Category Archives: Cartography

The View from Lucky Boy Pass

Cory Pk from Lucky Boy Pass

Looking Northwest from Lucky Boy Pass: Corey Peak
in the southern Wassuk Range

The earliest map I’ve found showing a road over Lucky Boy Pass, in the southern Wassuk Range of Mineral County, NV (just east of the Bodie Hills), is the 1873 “Topographical Map of Central California Together with a Part of Nevada” [Sheets II and IV], by Charles F. Hoffman of the California Geological Survey (link to Sheet IV in the David Rumsey Map Collection). Part of this is shown below.

1873 Hoffman CalifGeolSurvey (1)

Here’s a closer view (below), with a red dot over Lucky Boy Pass. A few other things to note on this map: the city of Hawthorne (near the south end of Walker Lake) isn’t there yet. Hawthorne was established about 1880. The label “Cory’s Peak” is a little off-target. It’s placed on today’s Mt Grant (highest in the Wassuk Range). Cory Peak should be the first knob north of the red dot. “Mt. Brady”, south of Aurora, is now called Brawley Peaks (although that’s apparently a mis-spelling of Braly). The little back dot at the crossroads north of Aurora marks the stage stop at Fletcher.

1873 Hoffman CalifGeolSurvey (2)

The road over Lucky Boy Pass became a main road connecting Hawthorne with points to the west, perhaps during the peak of activity at Aurora (1863-64) and Bodie (mid-1880s). The arrival of the Carson and Colorado Railroad at Hawthorne in 1881 also boosted activity along this road. Today the road is wide and well maintained, having recently served the now mostly inactive Borealis Mine (just south of Lucky Boy Pass) and  Esmeralda Mill (just east of Aurora in the Bodie Hills).

Buller Mtn

Looking Southeast from near Lucky Boy Pass: Buller Mountain
in the southern Wassuk Range

On a clear day, there are fine views into the remote eastern slopes of the Bodie Hills, and glimpses of the Sierra Nevada beyond.

Mt Hicks from Lucky Boy Pass

Looking South: Mt. Hicks (right) and the distant Sierra Nevada (left).

Bodie Hills from Lucky Boy Pass

Looking South-southwest: Brawley Peaks near Aurora (center). Fletcher Valley in the foreground, with Mud Spring Wash in front of the dark volcanic flows crossing the middle of the picture.

Bodie Hills from Lucky Boy Pass

Looking Southwest: Dunderberg Peak in the Sierra Nevada (center), then Bodie Mountain and Potato Peak in the Bodie Hills (right of Dunderberg). More of Fletcher Valley beyond foothills in the foreground.

The Wassuk Range from Fletcher Valley

The southern portion of the Wassuk Range from Fletcher Valley (looking north). Corey Peak (10,520 ft, right of center) appears to be the highest. Mount Grant (11,239 ft), although taller, is much farther away, barely visible as a low bump left of center. Lucky Boy Pass is near the right edge of this picture.

Lucky Boy Pass Road probably takes its name from the Lucky Boy Mine, discovered in 1908 several miles south of Hawthorne. But who was this lucky person? And what was he lucky with—prospecting, cards, love?  I haven’t found the answers, but he appears to have moved around a lot: there are “Lucky Boy” mines in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington, as well as Nevada.


Copyright © Tim Messick 2016. All rights reserved.
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How Big are the Bodie Hills?

How big are the Bodie Hills? How many square miles? That depends, but first, here are the numbers I’ve come up with:

  • in Mono, CA . . . . . . . . . . . .259 square miles (62%)
  • in Mineral, NV . . . . . . . . . .146 square miles (35%)
  • in Lyon, NV . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 square miles (3%)
  • Total area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 417 square miles

Overview of the Bodie Hills

Overview of the Bodie Hills from the southeast

It depends, of course, on where you draw the boundaries. There are relatively sharp natural boundaries in some areas — Virginia Creek along the southwest edge, the East Walker River in the canyon that separates the Bodie Hills from the Sweetwater Mountains, and the edge of Big Meadows south of Bridgeport.

In other areas the natural or physical boundary is less obvious. Along the east side of the range, the channels of Rough Creek and Mud Spring Wash are potential boundaries, but that would include a good bit of Fletcher Valley, with lower elevations and different vegetation than in the Bodie Hills proper. Along the south edge of the range, there is a relatively narrow transition in some areas from the rocky and wooded Bodie Hills to the sandy, mostly shrubby Mono Basin. But there’s no single elevation contour that consistently follows this transition, and the boundary becomes more vague east of Trench Canyon.

Should Cedar Hill (about 12 square miles) be included? I’ve left it outside the Bodie Hills, running the boundary instead through Trench Canyon, but that choice is fairly arbitrary.

Should the very young (<100,000 year-old) late Pleistocene trachyandesite of Mud Spring—the lava dome that fills the narrow far-southeast end of Fletcher Valley—be included? I’ve left it out, following instead the approximate route of the paleodrainage channel of Lake Russell (Pleistocene Mono Lake), along the southern edge of that formation.

Bodie Hills from the east

Bodie Hills from the east

Should boundary follow the East Walker River through the irrigated valley bottom just east of the state line? I’ve drawn it closer to the base of the hill slopes to the south, mostly excluding that valley bottom.

Bodie Hills from the north

Bodie Hills from the north

In some areas lacking a hard “edge” to the Bodie Hills, roads provide a convenient, if somewhat arbitrary boundary. My southern boundary follows roads from US 395 to Cottonwood Canyon. My eastern boundary follows roads in the vicinity of Alkali Lake and in Fletcher Valley from about Mud Spring to the Miocene trachyandesites incised by lower Rough Creek. For convenience, my western boundary follows US 395 south of Bridgeport and State Route 182 north of Bridgeport.

Bodie Hills from the southwest

Bodie Hills from the southwest

One could quibble and fuss over the boundary in a number of places, but further refinement would change the total area (and the number of plants included in the checklist) very little.

Methods: I imported 13 US Topo quadrangles (1:24,000 scale) covering the Bodie Hills into Adobe Illustrator, using Avenza’s MAPublisher plug-in to maintain the georeferencing from the GeoPDFs made by USGS. I drew and adjusted the boundaries described above for the entire range on a new georeferenced layer, copying and joining road and river line segments from other layers where available. I then divided that area using the county boundary lines. I exported the three resulting shapes to a KMZ file, opened that in Google Earth Pro, and looked at the their “measurements” info for the square miles in each county.


Copyright © Tim Messick 2016. All rights reserved.
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