|President’s Weekend Trip to Sand Mountain
We decided to do a bit of Geocaching at Sand Mountain with the Rhino and our hand held GPS. We found two caches:
See the DuneGuide.com Geocaching info page for more details on geocaching while at the dunes. We have made it easy for you to click on your favorite sand dune and bring up all the geocaches nearby.
The kids had a ball hunting for the ammo boxes once we got close with the GPS. And the Rhino made it real nice because one of the caches was off a rocky trail.
As a regular to Sand Mountain for almost twenty years, I had driven past the turnoff for the Pony Express station more times than I can remember. There was always riding to do and never a vehicle without paddle tires available when I thought about going.
This trip over President’s Weekend changed that. It was a father and son trip, and we used our new Rhino to explore places that I hadn’t been to before.
The Sand Springs Pony Express Station is about 1/2 mile off of the main access road to Sand Mountain Recreation Area.
The Rhino is a perfect vehicle to see the dunes at a bit slower pace, and also get to places near the dunes that you wouldn’t think about taking a sand rail to.
A Little History: At a time before there were airplanes, telephones, railroads or even a telegraph, the Pony Express carried the mail 2,000 miles in just 12 days in the summer and 14 days in the winter. From April 1860 to October 1861, dozens of brave young riders carried the U.S. mail by horseback 1,800 miles between Sacramento, Calif. and St. Joseph, Missouri. Today, Highway 50 roughly parallels the route the riders took across the wild and untamed Nevada landscape.
The station was built in March of 1860 and was used by the Pony Express until November 1861. When the transcontinental telegraph was completed on October 24, 1861, messages could be sent from coast to coast in just minutes. The Pony was doomed and it died only twenty-seven days later. The telegraph and the Overland Stage Company continued to use the station throughout the 1860’s. Other freight companies like Well Fargo occasionally used the building up until about 1900.
Sir Richard Burton, British scholar and explorer, visited Sand Springs Station on October 17, 1860, and described it in his diary this way:
“The water near this vile hole was thick and stale with sulphury salts; it blistered even the hands. The station house was no unfit object in such a scene, roofless and chairless, filthy and squalid, with a smoky fire in one corner, and a table in the center of an impure floor, the walls open to every wind and the interior full of dust.”
Travelers found a reliable source of water at Sand Springs, but its poor quality often poisoned animals and probably made people ill.
Abandoned and forgotten, the station was almost completely buried by drift sand. It was rediscovered in 1975 and archeologists from UNR excavated the site and removed the artifacts. A historically accurate stabilization of the site was completed in 1997.
By 1981, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Please note: The Sand Springs Desert Study Area, which includes the Sand Springs Pony Express Station is closed to OHVs. You can drive your OHVs on the access road to reach the parking area, but do not leave the road.