June 3, 2016, Pioche, NV- It was not a hard choice, as to where to stop for the night, yesterday. Little Pioche, just west of the Utah state line, is a budding Virginia City or Bisbee. It has all the charm of the better known mining towns, so my stay at Motherlode Motel was a no-brainer. I came this way in 1980, on the way back to Flagstaff, from Oregon.
The drive involves what I call stair-stepping: U.S. 93 goes on to Panaca, just east of Pioche; then there is a drive on two contiguous state highways, to Cedar City; this is followed by an alley-oop, over the Cedar Mountains on Utah Highway 56, to U.S. 89, which goes to Page, on the southern shore of Lake Powell. From here, I would continue the process, taking AZ Route 98 to the Navajo Nation town of Tsegi, U.S. 160 to Indian Route 59, just east of Kayenta, then IR 59 to Many Farms, U.S. 191 to AZ 264, at Ganado, then the 191 again to I-40, and a couple of Navajo roads, which I will mention later, to Native American Baha’i Institute of Learning.
So, the rest of this is fairly simple. The rugged Southwest is meant to be enjoyed, within the boundaries of preparedness and common sense. This was the fourth day of Big Heat. Even in mountain-girt Pioche, it would hit 85 today. The sizzle was already evident, as I walked the short distance from motel to downtown.
The Lincoln County Courthouse and Mountain View Lodge attract the visitor, en rout to Main Street.
It is recorded that President Herbert Hoover stayed here, in 1930. A more earthy sort of clientele would have opted for the accommodations shown below.
There was, however, an Opera House in town, which may have appealed to Mr. Hoover.
Before going in for a hearty breakfast at the historic Silver Cafe, a stroll along Main Street was in order.
The pleasant little park at the end of Main Street was established in the 1980s. The original developers were killed in an auto accident, in 1986, whereupon the community banded together and finished the job.
Like many Western towns, Pioche attracted some free spirits. This Spiritist Hall existed for a time, in the early Twentieth Century.
After breakfast in the bustling cafe, another quick stroll back to Motherlode Motel brought my brief visit to an end. I did notice one last remnant of the Wild West.
A quick drive up the hill was in order, before leaving town, for Cathedral Gorge.
The town, and its surrounding hills, were named for Francois Pioche, an immigrant from France, who became a mining entrepreneur. He built the mining concerns here, in 1868-9.
My day was just starting, but it’s best to split the tale into three parts. Next post will showcase Cathedral Gorge and Panaca, as the hills fade away into the Great Basin.