‘Nevada’ was poet laureate’s vision of state


“Nevada”

Among the fifty states, a land unique …

Where contrasts, contradictions, and extremes

Are commonplace.

Where space

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 …

While rain,

As of an ocean tide,

Descends to gash a mountainside!

And yet,

With all its might,

Cannot sustain

A single tree …

And flows,

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 …

While sun,

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

To greet

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 … .

Where alkali

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,

The same

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

Meandering,

In aimless fashion,

Three times its length,

Around

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

That multiplies

Its size!

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

Through evergreens.

The fluid thunder of a dragon, roaring …

The choruses of leaves and bumblebees …

A tender lover, pleading and imploring

With melodies.

A sculptor, always molding and reshaping

The crumbling granite of its canyon walls …

The distant tones of orchestras, escaping

From waterfalls.

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

And junipers

To plait

A mat.

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

Through watergrass,

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

Through orange-reds,

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,

That glow

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 …

Courageous pioneers

Who dreamed …

But, in the night,

Discussed

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;

While waves

Of wind-blown-sand,

Scratched eyes;

And gritted teeth; and scored skin …

Who shook and trembled with their fears

When waters gleamed

From lakes long dead,

And long since dry …

And stacks

Of rocks, along the way,

Marked graves …

And every passing day

Supplies

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?

Ah, Gold!

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!

More still … .

Those mining years …

Producing desert buccaneers

And far too many dead!

A pantomime

More virile, more intense

Than all the sagas of recorded time

Combined!

And on the stage …

Adventurers

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

The souls

Of one and all. Youth,

And Age …

Conspirators … and dreamers … .

They cleared the sage

And built

A city;

Ah, indeed,

A STATE

Upon a mountain, far removed …

And, if that mountain was designed

With dips and spurs

To foster argument,

The ledges it contained

Were worth

The fight!

And so … at last … they came …

From California, via Devil’s Gate,

They grooved

A line;

A path …

A road!

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

A State

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

In gold!

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

Its wrath

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!

Almost …

With beehive timbering

That paved the way

To riches past the numbering … .

Its ledges widened … sixty feet

And more

Of almost solid silver, flecked with gold.

However much they took away,

More ore

Remained.

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;

And flames,

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

With games

Destructive as their own …

Until the site

Was rubble-strewn,

And not a tent

Was missed.

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.

“Preposterous! Absurd!”

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

Prevail …

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

Nobody cared

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

To fame.

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

(And claim)

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

Had begun,

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;

Determination; fortitude;

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

To be

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

To tame

A wilderness.

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,

Remembering,

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

Through infancy

And adolescence

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,

Acknowledging defeat.

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 …

The Patriarch,

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

Biography.

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

Where everything

She ever meant to bring

To being,

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.

 

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