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Charcoal Ovens

On an afternoon break from registration, Rich and I traveled to the Ward Charcoal Ovens.
Cave Lake State Park
Cave Lake State Park Midway into our Geology Field Trip our bus brought us to Cave Lake for
lunch. Just the drive to the lake was well worth the trip. There are large cliffs of limestone with
small caves in the area. A fault is exposed along the drive. The road has riparian vegetation. A
riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river or stream; in this case
Steptoe Creek. We were treated to baked chicken with many fixin's in a beautiful setting. The
lake is cold but that didn't stop people from swimming. There were several boaters on the lake.
After Lunch, we enjoyed some fine and funny music.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

Ward Charcoal Ovens On a break from packing boxes for registration and setting up the room
we were able to take a side trip. Rich and I drove 20 miles south of Ely off Highway 93. The
ovens are located 7 miles off the highway at the end of a gravel road. Part of the Egan Mountain
Range it was a "major stopover for settlers" traveling between Pioche, NV and the railroad town
of Toano, NV. In 1872, silver was discovered in an area 2 miles north of the park. Several claims
were bought and in 1875 smelters were built for mining the ore. The area's charcoal ovens were
replaced by the beehive shaped ovens since they were more efficient. They stand 30 feet high
and are 26 feet in diameter at the base. The parabolic shape reflected heat back into the center
of the oven, reducing heat loss. The ovens operated between 1876-1879, producing charcoal.
The ovens could hold 35 cords of wood which was loaded vertically through the door until it was
stacked too high. The rest of the wood was loaded via a ramp to the window. "The loaded oven
was ignited and the metal door was cemented shut. Air drafts were adjusted using the vents.
The fire was 'suffocated' enough to produce charcoal" (Nevada State Parks brochure). Many
interpretive trails that highlight the different aspects of the park are found and mapped quite well.
The Overlook Loop was the most intriguing. It's a .9 mile route with an elevation change of 315
feet with grades between 26% and 36% on "moderately stable soil." We were totally unprepared
for climbing in the 90 degree+ heat. Thankfully, the relative humidity was only 8%. Rich and I
had on long pants and I didn't have my hiking boots. Way too hot for walking/climbing 315' of

rugged terrain. We did get to see the two kilns that were on the loop before turning back.
Historic Nevada Hotel and Casino
Rich and I decided to fly to Vegas and drive the 4 hours on a very long, lonely road to Ely, NV.
Since we got to Ely before the campground opened we stayed at the Historic Nevada Hotel and
Casino. The room was quite nice but crowded. (When we returned the Thursday night of
convention we got a room with one king bed rather than 2 beds. We had much more room.)
Dinner was fantastic. The cafe has reasonable prices, especially for senior meals. I figured on a
small portion and received such a large amount of food I couldn't eat it all. And, it was very
After dinner we went down to the casino and I won a lot of money on the first night.
I would highly recommend staying here. Even though the price was a little higher than some of
the surrounding hotels, it was a whole lot of fun.
Northern Ely Railroad
Tuesday night was our Fellows and New Member reception at the Railroad station.
Unfortunately too many fellows brought their families who brought their families. I never attended
when Rich was a fellow and I was not. It is not supposed to be for families.
It's also supposed to be a little impressive, which hot dogs are not. Even though most
convention goers voted to have dark beer there was no such thing for the entire week. I don't do
Bud, Miller, or Corona.
The highlight of the evening was the "Rockin' and Rollin''" Geology Train ride. While waiting we
had a very nice conversation with fellow BOG member Rick Speact and his wife, Gaylene.
We sat near the back of the second car (big mistake since we couldn't hear the geologist over
the loud "millenials" and the noisy kids. Rich and I wanted to sit near the open car so he could
go outside if he wanted to.
The trip went from the station to the copper mine before returning to town. Along the way
through the canyon, the original ore line, we learned a lot about the history of area mining. We
saw some of the remnants from the abandoned town.
On the return the engineer stopped and an old ghost town and cemetery so we could take

Robinson Mining
Part of our Geology Field Trip on Sunday, July 17, 2016, was our stop at the (Thomas) Robinson
open-pit mine. The mine produces copper, gold and molybdenum. The mined resources are
exported mainly to Asia. In 1867 silver was discovered in the area followed by the discovery of

gold soon after. Underground copper mining began in the area around 1900 and closed in 1914.
Serious mining began around 1906. This is the largest copper mining area in Nevada. The
Robinson mine "has produced over one billion dollars of copper and subsidiary gold." The size
of the haulers and cranes were quite impressive. The Terex vehicles looked like ants as they
worked. It was only as the trucks came out of the open pit the true size of the vehicle was noted.
This was a marvelous stop on the trip. For more information go to:

Our Campsite
The owner of the golf course as quite gracious. He allowed camping on the fairways. Dave
Decker took us to the site where Rich, Hippie Bill, and I set up camp. We had a nice brook
alongside of us. We also put up a tent for Ali and Terri Chambliss (Bill's daughter). It was going
to be a cozy week, right up until the time the gusts of wind started and one of the poles from
Hippies canopy tore a hole through our tent. OH WELL.
I knew it would be cold at night but I was unprepared for just how cold. That's why Rich and I
spent the next Thursday back at the Hotel.
After camp was set up Dave took us over to the clubhouse and bought a round of drinks. I'm not
sure who bought us the second round but it was either the manager or owner of the golf club.
Either way, we had a great time.

Valley of Fire
Rich and I had planned to spend the Saturday after convention in Great Basin National Park.
But... Friday night we were told about the Valley of Fire State Parj, about an hour north of Las
Vegas. What a find!!!
The rocks are made of beautifully colored sandstone. The rich red color gives the Valley its
name. The color comes from metallic minerals in the rock, mainly iron. The oldest rocks in the
park are only about 600 million years old. Pretty young in geologic history where the oldest
rocks on Earth are about 3.8 billion years. Much of the original rock was destroyed by plate
tectonics or by agents of erosion. Even though the Valley has a desert climate water is still the
main agent of erosion. Ancient dunes have beautiful cross-bedding.
The surrounding mountains are made of gray limestones. These were deposited in the ancient
sea that once covered the area. They are much older than the red sandstones.
Rich and I saw a couple of petrified trees that were secured in a chain link fenced area. The
living materials were replaced by quartz and other minerals in the area.

Arches: these are carved from wind-blown sand that widen weakened cracks in the rock.
The dunes are only about 140 million years in age. "Pockmarks" carved in the sandstone are
caused by the differential erosion of the rocks. It gives the landscape an eerie look.
Some of the erosion in the Valley is chemical in nature. Due to plate tectonics in the past plates
have been subducted and the magma becomes silica-rich, thus creating more beautiful colors.
No park would be complete without the sculptures that appear as animals or humans.
Attractions like "Seven Sisters", the "Elephant", and the "Sphinx" were among the many
beautifully carved rocks we encountered.

We trekked through extreme heat (with a lot of water) to see some of the petroglyphs. The
easiest to find were at Atlatl Rock. They are preserved very well but we had to climb 88 stairs to
get to them. Just a "walk in the 125 degree (F) park."