Western Folklife Center: Elko, Nevada

Located in Elko, Nevada, a gold mining & railroad town located off of Interstate-80, is the Western Folk-life Center is designed to promote the cowboy heritage and way of life through their songs, storytelling, poetry (for those who don’t know, Cowboy Poetry is THING) and artwork. It is also the location for the yearly (approaching its 35th anniversary) National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and competition…. six days of poetry, music, dancing, workshops, and exhibits all of which are based in tradition but focused on the modern/rural West.IMG_4677

IMG_2765You first enter into the gift shop, which constitutes almost a quarter of the space, and actually has quite an impressive collection of items. IMG_0078Around the outer edges of the store you’ll find areas devoted to Cowboy poetry, music, and art, as you expect….IMG_0077Plus some handicrafts, including beauty products and other ranch produced handicrafts…. but the entire center of the shop???IMG_0076Jewelry! Lots and lots of jewelry — cause well… profit margins…. alongside the gift store is the art gallery. The guy in charge told me that they always have visiting exhibitions in this space… which switch out every few months. While I was here they had an exhibit about the art of Basque sheep herders (a different sort of cowboy) — and their art forms, including carvings, some of which date back to 1900, that are carved into local Aspen treesIMG_4720because these tree will ultimately die, a married couple had gone around collecting rubbings of all the ones they could find. IMG_0080



This was followed up by a small display about Basque improvised Poetry. Here they give them a topic and they have to come up with a poem on the subject … which was won by a woman for the first time last year


Then there was a permenent display, of the movie why the Cowboy sings…. only its the 16 minute version


Looking online I found the PREVIEW of “Why the Cowboy sings” (1.24 min)

As well as the Full 56 min movie — but no 16 minute version


After this the docent showed me their western bar… it was not specially made, they found it in a mining camp in a tent and brought it here


Some examples of Cowboy poetry:

This website shows last year’s “Best of the West” show, which is a yearly performance at the Poetry Gathering, which exhibits some of the best of modern Cowboy music. While this video on the event, gives you an idea of the full breath and depth of it:


Thunder Mountain Monument: Imlay, Nevada

The Thunder Mountain Monument was NOT a place I found via a  road-tripping website, rather it grabbed my eye while driving from Elko to Reno, Nevada on Interstate-80, causing me to dive out the very next exit and doubled back — good thing I did














The place is kind of impressive, and reminds me a great deal of Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville, Georgia According to wikipedia Thunder Mountain was declared a Nevada State Historic Site in 1992


Passed these two on my way out of the monument and back to the highway… asked if I could take their picture and she said, “sure, he loves to ham it up for a camera”

Carlin Trend Mining Supplies & Services — & Rolling Rock Gallery/Gift shop!!

While walking around Elko, Nevada, a gold mining & railroad town located off of Interstate-80, (I was stretching my legs before getting back on the road) I chanced to find this really NEAT shared store site called the Carlin Trend Mining Supplies Services…. This is combined mining store (i.e., mining services/goods) and temporary employment agency for the local mines,


AND Rolling Rock Gallery a pretty impressive Gift shop (I shit you not) but with a definitive science geek flare.


At first I thought that place was just ridiculously eclectic,


but the more I looked at it however the more I realized that there was a trend that veered predominately towards things of a science nature.IMG_0024I talked to the staff member and she told me that the store was owned by the local science teacher who was married to the local geologist and in addition to those jobs they had opened this store in town.




White King – The World’s Largest Stuffed Polar Bear; Elko, Nevada

This was the one thing I wanted to see while in Elko, which is where I was going to spend the night while road tripping across the US on I-80. White King (the name they give the bear) is supposedly the biggest polar bear ever killed— it was by an Eskimo, and later purchased by the Casino …


As it turned out the hotel it was in, The Commercial Casino, was JUST across the parking lot from the Ramada (Stockman’s Casino).

The description below the bear
The outside of the building

Imagine coming face to face with that out on the ice…. the Eskimo who killed him must have been terrified.


My first Road runner in the wild!!; Elko & Winnemucca, Nevada

In my whole life I’ve NEVER seen a road runner … well… other than in cartoons or zoos. Today, I think I spotted a few of them….


The first one I spotted was in the parking lot of the Stockman Casino (now owned by Ramada) Hotel in Elko Nevada — it’s where I spent the night (that said, REALLY nice hotel rooms at a VERY good price) … I figured it was a road runner because of the tail (which reminded me of the one in the cartoon) and it didn’t seem able to fly much better than a chicken… it flaps and leaves the ground, but doesn’t get very far up.


The next ones I spotted (there was more than one) were smaller, and grey instead of black… maybe a male female thing? Anyway, these were in the parking lot of the gas station I stopped at in Winnemucca (I have always loved the name of that town… say it, Winnemucca)


I love seeing animals in the their natural environment! (well… NOT in cages)