Monday, December 19, 2011

Goldfield's Combination Mine Headframe

Members of the Goldfield Historical Society and others attended the dedication on Sunday, November 13.
The Goldfield Historical Society recently dedicated and placed a plaque on the headframe next to the Santa Fe Saloon and Motel. The plaque reads as follows:

Combination Mine Headframe        

An original headframe from the Combination Mine, on the Combination No. 1 claim, located  by Alva D. Myers and R.C. Hart on May 26, 1903. In 1989, it was moved to this location from approximately 1/4 mile east, in the Goldfield Mining District, by the Red Rock Mining Co.

Gold was discovered approximately two miles north by Harry Stimler and William Marsh in December 1902. This created much excitement, and a rush to stake the first claims was on. In the summer of 1903, interest in the Grandpa District (later renamed Goldfield) was waning. However, some of the original prospectors and investors refused to give up, including Myers. Subsequently, in the fall of that year, his discovery at the Combination paid off and became one of the richest ore producers in the district.

The recorded production of gold from the Goldfield District for the period 1903-1960 was nearly 4.2 million ounces from about 7.7 million tons of ore. At least 98 percent of this was from an area less than a mile long and a few hundred feet wide, which included the Combination claims.

"It was a very nice ceremony, and I'm hoping the Goldfield Historical Society will be doing more of these in the future," said member Dominic Pappalardo.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nevada Northern Railway offers photo scholarship

Photo: Matthew B. Brown
TRAINS Magazine and Ely's Nevada Northern Railway Museum are offering a special Steam, Steel, and Strobes Scholarship to attend the historic railroad’s annual Winter Steam Spectacular Photo Shoots. The free contest is open to anyone age 18-30. There are two opportunities available—February 3-5 and 10-12. An individual will be selected for both events.

The photographer selected will receive a Photo Shoot Scholarship and a $500 stipend, which can be used for travel to Ely. He or she will work with professional photographer Steve Crise during the February 2012 events.

To apply for the scholarship, applicants must e-mail a proposal of no more than 250 words along with three (3) low-resolution images to TRAINS Editor Jim Wrinn at Entries must be received by Dec 31, 2011.

The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is located roughly halfway between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.


Steve Crise:
Nevada Northern Railway Museum:
Trains Magazine:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

McKeen Motor Car Nominated for National Historic Landmark Status

Nevada's McKeen Motor Car served on the historic V&T Railway until 1945.
Ron James, chairman of the National Historic Landmarks Committee, announced today that the McKeen Motor Car at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City has been recommended for listing by his committee.

“If the nomination clears the remaining hurdles, this will be the first piece of railroad equipment to win an individual place in the list of National Historic Landmarks,” he said.

The National Landmarks Committee of the National Park System is meeting for three days in Washington, D.C. to deliberate on 15 properties. Recommended nominations will subsequently appear before the Advisory Board for the National Park System, which then recommends nominations for listing by the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. James also sits on the Advisory Board and serves as the state historic preservation officer for Nevada.

“I couldn’t be more delighted by the outcome of yesterday’s meeting,” said Peter Barton, the administrator for the Nevada Division of Museums and History. Barton appeared before the committee to present the nomination, which was drafted by Michael “Bert” Bedeau, district administrator of the Comstock Historic District Commission.

“Listing of the McKeen Car will boost our efforts to gain national recognition for this important resource,” Barton added. The McKeen Car was previously granted the lower level of recognition by being listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Other locomotives and rolling stock are listed as parts of districts. Seven other sites — including Virginia City and Hoover Dam — are listed in Nevada, and there are fewer than 2,500 landmarks listed nationwide.

The McKeen Motor Car is significant as a rare example of William McKeen’s effort to use internal combustion engines for rail travel, which previously had only used steam propulsion. McKeen also experimented with streamlining and use of lightweight metals for his motorized railcars. This resulted in lower capital and operating costs and had the effect of preserving passenger and express service on lightly-populated railroad branch lines across the United States.

Approximately 160 McKeen Motor Cars were built from 1905 to 1920. Nevada’s example of the McKeen Car served on the famed Virginia and Truckee Railway after the turn of the 20th century. Once retired in 1945, the vehicle was converted into restaurant and then retail space in Carson City. In 1995 it was donated to the Nevada State Railroad Museum, where staff spent years restoring the McKeen Car, the nation’s only survivor of its kind that is able to move under its own power.

“Nevadans should be proud of this rare artifact and of the exemplary efforts of the talented staff at the Nevada State Railroad Museum,” James said. “With this first level of approval, I am hopeful that listing can occur in 2012.”

Read about Nevada train attractions here. View and download images of the McKeen Car here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nevada Magazine Highlights Reno-Tahoe Territory

Photo: Chris Talbot
Nevada Magazine’s November/December 2011 issue — the Reno-Tahoe Territory Special Edition — will be available soon on newsstands throughout Nevada. In it are a feature on Lake Tahoe ski resorts and a roundup of northwestern Nevada cities and towns, including Carson City, Reno, and Virginia City.

Also highlighted are Reno-Tahoe Territory’s lakes and parks, the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, noteworthy events in the territory, and a history story titled “The Six-Week Cure,” about Reno’s liberal divorce laws in the 1930s and the effect they had on the city.

The issue concludes Nevada Magazine’s 75th-anniversary year. To celebrate the milestone, the magazine covered Nevada’s six tourism “Territories” in 2011, customizing each of the year’s six issues to honor Las Vegas Territory, Pony Express Territory, Cowboy Country, Indian Territory, Nevada Silver Trails, and, finally, Reno-Tahoe Territory. Read all the Territory issues here.

Nevada enthusiasts can package the six special Territory issues with other great Nevada Magazine products such as the 75th-Anniversary Edition and 2012 Nevada Historical Calendar. The magazine is offering a number of great holiday gifts, such as the Nevada Lover's Package. Find out more at, or by calling 775-687-0603.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Great Basin National Park Celebrates 25 Years

Great Basin National Park's Lehman Caves.
Superintendent Andy Ferguson welcomes visitors to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center Thursday, October 27 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the park’s establishment in 1986. During the all-day open house there will be special displays. Light refreshments will be served at 10 a.m.

Due to this special occasion, Ferguson will suspend collection of cave-tour and camping fees for the day. There are four scheduled tours of Lehman Caves at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. There are 20 spaces per tour. Advance ticket sales (no fee) will be taken until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26. You can also call 775-234-7331 (ext. 242) to request an advance ticket. If there are any spaces remaining, they will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Campground fees will also be suspended for the night of October 27.
Nevada Magazine's June 1987 cover,
featuring Great Basin National Park.

The Western National Parks Association Bookstore at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center will offer a 15% discount on all products including cards, maps, books, and games.

On behalf of Great Basin National Park, Ferguson expressed his appreciation for all of the support and goodwill that has been shown over the past 25 years. He hopes to be an even better neighbor in the years to come.

View more photos from Great Basin National Park here. Read more about Great Basin National Park and Pony Express Territory's other parks here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nevada Magazine’s 2012 Historical Calendar Now Available

Early 1900s Lake Tahoe is featured on the cover of the 2012 calendar, which also includes black-and-white images from Carson City, Las Vegas, and Reno.
The 2012 Nevada Historical Calendar, produced by Nevada Magazine, is now available for purchase. For 40 years, Nevada residents and enthusiasts have enjoyed the award-winning wall calendar full of black-and-white photographs from years gone by. It also makes for a great holiday gift.

Each calendar is $12.99 plus $4 shipping and handling. To order, visit, or contact Publisher Janet Geary at 775-687-0603 or

Nevada state employees can get the calendar for a special price of $10 each by contacting Pati Stefonowicz at 775-687-0633 or

Also available are a number of exciting subscription offers, such as the Nevada Lover's Package, which make great holiday gifts as well. The Nevada Lover's Package includes the 2012 Nevada Historical Calendar, the 191-page 75th-Anniversary Edition, six 2011 issues dedicated to Nevada's Territories, and a one-year (six issues) subscription.

To learn about the the many combo offers available, visit, or call Geary at 775-687-0603.

Nevada Press Association Honors Nevada Magazine

Left to Right: Melissa Loomis, Carrie Roussel, Matthew B. Brown, Janet Geary, Tony deRonnebeck. Not Pictured: Charlie Johnston, Sean Nebeker, Pati Stefonowicz
Nevada Magazine won First Place-General Excellence, and Editor Matthew B. Brown was named Outstanding Journalist, among other accolades, in the Magazines category of the 2011 Nevada Press Association awards. Plaques and certificates were distributed at a ceremony at the historic Piper's Opera House in Virginia City on Saturday, October 15.

Among Nevada Magazine's other distinguished honors are:

Advertising General Excellence

Best Page Designer(s)
First Place: Tony deRonnebeck
Third Place: Sean Nebeker

Best Entertainment Writing
First Place: Charlie Johnston

Best Regular Department
First Place: “History

Best-In House Promotion
First Place: Sean Nebeker, “We're Traveling Nevada

Best Multiple Photo Essay
First Place: Tony deRonnebeck (designer) and various photographers, “Wildflowers of Nevada”

Best Feature Story
Second Place: Charlie Johnston, “Tales From Las Vegas

Best Illustrated Photo
First Place: Steve Woodbury (Nevada Commission on Tourism), “Rhyolite

Best Feature Photo
First Place: Rachid Dahnoun (freelancer), “Pyramid Lake”

A complete list of 2011 Nevada Press Association award winners can be found here. Nevada Magazine also won First Place-General Excellence in 2009, the first year the Nevada Press Association added magazines to its annual awards competition.

"This is especially rewarding during our 75th-anniversary year," says Publisher Janet Geary. "We are extremely honored to be recognized by our peers in the journalism industry."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sandoval Declares October Nevada History Month

Governor Brian Sandoval signed a proclamation on September 30 declaring October Nevada History Month. Sandoval selected the month of October because Nevada became a state on October 31, 1864. 

“Nevada is a state with a rich history, borne of different Nevadans' experiences,” Sandoval says. “Visiting a museum, a park, or reading a history book during this month can help Nevadans better understand their own families’ history. History helps us understand all that we are today.”

During history month, Sandoval will be tweeting historic trivia every day from his twitter account @GovSandoval using the #nvhistmo hashtag.

Kicking off historic trivia, on September 30 in Nevada history in 1935, Hoover Dam was dedicated. To learn more about the Dam, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation has put together a classroom lesson plan on the Dam. It can be found here: “The Greatest Dam in the World”: Building Hoover Dam.

To read more about Nevada history, visit Also, visit the Nevada state museums or parks websites. Much of Nevada’s history can be discovered at Online Nevada Encyclopedia as well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Touring the Nevada Test Site

DOE helicopters fly radiation-monitoring personnel and photographers over Yucca Flat during tests. Yucca Flat is dotted with more than 200 subsidence craters from underground explosions.
By David Lusvardi

Who knew that you could find a broken-up Delta Airlines fuselage in the middle of the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site)? Or a house that has withstood an atomic blast? What about a bridge section that looks like a bent-up piece of Chicago’s “L” Train? 

Just an hour north of Las Vegas lies the Nevada National Security Site, a restricted area of government land that is rich in history, and even richer in legend. What really went on there, and what are they doing there now? Amazingly enough, you can find out for yourself. The U.S. Department of Energy offers free monthly tours of the famous site. You need to sign up months in advance, however (the next available tour is April 24, 2012). Also, prospective visitors need to provide personal information in advance for clearance to tour the site.

Within the restricted area, visitors will be entertained by signs such as:
• Caution: Underground Radioactive Material
• Controlled Area (on smaller roads that fork off from the main road)
• Caution: Radioactive Material
• Radioactive Area, Digging Prohibited

In one area, where they used to test nuclear bombs, they built elevated railroad sections, similar to Chicago’s “L” train. You can see how the historic blast bent the steel and pulled out the rivets from the sections. Nearby is evidence of the aluminum and steel test domes that were warped and wrinkled like paper or foil. Other structures of brick, wood, and earth demonstrate their various abilities or inabilities to withstand a nuclear explosion.

In a different section, houses were built, stocked with mannequins, furniture, and food to test the effects of atomic tests. Cars, airplanes, railroads, and different types of buildings were constructed to see how they would hold up.

The trenches are still there, from which some of the military observed the blasts. So is News Nob, where reporters could watch the happenings.

The largest cratering shot in the Plowshare Program, Sedan Crater, was fired at the Nevada Test Site on July 6, 1962.

An interesting site is the massive Sedan Crater, blown out on July 6, 1962. This was to demonstrate the potential of Nuclear Excavation, which could save time on major building projects. The explosion displaced 6.5 million cubic yards of earth. That number may not mean much to most people, but the 1,280-foot diameter crater can be seen from earth orbit.  Speaking of orbit, in 1970, NASA astronauts trained at the site to take advantage of the virtual lunar landscape.

A different section of the NNSS, Frenchman Flats, houses a low-level radioactive waste facility. Although we hear about these on television, most people do not see them. There are a number of large fields that look like man-made mesas which are 8 to 12 feet above ground. Each is a finished “cell.” A cell is a big, flat-bottomed pit that is dug into the ground into which large metal containers are stacked neatly and organized by size. 

The large metal containers, which look similar to dumpsters, contain waste that is shipped in from all over the country. Most of the waste inside is concrete, debris, or soil. A typical cell is 25 feet deep. When the cell is full, it is covered over with dirt to bury the waste. The cell may be finished, but it is constantly monitored for alpha, beta, and gamma rays, as well as temperature and moisture, to make sure it does not pollute the ground water or atmosphere. Last year, there were 3 million cubic feet of nuclear waste received; this year a total of 1.8 million is anticipated.

The majority of the NNSS is surrounded by the Nevada Test and Training Range (U.S. Air Force). Three sides of the site are adjacent to Air Force-held land. The bottom section of the site is adjacent to Bureau of Land Management lands.

Other places within the site include the cement plant, where they manufacture all of their own cement, and an epoxy plant, where they make the material to plug the holes after testing. There is also a Homeland Security Research and Development facility to develop new equipment and another area to train fire, police, and other first responders in the event of a radioactive emergency.

Much of the rest of the vast site is mountains and valleys with sporadic mounds of dirt, pipes and tubes sticking out of the ground, locked shacks, warning signs, and Joshua trees.

To make plans for your own tour of the Nevada Test Site, click here.

To see more photos from the test site, click here.

Read about the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas here.

Photos courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Site Office

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nevada Magazine hosts IRMA conference in Reno

Nevada Magazine, the official state tourism publication, will host the International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) conference September 9-12 at Reno’s Peppermill Resort Spa Casino.

IRMA’s 51st annual conference will bring together regional publications from Canada and the United States to The Biggest Little City in the World. “One very productive aspect of the IRMA conferences is the informal sharing of information, everything from contributors’ fees to good advertising strategies,” says Elizabeth Folwell, creative director for Adirondack Life, based in upstate New York. “Questions come up outside the formal presentations in the spirit of working together.”

In addition to their time spent in Reno, some of the more than 70 conference attendees will tour South Lake Tahoe the afternoon of September 9, and all the conference guests will spend the evening of September 12 riding the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, followed by dinner, in historic Virginia City. Reno’s Siena Hotel Spa Casino will host a reception and dinner as well on September 11.

On Saturday, Susan Breidenbach, social media specialist at Reno’s ProNet, will present at the conference, followed by Alan Deutschman, professor and Reynolds Chair of Business Journalism at University of Nevada, Reno. Other General Session speakers during the conference include Beth Roy and Eileen White of Iowa fulfillment company CDS Global and Toronto-based editor and consultant Kim Pittaway.

A complete conference agenda can be found here.

“The fact that we’re hosting this conference during our 75th-anniversary year makes it extra special,” says Nevada Magazine Publisher Janet Geary. “We are excited to not only reconnect with our partners in the magazine industry, but also to introduce the Reno-Tahoe area to out-of-towners.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hamilton's Aviation Tour Lands in Reno

Hamilton has been timing the skies since 1919, providing pilots with precision-crafted navigation instruments.
Paying tribute to almost a century of proven aviation heritage, Hamilton is launching a Fall Aviation Tour of the United States, in which it will send its new Hamilton-branded VOTEC 221 Mock-Up airplane to multiple cities around the country for plane and watch enthusiasts to enjoy.

The plane’s first stop will be in Reno, where it will remain on display for 30 days at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. In October, the plane heads to Greensboro, NC, where it will be stationed at Fink’s for several weeks. Later, the plane will make its journey to Los Angeles for a month-long visit, making stops at two different retail locations. Its final destination will be Chicago, where it will land at Abt Electronics and remain grounded for close to a month.

Painted in Hamilton’s signature orange and black, the VOTEC 221 Mock-Up is Swiss-made and was built using components certified for aircraft construction. It has a Wingspan of 20.7 feet and is more than 19.5 feet long. It is approximately 5.25 feet high and weighs around 1,000 pounds.

To learn more about Hamilton’s complete line of timepieces, visit

Monday, August 22, 2011

Las Vegas resident wins Nevada Magazine’s 2011 Photo Contest

The winning image, titled “Night Sky Over Ward Charcoal Ovens,” was taken at
eastern Nevada’s Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. Photo: Thomas McEwan
Thomas McEwan, who captured a starry night at eastern Nevada’s Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park, is the Grand Prize winner of Nevada Magazine’s 34th annual Great Nevada Picture Hunt photo contest—the feature story in the publication’s September/October issue.

The winning image, titled “Night Sky Over Ward Charcoal Ovens” and shown above, was stitched together from six 75-second exposure frames and is a tribute to Nevada’s astronomical appeal. “You would think it would be jet black at night, but the starlight was so bright, I was able to work without a flashlight,” says McEwan, from Las Vegas.

In addition to the Grand Prize, photographers were judged in six categories: Las Vegas Territory, Pony Express Territory, Cowboy Country, Indian Territory, Nevada Silver Trails, and Reno-Tahoe Territory (see map here). The Nevada Commission on Tourism has split the state into these six “territories” for marketing purposes.

All the 2011 category winners and runners-up are Nevada residents, including Reno’s Sally Hanrahan, who won the Indian Territory and Reno-Tahoe Territory categories. Hanrahan’s winning photos are of Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe, respectively.

Nevada Magazine’s
September/October 2011 issue.
Photo: Dave Harrison
The other territory winners are as follows: Kurt Kuznicki of Reno for “Joshua Trees”; Robert Rollins of Reno for “Fort Churchill”; Roy O’Brien of Gardnerville for “Autumn Morning” taken in Lamoille Canyon; and Brian Beffort of Reno for “Wilderness Whitewater” snapped near Mount Grafton.

Like Hanrahan, Spring Creek’s Jodi Esplin is also a dual honoree, taking Runner-Up in the Cowboy Country category and Third Place in the contest’s seventh category, “Then & Now,” in which photographers were asked to re-create former Nevada Highways and Parks or Nevada Magazine cover images.

The winner of Then & Now, Dawn Andone of Panaca, was rewarded for her modern-day photo of Cathedral Gorge State Park, a re-creation of a March 1937 cover of Nevada Highways and Parks.

To view the winning images, pick up the latest issue at national bookstores and where magazines are sold in Nevada, or visit Look for an ad in a future 2012 issue covering rules of submission for the 2012 contest, or check back regularly at

Nevada Magazine celebrates Nevada Silver Trails

The remainder of the September/October 2011 issue honors Nevada’s second-largest territory, Nevada Silver Trails. In it are features on Silver Trails parks and recreation—including Death Valley National Park and Lincoln County’s five state parks—and a roundup of 17 south-central towns.

Also highlighted are Yerington’s Jeanne Dini Cultural Center, Death Valley Junction’s Amargosa Opera House, off-the-beaten-path destinations, noteworthy events, and a history story titled “Gold Finds Make Nevada History,” an excerpt from Nevada Magazine’s 75th-Anniversary Edition and the July 1936 issue of Nevada Highways and Parks.

As part of its 75th anniversary, the magazine is highlighting Nevada’s six “Territories” in 2011, customizing each of the year’s six issues to honor Las Vegas Territory, Pony Express Territory, Cowboy Country, Indian Territory, Nevada Silver Trails, and Reno-Tahoe Territory. The November/December 2011 issue will cover Reno-Tahoe Territory.

Nevada Magazine welcomes Southern Nevada Sales Manager

Nevada’s official tourism publication is proud to add a new member to its sales team: Jan Johnson of Las Vegas. Johnson brings a wealth of experience in the publishing business to her new role as Nevada Magazine’s Southern Nevada Sales Manager, and her main initiative will be to sell advertising in the state agency’s sister publication, Las Vegas Events & Shows.

As secretary of the Las Vegas Territory and treasurer of the board of the Destination Services Association, Johnson is well connected in Southern Nevada. She will team with Director of Advertising Carrie Roussel, who is based in Carson City.

In the past, Johnson has worked for a Los Angeles-based publisher and was the publisher for the New York Convention Bureau for many years. Her more than 10 years in Nevada’s largest city has included stints as media manager for Westgate Resorts — the mastermind behind I Love Las Vegas magazine — and associate publisher for Bosley Publishing of Today in Las Vegas magazine.

“We’re very happy to have someone with Jan’s experience and tourism knowledge representing us in Southern Nevada,” Nevada Magazine publisher Janet Geary says of Johnson, who can be reached at 702-835-3270 or

Nevada Magazine
, which also produces Nevada Events & Shows, has won the Advertising General Excellence award from the Nevada Press Association three years running.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Travelodge Chips Unearthed in Carson City

Photos courtesy of Sheldon Smith
By Sheldon Smith

Mike Olson was driving home from work and stopped at the local AM/PM next to the closed Ormsby House casino to grab a soda. He noticed a couple of grown men playing in a sand pile behind the store. Olson got out of his car and walked over to the pile and asked what was going on…then he saw them, CHIPS…many, many CHIPS!

That prompted Olson to call his good and knowledgeable friend Doug Johnson, a veteran chip collector and member of the Casino Chip & Gaming Token Collectors Club (CC&GTCC). Johnson hopped in his truck and drove to the pile of sand and looked in among the diggers, some from as far away as Salt Lake City, and began digging himself. The chips were from a casino in Carson City named Travelodge Hotel, which was in business only a year before shutting its doors in 1979. Doug thought, how could these chips be here?

The Nevada Gaming Commission regulations regarding closed or changed-hands casinos are very clear—the chips are to be destroyed. Well, apparently back in the early ’80s when these chips were to be destroyed, the concept was a little looser. They were buried!

The story gets even more interesting. Chip-collector records indicate that there were only $5 chips known from the Travelodge, and, yet, in the dig were $5, $25, and $100 chips.

The sand pile was on private property, and, lo and behold, Al Fiegehen, who owns the AM/PM lot, talked to Johnson and said he didn’t want anything to do with the chips—but that he would permit the dig. Fiegehen, the principal owner of the Cubix Corporation in Carson City, is also the owner of a gaming license for the Ormsby Hotel, planned to reopen some time in the future.

Records indicate the Travelodge was only open for about a year. According to Roger Baugh, a longtime Carson resident, it became the Mother Lode after that. Baugh claims Senator Paul Laxalt owned the Travelodge and Mother Lode at one time.

But back to the chips! They are currently on eBay without any indication of the vast quantities that have been uncovered. Wanting to get the word out on the find, Johnson created his own eBay listing: “Huge hoard of chips found this week! Possibly 20,000 chips found! First picture shows what a little cleaning can do.”

Note: Nevada Magazine claims no factual responsibility for the information presented in this blog.

The Travelodge was open for business from 1978 to '79.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Crystal Spring, courtesy of Judy Palmer, Amargosa Conservancy
By Cyndi Souza

Located in the middle of nowhere, according to our visitors, is a place like no other in the world. Literally. In an area smaller than Disney World there are at least 26 species of plants and animals that exist here and no place else on earth. In Caribbean-blue spring pools, you will find desert fish that have survived here for thousands of years, more than 250 species of birds, and unique plants. It is Nevada’s best-kept secret. Never heard of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge? We know. We hear that all the time.

As you leave the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, the landscape immediately becomes a dry, harsh, vast, and sparsely populated desert straight out of a Stephen King novel. Not a place where you expect to see rare flowers, tundra swans, and water that is thousands of years old and referred to as "fossil water." That is why most folks drive right on by on their way to bigger and better things (or so they think).

The beauty and serenity found in this oasis, the largest in the Mojave Desert, is an unexpected surprise to all who visit. Sit a while and listen to the melodic calls of birds, linger over crystal-clear waters filled with iridescent blue fish, or scan the rocky mountain tops for desert bighorn sheep. If you are more the scientific type, there is much to ponder here as well.

Devils Hole. The name itself creates a certain curiosity. To the casual observer it looks like just a water-filled hole. The surface is small, only about 66 feet long by 15 feet wide. But what you don’t know is this 93-degree year-round pool of water is at least 500 feet deep, and the bottom has yet to be found. But what visitors find most fascinating is that earthquakes occurring around the world affect the water in Devils Hole. Just 20 minutes after the recent earthquake in Japan the water began rising and falling, six inches up then six inches down from its normal level. In 2010, the 7.2 earthquake in Baja created a mini tsunami and was actually captured on video.

If history is your thing, there is Jack Longstreet, a local gunslinger whose cabin built from stones awaits you. The nearby spring pool is often called the boiling spring because of the fine white sand bellowing up from the depths below.

Fall colors, photo by Cyndi Souza
Restoration, recovery, those lost forever, and the future

The refuge land, prior to 1984, was privately held. It was utilized for farming, ranching, peat mining, and almost became a housing development. This most likely led to the extinction of the Ash Meadows poolfish and possibly the Ash Meadows Montane Vole.

Reestablishing a healthy ecosystem and historic populations of native species has been challenging, but a proactive restoration program is achieving success. Today, not only have the desert fish of Ash Meadows benefited from restoration efforts, but many native plants and trees are beginning to flourish.

The area also is frequented by a wide diversity of migratory birds, so you might even see tundra swans or rare European migrants like ruff, unusual sightings in the Mojave Desert. More than 239 different species of birds have been recorded in Ash Meadows, in addition to 27 species of mammals, more than 20 species of reptiles, five amphibian species, and greater than 330 species of flowers and shrubs.

In 2009, two new species of bees were discovered that may only exist in Ash Meadows. One can only surmise the fate of this species and many others, if conservation efforts to protect endangered species had not been successful.

See more photos of the refuge here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nevada Magazine’s current issue celebrates American Indians

Photo: Charlie Johnston
Nevada Magazine’s July/August 2011 issue is available on newsstands throughout Nevada. The Indian Territory Special Edition highlights the state’s 27 federally recognized tribes and the colonies, reservations, and towns they call home.

Included in the issue is a feature on American Indians in Nevada who are working diligently to keep their native traditions — such as ancient hunting techniques and centuries-old languages — alive. A piece on rock art, technically known as petroglyphs and pictographs, explores the significance of these ancient markings and where in the state they can be viewed.

The issue also contains a special yearlong Indian events listing and a story about the beautiful and inspirational native celebrations called powwows, or fandangos. Finally, the issue looks back on the life of famous historical figure Sarah Winnemucca, and additional stories — including fishing at Pyramid Lake and Fernley’s Wigwam Native American Museum — can be found online at

As part of its 75th anniversary, the magazine is highlighting Nevada’s six “Territories” in 2011, customizing each of the year’s six issues to honor Las Vegas Territory, Pony Express Territory, Cowboy Country, Indian Territory, Nevada Silver Trails, and Reno-Tahoe Territory. The September/October 2011 issue will cover Nevada Silver Trails, which spans central and southern Nevada north of Las Vegas.

Nevada Magazine announces 2011 Best of Nevada winners

Also in the July/August 2011 edition, the winners of the 14th Annual Best of Nevada readers’ survey are revealed. From Brewery to Wedding Venue, the anticipated annual listing includes 16 categories. In most cases, the winners are divided into North, South, and Rural, giving tourists plenty of statewide vacation ideas. The list of winners can also be found online at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FOLIO: Honors Nevada Magazine Editor

Matthew B. Brown, editor of Nevada Magazine, has been named to FOLIO: Magazine’s 2011 FOLIO: 40, the company’s yearly “list of some of the most distinguished magazine and media professionals from every corner of our industry.”

Brown, in his fourth year as editor of Nevada’s official tourism publication, is featured in the April 2011 edition of FOLIO: and on The 29-year-old guides the production of the bimonthly publication, but his prowess for marketing Nevada Magazine via social media, e-newsletters, and garnered special attention from FOLIO:.

“I think the modern editor has to operate in multiple dimensions today — and that’s posting an amazing picture on Flickr from an upcoming article, or an informative posting on Twitter or Facebook to drive traffic to your website, and then making your website look and read as well as your print magazine does,” Brown says in the FOLIO: 40 article.

Nevada Magazine is a division of the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT).

Nevada Magazine plays an important role in our tourism marketing efforts, and Matt has done a great job as its editor,” says Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki, chair of NCOT. “Matt’s focus on social media has ensured that the magazine utilizes current trends effectively and reaches an even greater audience.”

“It is gratifying to see the dedication and talent of Matt Brown recognized on a national level,” says Larry Friedman, interim director of NCOT. “He makes Nevada Magazine and Nevada proud.”

Since Brown took over as editor, has won two national awards, including a National Headliner Award in 2008. The print magazine received a General Excellence award from the Nevada Press Association in 2009, and the same organization recognized Brown individually with Best Local Column and Best Feature Story awards in 2010.

Brown, whose photographs appear regularly in the magazine and on, started and manages all of Nevada Magazine’s social websites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. He travels the state extensively, researching, photographing, and taking video for upcoming stories.

Before joining Nevada Magazine as associate editor in 2006, Brown worked as the sports and outdoors editor at the Sierra Sun newspaper in Truckee, Calif., and as a sports copy editor and reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal. He graduated in 2003 from California State University, Chico with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and currently lives in Reno with his wife and 1-year-old son.

Read the FOLIO article about Brown here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nevada Magazine announces 2011 photo contest

For more than three decades, Nevada Magazine’s Great Nevada Picture Hunt photo contest has been a favorite among photographers and readers. The Grand Prize winner of this year’s contest will receive $250 and a tour courtesy of Wild Horses of Nevada Photography out of Dayton.

New to this year’s contest, six “Territory” category winners will each receive $100. Also new is the “Then and Now” category, which asks photographers to re-create past Nevada Magazine and Nevada Highways and Parks cover images. All the cover images, dating to 1936, are available at Nevada Magazine’s Flickr profile. The winner of the Then and Now category will receive $150.

The 2011 Great Nevada Picture Hunt is open to all photographers. Send photo submissions, preferably via e-mail, to by 5 p.m. (PDT) on Friday, June 24, 2011. If you need to mail your images, call 775-687-0606 for instructions. To view past photo contest winners, or for more contest details, click here.

In Nevada Magazine’s May/June 2011 issue

Nevada Magazine’s May/June 2011 issue — the Cowboy Country Territory Special Edition — is now available on newsstands throughout Nevada. In it is a feature on Nevada’s western culture and a roundup of Northern Nevada towns. Also highlighted are Northern Nevada’s parks and recreation areas, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and noteworthy events and a history story titled “The Sheepmen,” which is an excerpt from Robert Laxalt’s book, Nevada: A History.

As part of its 75th anniversary, the magazine is highlighting Nevada’s six “Territories” in 2011, customizing each of the year’s six issues to honor Las Vegas Territory, Reno-Tahoe Territory, Pony Express Territory, Indian Territory, Cowboy Country, and Nevada Silver Trails. The upcoming July/August 2011 issue will cover Nevada’s statewide Indian Territory.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Las Vegas' Hidden Gems

With more than 37 million visitors traveling to Las Vegas annually, Sin City continues to be one of the most desirable getaways in the country. While uncovering the latest trendsetting spots can be easily accomplished, finding the true hidden gems can be hard to come by. From tucked-away lounges to complimentary experiences to brag about, below are some little-known treasures discerning guests will be glad they discovered.

Pianist to the Presidents at Bellagio 
Indulge in a splendid evening at Bellagio’s Petrossian Bar with live music from the pianist to Presidents of the United States. David Osborn has performed at the White House for many politicians including Presidents Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. Guests at Petrossian Bar can relax on one of the velvet couches overlooking the casino while enjoying beautiful music played by Osborn on the one-of-a-kind Steinway Grand. Osborn plays evenings Thursday-Sunday at the elegant lounge that gently sets the mood for sophisticated tastes and discerning palates. Talk about a hidden gem.

Wind Down at the Cigar & Cognac Lounge 
Upstairs from Andre's Restaurant inside Monte Carlo is the warm and welcoming Cigar & Cognac Lounge, a world of intimacy where guests can settle in by the fire with a drink and enjoy the seductive aroma of fine cigars. For the ultimate experience, let experts recommend a professional cognac and cigar pairing. It's the perfect way to cap off a dinner at Andre's, a show in the Monte Carlo Theatre or to simply wind down before turning in for the evening.

Complimentary Art Tours at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art 
Las Vegas' premier fine art exhibition venue, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, offers daily docent tours beginning promptly at 2 p.m. Each tour is complimentary with the purchase of admission. The 45-minute tour takes guests through exhibitions of paintings, sculptures and works on paper by the world's most influential artists. These museum-caliber displays offer visitors a rare opportunity to view legendary works of art carefully selected from prestigious international collections.

Wine Tasting on the House at Onda 
Onda Wine Lounge at The Mirage is an Italian-inspired lounge where guests can enjoy a selection of wines available to taste by purchasing a tasting flight or individually. Every Friday afternoon, the lounge offers free wine tastings to guests. A selection of artisan cheeses and meats is also offered. All wines will be available for purchase by the glass or bottle and also by the case which can be shipped to an address of choice.

Gaming in Style on the Beach 
Directly on the sand and just feet from the crashing waves, the three-story, climate-controlled, glass-fronted Beachside Casino at Mandalay Bay offers fabulous amenities for guests. At the top sits the Villas Soleil with spectacular views of the entire Mandalay Bay Beach. Ranging in size from 250 to 500 square feet, these five villas are unlike any standard cabana in Las Vegas. Each of the contemporarily designed villas accommodates up to 16 guests and comes with cabana service and access to the private third-level pool. Each features cozy modular seating and day beds in crisp colors, a restroom, wet bar, 50-inch flat-screen television, MP3 player, safe, ceiling fan and a private deck overlooking The Beach.

Swan-side Dining at Swan Court at Aureole 
The exclusive Swan Court at Aureole offers private outdoor dining next to a lagoon where beautiful white swans glide gracefully. Guests can enjoy a menu of seasonal dishes including artisan dry-aged beef and fresh seafood that reflect Chef Charlie Palmer’s signature progressive American cuisine. Along with dinner, rare wines from around the world can be sampled. Aureole’s visual trademark is a four-story wine tower with its very own Wine Angel Stewards, who stylishly ascend the tower to retrieve bottles.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Vote in Nevada Magazine’s Best of Nevada readers’ poll

Nevada Magazine’s annual Best of Nevada readers’ poll is now available online at The 14th annual poll allows readers to weigh in on categories ranging from Best Casino, Restaurant, and Show to Best Place to Take the Kids.

Results will be published in the July/August 2011 issue and on in mid-June. “We encourage everyone to go to our website and vote for their favorites, in Las Vegas, Reno, and our small towns and rural areas,” says Publisher Janet Geary.

To vote, visit the homepage and click on the Best of Nevada 2011 link. You do not need to fill out all the categories to submit your survey. However, two lucky voters who complete their ballots will win a complimentary Nevada-themed book package and first-season “Bonanza” DVD set. Voting ends on Friday, April 15.

The 2008 through 2010 Best of Nevada winners can be viewed at

In Nevada Magazine’s March/April 2011 issue

Nevada Magazine’s March/April issue — the Pony Express Territory Special Edition — is now available on newsstands throughout Nevada. In it are features on “The Loneliest Road in America” (U.S. Highway 50) and a roundup of central Nevada towns. Also highlighted are central Nevada’s parks and recreation areas, off-the-beaten-path destinations, noteworthy events, and a history story about Kennecott Copper Corporation, which was headquartered in McGill for many years.

As part of its 75th anniversary, the magazine is highlighting Nevada’s six “Territories” in 2011, customizing each of the year’s six issues to honor Las Vegas Territory, Reno-Tahoe Territory, Pony Express Territory, Indian Territory, Cowboy Country, and Nevada Silver Trails. The May/June 2011 issue will cover Northern Nevada’s Cowboy Country.

March/April 2011 cover image by Mike Sevon.

2011 Photo Contest

For complete Great Nevada Picture Hunt submission rules, click here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Northwest Territorial Mint

After crossing the finish line of a marathon or other distance race, participants are bestowed a medal to commemorate their achievement—a symbol of the journey they made to reach the finish line. Although few runners consider it, those shiny pieces of metal underwent quite the journey to reach the finish line as well.

Many such medals and numerous other commemorative and honorary medallions start their journeys at Medallic Art Company and Northwest Territorial Mint in Dayton, the largest private mint in the country. A marathoner myself, I never considered the journey these baubles made to reach me; that is, until I had the chance to tour the mint recently.

Medallions, medals, coins, and the like start as ideas, which can vary from concepts, photos, and rough sketches to finished artwork. Medallic’s in-house artists take clients’ concepts and adapt them to work on the faces of a product.

First, a plaster model roughly three to four times the size of the finished product is made. From that an inverse of the model, called a die shell, is created. Die shells, which are still three to four times larger than the final medallion or coin, are then put onto special machines that reduce their size to create a die used to press the actual product. Coin and medallion blanks—such as the silver ones that are melted, poured, and formed onsite—are then pressed into form with up to 600 tons of pressure. Depending on their design, some coins and medallions have to be pressed, heated, and pressed again up to 12 times.

Some products are ready to be sent to the customer after the pressing is done, but for many, a series of treatments stand between them and their eager recipients. To give a medal or coin the appearance of higher relief, it is tarnished and then polished, leaving dark stain in the recesses while the raised parts are brought to a glossy shine. This process involves sandblasting, chemical baths, and detailed hand polishing. Although this is the final step for many of Medallic’s products, some receive a final treatment with the application of detailed colored enamels, all hand-painted by expert artists.

Born in the early 1900s in New York City, Medallic Art Company owes it existence to brothers Henri and Felix Weil and the reduction machine they brought from their native France. At the time, metal ornaments in the U.S. were typically cast (the earliest incarnation of Medallic was concerned primarily with creating trinkets to accent ladies’ purses), a process that did not lend itself to great detail in the art.

It was not until 1907 that the company made its first foray into medallions when the company was commissioned to create a medallion commemorating the centennial of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birth.

The company would continue to grow in business and reputation through several moves and changes in ownership—including a merger with the Northwest Territorial Mint—until July 2009 when it moved to Dayton. Today, Medallic is Dayton’s largest private employer with more than 150 people on the payroll and room to grow.

Story by Charlie Johnston
Photos by Matthew B. Brown (see more photos here).