What is the loneliest street in Alaska
On Highway 50
This street is perfect for a quirky road trip: Nevada markets the U.S. Highway 50 as America's loneliest road. Not without reason. And when you leave the highway, it becomes even more deserted.
The porch is full. But then the waitress brings the "Monster Burger": two pitted olives in breaded onion rings as eyes, the halves of the bun as a big flap.
We are on the way on the U.S. Highway 50, the loneliest road in America, as it is called. We stopped at Middlegate Station, where it is not very lonely.
The pub inside was once the station of the infamous Pony Express, the fast postal service in the middle of the 19th century. Quickly meant: gallop on a horse on a route of 3,000 kilometers across half of America. On the section through the godforsaken Nevada desert, horse and rider were able to freshen up in Middlegate.
"The Loneliest Road in America"
A sign today plays with the supposedly harsh living conditions in the area: "Middlegate Station. Residents 17", followed by a crossed out 18. But the Wild West rest area does not threaten to become a ghost town, of which there are many in Nevada.
"The Loneliest Road in America": This is what "Life" magazine called the highway, the loneliest stretch of which in Nevada runs for almost 300 miles from Fernley to Ely. Back in 1986, the article was not exactly a travel recommendation. But Nevada declared the wasteland an attraction. In the same year, travelers were able to get a "survival passport", have it stamped at stations along the way and then point out that they had survived the trip - a functioning marketing concept. Til today.
American shops: The highway has now become a tourist attraction. (Source: Danita Delimont / imago images)
Pick-up trucks and rock carvings
There aren't many attractions along US 50, but where there's something to see, you meet people. For example on Sand Mountain. The closer we get to the pile of sand that hugs a mountain flank on the left, the more the natural wonder of crushed stone becomes de-romanticized.
Pick-up trucks come towards us on the dead-end street, transporting quads or cross motorcycles on trailers. The 3.2 kilometer long and 180 meter high pile of sand, venerated as a sanctuary by the indigenous people, is desecrated by motorsport enthusiasts on weekends.
The feeling of being alone doesn't want to set in at first, even if you don't see much more than the strip of asphalt in front of you over dozens of kilometers. Is that because of the telephone poles that made the Pony Express superfluous? Or the fact that you are simply sitting in the car, the next petrol station is coming and you are so infinitely more comfortable than the riders of the Pony Express?
Even Donna Cossette is a bit too busy at times, despite the remoteness of the area. Her mother is a Native American from the Paiute-Shoshone tribe in Fallon, and Cossette was the first woman to be elected chairwoman of her tribe a few years ago. She took us to Grimes Point not far from the highway, a collection of reddish boulders. There indigenous people carved more than 1,000 petroglyphs into the rock 5,000 years ago or even earlier.
"These are the oldest churches in America," says Cossette. "Because people prayed here." Grimes Point was used as a garbage dump prior to World War II and is still state owned today.
Cossette would turn the cultural treasure back into a place where the Paiute can hold ceremonies undisturbed. "But that's not possible because of the large number of visitors."
Abandoned Shop: There are abandoned shops in some towns. (Source: ZUMA Press / imago images)
Via the highway to Berlin
After Middlegate Station we leave the highway and turn south on State Route 361. An entry on Google Maps piqued our curiosity: Berlin. Gravel road, not a single car apart from us for 80 kilometers. Then a collection of crooked wooden shacks on a hill, built in the silver rush towards the end of the 19th century and now a real ghost town.
Where miners, blacksmiths, mill operators and a prostitute once lived in Berlin, the windows are now blind. On a veranda a table with bottles, tools and utensils, in front of one of the huts the skeleton of a rusted Ford Model T.
At dusk - the sky is deep blue and the clouds thick and orange - we turn back onto US 50. Familiar tarmac, poles, and road markings, and then Austin, one of the four locations along the lonely US-50 part. Almost 200 people, a church and a stone tower that greets us on the right. It is dark when we pass the Spencer Hot Springs. The Big Smoky Valley here is a sea of desert sage. But it is in darkness.
Broken cars in the desert: In Berlin, Nevada, junk cars line the street. (Source: Aurora Photos / imago images)
Sleep in the prison cell
We spend the night 130 kilometers further in the "Jail House Motel" in Ely, an aging forerunner of the theme hotel business with rooms with cell numbers. The dinner option is behind heavy bars. When we arrive around 10 p.m., two gray-faced old people are playing at the slot machine. The kitchen is cold.
In the morning then maybe the loneliest feeling along the US 50. We walk along the main street in search of a coffee and a bite to eat. Occasionally figures creep along the sidewalk, but the shops are closed - including the cafes, although according to the opening times they should have been waiting for guests in the window for a long time. In a city of all places you feel really lonely.
East of Ely runs the U.S. Highway 50 further in the direction of Utah, unpretentious and in all solitude, he shares the lane with Highway US 6 here. There is no tourist sign indicating this.
Nevada and the U.S. Highway 50
- Getting there: From Frankfurt / Main all year round at least three times a week non-stop with Condor to Las Vegas. Eurowings flies from Cologne and Munich to Las Vegas twice a week between April and October. Reno can be reached daily with changes within the USA.
- Overnight stay: Along the US 50 there are only four smaller cities in Nevada with Fallon, Austin, Eureka and Ely. The range of basic accommodations such as motels and bed and breakfasts, RV parks for motorhome travelers and some hotels is limited. So reserve early. The prices in the motels are at a moderate level and start at around 65 euros per night in a double room.
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