After leaving Austin, Neek, Sar and I drove back on to Highway 50 and motored through the expansive beauty of Nevada. It was around 2pm and while we had driven through half of “The Loneliest Road in America,” we still had four more stamps to get to complete our booklet and receive our certificate of completion. We were a bit concerned that since some of the places that do stamping might close at 5pm, we would have to hurry to reach our goal.
110 miles (180 kilometers) later, we reached our next destination, the town of Fallon. It is called the “Oasis of Nevada” and can trace its roots back to the California Gold Rush as well as the Pony Express. There is agricultural importance there due to the Newlands Project at the turn of the century, the first land reclamation project in the United States through which diverted water from the Truckee and Carson rivers gave life to Fallon ranches.
Currently, Fallon is the headquarters for the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, known better as “TOPGUN.” While the Grimes Point Petroglyph Trail seven miles to the east containing carvings by native peoples as much as 8,000 years old sounds fascinating, we only had time to stop at a Maverik gas station to get our stamp. We saw some interesting looking casinos in town, but once we got our stamps we hit the road!
Next stop was Fernley, Nevada. This town was established in 1904, created when the Southern Pacific Railroad realigned its route through northwestern Nevada. In 1999 it became the home of Amazon.com, but afterward it relocated to Reno. We got our stamp at a 7 Eleven and I also bought us a Diet Mountain Dew because it was hot and I was getting thirsty!
Another 38 miles down the road, we drove into Dayton, Nevada. Neek, Sar and I really wish we could have spent more time here! It’s one of Nevada’s oldest communities, starting in 1849 as a trading post, and attracting many Chinese miners seeking to avoid taxes directed at the Chinese in California. It was even known as “China Town” in the 1860 census, but in 1861 was named Dayton after John Day, a local surveyor who later became Surveyor General of Nevada. 100 years later, John Huston filmed The Misfits in Dayton, which was the last movie appearances for Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.
In our quest to find an open place to get our stamp in Dayton, we encountered a few obstacles. First we tried the Chamber of Commerce, which was closed. We stopped at a Sinclair gas station and I asked an attendant if he knew of a place that was open for stamping. He suggested the Dayton Community Center in “Old Town” Dayton. It was also closed, but we were so impressed with the many preserved buildings from the 19th century still standing, we wished we had another day to explore them all!
Heading back to Highway 50, we went to the Gold Ranch Casino to see if they would give us a stamp for Dayton. Fortunately, they came through for us! Neek, Sar and I got our stamps. Then as fast as possible, we got back in the car and drove as quick as we could to our last stop!
That last stop was Carson City, Nevada’s state capitol. Founded in 1858 and named after Kit Carson, it was in the hills east of Carson City that the largest silver find in world history, the Comstock Lode, was discovered in 1859. It was this wealth that proved pivotal in Nevada’s quest for statehood, which was granted in 1864 and proved vital to the Union war effort.
While there are a number of historical places and museums we wish we could have visited, we missed them as our quest for the final stamp faced even more obstacles since it was after 5pm. First, the Chamber of Commerce was closed. Other Carson City places mentioned that could possibly stamp our booklets were closed. But just when we were about to give up, Neek and I remembered our winning move in Dayton and went to the Nugget Casino. They not only had stamps, they let us do the final stamps ourselves!