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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Around Baker Nevada

What is there to do around Baker, Nevada?  It's located down a lonely road off U.S. Highway 50, which is itself billed as "The Lonliest Road in America."  Nothin' here but the South Snake Mountain Range:

Baker itself is not much more than a crossroads --

-- and if you don't rein your horse in as you pass through, you might miss it.

The community is home to the Historic Baker Ranger Station, which was responsible for oversight of the national forests and monuments in this area.  Once Great Basin National Park was formed and its visitor centers and administration facilities built, this CCC-era, classic green-and-white complex of buildings was sold, the major part to a regional group that manages the Great Basin National Heritage Area:

The Great Basin National Heritage Area is one of 55 National Heritage Areas scattered across the United States.

Baker has its own heritage.  Our campground is trying to make its own heritage with a 50's national park poster style mural on the side of the campground office and bar:

Many of the buildings are original log buildings constructed in the 1800's that have been renovated to one degree or another.  Over a dozen of the buildings are log cabins that simply sit where they were originally built, presently occupied or not:

The town boasts eclectic architecture.  Here is an old railway car that has been repurposed as a residence:

The town has its issues.  As part of Snake Valley and White Pine County, its residents are furiously fighting an uphill battle against what they seem to suggest is theft of their groundwater by the Southern Nevada Water Authority  (SNWA) to supply the thirsty needs of Las Vegas, much as happened with the Owens Valley, near Lone Pine, California decades ago.  Unique signs and constructions have been erected to draw attention to the threat:

All around Baker are visible remnants of its history, such as this rusting jalopy resting somberly near a National Park Service exhibit on ranching in the Snake Valley:

Ranchers and other valley residents landscape their properties in quirky ways.  Nearly every residence in town has an eclectic garden filled with repurposed materials as sculptures and decoration.  Even out on ranch roads, you can spot unique figures such as Bob Wire and Barb Wire who were just hanging around by the roadside:

This old hippie, built from a bleached cattle skull and probably sporting a Vietnam Vet's wheelchair, stares with some intent purpose at passerby, yet in some gentle way offering an adjoining seat to anyone who wants to take a load off and gossip a bit:

About a 2.5 mile drive (or in our case, walk) from town is the Baker Archeological Site, administered by the BLM:

Here, the remains of a Shoshone village now known as "Baker Village" was discovered and excavated.  The archaeological dig, once analyzed, was backfilled, but the site offers a walking path and a visitor guide to help explain the site to visitors:

We would have liked a copy of the visitor guide, but there were none on offer.  Only one yellowed and dog-eared copy crouched timidly in the box that held the visitor register.  We paged through it to try to read the information.  We could not read most of it.

The illustrations, however, were interesting.  This one shows an artist's conception, taken from the actual excavated site, of what Baker Village might have looked like when it was occupied in the 1200's:

There's not much in the way of other habitation around Baker.  There are two nearby towns -- Garrison and Eskdale, each located a few miles away across the state line in Utah -- that have joined with Baker to share community resources, such as fire and volunteer rescue service.  In addition, the three communities share school resources.  One town houses a school serving grades K-2, another grades 3-8, and the third town provides schooling for grades 9-12.  Kids in each town are bussed to the appropriate neighboring town's school until it's time to graduate to another school in another town.

Up on lonely Highway 50, on the way to Eskdale, there is a restaurant-bar-casino-motel-RV campground complex known as Border Inn, so named because it straddles the Nevada-Utah border:

The motel is in Utah.  All of the interesting stuff, such as the bar and casino, are in Nevada.  Would you have thought otherwise.  Here we sit, within spitting distance of LDS country, indulging a sin:

Needless to say, we lost all we gambled, but -- hey -- what better way to understand the local culture.

That's about it for Baker, Nevada.  Tomorrow we plan to drive further afield and check out some other interesting things on the other side of Sacramento Summit.

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