Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tadpole Shrimp, A Living Fossil

A recent trip to Utah included a stop at Dead Horse Point State Park where I took a short hike along the canyon rim to an area of potholes.
Recent storms had filled the potholes with water, just a few feet from the edge of the cliff 2000 feet above the canyon floor.
I saw movement in a few of the pools and when I looked closely, saw tiny creatures crawling and swimming in the puddles.  A park ranger later identified them as Tadpole Shrimp from my photo.  They have often been called "living fossils" because they are essentially unchanged from their 250 million year-old ancestors.  These fascinating animals live just 20 or 30 days in ephemeral pools.  They have been known to lay eggs that stay dormant for years until rain fills the puddles long enough for them to hatch.
This photo shows how close to the drop-off some of these potholes were.
Tadpole Shrimp (scientific name Triops longicaudatus, in the order Notostraca. in the class Branchiopoda) are sometimes sold in novelty stores, but it was a thrill to find them in the wild.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tunnel, Nevada - Ghost Town

Tunnel, Nevada is one of the best true ghost towns I have ever seen.  I was there with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson, camping buddies for the last 32 years.
Tunnel has it all.  It is in a remote location north of Lovelock, is completely deserted, and has several intact buildings, as well as this photogenic old truck.

Tunnel is one of the only places where I have found an intact stamp mill on site.  These things are usually found only in museums.

Tunnel was founded in 1927 and named for an attempt to bore a tunnel from Seven Troughs on the other side of the mountain to improve drainage and help move ore to a mill on site.  Veins of gold were found in the 2 1/2 mile tunnel.

Perhaps this brick building was a power plant or office building for the Nevada State Mining Company.  Vandals have severely damaged the walls and roof.

There is a human factor seen here.  It is the only ghost town where I have found clothes still hanging on the wall in an old cabin.

The cemetery has 13 graves with wood and metal crosses.  There are no names or dates on any of the markers.  Who were these people?  What happened to them?

Was this an assay office?  There are hundreds of bags of ore samples inside, but of course they have been broken open and scattered everywhere.

There isn't a lot of information about Tunnel, but I understand that water in the tunnel brought an end to mining in the 1950's.