Highway 50 Road Trip – Day 4 – Fort Churchill State Park, Fallon, Dayton, Virginia City

Day four of our Highway 50 : Loneliest Road in America road trip taken in September 2021. We started the day touring Fort Churchill State Historic Park, the Churchill County Museum, and made it to Virginia City where we would be spending the next two nights.

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September 8, 2022

Fort Churchill State Historic Park

It stayed windy until late.  I woke up around 1:15am, and noticed the wind had stopped, but it was very, very cold.  We had gone to sleep with one of the screen windows open, so I closed it up and tried to go back to sleep.  It had been warm when we went to bed, so I didn’t even take my sleeping bag out of car.  I was deeply regretting that decision as I was only wearing a lightweight top and shorts.  I had a quilted blanket, but it didn’t help much.  I fell asleep for a few hours until I woke up with a very full bladder at 4am.  It was still dark out, and I didn’t want to walk to the unlit toilet in the dark so I was hoping to hold it until around 6am when it would be light outside. My partner woke up just before 6am and we both went to the toilets relieve our bladders.  We slept for another hour once we got back to our tent.  We got up and packed up our camp, so we would have enough time to explore the Fort Churchill Adobe ruins, the cemetery, and the visitor center/museum before we backtracked thirty-seven miles to Fallon. 

We drove to the parking area closest to the ruins and took the trail that leads around the fort and its ruins.  It was very pretty seeing the ruins in the early morning sunlight.  After exploring the ruins for around thirty minutes, we drove up to the visitor center/museum to see what was inside.  They have a great diorama of what the fort would have looked like originally.  There was another room set up as a historical office, but we could only look in through the door’s window. 

We both used the restroom there before we drove across the road to look at the cemetery, which we couldn’t enter but could walk around the fence to see most of the headstones and markers.  We spent approximately fifteen minutes in the museum and another ten minutes at the cemetery before we left Fort Churchill State Park to go to the Churchill County Museum on Fallon thirty-six miles east.

Churchill County Museum

We arrived at Churchill County Museum just a few minutes after they opened for the day.  The museum is much larger than we expected, and we spent almost an hour there without even seeing the Annex where the keep the large items such as cars.  They have lovely rooms for specific rooms of a typical home during a specific time period, displays of from the Native Americans of the region, as well as the history of the Pony Express and Lincoln Highway.  Much of Highway 50 is also part of the Lincoln Highway as well as a Pony Express route.  I was looking for patches at each place we stopped to add to my “travel blanket,” but the Churchill County Museum didn’t have any.  Then I noticed they had luggage tags which were embroidered as a patch would be, and we had our Highway 50 Passports stamped before heading to lunch.

I had asked the woman at the museum for some lunch recommendations in the area and we ended up at her second recommendation after I drove past the first and didn’t want to turn around.  There were no cars in the parking lot that I could see so we weren’t sure it was even open.  We ended up at the Courtyard Café and Bakery, and we didn’t have to wait to be seated.  We ordered some sandwiches, and while we waited for our food we saw there was now a wait to get a table.  We had arrived just before the lunch rush.  They also had quite a variety of delicious looking bakery items.  Our food was incredibly delicious, but I do regret not getting a baked item to try.  We wanted to free up the table for those waiting and needed to get to our next destination.

Dayton, Nevada 

We headed to Dayton, Nevada after we finished lunch to our passports stamped at the Chamber of Commerce.  Google Maps sent me to an empty lot.  The old Opera House is on that same street in addition to other historic buildings. I found a place to park on the street, and we spent about ten minutes looking at the buildings and reading a few of the plaques that were in place.  We left Dayton to go to Virginia City where we’ll spend two nights.

Virginia City, Nevada

Virginia City isn’t technically party of the Loneliest Road, but we wanted to visit as neither of us had never been there. We stopped at the American Flat Mill Kiosk located about halfway up the mountain to Virginia City.  It has incredible views and informational signs about some of the silver mines and mills of the past.  We went straight to Virginia City and found a place to park on a side street off the main drag.  We started by stopping at the Virginia City Visitor Center to get some information on their “Everyone’s a Local Thursdays” for that night (it was Thursday) before we explored St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Museum for about an hour.  

We got to the car and drove down the mountain a little way to our hotel, the Gold Hill Hotel.  I booked a very rustic, but supposedly haunted, room for our stay in Virginia City.  The room was quite small with only a double-sized bed, but we had our own balcony which faced the main street.  It had no television or other amenities, but they had free WiFi so we watched Netflix on a laptop when we in the room.  We were both tired after a night of camping. We decided not to drive back into Virginia City as there was a restaurant in our hotel.  If the restaurant didn’t suit us, we would go ahead and go back to Virginia City.  When we went downstairs to the restaurant it appeared they were having some sort of event, and I saw a lady in historical costume just as the restaurant host was asking if we had a reservation or were there for the night’s event.  We weren’t but had a table available for us immediately as we were eating quite early for dinner.  This restaurant was much fancier than I presumed it would be with white tablecloths and nice place settings.  To be fair, it could have been due to the special event happening that night, too.  I ordered fettuccini alfredo that was amazing.  I don’t remember what my partner ordered, but he really enjoyed his food as well.  We were both very surprised by how fancy and amazing the food was.  We saw that the event was a lady who tells historical stories in first-person.  If we had known about it in advance, I would have purchased tickets for it.  It was sold out so we couldn’t join in, though we could hear the performance from our room as it was located directly above the stage.  Unfortunately, no ghostly activity for us that night.  Also, the hotel has a resident cat which I didn’t see until we had come back up from dinner, but I had seen it’s food and water bowls near the hotel’s office and a little cat house near the entrance to the section of the hotel our room was in.  We found out what the deal was with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce while we were relaxing in our room.  Apparently, the Chamber of Commerce is now located inside the bank.  Oh, well, we only need one more stamp to “complete” the Highway 50: Loneliest Road in America passport, and we can get that in Carson City.   We were going to get up early to do as much as we can in Virginia City, because we leave early on Saturday to go to Carson City and Tonopah.

Estimated Cost Day 4 – September 16, 2021 (all amounts rounded up to nearest US dollar): $322

Fuel: $0

Food in Fallon: $40

Churchill County Museum: $10 admission for two

Fourth Ward School Museum: $12 admission for two

Chollar Mansion and Chollar Mine: $30 admission for two

Mackay Mansion: $17-$20 admission for two

Hotel: $210 for two nights

Actual Cost Total: $95

Fuel: $34

Food in Fallon: $25

Churchill County Museum: $10 admission for two

Churchill County Museum: $17 souvenirs

Hotel: $218 for two nights