Documenting history by taking the back roads |

Documenting history by taking the back roads

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Photographer Robert Cinkel stands near his exhibit, titled "Time Capsule: The Back Roads of Northern Nevada," on Wednesday. The exhibit is on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno through June 11.

In May 2005, Robert Cinkel went on a mission.

His goal was to document using his camera, how life looked in Northern Nevada.

Out the windows of his Toyota Tacoma, he watched as landscapes changed and towns of all sizes passed from his windshield to his rearview mirror. In two months, he added 1,500 miles to his truck’s odometer and used 34 rolls of film.

Now, the results of his work, titled “Time Capsule: The Back Roads of Northern Nevada,” are on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno through June 11.

“These shots are not taken to be artsy, but serve as a record for how things look and where they are,” Cinkel said. “There’s hundreds of things that could change when you are out in the middle of nowhere.”

The exhibit includes pictures from bigger cities like Reno, Sparks and Carson City, to hamlets like Austin, Hazen and McDermitt.

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Cinkel said his ultimate goal is to provide a reference so that 100 years from now, the photos can be pulled out to see how time has changed the landscape of Northern Nevada.

“I’ve already seen some of the things disappear, like the Bob’s Root Beer sign in Fallon,” Cinkel said.

The giant mug has been torn down to make room for a car lot.

Perhaps the best example of the importance of Cinkel’s pictures can be found in a panel of photos from the Silver State Raceway, which was closed last year.

“That landscape has already changed. It’s already been lost, but we have these photos,” Cinkel said.

Among his favorite images are of the one-employee hardware store in Austin, the Hotel Nevada in Ely with a star in memory to Gary Cooper out front, a sign proclaiming “No attorneys” in McDermitt, and images of the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah.

“It’s always kind of fun to see what comes up. I like the photos and being able to see these places,” Cinkel said.

In addition to being a photographer, Cinkel is a painter, producing several pieces that are currently on display in the museum.

“Art has been a part of my life since I was in third grade. It’s always had a place.”

With Northern Nevada under his belt, Cinkel now hopes to make a similar journey through the southern section of the state. He is also working on an exhibit for the museum about the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race. That exhibit is scheduled to open later this year.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.

If you go

What: “Time Capsule: The Back Roads of Northern Nevada” photography exhibit

When: Through June 11

Where: National Automobile Museum, corner of Mill and Lake streets in Reno

Call: 333-9300

On the Net

National Automobile Museum:

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