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Solar Gold - A Fine Time Near Stateline

Posted in Events on June 29, 2013 Comment (0)
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Solar Gold - A Fine Time Near Stateline

Stateline, Nevada, known these days as Primm, is home to some premium exploring opportunities if you know where to look. Armed with multiple maps and a copy of California Trails: Desert Region, our group took advantage of existing knowledge and plotted some high-quality dirt miles.

Two landmarks we'd set our sights on were Clark Mountain and the Colosseum Mine. What we weren't expecting was to get a close-up look at an extensive solar power–generation project on our way there. Just inside the California border and north of Interstate 15, there's a new solar project taking shape. Three collection towers are each surrounded by a respective field of mirrors that reflect the sun's energy, pointing it at the collection towers. Once the insolation (incoming solar radiation) hits the collection tower, it's transformed from heat into electricity. The resulting power is purported to provide enough watts to meet the needs of 90,000 homes, and does so in a renewable, non-polluting fashion.

Clark Mountain and one of the three solar towers seen from Interstate 15. We stayed overnight in Primm and only had to backtrack one freeway exit to start the adventure. Clark Mountain and one of the three solar towers seen from Interstate 15. We stayed overnight in Primm and only had to backtrack one freeway exit to start the adventure.

Renewable energy promises to power much of our future, but so far renewable-energy projects like this one have proven a double-edged sword for off-road enthusiasts. Why? On more than one occasion, renewable energy companies have looked at off-highway vehicle (OHV) areas as potential sites for their projects. In this case, the solar energy project was built without intruding on an OHV area, and trail access has been preserved. We hope this is a trend that will continue because we can't afford to lose any more of our precious recreational opportunities.

As for Clark Mountain, it rises steeply from the surrounding terrain, ultimately clawing at the sky with its 7,929-foot summit. Pinyon pine trees dot Clark Mountain's slopes, and we could see snow blanketing the upper reaches.

There’s a wire fence along the road where it traverses above Colosseum Gorge. It’s deceptively steep here, and we shifted into low range to make life easier for our transmission. There’s a wire fence along the road where it traverses above Colosseum Gorge. It’s deceptively steep here, and we shifted into low range to make life easier for our transmission.

The Colosseum Mine is a monster-sized open-pit operation that was active on and off clear up until 1993. During the last period of mining at the Colosseum, 7,000 ounces of gold were extracted per month. That's a lot of wealth, but it's not what held our interest. Like much of what's off the beaten path in the Mojave, the Colosseum Mine is an unexpected sight that begs to be seen.

We connected the off-highway dots between the Stateline Solar Project, the Colosseum Mine, and a rustic miner's shack known as the Crusty Bunny Ranch Cabin. It all added up to a fine time near Stateline.

GUIDEBOOK

California Trails: Desert Region
By Peter Massey, Jeanne Wilson, and Angela Titus
Adler Publishing Company
adlerpublishing.com
Turn-by-turn directions, maps, and GPS waypoints are all included.

MAPS

Mojave National Preserve Recreation Map
Tom Harrison Maps
(800) 265-9090
tomharrisonmaps.com
This map shows Clark Mountain and part of the Kingston Wash route.

Trails Illustrated: Mojave National Preserve
National Geographic Maps
nationalgeographic.com/maps
This two-sided map shows excellent detail, but most of the Kingston Wash route is beyond the map’s top border. Elevations are given in meters instead of feet to benefit international travelers.

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