Author: S A

Summit Tunnels


  Donner Summit Railroad Tunnels abandoned tunnels from the first transcontinental railroad route through the Sierras.     Just below Donner Peak in the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California lie the remains of the tunnels and snowsheds constructed for the first transcontinental railroad route. In the 1860's, the Central Pacific Railroad, in a race against Union Pacific, sought to complete the first transcontinental line. The heavy snows of the High Sierras required the construction of several miles of tunnels and snowsheds along the mountain pass, constructing 15 tunnels in all. (The difference betwee ...

Neil Robinson


  Neil Robinson - punk vocalist, squatter and food grower   autumn 2011   ---   [  introduction ]   I've heard it said that one of the hardest distances to bridge is that of the distrust between two strangers. As the afternoon sun began to settle, we had finally weeded the last of the kale beds, pulled some of the last of the season's beets, and cleared what we could of the overgrown tomato plants inside the sweltering greenhouse. We had awoken at some ungodly early hour to get here to help out for a day. The tinny music of a simple crank radio wafted through the air, provided it was positioned just right an ...

St. Thomas


  St. Thomas, Nevada a ghost town re-emerging from beneath the waters of Lake Mead.   "There are two easy ways to die in the desert: Thirst and drowning." - Craig Childs   What's left of town of St. Thomas once sat hidden at the bottom of Lake Mead, though many foundations of this former town have recently been uncovered due to the declining waters of the lake. In 1865 - five years into the American Civil War and with minimal cotton production from the southern US - Brigham Young sent a group of families  south from the heart of Utah Territory to the Moapa Valley, a valley in the arid Mojave Desert near the con ...

Cottontail Ranch


  Cottontail Ranch an abandoned brothel in Nevada   In Winter of 1967, Melvin Dummar, a 23 year old magnesium plant worker from Gabbs, Nevada, was driving through the Nevada desert one night when he pulled off the highway and onto an empty dirt road about seven miles south of the Cottontail Ranch for a quick bathroom stop. It was here that Dummar saw a man lying down, beaten and bruised, in the dirt road. He would ultimately give him a ride to Las Vegas where the man asked to be dropped off, leaving the dazed stranger with a little bit of money at the back of the Sands Hotel, before continuing on toward his destination i ...

California City


  California City   Located about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, and 65 miles southwest of Death Valley, is California City, a desert exurb of about 15,000 people which also houses a correctional center and sits not far from Edwards Air Force Base and the Rio Tinto Borax Mine, the largest open-pit mine in California. But if you venture outside the core of this town, you'll arrive at a grid of dirt roads extending into a skeleton cartography of cul-de-sacs and neighborhoods which have never materialized. Southern California in the 1950's was marked by a trend of movement out of cities and into newly-created suburbs. Ai ...

Janie’s Ranch


  Janie's Ranch   Located on Nevada's Highway 6 between Tonopah, Nevada and Bishop California, Janie's Ranch was a brothel constructed of multiple trailers parked side by side with connecting rooms and hallways. The ranch was built on land occupied by a former railroad stop, located near a cluster of fresh water springs piped down to fuel the steam locomotives. During the ranch's existence, that water was used to feed the lush foliage surrounding the property, as well as a pond that sat behind the owner's house. Former owner, Betty, wanted to house the women in separate rooms than those they entertained in, reserving on ...

Haiku Stairs


  Haiku Stairs   Atop Puu Keahiakahoe summit in the Koolau mountain range on Hawaii's island of Oahu are the remains of a microwave satellite relay station that at one time served in being able to transmit signals from Hawaii to submarines as far away as the depths of Tokyo Harbor. Ha'iku, the Hawaiian word for Kahili flower, is the namesake for the Haiku Valley, chosen for the microwave transmitter project due to its elevation (2,850') on steep cliffs whose valley bowls were ideal for long-distance transmissions to ships and submarines used in WWII near the waters of Australia and the Indian Ocean. To first construct t ...

Bayshore Roundhouse


  Bayshore Roundhouse   I've always felt that geographies and places have the ability to carry their own set of circumstantial forces and events that make up its past and current state of being, and, like with other people, that those elements can help shape the intersection between a place and a person, and if you approach these encounters without expectation, they can fall naturally and take on the direction that most benefits those involved. This is amongst the reasons I've always felt drawn to the places that others have determined lack value or use. But if approached, it's visiting these damaged and abandoned locales ...

Iron Mountain


single family cabin with Little Rabbit Lift in the background   Iron Mountain Ski Resort   Operating in the Kit Carson Pass area of California, about 13 miles west of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Iron Mountain Ski Resort (previously called Ski Sundown and Silver Basin Ski Resort) went through a series of owners and attempts at redevelopment before finally being left to the elements. Last operated in 1995, Iron Mountain ran as a "reverse" ski lift, where lifts would bring riders from the bottom of the slopes to the lodge and main buildings and parking areas at the mountain's top. No power lines run over the pass, so, like Kirkwood ...

Sunny Acres


  Sunny Acres Detention Facility Originally opened as the Children's Home at Sunny Acres for orphaned children in 1931, Sunny Acres, sitting on  a hillside above a central California valley, came into existence with the optimistic goal a community helping those less fortunate during the Great Depression. Serving as a home for orphans and wards of the court, over time reality had a way of eroding the optimism, until in its later years it became Sunny Acres Juvenile Hall, and eventually was given the nickname Hell's Acres. Staffed by a matron and a maid, records noted cause for admittance included misbehavior and trouble in school,  the ...

Las Vegas Zoo


Southern Nevada Zoological and Botanical Park   The Southern Nevada Zoological and Botanical Park, often called the Las Vegas Zoo, was located on three acres in a mixed residential and commercial  area of Las Vegas and held over 150 species of animals. In 2013, relations between the park's trained zookeeping staff and park owners Pat and Muffy Dingle reached a tipping point. After years of customer complaints and USDA violations citing poor vet care, lack of shade protection from the Las Vegas sun, poor pen conditions, improper food, and general disrepair of the center, zookeepers who had remained working to provide what care they cou ...

Sneaking into Dollywood

blog post

Sneaking into Dollywood! 'After a length of time, it ceases to be a disguise and becomes, simply, what is...' It marked the approaching end of my southern residency. Having spent just under a year living in Savannah, Georgia - a location that won out based on two factors: I wanted to live in the most beautiful place that I could find, and I wanted a place where the culture and habits were absolutely unfamiliar to me. I've always found inhabiting the area beyond the fringes of one's comfort zone is where challenges and struggles lead to learning and the best memories. And so here it was. Stone was out visiting from the West Coast, Banshee ...

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