Every road trip has a plan. A route filled with highlights and must-see things along the drive. However, anyone that’s ever been on a road trip can tell you some of the best moments often come from the things you can’t plan. The memories that will last are usually from the spontaneous stops along the road and Nevada’s HWY 50 is full of ’em.
The Horse with No Name
On the road from Hwy 50 to the Lehman Caves, part of Great Basin National Park sits an old abandoned car. Rust has taken over where the paint once was. What glass was left now lies on the floors of this nearly one-hundred-year-old car. Seeing old cars left out on the roadside is nothing new in Nevada, but what’s inside this particular one is what makes it interesting. Placed on the driver’s seat, with hooves on the wheel, is the bones of what the nearby sign calls “The Horse with No
Name Mane”. According to pictures online, this horse has been behind the wheel in various poses for at least 20 years on this tiny road off of HWY 50.
McGill Drug Store
It may not get too much more random than a drug store that closed it’s doors nearly 40 years ago with its shelves fully stocked. Walking into McGill Drugstore is like stepping into a time capsule of a bygone era. The shelves are filled with comically dated products and advertisements. Some of the most interesting items included the toothpaste that came in a lead tube, developed but unclaimed rolls of film from the mid-70’s, and collection of antique jock straps. If you look through the little bit of dust you can see through to a time that’s gone by. In the 1990’s the store was designated as a museum to show visitors a glimpse of the past stuck in time forever in the little town of McGill, Nevada.
In addition to being an eyepiece to the past, the museum offers a slightly more practical purpose through its preserved prescription records. In the 1950’s nuclear weapons testing took place in the open lands to the south of McGill. The winds during some of the tests carried fallout into the area causing heath problems years later. The records of the drug store were enough proof of residency to get compensation from the government. The drug store still has boxes and boxes of records dating back to the 1930’s or earlier. Nostalgics and history buffs alike will want to make a random stop to visit the museum in McGill and the charismatic caretaker, Daniel Braddock.
HWY 50 Random Stop Details: Contact: Daniel Braddock, P .O. Box 757, McGill, NV 89318
Phone: 775-235-7082 – E-mail: [email protected] – Web: http://www.mcgilldrugstoremuseum.org
The (Possibly) Haunted Rail Road Museum
The people of Nevada seem to love a good ghost story. If you talk just about anyone long enough tell will tell you about their best ghost story. It makes you wonder if something really does happen out here, or if it’s just everyone believes in ghosts that you get so many stories. We toured the old railroad yard and museum with curator Sean Pitts. He also offered to bring us back at night to see the yard under the stars. We took him up on that offer and the old train yard feels like a completely different place at night.
Walking around at night taking photos of the antique trains and old steel and wood rails has and eerie feel. There were several times when we were standing completely still and were the only ones in there, but I could have sworn there were footsteps walking around us. The Railroad museum is worth a visit during the day when the old trains run through or if you want an even more interesting experience, walk the tracks at night and you might just see something.
Another random Nevada fact is that the state is the only place where prostitution is legal, but only in small towns of less than 100,000 people or less. So, in just about all small towns in the state you will find little establishments selling a very specific type of entertainment. We found all of the random signage for the brothers more than entertaining and worth a stop.
In this part of the world, there are stretches of flat sand desert all over the roadside. Once the bottoms of a great ocean that filled most of Nevada. Now these playas, are dried up pieces of unusable land where the wind whips and swirls around. Some of the best are outside of Fallon, on the way to Sand Mountain where the playas seem to go on forever. Several miles of nothing but flat sand. There is just something beautiful about it, especially to the photographer in all of us. A bit random but definitely worth pulling a few feet of the side of HWY 50.
Random Townie Bars in Austin, Nevada
Of all the cities along HWY 50, Austin seems to have about the quirkiest vibe of all of them. Their slogan for this town of 350 people is “Austin, so much to do!”. The longer you spend in this little town the more random it becomes. There’s maybe no better place than the local watering hole, the International Cafe, to see the characters of Austin. The colorful owner and bar keep is sure to entertain, if not offend you along with your drink.
HWY 50 random stop details: International Café and Bar,55 Main Street, Austin, NV 89310, 775-964-1225
Random Cars of Ely
I am a sucker for an old car in the desert. We spotted these bone yard of antique trucks and cars and had to take some photos. The only issue was it was private property and posted no trespassing signs were posted. Luckily, there as a phone number on the sign and after a quick call we were allowed to jump the fence at the permission of the surprisingly cool property owner. The sun was just setting at as we passed our camera gear over the fence and hopped the fence like school kids. Any old car in the desert is worth pulling over, but 10 parked in a row at sunset is like crack to photographers.
Random HWY 50 stop details: HWY 93 between the MCGill Drug store and Ely, Nevada.
Desolate Stretches of Road
Sometimes all you have to do is hit the brakes and you’ll find something awesomely random. There are stretches of road that are so straight for so long that they seem to fade into the horizon. Take time to enjoy being in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It’s not uncommon to only see a handful of cars driving on the road in an hour’s time. After all, it is the loneliest highway in America. Get out of the car and enjoy the randomness.
The key to a good road trip is also good company. We traveled Nevada’s Loneliest highway with an awesome group of talented and interesting people. At times we had three drones in the air, at least 10 cameras going documenting the awesome randomness we found along the side of the road on highway 50. For more Nevada randomness check out these other awesome people we explored Nevada with:
- Siya from Hopscotch the Globe
- Spencer from Whiskey Tango Globetrot
- Carlos from David’s Been There
- Shane from Color Earth TV
- Ramona from Ramona Robbins Photography
- Taylor from OC Daily
Also check out our Instagram for more photos from our amazingly random road trip along highway 50 in Nevada!
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Thanks to Travel Nevada for inviting us on such an epic road trip! Like always all opinions are our own.
Friday 12th of July 2019
Traveled Route 50 many times and loved it more each time I traveled. In fact, did it going east and going west and loved it best when I saw little or no traffic. One time going east, I had to stop for road construction around 6pm and waited for a car going west. After the car passed and I started east and came upon a strange event very late in the darkness of Rte. 50. Had my two young sons with me and in the darkness, nothing around but darkness, the car stopped running and I coasted off the highway. That is when it all began. By the way, never saw another car after the one going west until I was into Utah. It was a very interesting moment and time when we stopped for an unknown period of time.