Category: Off The Beaten Path

Lonnie Hammargren’s Nevada Day House Tour

November 2, 2014
Lonnie Hammargren

Lonnie Hammargren

Lonnie Hammargren long time Las Vegas resident, neurosurgeon, politician and eclectic collector of Las Vegas and Nevada history opens his house, Castillo del Sol to Las Vegas residents to celebrate Nevada Day. Lonnie severed as Lt. Governor of Nevada (1995-1999), and spent years as a NASA flight surgeon. His house or should I say his 3 houses combined to form one large museum with has at least 3 stories and a basement sprawl over then neighborhood near Flamingo and Sandhill.

Some of the items noted are a life-size Apollo capsule, atomic bombs, observatory, planetarium, casino signs, time machines, Liberace memorabilia (including a full set of stairs), a sarcophagus in a Egyptian tomb, stage, trains, political history, replica of Hoover Dam, large scaled size model of the Space Shuttle, memorials to fallen astronauts, Bat-mobile, Statue of Liberty, and of the latests items was the roller-coster from the the top of the Stratosphere. Lonnie’s house has been featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and the Travel Channel’s Vegas VIP Homes.

This was the final year (2014) for the public to tour of Mr. Hammargren’s house on Nevada Day weekend.

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Date Taken: November 2, 2014

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On This Date September 30, 1935 Hoover Dam Was Dedicated by President FDR

September 30, 2014
Hoover Dam Dedicated by President Roosevelt

Boulder Dam/Hoover Dam Dedicated by President Roosevelt Sept. 30, 1935

Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The cost of the construction was $49 million dollars and was completed two years ahead of schedule. The dam was controversially named after President Herbert Hoover.

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Bristlecone Trail Hike – Lee Canyon, Nevada

September 29, 2014

Bristlecone TrailGPS: N36° 18′ 23.8386″  – W115° 40′ 41.4588″ (WGS 84)

The Bristlecone Trail starting point is know as the Upper Bristlecone Trail. It is located a the very end of the Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156). Take US 95 toward Reno, pass the Mountain Charleston turn-off continuing straight for 10 miles, make a left on Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156), follow it until it ends. It trailhead starts in the parking lot of the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, where the turnaround or helicopter landing pad is located. This hike will take you 2-3 hours to complete, depending on stops and breaks. The trail is clearly marked and you will notice a fence on either side of the trail for the first quarter of a mile. This was installed to protect some sensitive plants for butterflies.  The first part of the trail is lined with Ponderosa Pine, Aspens, and further near the summit are the Bristlecone Pines. The hike offers great views of Lee Canyon and the surrounding area. Even with 105°+ temperatures in Las Vegas the mountain offer a cool escape from the dreaded heat.

Warnings: This hike starts out at 8,600 feet and reaches an altitude of 9,381 feet.  So if you just came up from the valley desert floor, be prepared for some heaving breathing. Also, beware that there are mountain bikers on the trails, so watch out.  The dirt road portion of the hike (last 4 miles) is quite wide and has room for everyone and has a gentle slope.

The full loop back to the parking lot is just under 6 miles.  The hardest part is the first 2 miles. Once pass the summit, it is a gentle slope to the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead. A final small hike along the roadside for 1/2 mile will bring you back your starting place. This hike is not a difficult hike – just a little long and a lot of breathing for the first 2 miles. Have fun, bring water and be safe.

Update: This trail is great to hike anytime in the summer to get away from the scorching heat of the lower desert floor. But as a reminder, and if you time it right, try to hike it around September 21 and you may catch the Aspens in their golden and reddish Autumn colors before they are discarded to the forest floor.

Lee Canyon – Bristlecone Trail – Click for hi-res photo

View 360° Panoramic of the Bristlecone TrailHead

Base of Las Vegas Ski & Snow Resort – Summer

View 360° Panoramic of the Las Vegas Ski and Snow Resort

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On This Date: July 21, 1948 B-29 Superfortress Bomber Crashed into Lake Mead

July 21, 2014
A Modified B-29 (F-13) crashed in to Lake Mead on July 21, 1948

A Modified B-29 (F-13) crashed in to Lake Mead on July 21, 1948

On July 21, 1948 a Boeing B-29 Superfortress (F-13)  crashed in to Lake Mead. The Bomber was modified from a B-29 into a F-13. The “F” meant that it was modified for photo reconnaissance. It was on a special mission to conduct atmospheric research using an instrument called the “Sun Tracker”.  Painted on the nose of the plane was the words “Cosmic Ray Research”.  The plane operated as high as 30,000 feet down to just about as low as you can fly.

While on mission, the plane was making a very low pass over the Lake Mead surface with what is described, “glass like” when it hit the water.  The plane was traveling at about 250 mph as it crashed and skipping across the surface for over a quarter of a mile.  Five men on-board escaped via life rafts before the plane sank in water over 170 feet deep.  The crew was rescued from the lake six hours later and was instructed not to disclose any details of the flight, its mission or its loss. As the mission was classified, these details were not released until fifty years later.

In 2001, a private dive team searching for the B-29 using side-scan sonar found the wreckage in the northern arm of Lake Mead. Because the bomber lay inside a National Recreation Area, responsibility for the site fell to the National Park Service. Due to the cold deep water, the plane  has been well preserved. Currently the site is off limits to divers.

Photo By: – Public Domain

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On This Date: July 3, 1930 Appropriation Bill for the Boulder Dam Was Signed

July 3, 2014
hoover dam

Hoover Dam on the Nevada - Arizona Border Built Starting in 1931

On July 3, 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed the appropriation bill for the Boulder Dam.  Work started on the dam in 1931 and Las Vegas’ population swelled from around 5,000 citizens to 25,000, with most of the newcomers looking for a job building the dam. The casinos and showgirl theaters first appeared in Las Vegas to entertain the largely male-majority dam construction workers. The name of the dam was later changed from Boulder Dam to Hoover Dam.

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Date Taken: November 26, 2011

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Lone Mountain Hike

February 9, 2014

GPS: N36°14’17.88″ / W115°18’59.026″

Lone Mountain is a steep, isolated, rocky crag located in the northwest part of Las Vegas just inside the Interstate-215 Beltway. The summit stands some 600 feet above the surrounding desert and homes, giving great views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

Lone Mountain Summit, Las Vegas Nevada

Lone Mountain Summit, Las Vegas Nevada

Click Here for a 360° Virtual View

There are several routes up Lone Mountain. The Northwest Route is fairly steep, but it is short (0.51 miles) and takes only about 30 minutes if you stop to enjoy the scenery along the way. The other is a longer from the north end. Lone Mountain is good place for a quick get-away or after-work hike. Be careful hiking this during the summer heat it can be very hot. This hike would make a good sunset/sunrise climb with a great view of the Las Vegas valley.

Elevation: 3342 ft.

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