I stayed at the Hotel Nevada in Ely which once boasted of being the tallest building in Nevada. The hotel is lit up with a bright neon sign and the sidewalk in front has stars showing celebrities who stayed at the hotel in the 1950’s. The hotel long ago lost all of its glory and its worn casino is thinly populated with aging gamblers who seem to spring from the faded, worn out carpet, mindlessly pumping quarters into the slots, not so much gambling as killing time. I lie in bed, bathed with the glow of red neon from the giant “N” 2 feet from my hotel room window. My room reminds me of the famous Seinfeld episode where Kramer’s apartment is bathed in the red neon glow of a Rogers Roasters chicken stand. I lie in bed bathed in red light and contemplate whether one of the most watched sitcoms in history had any lasting effects on society.
Heading out the next morning I stopped by the Ely District Bureau of Land Management office. Besides having absolutely the best maps many BLM districts have geologists or archeologist assigned and fortunately the Ely district was one of them. The archeologist recommended I look for the Fort Pearce cemetery at the top of Egan Canyon. He also mentioned that due to weather and trail conditions the riders often had to take alternate routes. Egan Canyon was fantastic riding but it is impossible to not imagine being a Pony Express Rider. The canyon is winding and narrow with towering black cliffs on either side, an ideal spot for an ambush, which is exactly what the Paiute Indians also thought. Making this section of the Pony Express one of the most dangerous and deadly. After exploring an old abandoned mine I topped out of the canyon and sure enough, off to the right was the old grave site. The site was from 1861 and contained 3 U.S. Cavalry soldiers and a Pony Express rider. 1862 is ancient history for Americans and pre-dates the addition of Nevada and Utah to the United States. The graves were unmarked wood crosses and faded but otherwise in good shape. I gave them a moment of silence and listened to the wind blowing thru the sage before continuing up Cherry Canyon.