FROM FRISCO TO PIOCHE

Time to head back to Las Vegas for the flight out on Monday. But there are some things to see before then.

Milford, Utah is also in one of those foggy valleys. It's just another small town that basically serves as a last chance for food and gas before the desert.

I noticed a sign on the road from Milford to Cedar City that pointed to something called the Parowan Gap to the east. Here is the westward view from the mountains through the gap to the valley. There was a discovery made here by the Southern Utah Expedition in 1849.

And here it is, the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs. Can you see it? Well let's take a closer look.
From the historical marker:

The petroglyphs displayed here represent the work of prehistoric Fremont and southern Paiute cultures. The figures and drawings are likely the work of many different individuals over a long period of time. While the meaning of the figures may never be known, they probably portray such tribal pursuits as religion, hunting and gathering trips, family history, sources of water and travel routes.

I hope a thousand years from now people don't look at the graffiti of today and ascribe some deeper meaning to it other than simple vandalism.
Another unexpected side trip was here to the the ruins of Iron City, now called Old Iron Town. In 1868 the Union Iron Company was organized here by Ebenezer Hanks. This was never a terrible large town. By 1870, the population of Iron City was almost 100. The money panic of 1874 and the lack of efficient transportation to the outlets in Northern Utah doomed the operation and it closed in 1877.

A look inside of the charcoal kiln.

The ruins of the furnace and foundry.


The last place I had planned to see was a town called Pioche, but as I drove up there I found that Cathedral Gorge was right on the way. I stopped for a bit.

It's more or less a little canyon.
Through some openings in these walls are what they call the Moon Caves.
Of course I had to go in.
They got narrower and narrower.
It got to be quite a tight squeeze.
These are not in fact caves, just narrow passages. The canyon walls dwindle down so much that it feels like a cave. Take a look up and you can see that. This crevasse eventually ended right about here.

An old water tower in the gorge.
On a hill right outside the gorge was the Bullionville cemetery. Bullionville began in 1870 and most of Pioche's mills were here because it was close to water. By 1875 there were five mills and a population of 500. Once a water works was built up in Pioche, the mills were relocated and Bullionville declined into nothingness. All that remain are a few ruins of the mills and this cemetery.
Unmarked graves. There was a marker that explained why the cemetery was located on this hill next to the gorge. Basically all the flat land was needed for the building and structures of the silver-processing town. It's possible that these inhabitants of Bullionville were not allowed in the Mormon cemetery maintained in Panaca to the south or the cemeteries in Pioche to the north. So here they remain.
This is what is left of the Pioche aerial tramway. It operated in the 1920's and 30's carrying ore from the mines on Treasure Hill to Godbe Mill.
The main drag in Pioche. It's not a ghost town, but there are several buildings from the olden days still around. There are still about 900 people living here, but in its boom boasted a population of around 8000.
I took this photo for my father. If he looks closely he'll know what it is.
The brick building was the Pioche Commercial Club, dating back to 1864. The white wooden building on the left has (or had) a dentist's office on the bottom floor.
This is the Thompson Opera House. It was called the Brown Opera House from 1873 to 1892 for Aleck Brown who built it. When the motion picture era started it was used as a theater. Then the Gem was built next door and the old Opera House hosted mostly dances. I don't know if the Opera House is still used, but the Gem has been closed by the county for a couple of years for being structurally unsafe.
An old miner's cabin.
The old Lincoln County Courthouse in Pioche is also known as the Million Dollar Courthouse. There's a good reason for that. When it was built in 1871, it was to be constructed for $16,400, but cost over-runs and interest on the debt eventually put the final price tag at a cool million. The debt was finally paid off 65 years later.

About Pioche: Pioche was considered one of the wildest mining camps in the west. As sources have it, during its boom era hired gunmen were brought to town at a rate of nearly twenty a day to settle mining claim encroachments. Proof of the moniker of "toughest town" is indicated by "Boot Row" where seventy-five men were buried before anyone in Pioche ever died a natural death. The town experienced rapid growth in the 1870's and had become the most important mining town in southeastern Nevada by 1871. Today it depends on its role as the county seat of Lincoln County and the tourist value of its historic buildings for its continued survival.

FROM PIOCHE TO LAS VEGAS