Steamshovel OHV Trail We Visited: 9/13/2003
Our Dinner: Grilled Top Sirloins

Directions: From Fallon, east on Highway 50 4.9 miles to Stillwater Rd (SR 116); NE on Stillwater Rd 48.7 miles;

From Fallon: 53.6 miles

4WD or high clearance desired

What Was

OK, so it's not really a "historic" site, technically speaking, but there is an old abandoned Speeder shovel crane along the way. Powered by a 66 HP Caterpillar 6-cylinder D4600 diesel engine, with integral 2-cylinder gasoline pony engine starter, the only thing that saw steam was the owner when he had to leave it here, for whatever reason. Although there have been plenty of guesses, no one knows for sure why it's here or who abandoned it, as far as I know. Suffice to say, it's a little strange and a bit sad, sitting forlornly on its little terrace, gazing out at Dixie Valley, waiting for someone from Operating Engineers Local 3 to fire 'er up and do a little digging.

If there is any historic basis for this trail I don't know what it might be- there are copper mines in the area although I didn't see anything mining activity to speak of along the trail itself.

What Is

Mind you, I'm speaking from the perspective of an ATV, but the road seems to be fair, with lots of washouts, gullies, rocks, and tree limbs sticking out. It makes for an entertaining ride, but be sure to look at views after coming to a complete stop. It is most definitely and unmistakably a 4WD road. However, the scenery is quite spectacular in some areas, the views of Dixie Valley are wonderful, and the smell of pine and sage will make you forget where you are. The road is fairly well marked with a combination of homemade and BLM OHV signs. If you turn off the beaten track- like we did on the way home- you're likely to find trails that have not been used in several years- perhaps decades- with the accompanying debris, fallen rocks and trees, and other impediments. Give yourself plenty of time. We didn't, and ended up riding home in the dark. One other note, the USGS map does not show the entire trail- some of the road was constructed since the map was printed. The map available below has our GPS track, so you might want to study is before you go.

On the way back we opted for the Bradshaw Mine Loop of Death trail, which is not really an official trail but rather, well, some clues on a map of where some roads may have been at one time or another. Sometimes a fairly well-defined trail, at others merely a ghost, the BMLoD starts north of where the Shovel sits, and loops west and then south. This trail is not maintained by anyone and I seriously doubt we could find it again, but it was an adventure.

Our top sirloin steaks were grilled to perfection by Luis on his bizarre fold-flat grille made by skilled Chinese craftsman and sold through your local Wal Mart. He's got this Special Spice that he rips the label off of so I can't see what it is, but I'm sure it's available in a store somewhere. Or maybe not, maybe he's just toying with me. Anyway, you slather the meat with this stuff and slap them on the grille and ooh la la, brother, nice and tender and full of flavor that only comes from searing meat over charcoal in the Great Outdoors. Nice guy that he is, he gave me his Secret Spices bottle so I'll analyze it and get back to you if I discover anything unusual.

The "steam" shovel is actually a 1950's-era Speeder diesel crane shovel
This section of the trail was particularly rocky
USGS map showing the Steam Shovel OHV trail
size - 3.6 Mb TIFF format
(scan courtesy W. M. Keck Center)
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