MOST TRAVELERS who cross the desert are happy when their journey is over -- but not me. I enjoy the expanse of colorful rock, sand and adaptive plant life. For instance, the "Elko portion" of my virtual walk across America has taken me through an arid, but rich, section of Nevada, the #1 gold-producing state in the country. Sparse vegetation has exposed the desert's underbelly revealing its beauty, geologic history and bounty, and while critics dislike the look of open mine pits, those digs are insignificant when compared to the vast regional open space.
Goldfields are prominent throughout Nevada but the mineral deposits are so fine that mining is difficult. But with the aid of modern technology huge mining conglomerates like Goldstrike Mines have managed to extract a third of the state's gold right here! ($770 million in 2014). That's surprising since I thought all Nevada's wealth was mined in Las Vegas casinos!
The town of Elko is the undisputed capital of Nevada's goldbelt that suffers from a "boom or bust" economy that fluctuates with the price of gold. As I travel along the highway I see defunct mining camps, abandoned homes, and evidence of a government that struggles with uncertain tax revenues..
Week 7, Miles 500