“We cannot change the cards we are dealt. Just how we play the hand”
State 22: Nevada - November 22, 2017
Occasionally, our cross country trip requires us to briefly cross over to adjacent states we are not yet scheduled to visit, or have already visited, to see points of interest not included in our path through a specific state. Since our path through Nevada will not take us through the Northwestern part of the state, we crossed into Nevada during our 2 weeks in California.
We woke up at a Walmart in Red Bluff, CA ready for a brand new day. Today we drive Southeast to enter the 22nd state on our cross country journey to discover America, and find a new state to call home Nevada; The Silver State. While it’s not a very inspirational or insightful slogan, it does accurately describe the past and present pillars of the state’s economy. Back in the 19th century, the first major discovery of silver ore was found in Virginia City, NV sparking a silver rush to the state by miners. Although silver mining has since declined, today people still come to the casinos of Nevada hoping to strike it rich. As with most of the 19th century miners and the 21st century gamblers, most end up going home broke! Will the Cross Country Couple find a silver lining in this sinful state and call Nevada our new home? We can’t wait to see what our week in Nevada has in store!!!
Our day began with a 220 mile drive Southeast from Red Bluff, CA to Carson City to visit the State Museum of Nevada. Although we usually visit the Capitol building first, this time we decided begin with the State's Museum. Admission was high at $8.00 per person, and normally we would have passed. However, there was something very historic about this State Museum! It was once home to the Carson City US Mint. This is the first state museum we have visited where the actual building housing the museum is historic!
The United States Carson City Mint minted gold and silver coins on and off between 1870 and 1893. The mint was established at the height of the state’s silver boom to facilitate minting of silver coins from the Comstock Silver Mine in Virginia City, NV. 50 issues of silver coins, and 57 issues of gold coins were minted at Carson City. Coins struck at Carson City bearing the “CC” mint mark are scarce and command a high premium among coin collectors! The federal government sold the building to the state of Nevada in 1939, and in 1941 it became the home of the Nevada State Museum.
After paying our admission, we proceeded into the first gallery within the Museum; “Our Nevada Stories; Objects found in time”. This gallery featured items of specific importance to the history of the state which included: the state precious gemstone; virgin valley black fire opal, which is so brittle it must be displayed in water, the taxidermy largest example of the state fish 39 inches and 41 lbs; Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, and the first gun manufactured in Nevada. Please see the pictures below.
Above all else, there was one relic on display of great significance to America history: the flag from the battleship USS Nevada. The USS Nevada (BB-36) was a US Navy Battleship commissioned on March 11, 1914, and served in both World Wars. However, the Nevada will forever “live in infamy” as being one of the battleships bombed by the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Nevada was the only battleship to get underway during the battle, and was hit by one torpedo and at least six bombs in the ensuing fight! 60 sailors died, and 109 were injured in the battle! The crew of the Nevada purposefully ran the crippled ship aground to save it from sinking. The Nevada was subsequently salvaged, modernized and put back into service in the invasions of Normandy, South France, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. After the attack on Pearl Harbor ended, a Navy Sailor found the USS Nevada’s badly damaged flag floating in the water, gave it to the Commanding Officer of the USS Nevada, who then donated it to the Nevada State Museum. However, the flag was in desperate need of repair, and was stored until funding for restoration could be secured. In 1990, A group of Nevada middle school students successfully raised the money needed, and the flag has been on display ever since! It was a somber moment to stare at the flag of one of the battleships attacked on that dark day in American History. You could actually still see the oil stains on the flag even after all these years!
Sometimes when we are planning stops for an upcoming state, we have difficulty filling all of our categories. When this occasionally occurs, we just proceed with our exploration of the state, and most of the time, the category fills itself. While planning our visit to Nevada, we had difficulty finding a “Famous Person” for the state. As fate would have it, the Cross Country Couple's famous person for Nevada actually found us! Just as we were about to depart the first room of the Nevada State's Museum, we saw an old, rickety, well used adult tricycle beneath a display case in the center of the room! The bike appeared to be well used, and clearly had seen quite a few miles! Since a worn out adult tricycle was a very unusual display for a state museum, we decided to investigate further! After reading the inscription next to the bike we had not only discovered our famous person for Nevada, but discovered one of the most inspirational stories of our entire Cross Country Trip.
In 1952, Glenn Lucky was born, and 1 year later, he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. Lucky’s diagnosis was devastating, and his prognosis was poor. Doctors told his parents their son would be lucky to see his 15th birthday! On September 17, 2017, Glenn Lucky celebrated his 65th birthday in the Nevada State Museum surrounded by the citizens of Carson City! What is most inspirational about Lucky is not how he beat the odds, but instead what he has accomplished over the past 50 years of his life! It all began on May 15, 1967 with a boy and his first bike. We all remember the day the training wheels came off, the pain of double scraped knees, and discovering the childhood freedom only two wheels can bring. For most children riding a bike is a right of passage, but for Glenn Lucky his bike saved his very life! 15-year-old Lucky was recovering from surgery on both of his knees, and his doctor suggested he start riding his bike to aid in his recovery! That is exactly what Glenn Lucky had been doing for over half a century!
Glenn Lucky has since logged tens of thousands of miles on his adult tricycle over the years. Some of the highlights of his travels include a 3648-mile cross country ride from Nevada’s Capitol to our nation’s capitol in 1988 to raise money and awareness for Cerebral Palsy and the Special Olympics. Speaking of the Olympics, Lucky carried the Olympic Torch on his bike through Carson City on its journey to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City! Lucky graciously donated the tricycle used for his cross country bike ride, and the Olympic torch he carried to the Nevada State Museum solidifying the remarkable story of this extraordinary man forever in Nevada’s history. Even to this very day, you can still find Lucky wearing a huge smile while riding his bike through the streets of Carson City.
We then proceeded into a room called the Ghost Town. With estimates as high as 600, Nevada currently has more ghost towns than populated towns! Most of the defunct towns were founded during the silver and gold rushes of the late 19th and early 20th century. When the pay dirt dried up, the towns were abandoned! Even to this very day, the federal government owns 85% of all land in Nevada! Many of the ghost towns have been destroyed by the elements, some have been submerged by dammed reservoirs, and a few have been restored and certified as National Historical Landmarks! I wish we had more time in Nevada as it would have been fun to visit a few of the state’s ghost’s towns. I appreciate that a replica of a ghost town was included in the Nevada State Museum. They did an excellent job making the experience very believable. Please see the pictures below.
What do you do with the basement of a 19th century building, which used to house the US Mint? If you lived in Nevada, the answer is obvious; You turn it into a silver mine! After descending a dark, damp and rickety staircase, I was shocked by my surroundings! There were low clearance ceilings, dim flickering lights, narrow walkways, exposed rock walls, weathered wooden support beams, and rail tracks on the floor! If I hadn’t just walked down a staircase from the museum, I would have actually believed I was in a silver mine! What an experience! Please see the pictures below! Please note, the low ceilings and poor lighting resulted in lower quality pics than usual.
After departing the basement silver mine, we entered the museum’s Firearm Room. Although I am not extremely knowledgeable in antique arms, I found the following quite interesting; A 14th century German crossbow, a 17th century blunderbust gun, a 19th century gatling gun from a Nevada state prison, and 3 complete sets of dueling pistols, since that’s how disputes were settled in Nevada back in the day. Please see the pictures below.
Although the US Mint has not struck United State's coins in Carson City since 1893, coin press No. 1, original to the Carson City Mint, is still in the building, in working condition, and is still used to strike commemorative medallions with the highly coveted "CC" mint mark. On the way out of the old minting room, we passed a massive scale once used to weight the bullion at the assay office. Please see the pictures below.
One of the most interesting displays was one of each Gold and Silver coin produced by the Carson City Mint. The million-dollar collection was displayed beneath bullet proof glass, behind prison bars and was astounding to view! Please see the pictures below.
After departing the Carson City Mint coin collection, we proceeded to the second floor of the State's Museum. The 2nd floor featured significant relics to the state’s history in a series of cases displayed in timeline format. Unsurprisingly, mining and gaming were both heavily represented. One of the more interesting displays was of an antique pick-up truck. I have absolutely no idea how they got that truck through the narrow hallways and up to the 2nd floor of a 19th century building with no elevators! One of the displays depicted the Nevada’s history as a nuclear test site from 1951 until 1992, which was a huge strike against Nevada as our new home state! Please see the pictures below!
One of my favorite exhibits was the digital count of the population of Nevada listed at 02602869. This made me wonder how often and when the population is updated? Is the population updated only during the census, or is it updated in real time? How fun would it be if every time a baby was born in Nevada the nurse in a hospital pressed a button adding to the population counter in the State Museum? Inversely and more morbidly, the same could be true for a mortician after a death occurs! I stood there for 10 minutes waiting for the number to change, but unfortunately the population remained the same.
After departing the State Museum , we drove across town where we found a Walmart to spend the night.