|North Thru Nevada
by Everett Chase
The town of Rachel, Nevada, although settled routinely enough in the vicinity of a mine, became unlike the many other mining towns across the Nevada plains- and the rest of the country, for that matter.
Rachel, situated along Nevada Highway 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway, has a unique and mysterious story to tell. Things happen in the skies above Rachel; unexplained phenomenon, as the story goes, is not uncommon.
We may soon discover, because of our changing earth and a changing universe, Rachel's past may be tied, inadvertently, not just to Rachel's future, but to yours and mine- - everyone's future. The Rachel mysteries, over time, may spread throughout the United States and the world.
Unlike the many mining towns which sprang up around Nevada which were solely beholden' to their employers during their developing years, it wasn't the company mine and the company store holding the IOU's for Rachel's workers, it was good ole American individualism sinking its roots in the countryside. Rachel survives on its alfalfa farms, the neighboring Nevada Test Site, and yes, the Extraterrestrial Highway.
"People started moving in (in the early 70's) because of the tungsten mine," says Fay Day, owner of the Quik-Pik store, gas station, and trailer park. "But it wasn't until 1978 that we got electricity and telephone - and then we were a village."
Of course the village needed a name, but it's a sad tale that follows.
"There was a couple who lived in our trailer park, the man worked at the mine," Fay says. "They had a baby who was born at home. We decided to name our village Rachel, the name of the first citizen born here."
As the story goes, the young couple moved on to Washington state with their new daughter, where Rachel died of pneumonia with complications attributed to the fallout from the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
An ironic and sad set of circumstances, considering one of the best reasons to leave the area in which they were living is fallout of a different nature - nuclear. Rachel borders the Nevada Test Site and the back gate of the mysterious Area 51.
With an unofficial full- time population of only 80-85 people and several weekenders from Las Vegas, Highway 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway, conecting eastern Nevada's Highway 93 to Highway 95 between Las Vegas and Reno on the western side of the state, does not compete with Highway 50, Nevada's Loneliest Road running east and west. The Extraterrestrial Highway is not as long and, according to many reports, it is certainly not lonely - on the road or in the skies above.
While Fay Day is the town historian, maintaining the town's only grocery and convenience store, gas pump, and bookstore, she is also in sight of a very important gadget.
"This machinery on the other side of our gas tank here, measures the radiation level," she says. "We trust those people completely. We trust they would tell us when it was above normal."
Fay is concerned with the normal and would get out of town if it wasn't, but down the road at the Little A Le Inn, normal is not exactly the same.
Next month we will talk with Pat Travis, owner of the A Le Inn, a gathering place for those whose beliefs travel a bit farther into the - beyond. We will also a visit with local specialists Bob & Margaret Kolar.