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.