By Chris Moran
At the turn of the 20th century, so the story goes, a miner near what would become Tonopah, Nevada, went looking for his wayward mule and ended up finding an outcropping of silver. Jim Butler filed claims, miners poured into the area and Tonopah went on to become a major silver producer and a cosmopolitan urban destination. Today, the small community of 2,211 has another treasure: the Tonopah Historical Mining Park.
Take a look at the mining park, and 21 other Nevada destinations, through interactive photos on Travel Nevada’s Roam from Home webpage. Besides Tonopah, you can virtually explore Cathedral Gorge State Park near Panaca; Lamoille Canyon near Elko; Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge in Fallon and more. The photos, taken by Travel Nevada Content Development Manager Sydney Martinez as part of a larger project with Google Trekker, allow you to navigate around the sites a bit.
In the Tonopah image, angle your view to get a glimpse into a mine shaft burrowing thousands of feet into the ground. People once descended into these places to work backbreaking jobs extracting ore in dimly lit, close conditions.
“With a little imagination, you can see what it was like back in the day,” says Jeff Martin, Tonopah Historic Mining Park host and guide. “You can stand on that Mizpah mine shaft, and in the winter, you can feel the warm air coming out of the earth.”
So, we can imagine the working conditions were uncomfortably hot, but that might not have been the worst of it.
“And the smell,” Martin adds, further describing what it’s like to stand over the mining shaft. “That sulfuric smell.”
Take in more of the past at the park’s small museum, restored buildings and historical mining equipment, all of which tell the story of the Nevada’s early days. Like most museums and attractions, the 113-acre mining park currently is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Martin looks forward to the day when he can welcome visitors again.
“What makes the park so special to me,” he says, “is the fact that it’s still here.”
Also available in Travel Nevada Roam from Home images:
Cathedral Gorge State Park: the temporarily closed park in Panaca (about a two-and-half-hour drive north of Las Vegas) can be explored through a Travel Nevada Roam from Home image that winds through narrow slot canyons formed over thousands of years by erosion. The canyons are the park’s defining feature, but Cathedral Gorge also has hiking trails, camping facilities and a visitors’ center.
Lamoille Canyon: the glacier-cut canyon is in the Ruby Mountains, one of the state’s wettest ranges, according the U.S. Forest Service. Check out this unusually verdant Nevada spot through a Travel Nevada Roam from Home image that showcases an alpine pond set next to a stand of pine trees. Lamoille Canyon is just east of Elko, about a five-hour drive east of Reno. Currently, groups are limited to nine or less, and campgrounds and group day-use areas are closed.
Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge: this wetland area in Fallon attracts hundreds of different bird species, and it is a nationally recognized bird-watching site. Virtually walk along one of the boardwalk trails over the marsh in a Travel Nevada Roam from Home image. The birds must’ve been a little shy the day this photo was taken, but the Google Trekker camera — usually carried on a backpack that extends above the wearer’s head — could’ve scared them off.
Chris Moran is a public relations specialist at the Nevada Division of Tourism (Travel Nevada) and has lived in Reno since 1996. She is a former editor and writer at the Reno Gazette-Journal, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Her hobbies include skiing, hiking, reading, photography, coffee and coffeehouses, and exploring Nevada. Check out her blog at www.ChrisinNevada.wordpress.com.