While we were still living in Boulder City, NV, we had picked up an informational brochure for the Shoshone Wetlands Bird Refuge. So on March 5th we took a 30 mile drive from Lakeside RV in Pahrump to Shoshone Village in California.
Shoshone was founded in 1910 by Ralph Fairbanks, a Death Valley businessman. We were told, by the waitress at the Crowbar Café in town, that Shoshone Village is wholly owned by Fairbanks’ daughter. Shoshone Village was located on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad which carried gypsum, borax and other ore with stops originating in western Nevada, at Tonopah, continuing through other towns along the way as it worked its way into Los Angeles. Today the population of Shoshone is 10 fulltime residents. The RV park manager’s wife works at the China Ranch Date Farm about 30 miles south, and the Crowbar waitress lives in Pahrump about 30 miles east. In town there is a museum, an eco-tours center, a post-office, general store, a health center, an RV park with hot springs and Death Valley Academy school.
We visited the two areas of interest at Shoshone: the Dublin Gulch area, and the wetlands trails. During the mining times of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, some miners and families lived in “cabins” dug out of the caliche clay hills. Some of these homes, cool in summer and warm in winter, had two rooms. We could see fireplace remnants dug out of the walls, and places where there had been wood burning stoves, both with stove pipe chimneys to the outside through the hill top. Some cabins were just rudimentary caves, while others had evidence of furniture and carved out receptacles for storage of household and personal items. Dublin Gulch has quite an extensive cemetery with fairly new headstones including even recent burials, as late at 1974.
Across the road from the majority of the clay cabins in Dublin Gulch is the small village of Shoshone. The museum, restaurant and sheriffs office are clustered together, behind which starts one of the three wetland trails. Two trails, at opposite ends of town, are loop trails. But, we chose to walk out the one trail and hook up with the transverse trail which connects the two loop trails. This transverse trail actually goes right into the Amargosa River. That’s right. We walked in the river bed for about a mile. BUT, very little water can be seen. It had rained a few nights earlier, and so there were wet spots in places, and even dark iron-brown ponds in a couple places.
At one of the first little pond areas we came to, we could tell that if water were running right where we stood, then we would be standing at the precipice of a small waterfall just before it would cascade over into the pond. Most of the "deepest" part of the river bed is identified by ugly, brushy, dry (until the summer rains come) honey mesquite trees, reeds, and other brush. There is even a stream of clear running water which comes from a hot springs across the road, down into the Amargosa. In this clear spring-water stream and along its shores are cattails and more honey mesquite trees. The width of the Amargosa River bed itself is indeterminable. I’m sure its course changes with the amount of water flowing and erosion….like a “wash” in a flash flood area. The following paragraph is taken from Wikipedia.
The Amargosa River is an intermittent, mostly underground waterway, 185 miles long, in southern Nevada and eastern California. It drains a high desert region, the Amargosa Valley in the Amargosa Desert northwest of Las Vegas, into the Mojave Desert, and finally into Death Valley where it disappears for good into the ground aquifer. Except for a small portion of its route in the Amargosa Canyon in California and a small portion at Beatty, Nevada, the river flows above ground only after a rare rainstorm washes the region. The name of the river comes from the Spanish word, amargo, for "bitter", and was probably shortened from agua amargosa, "bitter water". The name was first recorded in 1844 and is believed to refer to the alkaline water.
After finishing our hike through the Amargosa River wetlands, we completed our day trip by driving up through the lower portion of Death Valley National Park to Furnace Creek in the center. We spent a number of days in Death Valley many years ago, so we didn’t mind doing a quick, scenic drive through the park on this day. We did stop and visit the museum Visitor Center in Furnace Creek. We also cruised through each of the campgrounds so that we would be familiar with what is available for a future visit. We then drove out of the park on the route that would take us past Ash Meadows Wetlands (a previous journal entry) and in to Pahrump on one of the three east/west CA to NV roads.
Soon we will be heading to Sacramento, wind and storms permitting. We have so enjoyed sitting with our back window facing the lake at this RV park. Truly our living room has been a wonderful “bird blind” from which to watch all the birds, listening to their calls through the open windows and door. We look forward to returning here…maybe in a few winters from now.