Photo Courtesy of Travel Nevada
Somewhere out in the Buena Vista Valley between Lovelock and Winnemucca is paradise.
Annually, my wife and I receive a tax bill from the Pershing County treasurer’s office for about $60. The bill isn’t for some grand vacation home that we own in Unionville or the banks of Rye Patch, but rather for 10 acres of vacant land that my wife received from her late father.
Apparently, her dad—who really coveted his privacy and independence—bought the land decades ago thinking he might one day plop a trailer on it, maybe sink a well, and set up a generator.
Alas, none of that ever happened and so we now own the parcel, which is located somewhere in the vastness of sagebrush and dirt known as the Dun Glen Flat/Buena Vista Valley, about halfway between Lovelock and Winnemucca.
When my wife’s father deeded the land to us, he provided a promotional pamphlet and survey map. The pamphlet generously described the parcel as a “ranchero” and painted a fine portrait of the area as part of a series of small ranches where owners could indulge in their western dreams.
It promoted the joys of country living—of building your own little spread on the site and maybe raising horses or growing something.
Of course, that was all certainly possible—except for the fact there are no roads to the property along with no water, sewer, or power infrastructure.
The original agreement for the sale of the land, located about a dozen miles south of Mill City, off state Route 400 (the road leading to the ghost town of Unionville), officially describes it as: “The E 1/2 of S1/2 of SW1/4 of NW 1/4 of Sec.27, R35E, T32N, MDBM, of Pershing County, Nevada, 10 acres. (13-E).”
In recent years, we receive occasional offers to purchase our land, mostly from out-of-state water companies trying to consolidate all the water rights in the valley to sell to Reno or some other larger city. The offers are always small and not very tempting, so we pass.
So, why pay the taxes on this parcel year-after-year? I think it’s because the land has sentimental value as it was once owned by my wife’s dad, and because it’s a great conversation piece.
For years, we’ve joked with friends about retiring to our “estate” in the country and I’ve told folks it’s where I want my ashes spread when my time is up (assuming anyone could find the exact 10 acres out in the vastness of that valley).
In fact, several years ago we tried to find our parcel. We headed east of Reno on the interstate, traveling about 93 miles to Lovelock. We continued east on I-80 for another 42 miles to the Mill City exit. There, we headed south on SR 400.
The map in our files indicated that the parcel was about 12 miles south of Mill City, and apparently some unknown distance from the road.
Despite having the helpful and detailed deed description (you know — “The E 1/2 of S 1/2 etc.”), we quickly realized that other than a couple of fairly large ranches there wasn’t much out in the way of landmarks in Dun Glen Flat or adjacent Buena Vista Valley.
At one point during that visit, a local rancher came along in his truck as we stood by the side of the road scanning the vast open space for some clue as to the site of our land (I guess we were expecting a big sign or a neon arrow or something) and asked if our vehicle had broken down. I mean why else would we be standing there in the middle of Nevada?
We told him about our quest to locate our land and described what we were looking for. He scratched his head thinking about it for a moment and then remembered that the only ten-acre lots were a few miles north, near what one of our road atlases called the Star Creek Ranch.
He said nearly all the rest of the lots in the valley that weren’t part of larger ranches were a minimum of 20 acres.
We drove back to the spot he had indicated and looked out over the desert. Just beyond a barbed wire fence we could see—more nothingness.
All of the land around us was cracked and dry, with the general flatness broken by occasional gray-green mounds of scruffy sagebrush. Here and there, you could see rocks peeking through the thin, yellow-brown grass that barely covered the ground.
In the distance, we could see a large patch of green—apparently the Star Creek Ranch grew alfalfa.
Unable to determine exactly which vacant acreage was our vacant ten acres, we wandered into the desert for a little while and imagined we were looking at our land.
I tried to envision where we would put the swimming pool, the tennis court, and the satellite dish. Heck, a fishing pond might be nice.
In the end, we decided it was enough knowing that somewhere out there was ten acres that was all ours. Even if we had no idea where exactly it was.