travelogue:

With a boom will there be a bust?

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Matt Hufman

Clouds move over northern Nevada near the intersection of U.S. 93 and Interstate 80, east of Elko, on Sept. 25, 2013.

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Clouds move over Elko on Sept. 25, 2013.

We’ve arrived in Elko, and it’s clear we’re not in Southern Nevada anymore. It’s cold and supposed to snow tomorrow morning. Ask somebody in town that and you’re likely to get a shrug of the shoulder. It’s Elko in September. Snow happens.

There’s quite a bit of activity happening in Elko. The town is small, roughly 20,000 people by the official count, but that doesn’t include people in to work on the mines. The hotels seem to be full of people who are here for extended stays. We were told to book well ahead of time because there’s a housing shortage. (The hotel we’re in is new and caters to the mining industry – there’s a brush to clean your boots outside the door. )

Elko, and several towns in the northern part of the state, are booming because of the high price of gold and other precious metals. But with every boom there’s the potential bust. A civic leader in Elko once mentioned to me that people understand that, adding that they’ll buy “toys” – RVs, ATVs and the like – during the boom times and sell them in the busts.

The boom-and-bust cycle is one of the threads that runs through state history, but this cycle has been a long climb. There have been recent worries among some market analysts about the price of gold, but those may be premature. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Deutsche Bank expects gold to average $1,325 an ounce in the last three months of the year.

So, it’s clear what we need to do while we’re in Elko – look for gold. And long johns.

• • •

The trip today was incredibly beautiful with clouds casting shadows over mountains and dropping a little bit of rain. I’ve posted a few photos of the trip today and will try to have more posted later. We made a relatively quick run up to Elko and will spend more time exploring the eastern side of the state at a later date. However, one of the things that always strikes me is Nevada’s size and stark beauty that is brought out at certain times of years – such as when weather moves through.

• • •

Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts about where we should go and what we should do. Also, please tell us your Nevada story. You can do that by sending us an email at: finding.nevada@lasvegassun.com.

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