Among the fifty states, a land unique …
Where contrasts, contradictions, and extremes
Is synonym for silence; and the themes
Of Harshness and Hostility
Are manifest; while those
Of Beauty are, too often, unperceived.
Where ranges are aggrieved,
And peak on barren mountain peak
Lies hot and dry …
As of an ocean tide,
Descends to gash a mountainside!
With all its might,
A single tree …
Not out to sea,
But inward; only to be met
By sand … more sand … and still more sand.
Where seasons do not come and go
With springtime bloom and winter snow,
But merge, and pass as one,
And leave no print …
In full and stern command,
Erases color from the sky;
Grows intimate with sand and flint,
From mountaintop to river bed,
And brings forth countless other suns
The burning noon …
Where even snakes and scorpions
Desert the day,
And twilight never comes too soon … .
Where plants, what few survive,
Are thorned, or speared, or spined,
With more parts dead
Than still remain alive …
As if some awful blight
Had settled on the land;
Or waters had been reassigned,
And all been left to die … .
Where wind and sand embrace
And cling together mile on mile on mile …
And people tell
Of “Whirling Dervishes” that carry dust
To heaven’s very gate!
Mirages that beguile
A man to doom;
And springs that pass without a bud or bloom … .
Is common as the dirt itself; a crust
May crack beneath the feet;
Or beds contaminate
Not only hill and plain,
But valley, mesa, river, lake, and well.
If Jedediah Smith, in passing through,
Foreswore a later, desert rendezvous,
Explorers who came after, also found
Of little worth, this lonely … waiting … ground.
Lonely and waiting; abandoned; forgot;
Heavy with treasures untouched and unknown;
Savagely impotent; endlessly hot;
Walled by the mountains that swallowed her moan.
Sunshine and sand in a pitiless glare,
Canyon to mesa, and valley to hill;
Colorful; beautiful; desolate; bare …
This is the desert … unchanging, and still … .
When Fremont, the Map-Maker, came
To chart and explore,
His party knew much of privation …
They found many values to name,
But made no predictions of fame;
Found much to deplore,
And termed it a “Vast Desolation”.
And yet, however dry the land may seem,
Nevada is, by no means, riverless!
For more than one determined, snow-fed stream
Is threading through this canyoned wilderness.
Though Walker, of the Fremont Party, found
Both lake and stream that bear his name,
May not be said of Humboldt; who
Not only did not find,
But never even saw
The river bearing his.
And what a stream the Humboldt is!
It has no counterpart in all the world …
Rising in a sump of alkali,
To coil and wind,
Uncoil and double back …
The satin ribbon edging
On a ballerina’s skirt
In aimless fashion,
Three times its length,
The western base
Of Ruby Range …
A rope of straw
With sunlight glinting on its surface …
Its brackish water turning almost blue
As it grows fresh and sweet
With melting snow
Or mountain rain
Much like a python, having lately dined.
But, after it has left the range,
It dwindles down again …
Grows silent and morose
Where all is hot and dry;
To sink, exhausted, into sand …
And end, at last,
A sump of alkali …
But one of many contradicting themes,
Nevada’s rivers offer both extremes …
Consider, then, another …
The Truckee … frosted white with animation …
A silver giant, slashing deep ravines …
Cascading at a mile of elevation
The fluid thunder of a dragon, roaring …
The choruses of leaves and bumblebees …
A tender lover, pleading and imploring
A sculptor, always molding and reshaping
The crumbling granite of its canyon walls …
The distant tones of orchestras, escaping
Unfettered spirit of the wild and free …
Interpreting a woodland symphony.
But rivers lose themselves where ranges tower …
Become a thread in their immensity …
While endless miles of desert overpower
Their feeble hold on world geography.
“Most Arid State” … a claim still undisputed …
The barren hills have little else to tell …
And such a charge could hardly be refuted
By yuccas, creosote, and chapparal … .
But there is Charleston … capped with ice and snow …
Where timber, meadows, shrubs, and bushes grow …
Where hoarfrost clings to redbud trees;
To cedars and mahoganies …
Where ice-cold waters gush …
And there is underbrush,
With pines and firs
Where rain occurs,
And Spring prefers
To make her grasses lush …
To coax the lark and thrush …
With seeds for jays and chickadees,
And nectar for the honey bees.
Where aspen quake when soft, cool breezes blow;
And there is cover for the fawn and doe.
While all around, are sun and sand and heat;
Where seasons thirst and tremble with defeat;
Producing sage, and cacti, and mesquite …
And there is Tahoe … Rhapsody In Blue …
Star-sapphire of our border on the west …
Created at some early rendezvous
Of clouds and angels at Sierra’s crest.
Her winter blue would know a thousand shades,
From azure to the deepest indigo …
A streak of purple when the sunlight fades …
Black velvet on Sierra’s cloak of snow.
Who looks upon this mountain lake has seen
Such waters as he will not see again …
Encircled by a band of evergreen,
And ill-described by master tongue, or pen.
Such purity as comes of snow, or fire…
Of flute or violin … of harp … or lyre.
And Boundary Peak … greatest in height …
Second to none in the State!
Where snowstorms are spawned, denser than night,
Crushing and choking with weight.
As summer descends, eagles may soar,
Touching … defying the crest …
Then, dropping from height, draw from the floor,
Food for a mate on the nest.
Pahranaghat … a place made April-green
By flowing springs …
Where clouds of noisy blackbirds flaunt the sheen
Of polished wings …
And gardens and alfalfa give the scene
To simple things.
A lake, with countless flocks of waterfowl,
Is stippled glass,
Where mountain predators come down to prowl
And silences are broken by a howl
As coyotes pass.
Where frost gives cottonwoods a golden gleam,
And willows grow along a lazy stream.
The Rubies, too,
Are threaded through
With creeks and meadowlands . .
Their granite spines rise sharp and high …
And hurricanes, that wander by,
Are trapped and crumbled … strewn aground …
And calm finds granite ermine-gowned.
Alfalfa fields and crested wheat,
That never know the desert heat,
Grow tall and green …
And, in between,
Mahogany and aspen share the snows
With cherry, service-berry bush, and rose,
To shelter roving bands
Of mountain sheep and deer and antelope
That range at will on every timbered slope.
A place of moods … forbidding; violent!
Or silent … peaceful … happy … and content.
Where seasons stake their claims …
Wildflowers weave a tapestry of Spring …
And Summer climbs the slopes with blossoming.
White yellow spreads
Such streams as melting snow provides,
Go rushing down the mountainsides!
Imported bees, through ceaseless toil,
Produce the “Honey of Lamoille” …
A hundred thousand Herefords graze,
And birds fling endless roundelays
From Autumn’s creeping flames,
To peaks patrolled
By constant cold.
A hundred miles of mountains, wrapped in snow,
In Winter’s setting sun.
Those mountain meadows, lying north by east,
With running springs, in which a horse may drown,
Have grass so deep, great herds of cattle feast,
Though just below, the hills are sere and brown.
So, too, are valleys, scattered here and there,
With sheep and melons, hay and grain and stock,
Between horizons, hot and dry and bare,
That greet the sun with multi-colored rock.
And there are giants, watered by the snows …
And little creeks that tumble fast and free …
And many crests that pines and piñons chose,
Where seasons pass with perfect constancy.
So much of green does our fair State possess
To contradict a theme of barrenness …
And yet … and yet …
The world does not forget
This is the place men dreaded, going West.
And well they might!
Who struggled, panted, walked, and bled …
Who choked with alkali;
Sweat mud; and cursed …
And prayed …
Who dreamed …
But, in the night,
Such perils as lay yet ahead;
And wondered whether they would starve … or die
Of thirst …
Whose oxen swayed …
And, belly-deep in dust,
Dropped in their tracks;
And gritted teeth; and scored skin …
Who shook and trembled with their fears
When waters gleamed
From lakes long dead,
And long since dry …
Of rocks, along the way,
Marked graves …
And every passing day
Grew less and less …
And deserts ended, only to begin
Another stretch of barren wilderness …
Small wonder, then,
So many passed Nevada by … .
Yet, in that endless stream
Of travelling humanity,
There were a few
Who came to build.
The righteous ones, who held a different dream …
Not seeking gold,
They wanted only to be free …
To colonize; to mold
A virgin land; to preach;
And render unto God His due.
These were the Mormons …working men
Who cleared and tilled …
Who planted gardens, vineyards, wheat,
And apple trees, and pear, and peach …
And lilac bushes … or a climbing rose.
And Mormon Station came to be … .
Through unrelenting summer heat …
Through wind and storm and winter snow,
A haven and a place of rest.
Today, Genoa is its name …
That settlement of early fame,
Whose people shared their homes and food,
And earned undying gratitude
From those who sought The Golden West,
But left Nevada unpossessed,
As on and on and on … they pressed.
With values men refused to see,
Nevada waited … patiently … .
Her mountains wore colors more varied
Than rainbows had ever possessed …
Through tints, tones, and shading they carried,
Her endless appeals were expressed.
Her valleys were crying for water …
For orchards, and cotton, and cane …
But moistureless seasons had taught her
That all her appeals were in vain.
A flood or a snow might bring grasses
But thrice in a century …
With blooms in incredible masses,
For only her Maker to see.
What cataclysm brought her from the deep,
And raised a hundred ranges on her face?
Then gave to her such hoards of gold to keep,
As later came to free a bonded race?
And gold, And gold, And gold!
And silver as would buy a continent!
But bought, instead,
Nob Hill …
And most of San Francisco … and the Bay!
And, if the truth were told,
More still … .
Those mining years …
Producing desert buccaneers
And far too many dead!
More virile, more intense
Than all the sagas of recorded time
And on the stage …
From every corner of the earth,
Who came to play
Their given roles …
The literate; the polished; the refined;
With honor, ethics, and intelligence …
The coarse; the vulgar; the uncouth …
The dullard and the wit …
The strongest of the strong…
The bravest of the brave …
The wiliest of schemers …
And the most devout
Of Christian leaders … there to save
Of one and all. Youth,
And Age …
Conspirators … and dreamers … .
They cleared the sage
Upon a mountain, far removed …
And, if that mountain was designed
With dips and spurs
To foster argument,
The ledges it contained
And so … at last … they came …
From California, via Devil’s Gate,
A path …
And placed upon it, load on load
Of salt and timber for the mines,
Much whiskey and expensive wines,
And such supplies
As people need
When they create
Where nothing grew
But sage … .
The land was new;
And life was raw; and right
Was sometimes “wrong”,
And blood was spilt …
The pious ones were put to rout,
And men of courage found an early grave,
And no one hung for it.
From east and west, the people came …
To search; to gouge; to stake a claim …
Each brought his pick, and each, his spade …
The “Lure of Gold” was on parade!
That dauntless band, called “The Pony Express”,
Had mapped a trail
Through the wilderness …
Though blizzards raged, and the sun beamed down,
They carried mail
To the mining town.
By tens of thousands, people swarmed …
But not to water, plant, or till …
Nor yet, as friend …
They came with but a single thought …
And, if the State they formed
Was incidental to the riches sought,
It gave them back a millionfold
And not a few
Made fortunes past belief;
Past avarice or greed;
But failed to note the crying need
Of one beseeching hill …
And, in the end,
They left Nevada with her grief …
Alone, and ravished … and betrayed.
That silver mountain … fabled and profaned …
That Big Bonanza, called “The Comstock Lode” …
What history it made!
Nevada’s other mountains gave
Of precious ore
Without a tremor; but the Comstock fought!
It kicked and struggled; spat
In boiling water; spewed;
Belched smoke and grime;
And made them pay
For every foot they sank into its core!
And would not be subdued … .
An endless battle … on and on …
So heavy was the road with teams
Supplying more and stronger beams,
It took a dozen miles to pass … .
While men and horses strained
From dawn to dawn …
While camels lurched and swayed,
And mules regained
Their footing on some rocky grade,
The mountain trembled in its rage … .
It heaved … and men were caught …
And some remembered to their dying day,
The sounds that issued from the boiling mass …
And people say
That, when a broken shaft
Sucked men and timber into fetid slime,
The mountain’s ghost
Came out, and laughed!
But Deidesheimer put a stop to that!
With beehive timbering
That paved the way
To riches past the numbering … .
Its ledges widened … sixty feet
Of almost solid silver, flecked with gold.
However much they took away,
And more. And more. And more!
Time came when dangers underground
Were second to those dangers found
Above. For winds, of which no man had dreamed,
Laid waste the town.
Time after time,
Both wood and stone,
Were kicked and broken; tumbled down …
As “Washoe Zephyrs” whined and screamed;
From out of nowhere , leaped and hissed,
And were not even heard
Above the drone.
As if the mountain’s spirit chose
To match their insolence
Destructive as their own …
Until the site
And not a tent
And once, they say,
A “Washoe Zephyr” peeled
The paper, newly-hung,
Right off the church’s walls!
Then, later, kicked the church to pieces,
Just for fun … .
At such a time, the pious prayed …
The cowards cringed; some showed
Determination … fright,
Perhaps … but none
Were given to indifference!
And Father Manogue, with the strength of the brave,
A church to rebuild, and a people to save,
Met storms as a giant; a saint; or a rock …
With patience and faith that encouraged his flock.
While mining went on as before …
As shafts were deepened, water rose
To tax the grace of pipe and pump …
And then came Sutro to propose
A tunnel from the mountain’s base,
Across and underneath the sump.
“Six miles of tunnel?” owners asked.
Then, with amusement thinly masked,
Refused to hear another word,
Although the pace
Of operations slowed;
And accidents and deaths occurred.
The ore seemed inexhaustible … and so,
They took it, any way they could!
Let wind and snow
And fire and hail
Let steam explode and walls cave in!
The mines were open … though
Replacements might come hard … and slow.
What matter if the church bells tolled?
Who ever thought a hill could win?
But men were grim
When orders came to “snake it out” …
Around the Bay
How much went dribbling away,
Nor what the cost in life and limb …
The owners had no time to doubt
If they were doing as they should …
The mountain swallowed forests, beam by beam,
And then regurgitated steam …
The hills for fifty miles were bared;
Not one majestic grove was spared …
The sage gave out its meager heat,
And desolation was complete … .
Such things the town could do without,
For here was the gold …
While firemen drilled their numerous recruits,
In endless efforts to prevent disasters,
The haggling owners filled the courts with suits,
And lawyers mined more pay than dirt than the masters.
Injunctions were the order of the day;
And judges came and went in dead of night …
It mattered little which of them was right,
For everybody knew that Justice lay
With him who had the highest price to pay.
So … one by one, the little operators
Were swallowed up; squeezed out; and went away …
And, one by one, the shrewd manipulators
Grew richer, fatter, and had more to say …
Mount Davidson … where laws and kings were made …
Gold Hill … the open treasure-chest …
The Devil’s Gate … with bullion on parade
While Union armies were besieged and stressed,
And Mr. Lincoln paced the floor … and prayed.
He pondered opposition, east and west,
Who long had thought the price too high …
A single city on a naked hill?
Supported by such tiny settlements?
The desert stretching, vast and bare?
The puny farms? So little land to till?
But still …
The gold was there … .
However much he might abhor
The means, he hated more
To see his soldiers die …
The added votes a State could give
Seemed more and more imperative…
And, in the end … he paid.
A mewling infant given man’s estate
To win a war!
So great the need …
So very great.
With three more votes, the Thirteenth passed …
Virginia City gave him gold …
His tattered armies, thin and cold,
Were strengthened and renewed at last;
And so a boned race was freed!
A hundred years since then …
A hundred years!
Today, recalling these events;
The trials and the incidents,
We ponder; weigh, and speculate …
Rejoice; and celebrate!
In honoring our pioneers,
We thoughtfully recall the men
Who played a part
In that great victory …
Who wrote their names upon the chart
Nevada pledged to history …
The Brothers Grosch … that handsome, polished pair
Who first discovered Comstock ore
And staked a claim …
Long in their tragic graves before
The Comstock came
O’Riley and McLaughlin … first
To pan the dirt and work the mine …
While Comstock, quick of wit
And shrewd of trade,
And conscienceless as polar stone,
Appeared to bargain and persuade
Until they had agreed to sign,
Allowing him a part of it …
Nor did he find a reason to admit
That what he claimed was not his own.
With jubilation, fit to burst,
He called it his! Although it owed
To him, no more than to the nag he rode,
Its branded name, “The Comstock Lode”.
And there was Old Virginny … christening
Virginia City with his gin …
Who always had a song to sing,
And some tall tale to spin.
Then, later, there were Atwood, Head, and Hearst;
And Walsh, and Jimmy Fair …
Who, more through brains than circumstance,
Came by a lion’s share.
Good old Sandy Bowers … tall and lean,
With baggy pants …
Unlettered … but so generous of heart …
Who, as a matter of convenience,
Bestowed his name
On Eilley, while he played
His brief and tragic part,
Beloved (and used) by that ambitious dame.
And Eilley … greatly given to expedience …
Who, in her crystal ball, had seen
Such riches as she dared not dream.
Who put her splendor on parade,
And thought a queen’s estate should bring
A presentation to the Queen!
But found, to her dismay,
Her past was too unsavory.
Who lived too long beyond the gleam
Of silver, and Virginia City’s day;
So painfully relinquishing
Her “Mansion”, and its treasures,
One by one …
Almost before her reign of pleasures
The peak had passed …
Yet life went on and on …
And came to end, at last,
In unrelenting misery.
And Sutro was there … still timidly saying
His tunnel would empty the mountain of steam …
And owners, reluctant … always delaying
Permission to start in pursuit of his dream.
Bill Stewart’s hand wrote many lines …
“One ledge,” he said, “and one alone!”
Attorney for the richest mines …
His to protect, but not to own.
A man of brains; a man of brawn;
Who made the laws and set the mold …
Who swayed and charmed a multitude …
Then took attorney’s fees in gold,
And took himself to Washington!
While Julie Bulette, with her lady-like graces,
Cut glass and fine linens and delicate wines,
Gave hints on deportmant, along with embraces,
Demanding good manners of men from the mines.
They loved … they adored her, their “Angel of Mercy” …
Accepted her teaching when labors were done —-
Florence Nightingale, Ruth, Lady Ashley, and Circe,
Cleopatra, and Sheba all rolled into one!
They would not have called her a “Broad” or a “Cutie” …
Her virtues were legion, her faults but a few …
Compassionate being of exquisite beauty …
Mulatto? Or Creole? They say no one knew … .
When Mr. Lincoln signed his Proclamation,
And Union forces gained another State,
Virginia City, wild with jubilation,
Did everything she knew how to celebrate
Except relax her mining operation!
While women sought the latest styles,
Displayed their emeralds and furs …
While railroads added to their miles,
And more and more adventurers
Were drawn by tales of gold,
Virginia City grew and grew.
The burros used for treading ore,
(And other means as primitive)
Gave way to such machinery
As engineers devised …
In time, the people knew
Its mighty roar
The trademark of prosperity
Impressive buildings rose,
As competition, undisguised,
Gave way to rivalry.
And no one seemed to give a thought
To what might happen next;
As if the populace assumed
The mines would never close!
They had a standard to uphold …
And senators were being groomed …
Such battles as were being fought,
Allowed no place for simple things …
This was a time for making kings!
And every day, some new superlative
Was added to the text.
What ostentation they displayed!
Both schools and churches were ornate …
No gilt for them; no silverplate …
But solid gold; and purest jade.
Virginia City … in her day
The most affluent city in the world,
Atop a hill of crumbling stone!
Where life was boisterous and gay,
And miners did not hoard their pay …
Where, from the chimneys, wood-smoke curled,
And, in the gardens, grapes were grown.
Mahogany and caviar … .
Imported perfume for the maid …
For every man, a fat cigar …
For every woman, a rich brocade.
The best in entertainment, too!
The finest food on hoof or wing!
The sweetest fruit that ever grew …
The very best of everything!
With silver door-knobs … golden plates,
And treasures shipped around The Horn,
The money flowed through the open gates
And such a time was never born!
For news, there was The Daily Enterprise …
And people read it, far and far away …
And most gave credence to its frequent lies
With bursts of laughter, anger, or dismay.
Its pages were a blackboard and Dan DeQuille the teacher …
Mark Twain the eager pupil, where light of genius shone …
The lessons ranged from judges to mining-stock to preacher . .
Mark took the writing fever and claimed them for his own.
The mountain in its fury, still was raging …
Ore had become almost too dear to mine …
And anxious owners found their workers waging
A losing battle with the rotting pine.
And, not until no other avenue
Was open to the gold … the precious ore …
Did Sutro find a willing ear.
Not that they thought he really could subdue
The mountain’s spirit … only that they had
No other way to turn.
Whatever motive was his chief concern,
He must have found their acquiescence
More than sweet,
Who waited, with his plan,
Year after year,
While everybody thought him mad … .
Four miles … or six, with laterals … he bored
Into the mountain’s heart; and scored
A singular success!
Its blood … its very life, was drained …
Although it took a long time to complete,
It marked an engineering feat,
The like of which had not been seen before!
So little trace
Of slime remained,
The miners knew
A hidden feeling of security;
And operations were resumed
With furious intensity!
And Sutro! What a day
For him! Success at last!
The years of ridicule, abuse,
And poverty were over … he had crossed
The bridge to Fame.
Though drainage fees,
Through twenty years of use,
Were not enough to pay
The hard and heavy cost,
The tunnel served him well.
He cleared away the chapparal
And built himself a town!
The water, cooled in reservoirs, was used
He planted fields …
His orchards bloomed …
And cattle grazed.
Inside the tunnel, was a spring
With water icy-cold; so clear
And good, it might have been
A fountain of the gods … supplying
Drinking water in a land
Accustomed to contamination
Of salts and alkali,
Brought out by cart
From deep within the mountain’s heart.
The second generation,
Recalls a time when all was green …
Of planting … budding … harvesting …
Of heavy yields,
But never quite enough to fill demand …
Of orchards grown to blossoming,
Too early … and too slowly … dying.
But, in the 1870’s,
As Sutro added to his properties,
He must have smiled to hear
His great achievement praised …
To learn he had achieved renown
His “foolish fancies” of the past,
Long since excused.
Of “Empire Builders”, be it said,
They built their empires “out of State” …
So other lands inherited
The wealth of those Nevada Great.
In years later, the scene of power shifted …
Financial wizards pulled the market strings
And other names were written on the stock …
The early ones, some penniless, had drifted
In search of other silver-bearing rock.
Bonanza Kings …
Those men whose fortunes grew
Like mushrooms, till they were endowed
With riches of a potentate.
O’Brien … half by accident
Least powerful of all the Four …
And Fair, “The Hateful”,
Unscrupulous and mean,
Who had a heart of stone …
And Flood … who spent
His time in bridging gaps between
The wily Fair and MacKay, who was known
The mountain over for his honesty
And fairness. While other men were reaping
Empires … kingdoms … and the spell
Of riches was as potent wines
On those unused to drink, John MacKay knew
A sense of honor and indebtedness.
And he, alone,
Was grateful …
And remembered, with his School Of Mines …
And other gifts, as well.
Endowments quite in keeping
With the love he bore
The land whose gold and silver ore
Had given him a kingdom of his own.
However much of wretchedness
The future held in store
For some of those contributing
To Comstock lore,
The part that history assigns
To this Bonanza King,
Is one of which he may be proud!
Not so, for the part of crafty Sharon played …
Not Fair … who bought and paid
For seats in Congress; while Nevada made
Her slow and painful way
In her climb to full maturity
Though Sharon and Fair wove a nasty design
Through deeds of seldom stated, but often implied,
Dear Senator Jones, of the Crown Point Mine,
Was leader and lover, protector and guide.
Though many men, refusing
To accept defeat,
May come to see
Their visions a reality,
Unique, the part that Sutro played
With brains and dynamite and spade …
A part that needs no glib excusing,
And one that future history
Is hardly likely to repeat.
Yet Nature had the final word …
The mountain, disembowelled, shifted weight;
And breaks occurred
In all its veins
That made the ore too difficult to find.
Without a doubt,
More ore remains …
A half, perhaps, although they took
a billion dollars out
Before it shook
Itself to throw them off the scent.
Vast sums were spent
Before the owners resigned,
Disintegration followed … and retreat.
Though mules and horses suffered the limits of distress,
The camels were abandoned to barren wilderness …
Saloons became deserted; the lively trade was still …
The empty buildings trembled, then toppled down the hill.
The mountain, then, was silent, still guarding precious ore …
Though windstorms came in numbers, the “Zephyrs” were no more.
The mining men were driven, now destitute and lean,
To seek another heaven, to find another “Queen”.
The story of Mount Davidson
Was many times repeated,
Though never on so grandiose a scale …
Great booms … and then oblivion,
With many dreams defeated,
While desert winds obliterate the trail …
It was as if The Lord had set aside
The minerals for half the universe …
Then buried them in pits, Nevada-wide,
Without protection from the devil’s curse.
Sometimes … a town survived,
And gave itself to other things …
The day of ranches had arrived;
And tourist trade, and Cattle Kings.
Nevada’s vast, unsettled lands
Were widely sought for grazing …
Men found her not too barren sands
A boon to cattle-raising.
And sheep men found her ranges suited
To their domestic goats and rams …
Though seasons left the hills unfruited,
They would support the ewes and lambs.
And there were many valleys, deep and wide,
Adaptable to fruit and grain …
And yet prospective owners lacked
The proper means of reclamation …
Such means as governments alone, provide …
So Newlands authored legislation,
And Congress passed “The Newlands Act”
That keeps a fund in constant circulation …
And others than Nevada know the gain.
McCarran, too, was Nevada’s own …
And hundreds more shaped history …
But who could name, in a single play,
The leading men of a former day?
Or list the women, properly,
Who lived, and carved but are little known?
Take Dat-So-La-Lee, of basket fame;
The Paiute squaw, with an artist’s soul …
Who gathered grasses and wove her name
In Art unknown to a modern role.
A thousand years of her mothers’ skill
In peeling willows and curing bark …
Perfection lingering with us still …
Where Dat-So-La-Lee has left her mark.
And Helen Stewart, petite and fair,
With silks and satins and golden hair …
Who loved the desert and learned to ride,
And pushed the wilderness laws aside
To build a spring to a dynasty.
Beloved of Indians, far and wide …
She learned their legends and history
Through baskets woven with skill and pride,
They brought as gifts from the mountainside.
She knew Las Vegas in infancy . .
A long time after the mining days,
When she had children and stock to raise,
And reigned and ruled with diplomacy.
Maude Frazier, with her modest ways,
Might be embarrassed at the praise
We give to those who serve with dedication.
A timid girl, when land was bare,
Who taught her school in open air,
And came to love the boundless desolation.
She claimed Nevada for her own,
And reaped the love she had sown,
Who gave her life to Youth and Education.
Of late, Nevada wears a party dress …
And Glamour is the topic of the day . .
Her neon glows across the wilderness,
And people come from everywhere to play.
The “Entertainment Center of the World” …
Where Summer spends the winter, gay and free … . .
However long the desert sands have swirled,
The past is but a page of history.
With our regattas, races, tournaments,
And sports long foreign to the “Desert West”,
Our sun and sand have gained an eminence
The early settlers never could have guessed.
Our Painted Hills have come into their own …
A millionaire-flight passengers may see
A constant change of color-tint and tone
That blends in themes of unreality.
Aside from these, nor second in proportion,
Nevada lists, on her “Attractions” chart,
Those works of Nature that defy distortion …
The timeless values of The Master’s Art.
Mountains with snow, deep for the skiier …
Game in the hills; trout in the streams
Skis on the lake, faster and freer …
Sun and sand glistens and gleams.
Lovers of Earth, climbing a mountain …
Finding the peace mountains provide . ..
Wealth for the soul flows as a fountain,
Born of a land, wilderness-wide.
Nature displays awesome formations …
Gorges and caves, lakes underground …
Wonders invite deep meditations …
Man is so small where they are found.
Cathedral Gorge and the Rainbow Cliffs …
That rare formation called “Desert Rose” …
The Valley of Fire, with its petroglyphs
As old as any nation knows.
Deep in the Rubies, and almost unknown,
Where the country is rugged and wild,
Is a stream flowing out of a cave.
Low on the mountain, where boulders are piled,
Flowing water is a polishing stone
At the mouth of a watery grave
Fearless explorers went in their boats,
And the underground lake that they found,
Was as deep and as dark as the night.
Walls of the cavern withdrew, while the sound
Of imprisoned, unmusical notes
Was a devil that laughed at their plight.
One member returned, with an angel as Guide,
But the horrors had taken their toll,
And the cavern refused to be crossed …
Stricken and gray, he had learned, in the hole,
Many secrets he dared not confide …
But the one without guidance was lost.
The mountain of sand, riding the wind …
Whistling an endless refrain …
As if it were glad nothing was pinned,
Holding it grain over grain.
As fluid as fog, creeping indoors …
Joyous as robins in May …
And yet, when the wind bellows and roars,
Deadly as devils at play
Mount Wheeler … towering
Above the thirteen thousand mark …
Unique in many ways …
Unrivalled in his majesty.
Where ancient glaciers gouged and tore,
And seasons bring
Such blessings as the earth bestows
With sun and rain and melting snows …
Green mountain meadows boasting sprays
Of aster, lupine, and geranium,
Wild grape and cherry and delphinium.
A dozen kinds of stately trees …
Where bluebirds nest and eagles soar …
Where crocus polka-dots the ground,
And berries ripen, bright and round …
Where migratory birds are found,
And leaves compose their symphonies.
At seven thousand feet, are Lehman Caves …
Where time is measured by the million years
Before your eyes . .
Where places of stone
Are being built with atoms, one by one,
As water writes,
In endless detail, Nature’s own
Where shields and helictites,
And other rare formations,
May be the key
To endless revelations,
As Nature gives herself to things bizarre,
Creating fantasies for souvenirs
She ever meant to bring
Was tried for shape and size …
And man behaves
As always … coming in to scar …
And gape, unseeing,
Where wonders are …
The “Great Stone Mother” of Pyramid Lake,
Was older than time when Fremont came …
Her comforting presence has lessened the ache
That Paiutes have known through sword and flame.
“Diana’s Punch Bowl” is a volcanic cone
With water that rises and lowers …
A spring that an angel might claim for his own
Where lava has molded the floors.
Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
Were conceived and designed
Through a genius decreed
And a knowledge divined.
This Incredible Pair
Of Incredible Giants
Are a challenge … a dare …
And a mark of defiance.
They have powered the West …
Plucked a song from its strands …
With the life they possessed,
They have carpeted sands,
Yet the beauty they chain
And the awe they inspire,
Are beyond the domain
Of the pen and the lyre.
Perhaps a second hundred years will bring
More dams; more lakes, more valleys, lush and green …
More meadowlands; more crops more harvesting;
And industry the State has never seen.
Perhaps discoveries will pave the way
To mines and methods never known before … .
And we will find ourselves, some future day,
Exporting tons of more than copper ore.
For iron is known to lie in quantities
That stagger anyone’s imagination!
And hills may yield more precious ores than these
Where now lies vast and utter desolation.
But, will they be as beautiful as now?
Will mines and orchards, meadowlands and farms,
In some pretentious fashion, disavow
The desert’s beauty, and her matchless charms?
Sunshine torching eroded hills …
Cream to coral and mauve to rose …
Gold that challenges daffodils …
Blue for shade where the sagebrush grows.
Sunset turning the sky gold … .
Western range wears a silver line … .
Eastern peaks looming pink and bold …
Clouds that shadow the hills to wine.
And sometimes …and sometimes …the rain,
As softly and slowly as snow,
Will dampen again and again,
And all of her flowers will grow.
This, then, is the time of her grooming …
And this is a day to behold!
The beauty she flaunts with her blooming,
Can never … no, never … be told.
A hundred years of Statehood weave designs
Defying dedicated hand and heart …
However long and numerous the lines,
They will have left unsaid the greater part.