The Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) is a rather rare and unique member of the plant community. The scientific name roughly translates to “the bloody flesh-like thing” and named by John Torrey, who was a 19th century botanist. The name is easily understood when walking through a snowy section of mountains and you happen across a bright red plant.
This solitary little plant is completely red is color due to its complete lack of chlorophyll. Unable to photosynthesize, this plant derives its nutrition from a mutual-ism between the plant and a fungus. The snow plant provides fixed carbon to the fungus, and in return, the plant leaches sugars from the fungus.
The red flowered plant typically appears just before the last of the snows of winter. The above ground stalk typically does not exceed 12 inches in height. The plant is typically founded in the conifer forests of California, Oregon and parts of western Nevada. The plants are essentially parasites to the conifers and as such, typically found close to them.
The flowers of the snow plant are typically tightly packed around the singular stalk and evenly spaced. The plant is typically bright red in color and the fruit is pinkish red.
Ione Nevada is a ghost town, which is located in Nye County, Nevada. In April 1863 a silver stike was made by P. A. Haven in the Shoshone Range. Haven had failed in earlier efforts working the Comstock. The mining camp was named Ione after the herione in the book, “The Last Days of Pompeii”. Ione was founded later that year, in November 1863. The mining camp developed into a town with an influx of people from near by Austin and served as a trading and milling center. Ione Nevada started small and boasted about 50 buildings in 1863.
The people of the new town were soon petitioning for the formation of a new county and in 1864, Nye County was founded within Nevada. The county’s first courthouse was built in Ione with an $800.00 stipend from the newly formed county. The court house was a sound investment and still stands to this day. In 1864 the new town boasted a post office and a population of 600 people and over 100 buildings.
As with many towns in the area and of the era, Ione soon started to decline, with its population moving to nearby Belmont, Nevada. In February 1867, the county seat followed the people to Belmont. The towns population fell to 175 in 1868.
The town languished for a while. In 1896 a 10-stamp mill was built on the site and the following year the majority of mining and milling interests were purchased by A. Phelps Strodes who further invested in the site. However, Iones fortunes fell with the price of silver a year later.
The small town profited off the discovery of mercury in 1912. The rusty colored cinnabar was passed over in the excitement and profits of gold and silver. The mercury sustained Ione Nevada into the 1930’s. The post office was closed in 1959.
Rawhide Nevada was a mining town in Mineral County. The town site is located approximately 55 miles south of Fallon, and 22 miles down a dirt road south of highway 50. The town was founded in 1906 when gold and silver deposits were discovered by prospector Jim Swanson in the hills surrounding Rawhide. Charles B. Holman and Charles “Scotty” A. McLeod soon join him and also found gold on nearby Holligan Hill.
Rawhide is an example of a town that existed on the promise and promotion of gold rather than the production of gold. Fueled by rampant speculation the population swelled. Rawhide boasts four churches, three banks, twelve hotels, twenty eight restaurants, thirty seven saloons, a theater and a school to support a population of 7,000 in 1908. However, the over promise and under delivery of gold doomed the town, at its glory began to fade.
The city of Rawhide was already in decline, when in September 1908 a fire tore through the town. In August 1909 the town flooded and destroyed much of the town as described in this excerpt from a Colorado newspaper.
NEVADA TOWN SWEPT FROM MAP BY CLOUDBURST
Ten-Foot Wall of Water Overwhelms Squattertown, Near Rawhide, in the Night.
SIX REPORTED MISSING
300 Families Rendered Homeless and Property Piled in Tangled Heap by the Flood.
Rawhide, Nev., Aug. 31. “Squattertown”, a settlement just south of Rawhide, was swept by a ten-foot wall of water, following a cloudburst in the hills to the north tonight, and 130 buildings were partially or completely destroyed.
It is reported that two women and four children are missing, but up to a late hour tonight it was impossible to obtain verification of this report.
The cloudburst occurred on the summit of the low hills to the north of the camp. In a few moments a three-foot wall of water was pouring down the slope, covering the three miles from the summit to Main street with the speed of a railway train. The flood rushed into the street, which lies in a hollow and forms a general drainage canal, and every business house on the east side was flooded to a depth of from one to four feet.
Several structures were torn from their foundations and floated some distance down the street, while the crest of the flood was covered with furniture, animals and debris.
Gathering force as is poured down the channel, the flood swept into and over Squattertown, half a mile further down. The water formed a wall 10 feet high as it crashed into the frame structures, inhabited for the most part by miners and their families, and buildings were overturned and demolished at the first blow.
Darkness had fallen and the worst of devastation went on in the night.
Before the wave had passed 500 persons were homeless and their property piled up a tangled heap in the basin at the foot of National hill.
Several daring rescues were made. Mrs. Hobeloff and her two children clung to the wreckage of their home as it floated down the street and were rescued by Emil Gutt and P. R. Whyteck.
The Fountain Bar, a saloon located in a small frame building was swept from its foundations and carried five blocks down the street to be landed high and dry on a low bank, with its fixtures little disturbed.
Colorado Spring Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO 1 Sept 1909
The town survived but was never the same. The twin tragedies gave the citizens more than enough reason to leave and the over promise of gold gave them little reason to stay. In 1941 the post office closed and the town ceased to be. Mining is still alive and well in Nevada, and sadly a modern mining operation has destroyed the town site.
Rawhide Trail Map
Located in Inyo County, Ballarat California is a ghost town which supposedly has a few residents living their dream within the town. Ballarat is located in the Panamint Mountain range just off the Trona Wilderness Road and sough of highway 190.
As early as 1849, the area served as a watering hole known as Post Office Springs. Prospectors and travelers alike would stop for water in the hot and dry Mojave Desert.
The town of Ballarat was founded in 1897 and named for Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, by an Australian immigrant George Riggins. Ballarat Clifornia was originally founded as a supply point for the mines Panamint Mountains and surrounding area. A blacksmith shop and store supported this efforts.
Within a year of the founding, the towns population stabilized at about 500 residents. Three hotels, seven saloons, a school, jail and morgue all served this outpost along with a post office and Wells Fargo station. The town site featured few natural resources and had to be shipped into the remote location. Adobe bricks were used as the primary building material.
The town was relatively lawless and was mostly filled with hard working miners looking for relaxation and an opportunity to blow off steam. The saloons and a population of prostitutes were supported by Ballarat.
The town began to fail following the closure of the Radcliff Mine in 1903. Despite supporting other mining towns like Harrisberg, as the gold played out, so did the fortunes of Ballarat, which closed the post office in 1917. “Shorty” Harris, along with a few other prospectors continued to live in and around the town site for decades after the closure. The last of these die hard prospectors, “Seldom Seen Slim” died in 1968.
Time has taken its tole on the builds of the adobe buildings. Wind and water are literally melting the builds back into the desert.
Today, Ballarat is the subject of a few odd television shows and again made headline with the Ballarat Bandit camped around Ballarat and Death Valley.
Chloride City California is located within Death Valley National Park and Inyo County, California. The town arose out of silver discoveries in nearby Chloride Cliff in 1873 and is one of the earliest of the Death Valley mines.
The first road through Death Valley was constructed from Chloride City, California to San Bernardino, California which was the nearest town 180 miles away. In the 1870’s ore was shipped out using trains of pack mules which would return carrying food and supplies to the camp. The mines of this small community struggled on for a few years, but by 1880 no mines were producing and everybody had moved on.
The nearby Bullfrog, Nevada, gold discovery excitement of 1904 brought in new capital. The Chloride Cliff Mine was bought by investors in nearby Rhyolite and re-opened in 1908. Sufficient ore was produced in subsequent years to warrant the construction of a cyanide mill in 1916. By 1918 the camp was deserted again.
The ghost town contains numerous adits, dumps and the grave of James McKay, of whom nothing is known. The town also holds the remains of three stamp mills.