Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana )

A solitary Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana ) found near Golbin Valley, Utah
A solitary Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana ) found near Golbin Valley, Utah

Commonly known as an antelope, the Pronghorn ( Antilocapra americana ) is an even toed or hoofed mammal found in the plains of the western United States of America. The Pronghorn in america is mislabeled as an antelope, which is an old world or African species of Antelope. The Latin name, Antilocapra americana means “American goat-antelope”

The Pronghorn lives in brush and grass lands and deserts and survive by grazing on the vegetation. They typically live in herds which may number in the hundreds depending on time of year and food sources.

They have excellent eye sight use this valuable resource to keep a distance from predators in the wide open habitats they are found. They are also the fastest animal in the western hemisphere and can run at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The result is a reclusive animals that tends to run when it sees any threat, which means these animals can be difficult to get near. Typically, when I see them in the field, it is their white hind quarters travelling at a high rate of speed away from me.

Males typically stand between 51 and 59 inches in height and weigh between 88 and 143 pounds. The female are about the same height, however, more slight at 75 to 106 pounds. Their coloring is quite distinctive and features large white patches on the rumps, belly and heads with black bands on the face and necks. They boast large eyes located towards the tops of their skulls which have a field of view of 320 degrees. This feature allows the animals to maintain distance and allows them to spot predators while resting in the tall grass.

Cougers, Coyotes, Wolfs and Bob Cats are known to prey on the pronghorn. Additionally, they were a valuable food source for many Native American tribes including the Assiniboine, Rapid and Blackfoot Tribes.

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Coyote (Canis latrans)

Coyote (Canis latrans) enduring a snow storm in Joshua Tree National Park
Coyote (Canis latrans)

A symbol of the American Southwest, the howl of the humble Coyote (Canis latrans) is synonymous with wild places. A member of the canine family and cousin to your pet, the coyote is a carnivore, predator, scavenger and survivor and even have a gord named for them, the coyote melon. The mammal is also known as the “little wolf”, “brush wolf”, “prairie wolf” and “American jackal”.

Although not necessarily nocturnal, they may hunt at night in the presence of humans. Regardless, they are more active in the evenings. They prowl and hunt in small groups. Their cries and howls at night are the reason they are known as the most vocal wild animal North American Animals. Personally, I welcome their vocalizations echoing access the desert night.

Coyote hunt reptiles, birds, small mammals, fish and even the larger bison, deer, elk and sheep. They roam up to ten miles per day on a constant hunt for food. In urban areas, this opportunist animal will eat dog and cat food, and known to attack domestic dogs and cats. In Death Valley National Park this resourceful jackal will eat large quantities of beetles and hawkmoth caterpillars for food. They are extremely resourceful and opportunistic survivors.

The coyote is classified in 19 different subspecies throughout the North America. A typical male will weigh between 18 and 44 pounds, while the female tips the scale a at a more modest 15 to 40 pounds. The fair color ranges from a light grey, tan to dark browns or even black depending upon habitat.

Coyote (Canis latrans) enduring a snow storm in Joshua Tree National Park
A extremely optimistic Coyote enduring a snow storm in Joshua Tree National Park waiting for a handout which did not come.

In Native American cultures, folklore depicts the coyote as a trickster. For this Irish American over a certain age, the coyote is call as wiley, known as a super genius and has, upon occasion, ordered an abundance of explosive from the Amce Corporation .

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Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata)

Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata)
Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata)

Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata), also known as Coyote Gourd, is a flowering plant common in the desert southwest and known to produce spherical yellow – green melons. The vine like plant is commonly found is loose, sandy or gravely, dry, well drained soil which is common in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and exclusively in Washington County, Utah. The primary characteristic is the growth of a green melon or gourd which is quite startling when you first see them in the hot desert climates.

Sereno Watson (December 1, 1826 in East Windsor Hill, Connecticut - March 9, 1892 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American botanist
Sereno Watson (December 1, 1826 in East Windsor Hill, Connecticut – March 9, 1892 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American botanist

The gourd was first described in 1876 by Sereno Waston who was a Yale graduate with a degree in Biology, The Coyote Melon features a sprawling stiff vine with rough, stiff-haired stems and leaves. Cucurbita palmata produces a large yellow bell shaped flower, while the melon itself is smooth in appearance. The striped yellow – green colored gourd is known to be quite hard, however, also thin when mature. The melons are very bitter and not edible. This hearty planet can survive the harsh desert landscape through its use of a large and hearty tap root. This root system can extend several feet into the dry soil to supply the plant with nutrients and water required for survival.

The Coyote Melon (Cucurbita palmata) is extremely fibrous and although not edible to humans is known to be on the coyotes diet during the fall, hence its name. It is quite common to find the seeds of this plant in coytoe scat during the fall months.

Despite the fibrous melon being inedible by man, the native american tribes were known to consume the ground seeds of this plant. Additionally, they used the dried gourds as rattles in various dances and other ceremonies. They also utilized the plant was as soap for cleaning.

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Goodsprings Nevada

Goodsprings, Nevada is locate about seven miles west of the I-15 near Jean, Nevada.  Mining activity in the area started in 1868 when a group of prospectors formed the New England district and since renamed the Yellow Pine.  Early efforts where soon abandoned due to the lack of silver in the ore.  The prospectors soon moved on, and Joe Good remained and the local springs were named for him.  In 1886, several prospectors from Utah came into the area and founded a permanent site which still exists today.

Goodsprings, Nevada - 1924
Goodsprings, Nevada – 1924

In 1892, the Keystone gold mine was discovered and established during an increase in activity due to the completion of the Nevada Southern Railways from Goffs, CA to Manvel.    The Keystone mine remained active until 1906 and produced some $600,000 in gold before closing.

An old water tower located inside Goodspings, Nevada
An old water tower located inside Goodspings, Nevada

1901 saw the consolidation of several mines into the Yellow Pine Mining Co.  Only the highest grade ore made it cost effective to deliver to the railroad in Manvel, some 45 miles away from the site.  In 1905, the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake railroad was completed to Jean, Nevada which shortened the distance to deliver down to 7 miles.  Mining activity continued to flourish with improved mining technique, higher mineral costs and lowered delivery costs all of which lean to a peak in production between 1915 and 1918.  During this time the site boasted 800 souls, several stores, a post office, hotel, hospital and a weekly paper.  As with many towns, mining production and profitability waned and the population fell.

The Pioneer Saloon located in Goodsprings, Nevada is still open and quite busy
The Pioneer Saloon located in Goodsprings, Nevada is still open and quite busy

Goodsprings Mines

  • Alice Mine
  • Argentina Mine
  • Belle Mine
  • Columbia Mine
  • Cosmopolitan Mine
  • Fredrickson Mine
  • Green Copper Mine
  • Hermosa Mine
  • Hoosier Mine
  • Iron gold Mine
  • Lookout Mine
  • Keystone Mine
  • Lavina Mine
  • Middlesex Mine
  • Surprise Mine
  • Table Top Mine
  • Yellow Pine
The mill site located just outside of Goodsprings, Nevada
The mill site located just outside of Goodsprings, Nevada

Goodsprings Nevada Trailmap

Rhyolite Nevada

Rhyolite is a ghost town location just outside of the Eastern edge of Death Valley National monument in Nye country, Nevada.  Founded in 1904 by Frank “Shorty” Harris when he discovered quartz with load of “Free Gold”, Rhyolite started as a gold mining camp in the surrounding Bullfrog mining district. As with many discovery’s during this time period, news quickly circulated and the Bullfrog mining district was formed.

Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun
Rhyolite, Nevada photo by James L Rathbun

Assays of $3000 per ton were reported by the mining press of the day, and the fall and winter saw many people converge on the area despite the weather conditions. Tonopah and Goldfield saw hundreds head south in the spring of 1905, and the migration caused “a string of dust a hundred miles long”.

It is an encouraging sign that the Ryolite Jail still stands. Also noteworthy, a brothel crib still stands as well.
It is an encouraging sign that the Ryolite Jail still stands. Also noteworthy, a brothel crib still stands as well.

The townsite of Rhyolite was found in a draw close to the most important mines in February, 1905. To start, the town was a mining camp with tents and canvas walled building. Fuel shortages caused the populous to burn sage brush and greasewood as fuel for their stoves to cook and keep warm. Food and fuel were teamed into the area on daily stages and water was bought over from Beatty for $5 per barrel.

A trains cabose as found in Rhyolite, Nevada
A trains cabose as found in Rhyolite, Nevada

However, as was common with gold rush towns, Rhyolite quickly developed all of the modern amenities of day, including newspapers, schools, hospitals and electrical power. Six thousand people called the town home in 1907. Luxuries unimaginable just two years before include, hotel rooms with private baths, and opera house, dozens of saloons, four banks, a butcher shop were brought to the town by three different trains.

The mines of Rhyolite, Nevada operated from 1905 - 1911
The mines of Rhyolite, Nevada operated from 1905 – 1911

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and a financial panic of 1907 dried up capital investment which doomed the town along with many others in the region. Rhyolite ceased to be and closed in 1911.  

Today, several building shells still exist, along with the infamous Bottle House, and outdoor museum.  The town is accessible via paved roads, which ruins the “ghosttown” effect and detracts a bit from the location.  In spite of this, it is easily accessible and worth a stop when you are in the area.

“The Last Supper” and other art pieces hold court just outside of Rhyolite

Rhyolite is a wonderful place to visit when you are running Titus Canyon and Leadfield trail.

Rhyolite, Nevada 1909
Rhyolite, Nevada 1909

Rhyolite Map

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