Dennis Cassinelli: Memories of things around Elko

Having worked for the Nevada Department of Transportation for many years on the interstate highways, I spent many days working in Elko. During that time, I met and got to know many of the engineers and crew members who worked there in those days.
Elko is known for gold mining in the areas around Carlin where millions in gold have been recovered. Just west of Elko is the California Trail Interpretive Center. This has displays and information about the pioneers who came this way back in the mid 1800s.
When the twin Carlin tunnels were being constructed, I was still working for NDOT and inspected the tunnels when they were still under construction. During the time I worked in Elko, I also worked in nearby Wells. On one occasion, I was playing pool in a bar in wells when an intoxicated construction worker smacked me on the side of my head with the open end of a beer glass and cut a cookie out of my scalp. A co-worker took me to the Elko hospital to have the cookie sewed back on to my scalp.
In the days when I worked in Elko, there was a major problem when motorists had wrecks in the area east of town, especially in the Pequop Summit area. Since there were no cell phones in those days, anyone involved in an injury accident sometimes did not survive due to the time it took for an ambulance to arrive.
There was one serious accident on Pequop Summit east of Wells where a wreck occurred and someone was decapitated. It was in the winter and the police found only a torso but no head. In the spring, an NDOT survey crew was working alongside the highway when one of the crew members felt a drop of blood from the frozen head drip on his face. Looking up into a pine tree, he saw the missing head lodged onto a branch.
When visiting Elko, I often visit the Star Basque restaurant whether working, hunting or ice fishing at North Fork or Southfork reservoirs. This year we have chosen North Fork. Unfortunately we caught few fish but the comradery was awesome.
After I retired from NDOT, former NDOT Maintenance foreman, Rod Woldridge sometimes allowed us to park our trailer at the North Fork Maintenance Station in the winter so we could all go ice fishing together at Wildhorse Reservoir.
I was once contacted by an attorney who wanted me to testify as an expert witness in project scheduling for a client who had worked for the Carlin schools. I did testify in the Elko County Court House and as a result the case was resolved favorably. I recently wrote an article about another Elko County community, Jarbidge.
My sons, Tim and John are avid elk hunters and I have accompanied them on some occasions when they hunted elk in the Elko area. My brother, Ron is now retired after working for El Aero in Elko as a pilot for several years.
Another of my most favorite places to visit in Elko County is Lamoille Canyon. The fall color in this area is nothing short of spectacular. It is an excellent place to go for deer hunting as well. I have also visited Angel Lake near wells one fourth of July weekend. To my surprise, there were still chunks of ice floating on the surface of the lake when we were there.
Dennis Cassinelli is a Dayton author and historian. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at


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