by the Pacific Reclamation Company of New York.
The intent was to establish a model American farm based (let’s grow wheat in the desert!) town with a fancy central business district, grand hotel, amusement hall (whatever that was), a tree-lined park, train Depot (Southern Pacific Railroad spur from Wells), the Lincoln School (built in 1919), and other town amenities.
But in the 1930s, Metropolis was hit by a series of biblical plagues. First, jackrabbits; okay maybe "jackrabbit" reads more like Goose Bumps than Bible but at any rate, the rabbits showed up and ate all the crops. It happens. Today the rabbit population seems pretty damn healthy, cute cotton tails and demonic jackrabbits alike, hopping around which until we read the historical marker seemed sweet- then it was a little bit on the creepy side.
In 1936 a fire burned the town’s only hotel to the ground (boring). Next was typhoid (a little more interesting), followed by Mormon crickets (oldie but a goody), and the real death to any western town years of drought.
Actually, water killed this town before it was even born. The PRC (Pacific Reclamation Company) created a planned farming community with everything they needed minus one thing: a reliable water source.
The closest water to the struggling town was Bishop Creek, a tributary of the Humboldt River.  The PRC attempted to provide metropolis with adequate water by constructing an earthen rock-fill dam 7 miles east of Metropolis.
Bishop Hot Springs is about halfway up the same road- a road with its own sense of humor. It is drivable but you will need a high clearance vehicle & 4-wheel-drive. Personally, I also needed a beer; that’s okay because I wasn’t driving. You have to cross the creek several times it can get muddy & of course what goes well with rough and muddy? Steep & narrow!. In sections anyway. Like I said, totally driveable.
Okay, let's talk about Bishop Hot Springs. Big, plenty of room, clean- no trash!, good water, no sulfury smell, perfect temperature (hot bathwater), nice people but not too many nice people, lots of off leash dogs, great for families (which should read  wide-open not very private), evidence that it gets buggy and definitely watch out for thistles and goat heads. 
Also, not normally a recommendation i would make when traveling from Utah to Nevada but bring your own beer because 12-PBR will cost you about $13 in Wells! 
The road actually improved slightly after Bishop but despite BC’s assurances that people do this every day a snowbound road “suggested” he wasn't exactly telling the truth.  
We walked the final couple of feet up to the dam. Yep, it still stands, but it has not been used or maintained since 1980. And it is very scary. Very scary.
Historical rumor (I say this because it sounds fishy but I'm not bothering to look it up to prove it one way or another) is that the dam was built from brick remnants of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. 
Now usually a working dam is helpful to a water-starved town but a downstream water dispute with a town 200 miles away drastically restricted the town’s access/use of the water. In the end, there was simply was not enough water to farm with. The town dried up and faded away.
If you drive the dirt roads through Metropolis you will miss many of the “houses”. Walking turns up much more detail (and rabbits).  But an interesting, perhaps eerie note about the place the landscape hides things…including people.  I don’t know if it the light or the vastness but all the little hillocks and gullies seem to melt into the long flat horizon.  
BC and I have been doing this sort of thing together for 13 years not once have I ever heard him ask “Where’s Misty?’ but out there he must have asked the kids that question half a dozen times and I was only standing a few yards away. Yes, I tend to wander off but in Metropolis, I completely disappeared.
Here is where one warns fellow adventurers to not fall through the gaping holes in the second floor of the school, step on a rusty nail & get tetanus and die, or get hit in the head with crumbling cement. Not me.
What I want to warn about is the current residences of the Hotel Metropolis and the only event the whole trip that caused me to drop an F-bomb: a pair of nesting owls who will attack if they feel threatened or don't like your dogs as much as you do.
So that is Metropolis and Bishop Hot Springs. Perfect Easter day tripping (owl eggs). 
Get better soon, Little Mouse!
 SLC, Utah to Wells, Nevada and back.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! We had a blast. Honestly, the photos don't do the place justice. It was super-cool!

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  3. What a fun trip, awesome photos too! We're heading to Elko for my niece's birthday party in a couple of weeks, think we'll take a side trip on the way or way back. Thanks for sharing:)