Carlin to Golconda Proposed Backcountry Byway

Public restroom in Midas

The Carlin to Golconda Proposed Back Country Byway seems to be frozen in time, literally and figuratively. The countryside is remote north-central Nevada: wide, flat valleys bounded by steep mountains. The vegetation is primarily a mixed sagebrush-chaparral community. For large wildlife you'll find pronghorns, mule deer and coyote, perhaps even some wild mustangs and burros. But you won't find much else in terms of modern conveniences, or conveniences of any sort. There are normal amenities in Carlin and in Golconda but there's almost nothing in between.

North of Carlin is the Carlin Trend, site of some of the largest open-pit gold mines on Earth. Word is that the geology north of Golconda Summit is very similar and we can expect to see significant mining development happening there, too. But between those two areas is a long, dirt-and-gravel road that ties together a few very small mining communities (ghost towns, really) and not much else. If you're looking for adventure in the remote wilds of Nevada, this area is a good place to start.

Tuscarora was once site of a small gold placer strike. Ten years later, a major silver ore body was found. The town was different in the West of those days in that the majority of the population was Chinese, laborers who formerly worked on the transcontinental railroad but were let go when that construction was finished. The population topped out around 1,500, then dropped off after a more valuable strike was made in the Wood River area of Idaho.

A gold strike was recorded in the canyon that shelters the town of Midas in 1907. The town grew quickly but the US Postal Service refused to record the location under its original name (Gold Circle) because it refused to recognize another Nevada town with "gold" in its name. The mining district, though, still goes by its original registration as the Gold Circle Mining District. There was a lot of gold ore in the ground but it was also mixed with sizable quantities of silver, copper, lead and zinc. The fortunes of the town ebbed and flowed as mines opened and closed with changes in the economic climate. For many years, Midas was home to saloons, restaurants, an active red-light district, a jail, town hall and a two-room schoolhouse. But there was never a church built. About the end of World War II, the mining really dropped off and the population of Midas dropped with it. Today, old-timers have returned and The Friends of Midas (an organized 501(c)(3) non-profit) have been busy rebuilding the town, restoring some of its former glory and encouraging people to come and resettle the area. There is one business in town: the Midas Saloon and Dinner House. Newmont Mining Corporation has also re-opened the underground gold mine and miners are commuting to work daily from places like Battle Mountain (50 miles away) and Golconda (25 miles away).

The "proposed" part of the Back Country Byway's name seems to have something to do with a hold put on the designation project by someone either in the BLM or Nevada DOT.

Carlin to Golconda Proposed Backcountry Byway area map
Photos courtesy of
Map courtesy of National Geographic Topo!