Outdoor Nevada S3 Ep4 | Let’s Go Park Hopping!

Outdoor Nevada S3 Ep4 | Let’s Go Park Hopping!


♪♪♪Seventy million acresof wide-open
possibilities.
Nevada is untouched…♪♪♪a place where the
desert comes to life.
The ground holds
the history,
and nature perseveres.♪♪♪ “We are at a crossroads. “It doesn’t feel
like it today. “This is
a seemingly quiet “and forgotten spot
but 150 years ago, “this was the hub
of activity.”I walk through the ruins
of Fort Churchill.
“She told her friends
this was the first place “that she was ever able
to really meet herself.”I come upon
a secret closet
and some
fascinating history
at the Spring
Mountain Ranch.
“These things were pretty
big, weren’t they? -They were.
If you compare that “to a human vertebrae,
you get an idea “of how large these
creatures were.”I uncover the mystery
of prehistoric creatures
at the Berlin
Ichthyosaur State Park.
“Right here where
we’re standing “is beautiful Nevada, “and on the other
side, Arizona. -I noticed you didn’t
say beautiful Arizona.” (laughter)And on the southern
tip of the state,
I kayak on the Big Bend
of the Colorado.
♪♪♪ “Pretty spectacular,
isn’t it? “Nevada is like that.” ♪♪♪I’m John Burke.Join me as I explore
the seventh-largest
state in the nationhere on Outdoor Nevada.♪♪♪ (John Burke)
This is
Buckland Station in Fort Churchill
State Park. If you’re
traveling I-95 somewhere outside
of Silver Springs, you might be tempted
to just whiz on by. Hey, don’t do that. I’ll show you why. Back in the late 1850s,
Samuel Buckland
started his family here
along with a contract
to make this place
a Pony Express stop.
The ranch house
was built in 1870
using material from
a nearby abandoned fort,
a sight
you oughta see.
Hey, Kristin,
nice it meet you. -Hi, John. Welcome
to Fort Churchill. -Thank you.
What a beautiful spot. This is what I know:
Fort Churchill, a very interesting
historic area, but the story begins
with one guy, right? (Kristen Sanderson)
It does. If there’s
a common thread, it’s Samuel Buckland,
an area rancher that moved to
this area in 1858. -What was he like
as a person? -If I could choose
one word to describe Samuel, it would be
“enterprising.” He was a creative man and figured out
how to make money. He built the only
toll bridge across the Carson River
downstream of Genoa, or Mormon Station,
and he contracted with the Pony Express
so his facility served as a home station,
a place where they would change out
riders and mounts. -If he had a toll bridge,
who was he charging? -He was catching
the immigrants on the
California Trail. That traffic
through this area would have started as
early as the Gold Rush and continued
until about 1869 when they completed the
Transcontinental Railroad.Among the travelers
who stopped
at Buckland Station were
Eliza and her sister.
Samuel offered them jobs,
and shortly after
he and Eliza
fell in love,
got married
and started a family.
So about two years
after he gets here, Fort Churchill comes
around; is that right? -Correct.
In the spring of 1860, the catalyst for
the establishment of Fort Churchill was
the Pyramid Lake War. -And he interacted
in a way to make money with the fort.
-He did. He provided a social
outlet for the soldiers here at the fort,
a place where they could gamble
and get a cold beer. One of the many things
that Samuel and Eliza were known for were
their prolific gardens, so they would sell
and trade fresh fruits and produce
to the men here, supplementing their
meager Army diet. -Now, we’re in front
of this old cemetery. Is he still
on the premises? -He is. Samuel
remains here buried in the Fort
Churchill cemetery. All the soldiers’ remains
have been removed so the only graves today
are those of Samuel and Eliza and five
of their eight children.The desert has done
its work here.
It’s hard to believe
these ruins were once
a big, bustling fort
staffed by soldiers
committed
to protecting
this part of
the American frontier.
Kristin, it’s amazing. You come here
and these structures are a lot bigger than
what I was expecting. How big was this
back in the day? -On average Fort
Churchill housed between 200
and 300 soldiers, and that was
a small number. They were anticipating
about 1,000 men being stationed here,
so some would say that they over-built
Fort Churchill. -Why here? Why then? -Why here?
Great question. We’re at a crossroads. It doesn’t feel
like it today. This is a
seemingly quiet and forgotten spot
but 150 years ago, this was the hub
of activity. First you had
the California Trail which passed
through this area, and the Pony Express
and telegraph followed so they were protecting
that infrastructure. -Wasn’t there some conflict
in the area as well? -There was some
underlying tension between the Northern
Paiute Indians and the European
American emigrants that were
settling this area, and this was tension that
built over many years. It stemmed from
the use of resources. The desert is not
a land of abundance, and the Northern Paiute
over hundreds of years had figured out how
to live in balance with the environment. They would use
this area seasonally for hunting and fishing
and gathering pine nuts. Suddenly this new
cultural group comes in that’s using the
resources differently, cutting down
the pinon pine trees to build homes and
to heat their homes, grazing the
limited grasslands and polluting
the Carson River with upstream mining,
and the Northern Paiute feared for their future,
their existence.The year 1857 began
three years of conflict
between the native
peoples and the settlers.
Fort Churchill was built
to protect the interests
of the U.S. government
on the brink
of the Civil War
including the millions
of dollars generated
by the Comstock Lode
just 25 miles
east of here.
What were some of the
buildings that were here? -You had a half dozen
officers’ quarters and several barracks
and mess halls for the enlisted men. You had a guardhouse,
powder magazine, a hospital,
laundress quarters, storehouses and
the post headquarters. -Where did they
get the materials to put the whole
thing together? -A lot of it
was sourced locally. They settled on
adobe construction, mixing clay from the
Carson River and water. So for the first
several months, those soldiers stationed
here spent their days making adobe bricks
by the thousands. -At some point this ended; what happened?
-It did. The fort was abandoned
in the fall of 1869; by that point it had
outlived its usefulness. Several things
had happened. Nevada had become
a state in 1864, the Civil War
had come and gone, and the Transcontinental
Railroad was completed in 1869 so a lot
of that wagon traffic shifted
to railroad traffic so they
abandoned the fort.And this brings us back
to Samuel Buckland.
In 1869 he purchased
the fort buildings
for $750 and repurposed
some of those materials
turning them into his
ranch house and station.
The Buckland
Ranch was sold
to Nevada State
Parks in 1997
and now welcomes
a new set of visitors.
Being out here in Fort
Churchill is like a dream. It’s almost like
being on a movie set but these were real
soldiers with real lives, and these were
real buildings. This one here
held supplies like medicine and
alcohol which is why they had to guard it
day and night. There was a hospital
here with 20 beds, there were barracks
and officers’ quarters, and take a look
at this one. This was the main
administration building. This is where the
Pony Express riders would pull up
just long enough to get another
batch of mail and head off
into the sunset. Nevada: Surprising,
wonderful, historic. ♪♪♪ Everyone knows about
the Red Rock Canyon National
Conservation Area. It’s over 220,000 acres,
but inside that is a small hidden
gem called the Spring Mountain
Ranch State Park, and I know just the guy who’s going
to show us around.Once upon a time,
Spring Mountain
was nothing more than
a stop for weary travelers.
It wouldn’t be long
before the glamour
of Hollywood set its
sights on the ranch,
adding to the magic
you see today.
Dave, how are you, sir? -Great. Nice
to meet you, John. -Boy, what a beautiful
spot this is. -Yeah, it doesn’t get
any better than this. -What is the
number-one thing people come here to do?
-Definitely picnic. -And exhale? (David Low)
And exhale,
exactly right. We’re 2,000 feet above
the Las Vegas Valley. It’s a lot cooler here,
usually 10 or 15 degrees, and there’s a big
ridge between us and Las Vegas that
stops the light at night and stops the sound
during the day, and you can exhale. -This is a ranch that
has a rich history. -Yes. We’re actually
the third-oldest ranch in the Las Vegas Valley,
and we’re the only one that still has
the landscape intact. The other two were
swallowed up by the city
as it’s grown. We’ve been here
since 1876. -And what happened then? -We were founded by
a guy named Jim Wilson, a Civil War veteran
who had been in the Gold Rush in
California in the 1850s, but during the Civil War
he got stationed in what’s now Arizona,
and on his way back to California
after the war, he saw Las Vegas
which at that time was not concrete
and skyscrapers, it was green grass
and mesquite trees. He thought this place
had potential and settled here
and started the ranch and kind of became
the grocery store for all the mines that
surrounded Las Vegas.Jim Wilson originally
purchased the ranch
with his partner,
George Anderson.
Later Anderson
fled the property
leaving Jim to care
for the land
and to provide for
Anderson’s family.
The Wilson family starts
the ranch in 1876, and they run it
until the late 1920s. The stock market crashed
and they lose control of the ranch,
then it gets purchased by a local guy
who made it big selling fur coats
to movie stars in Hollywood and
that’s the beginning of our Hollywood
connection. He tries to turn this
into a chinchilla ranch which doesn’t
work out very well because chinchilla
is delicious to everything that lives
in the Mojave Desert. He sells it to
the first of our true Hollywood owners,
a guy named Chet Lauck who had a radio
show on CBS. He was bigger than
Seinfeld in his day, like five nights a week
his show ran for 23 years. -And he built what’s now
the visitor center. -That’s right, he built
the visitor center.Lauck leased the land
from William George
from 1944 to 1948 before
buying it outright.
Once purchased,
he renamed it
the Bar Nothing Ranch.This does not look like
any visitor center I’ve ever been to;
it looks like somebody’s living here. -Yes, it’s supposed to. This room is actually
furnished to look like it would have in 1952
or 1953 when the Laucks were still using it
as a summer home. -Who had it after him?
-I’m glad you asked that. That’s Vera Krupp. Vera is my favorite
because she was a person who didn’t do
what she was told. She was born
in 1909 in Germany to a wealthy family,
and she would have had a completely
comfortable life if she’d just done
what she was told. For women in
this time period and that place
and that social class, it was basically
laid out for you, and Vera never did
what she was told. She got married at 19
to a baron. I don’t know if she
wanted to marry him, but the marriage
didn’t last very long. She ended up running off
with a movie producer from Berlin and becoming
a movie actress. They ran away from
Germany in 1938 and came to America,
and they started a new film career
in America which didn’t take off. They got divorced,
she married another time in America, this time
to a naturalized American from Germany
who was a dentist, and it was this weird
roller coaster of her life. She ended up coming
back to Germany in the early ’50s to
take care of her mom who was dying, and
that’s where she met her fourth
and final husband, Alfred Krupp,
who was kind of a problematic
figure in history. He had been a Nazi
and had actually gone to prison
for a little while.The marriage to
Alfred brought Vera
the famous Krupp Diamond,
a beautiful ring
famously worn by renowned
actress Elizabeth Taylor.
That marriage ended up
breaking up in the mid-1950s,
and by that time she was 43 years old. She was wealthy because
her mother passed away and she inherited
a bunch of money. She came back
home to Nevada and made her life
here at the ranch. She told her friends
this was the first place that she was ever able
to really meet herself.Vera’s most precious
ring was stolen
on April 10, 1959.The robbery triggered
two significant
changes to her life:The installation
of the secret closet
and the acquisition
of her status
as deputy sheriff.Vera was the one who
renamed the property
Spring Mountain Ranch.Vera left in 1965,
and she actually tried to sell it to
Nevada State Parks. She offered it
to us for $750,000 and we didn’t
buy it because it wasn’t actually
a very good price. We would regret that
decision later on. She sold it for just
$600,000 to Howard Hughes. We get a lot of people
who want to know if this is the
Howard Hughes ranch, and it’s kind of not;
he owned it. He bought it
to try to reconcile with his estranged wife
but as far as we know, neither of them ever
set foot out here. He ended up letting
his corporate managers use it as kind of
a corporate retreat. They installed
a bar in the house that’s one of the only
original pieces of furniture
we still have.While Hughes’
corporate managers
indulged in
Spring Mountain,
Howard was expanding
his assets in Vegas
by purchasing the
Desert Inn, Frontier
and the unfinished
Landmark Hotel.
Howard Hughes leaves
Las Vegas in 1972, and it got put on the
market and purchased by a local businessman
named Fletcher Jones, and it was his plan
to turn this into the master-planned
community of Spring
Mountain Ranch. He was going to put
over a thousand condos on little
quarter-acre lots, and it was going
to be like an equestrian-themed,
gated community. The people of Las Vegas
rose up in opposition. They went to
the County Commission and told them not
to rezone this for high-density
urban development, and the County Commission
listened to what they said. He ended up selling it
to Nevada State Parks in 1974 for twice
what he paid for it, so he doubled his money. We ended up paying
$3.2 million, and we really wished
we would have bought it for $750,000. -But you know what? Here it is
in this beautiful, peaceful setting
the way it should be. So all’s well
that ends well.At the Spring Mountain
Ranch State Park,
each acre remains
as fresh as the day
Jim Wilson arrived,
now only enriched
by the stories
and personalities
of every single one
of its owners.
Lastly,
it’s ours to enjoy.
♪♪♪ Do you know what
I love about Nevada? You can find one
little spot on a map, blow it wide open and there’s all these
incredible stories. Today I’m in Berlin
Ichthyosaur State Park. There’s no surprise
there’s a lot of mining history here,
but would you believe that as we stand
almost 7,000 feet above sea level,
they also have an incredible
collection of fossils? Ancient creatures that
lived beneath the sea. Come on.We know archeologists
discover fossils
that tell us
about the history
of living creatures
and the world around us,
but take a walk in
Berlin Ichthyosaur
State Park and
you’ll also find
fossils of another type,the remains of
a booming mining town.
Todd, good see you;
thanks for meeting me. -Yeah,
nice meeting you. -Tell me about
the town of Berlin. When did it
come into being and how big did it get? (Todd Wheeler)
Berlin went from
1897 to 1910. In that 13 years,
they mined about $849,000. It was a 60-40 mine,
60% silver and 40% gold. There was about 250
people living here, and there’s about 65
buildings in the area. -Roughly speaking,
how many buildings would you say
are still here? -We have about a dozen
buildings still standing.Among the town’s
remaining structures
are the machine shop,
the assay office
and the mine
foreman’s house,
currently used
as a residence
for Berlin’s
park ranger.
Paint a picture for me,
if you will, of the town. There’s about 250 people,
what are they doing? -There was a schoolhouse
up in Union Canyon. You had ladies doing
laundry and cooking, basically taking care
of all the workers. We had a grocery store
and a blacksmith. They were making
tools for the mine.A company town, many
of Berlin’s buildings
were built and owned
by the Nevada Company
who employed most
of the residents.
In addition to
the miners, a doctor,
nurse, grocer
and three bartenders
rounded out
the town’s citizens.
This is so fascinating,
but I know you have some amazing fossils
in the area so I’m going
to take a look. Thanks for your time;
I appreciate it. -You’re welcome.
Come back and see us.The miners were so
busy striking it rich,
they didn’t notice
the prehistoric fossils
lying right under
their noses.
Hi, Jeff,
how are you doing? -Hi, John,
nice to meet you. -About 225
million years ago, what was going on
around here? (Jeff Morris)
Where we’re standing
would have been the bottom of the sea
floor off the coast of the supercontinent
Pangaea about 300 to 600 feet below
the surface of the ocean. -And are we in the middle
of the ocean here? -We would have been
on the coastline, so pretty much
beachfront property, maybe 7 or 8 degrees
north of the Equator. So figure subtropical
beachfront setting. -Man, times have changed,
haven’t they? -A little bit. -Somewhere along the line,
somebody dug up a fossil. What happened? -Back in 1928,
Simon Mueller was a geologist from
Stanford University, and he came out
in this area studying a few of the
Mesozoic outcroppings. During those studies,
he stumbled across some of the vertebrae
from these animals you see behind us. Not being much
of a geologist, he went back
to the Bay Area and contacted
Dr. Charles Kamp. Kamp recognized those
vertebrae to be those of an ichthyosaur
but much larger than he’d ever
seen before, and that’s what
piqued his interest. -When you say “large,” how large are
we talking about? -Upwards of 50 feet. -How many have they
found in the area? -There’s 37
known specimens, and based on
these densities, we believe there could
be upwards of 100. -Doesn’t it make you
want to take a shovel and start digging?
-Yeah, absolutely. -Dr. Kamp ordered
a structure
to be built directly
over the fossils.
This building allows
visitors to view
these ancient
beings “in situ,”
or in the original
place they were found.
If you look
at the landscape outside the window,
this was covered in pinon juniper
and sagebrush, but a few
of these vertebrae were exposed naturally
by erosion. Once Dr. Mueller found
that back in 1928, he determined this area
to be a bed of fossils. -These things
were pretty big, weren’t they?
-They were. If you compare that
to a human vertebrae, you get an idea of how large these
creatures were.The only state to
possess a complete
ichthyosaur skeleton,
Nevada declared it
the State Fossil
in 1977.
Take me through some
specifics that we’re looking at.
-Sure. If you look down
at specimen No. 1, this is our
50-foot animal. That’s what you see on
the concrete wall outside. If you look closely,
the letter A represents the skull,
like you see on my model. That’s the top
above the eyes. Then the two large
bones you see that form the letter V
are the two jawbones. They should come back
to form an entire snout, but they were
pushed back towards the body
after decomposition. The letter B represents
the coracoids, the chest bones
in between the flippers. Then the two letter
C’s represent what’s left of the
two front flippers. So if you can
envision it, it’s swimming towards
us just like this. -So how do you get
nine in one spot? -The most widely accepted
scientific theory is these animals
came into this area, and it was prolific or
abundant with ammonites. Ammonites are these
snail-like creatures like you see on
the snout of my model. As they consumed
these snails, they basically
poisoned themselves. They had been affected
by a red tide so you had this
naturally occurring red toxic algae bloom, and these creatures
consumed it. It was a very
localized extinction.A total of nine specimens
can be viewed
in this quarry alone,
and 37 fossils
have been found
throughout the park.
When you come to visit,
keep an eye out.
There’s still plenty of
fossils to be discovered.
If you’re exploring
and you find something, what do you do? -Basically
we tell people if it’s in the park
to leave it where it be. If it’s outside
the park boundaries on Forest
Service property, they allow you to
collect invertebrates. Their policy is
if it has a backbone, leave it alone; otherwise,
you can take it home. -Jeff, what a blast. Where else are you
going to see this? I really appreciate it.
-Thanks for coming. A state known for
its wide-open spaces,
Nevada also harbors
many little pockets
of history and
nature like Berlin
Ichthyosaur State Park.Here visitors
can witness Nevada’s
remarkable diversity
coming to life.
Nevada has well
over 20 state parks, all taken care of by
very passionate people who can fill us in
on the details, everything from
the development of our planet to who
we were as people. You can’t ask for
much more than that. ♪♪♪ Today I’m in the Big Bend
of the Colorado area around Laughlin where
the hiking is phenomenal. It turns out there’s
a lot more than that– a river runs through it.The Colorado River
stretches from
the Rockies up northdown 1,450 miles
into Mexico.
Here the river is
what gives Nevada’s
southern tip its iconic
shape and it’s where
I meet Craig,
who’s going to show me
what makes Big Bend
so special.
Craig, brother,
how are you doing? -Good, John,
how are you? -Outstanding.
I’ve never been to Laughlin before,
and I’m thoroughly impressed already.
This is a great spot. -It is. Down here
at the southern tip of the state, it’s
unlike any other park. -Tell me about this area. Give me the size
of this park. (Craig Robinson)
This park is a little
over 2,000 acres, and the main draw is
the sandy beach you see. We’ve got approximately
a mile of sandy beach. -That’s kind of rare. I mean, I rarely
see a beach on a beautiful river
like that. -On the river, beach
is prime real estate.People have been
coming to this area
for 13,000 years,
but it wasn’t until 1964
when Don Laughlin
built his first casino
six miles north of here
that this part
of the Colorado River
began its run
as a tourist destination.How many people you got
coming through here? -You know, roughly
it’s probably in the 100,000 range
per year. The majority of that
is in the summer. -Yeah, I bet. And this river
divides two states? -It does. Right here
where we’re standing is beautiful Nevada and on the other
side, Arizona. -I noticed you didn’t say
beautiful Arizona. (laughter) A brand new park? -The park itself
is relatively new. We opened in 1996,
and we’ve had the park for about 20 years
and built it to what it is today.Though Big Bend is
a Nevada state park,
we’re at the convergence
of three states.
The California border
is six miles southwest
and Riviera, Arizona
is less than
a quarter mile
across the river
but sits in a
different time zone.
On the walk here
to the beach, I noticed the water
is crystal clear. Tell me about it. -The Colorado River
as it comes down has multiple dams,
and those dams are really good at
damming up sediment, and they control
the water. So the sediment
stays behind and the water
comes through. As the water
comes through, anything that was in
the river at the time has been washed out
so the result is this cool,
crystal-clear water. -Boy, and when
you say cool, people still go swimming,
but it’s the place to be on a hot summer day.
-Absolutely. When it’s 120,
there’s nothing better.The Big Bend of the
Colorado State Park
lies downstream from
Hoover and Davis dams,
so a lot of the
sediment in the water
never makes it this far;
the effects are stunning.
Is this a natural
outlet here? -This right here
is a man-made lagoon, and the big draw
is it’s a currentless boat launch,
and for our boaters, nothing’s better
than being able to launch without
the current. It makes it
so much easier. -Now, you
mentioned boating, what else is going on
around here? -During the summertime,
it’s full of boats and jet skis
and swimming. We’re still here
in the wintertime and we’re full of
camping, fishing, picnicking
and just relaxing on the beach
watching wildlife, a great place to be. -You got some good
hiking going on here. What kind of fish
you got in here? -Mostly it’s bass,
large mouth and striper. -Do you know what
I’m going to do? I’m going to sample
some of the stuff you got going on here
and start with the kayak. -Absolutely,
you have fun. -Thanks a lot.
-Okay. Thank you. Take it from me–you can spend
a lifetime hiking
Nevada’s canyons
and trails,
but you get a whole
different perspective
when you view the
landscape from the water.
What a sight!♪♪♪Support for
Outdoor Nevada
comes from Jaguar
Land Rover Las Vegas
and Jaguar
Land Rover Reno,
inspiring the
spirit of adventure
with confidence in any
terrain or conditions.
Information at JLRLV.com
or JLRReno.com.

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