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Five Important Historical Sites to Visit in Nevada

1. Area 51. Located in southeast Nevada, along Extraterrestrial Highway (SR 375), near the town of Rachel, about 150 miles north of Las Vegas, sits perhaps the most famous United States military installation (a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base), a test facility for experimental aircraft since the 1950s, where Lockheed created the first U2 spy planes. Of course, Area 51 is a nickname for the facility known as the Nevada Test and Training Range, and Homey Airport or Groom Lake (which is a salt flat just northeast of the base and used for runways). The intense secrecy around the base has made it the subject of all sorts of conspiracies, including the housing of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), and where scientists reverse-engineered alien technology. The area is well-guarded and off limits to civilians, but you can sort of get a peak at it from Tikaboo Peek, about 26 miles ways. Don't forget to stop at some of the quirky tourist traps along the lonely drive.

2. Hoover Dam. Located in southeast Nevada, on the border with Arizona, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, this massive, 700-foot high, concrete dam (originally known as the Boulder Dam, but later named for President Herbert Hoover) was constructed between 1931 and 1936 in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, creating the enormous Lake Mead (the largest reservoir in the U.S. by volume), and generating electricity for Nevada, Arizona, and California. The dam, which was built with more than 3-million cubic yards of concrete, has been recognized as a National Civil Engineering Landmark, National Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. About a million people annually visit the dam, but because of heightened security, tours of the dam are very limited, but include the daily Dam Tour or Power Plant Tour (both fee-based); admission to the visitor center and parking in the garage nearby are also fee-based. While there look downriver at the dam bypass bridge, the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, the world's tallest concrete arch bridge. Learn more: Hoover Dam.

3. Pioche. Located in southeast Nevada on US 93, 25 miles north of Caliente, and about 180 miles northeast of Las Vegas, at an elevation of about 6,000 feet, this small and picturesque one-time silver mining town clinging to the side of a mountain was once the baddest town in the west -- worse than Tombstone or Dodge City. Today, it's a "living" ghost town of about 900 residents (way down from the 8,000+ more than 150 years ago). The town is named for F.L.A. Pioche, a Frenchman and banker from San Francisco. The town survives, partly because it is the county seat. Visit the historic buildings located downtown -- and especially the "Million Dollar Courthouse," now home to the Lincoln County Historical Museum. Check out the old Boot Hill Cemetery, which contains a "Murder's Row" section containing the graves of more than 100 murders. Continue your adventure at Spring Valley State Park, Echo Canyon State Park, and the Mount Wilson Backcountry Byway Scenic Drive (an 81-mile drive through remote Nevada backcountry, a mix of desert and forest; best for high-clearance vehicles).

4. Tonopah. Located in the desert of southwest Nevada at an elevation of about 6,000 feet, about midway between Reno and Las Vegas, at the junction of U.S Routes 6 and 95, this town of 2,500 people has historical significance as the "Queen of the Silver Camps," and any visit should include the Tonopah Historic Mining Park (with more than 100 acres of preserved and restored equipment and buildings, as well as exhibits), the Central Nevada Museum (covering mining, ranching, and life in the Wild West), and Old Tonopah Cemetery (where 300 pioneer residents are interred, many of whom fell victim to the 1902 "Tonopah Plague"). Also nearby: the Lunar Crater Volcanic Field and Tonopah Test Range (owned by the U.S. Department of Energy; formerly the Tonopah Army Air Field). The name of the town comes from a Shoshone word meaning hidden spring. Learn more: Tonopah.

5. Unionville. Located between SR 400 and I80 in northwest Nevada at an elevation of about 5,000 feet, about 150 miles northeast of Reno, this historic mining town -- and yes, Nevada is full of them -- is one of the coolest ghost towns to visit, a quasi-living ghost town with 20 residents and no services (other than a small inn). Founded in 1861, it had boom years from 1863 to 1870 when the population was about 1,500. Besides seeing ruins of various buildings and other structures, you can visit the cabin of Samuel Clemens (perhaps better well-known as March Twain), who tried his luck as a prospector. Hikers will also enjoy the miles of hiking trails nearby. For further recreational adventures, go to Rye Patch State Recreation Area, including the Rye Patch Reservoir, is a 11,000-acre park known for boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking, wildlife-viewing, and camping -- and named for a patch of wild rye that grew along the old railroad.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.



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