The Loneliest Road in AmericaWestward Ho, Day 39: Reno, NV, to Ely, NV
Leaving Reno this morning, we headed east on I-80 to Fernley, where we began our journey on US-50, commonly referred to as 'the lonleliest highway.' Slicing across central Nevada along the original Pony Express route, the road stretches through extensive barren landscapes of arid deserts and desolate mountains. But even in these panoramic vistas of neutral palettes, there is much to see.
In 1986, a writer for Life magazine christened Highway 50 from Fernley to Ely the "Loneliest Road in America." Legend has it that the writer was venting his frustration resulting from having to wait an extended period in those pre-cellular days for assistance after his car broke down along the highway. He even extracted a quote from an unnamed AAA agent, who stated about US-50, "It's totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don't recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they're confident of their survival skills."
|Do I hear an Elvis song playing?|
|The survival passport and a CD audio tour of sights along the highway|
|Map from the Loneliest Road Survival Guide passport (We have only the Ely stamp.)|
|These roadside rock messages went on for a mile or more.|
On our way again, this time we made it another twenty miles east before being stopped in our tracks by yet another unusual site near the area known as Middlegate (pop. 30— sometimes). Two cottonwood trees next to a dry creekbed were bedecked with rejected footwear.
|Giving new meaning to the term 'shoe tree'|
Renewing our commitment to make better time, we continued our journey on this most intriguing highway, wondering how the AAA agent could possibly have thought there was nothing of interest along this road. As we laid down the miles eastward, doggedly resisting petroglyphs and ghost towns, we alternately meandered across mountain ridges and hustled across sagebrushed flatlands on a pencil straight ribbon of road.
|Another range of mountains to cross|
Arriving in Ely around 5:00, we were sorry to see our journey on the Loneliest Highway end. On our drive today, we found ourselves intrigued, fascinated, inspired, exhilarated, and even amazed—but never bored. Nor were we lonely. Though houses were almost non-existent between towns, we saw other vehicles fairly often. Based on our experience, we can only conclude that the Life writer (and his anonymous AAA co-conspirator) must enjoy amusement parks and pancake houses, which are in decidedly short supply on US-50 in Nevada—thank goodness!
More Photos from the Loneliest Highway