Sunday, June 8, 2014

Seeing the Elephant

Elko, NV

P1080425Our next stop was Elko, NV.

We wanted a nice relaxing day and thought the California Trail Interpretive Center would be a good way to spend an hour or so.

P1080426However, when we drove up we saw a school bus and almost changed our mind. We lucked out because the children were quite a ways in front of us. Jim really does hate having to share all the fun hands-on exhibits with other kids.

P1080446Here he’s playing with the mileage counter.

This machine, called an odometer, was connected to a wagon wheel. As the wagon wheel turned, smaller wheels inside the machine moved and measured the distance the pioneers traveled each day.

The expression “Seeing the Elephant” seems to have many definitions. However, for those traveling the California Trail, the mythical elephant was an extremely popular way of expressing an overwhelming emotion. 


Pioneers talked of the excitement and anticipation of heading west to see the elephant. 


Elephant "sightings" often begin with excitement and high ideals only to be disappointing or disenchanting. The high excitement followed by the low frustrations are what epitomize the elephant as something most wanted to "see" but few would have wanted to "see" again.

P1080435Sidney really enjoyed himself looking down on what his ancestors would have seen as the pioneers and gold seekers made their way across this country of ours.

I really would not have survived the trek these pioneers took. I much prefer the modern day covered wagon (RV) that we travel in today. I truly admire their courage and determination. So many died along the way including children. Often they had to leave their belongings along the trail and trudge onward by foot when their oxen died.


This is the view from the plaza at the Center.


I had read the reviews that people had written about the Center and I have to disagree with several of them. I found the Center very well set up with wonderful exhibits, especially for children (and Jim). They had a well done presentation on the Donner-Reed party and why they ended up in the snowstorm. I would recommend this stop to anyone who wants to learn more about those who crossed and settled America.



  1. I would like to visit that interpretive center. I had never heard the expression "seeing the elephant". Good explanation!

  2. Been through Elko a few time, but I sure missed this museum. It's now on my bucket list. Thanks.

  3. I haven't been through Elko for a long time, since I quit driving the interstate. I prefer U.S. 50. What I will never understand is how and why so many women chose the life of pioneering. I don't think I'd have done it, although I like to get out of my comfort zone when I can, but their lives had no comfort zones after they left Philadelphia!

  4. I know what you mean about almost turning back when you saw the school bus. We have been in places before where several school buses have been. The lines slow down and the it can get pretty hectic with all the kids. Nice that you're able to leisurely head back north.

  5. Also never heard "seeing the elephant"

  6. I can't imagine setting off on a trip like that. So many variables. So many problems. They must have been very hearty souls, for sure! This sounds like an interesting place. :)

  7. I don't think there are many people now who could do what the pioneers did. We are all too soft.

  8. My bucket list always gets bigger when I read your blog. We will have to tour it.

  9. A wonderful explanations of the seeing the Elephant, must have been a trying journey for those early pioneers for sure.

  10. Looks like an interesting place to visit.

  11. Looks like a fine place to stop. Since I've always thought of Elko as being out there in the middle of no where. I'm surprised that it has such a place and glad you shared it.

  12. Now I know...thanks for explaining "seeing the elephant".

  13. Have a great time following along behind you. We went to Donner Pass while in Nevada. Incredible story of death and survival. We camped in Elko, I think, and didn't get to the museum. I've seen "the elephant" many times in my mind. :) Sidney is so good the way he sits to pose for you. Love to S&S.

  14. I'm with Jim; those hands on exhibits are for ME. They make learning fun. I also like to check out websites for teacher's lesson plans. The pirate museum has you learn fractions by dividing with your shipmates the gold and jewels you captured. That's my kind of math. :)

  15. I am with you Sandie! I would have never made a good pioneer woman!

    Most men remain little boys their entire life....:)

  16. I also much prefer the modern day covered wagon !! LOL

  17. Thanks for the tip. I will have to check it out in my travels.


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