Welcome to Battle Mountain, Nevada:
December 3, 2001 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Welcome to Battle Mountain, Nevada: the Armpit of America!
posted by gimonca (28 comments total)
Great article.

I've been through BM. It's right up there.

But it's so hard to give just one place that name, what with the prevailing drive-through aesthetic America is developing. I mean... drive down any town's main drag, and you'd be hard-pressed to say where you were -- aside from any major geologic markers (like Provo's mountainscape).

Some towns though, do kinda stick out: Tri-Cities, Washington for example has plenty to do, and a decent riverfront, but man that city is dirty; Montreal-Est, Quebec is a winner as well... I don't think I've ever seen so many oil refineries and row houses in such close -- intimate! -- proximity; and pretty much any town in California's Central Valley would fit as well... nothing quite as demoralizing as driving through land deep in the clutches of the agri-industrial complex.

Okay. I can't go on. Too depressing.
posted by silusGROK at 2:54 PM on December 3, 2001

Yuma, AZ!

The Other Armpit.™
posted by o2b at 2:58 PM on December 3, 2001

the Armpit of America!

For a moment there, I thought this was going to be about my apartment...
posted by y2karl at 3:05 PM on December 3, 2001

Espanola, New Mexico.....Oh wait, It's already been dubbed "The Lowrider Capital of the World". Guess it's out of the running.
posted by Benway at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2001

Having lived most of my life in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area of northern Nevada, I find it easy to say that it's the only area in Nevada that I would live. Even Vegas loses out to Reno, IMHO. So, although the article does pain me just a tiny little bit as it dogs the state that I love most of all, as far as visiting the other towns that the article mentioned, such as BM, Elko, etc., I can only think of one question...

Um, why do you want to go there??
posted by lizardboy at 3:10 PM on December 3, 2001

Shawville, Quebec is my nomination.

My god.

(great article, thanks)
posted by Succa at 3:18 PM on December 3, 2001

I'd give my vote to Minot, ND.

Back in my traveling salesman days, the stop in Minot was easily the most depressing part of my route. My sales manager swore to me that when he served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, people were volunteering to be sent to Vietnam rather than stay in Minot. After spending a few days there I was convinced he was telling the truth.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:24 PM on December 3, 2001

a memorable excerpt, for those not wanting to wade through:

Still, I had one more call. The tough one. I couldn't very well arrive unannounced.

Sharlene "Shar" Peterson is the executive director of the Battle Mountain Chamber of Commerce. She told me a little about the town, and then I told her what I was proposing to do.

She laughed, then didn't say much of anything for the longest time.

The Battle Mountain Chamber of Commerce was thinking.


"Well, I mean, who wants to be called an armpit? But, you know . . ."

I sensed where she was going. I wanted to kiss her.

". . . This could be an asset. We're just a dying, ugly little mining town without a real identity. It could be an opportunity."

Is this a great country, or what?

Wow. (btw, it was well worth skimming through.)
posted by mattpfeff at 3:30 PM on December 3, 2001

of the places where the family station wagon would break during the summer drive to utah as a kid--Elko, Battle Mountain...i think Trinity was much worse.

More of a truck stop than a town.

the central valley of CA is changing a bit, all the downtown areas are being developed around here. UC Merced should help as well once it gets going.

Nothing changes around battle mountain though. My earliest memory of BM is being told that it was where i had puked once.

great article.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2001

So if they get a Starbuck's downtown, will that be a plus or a minus for the town?
posted by rks404 at 3:54 PM on December 3, 2001

So if they get a Starbuck's downtown, will that be a plus or a minus for the town?

Under the circumstances, I'd say a plus. I can't believe I'm saying that about Starbucks, but there you go.
posted by hadashi at 4:21 PM on December 3, 2001

Yeah, that's what I was thinking and I just wanted a reality check.
posted by rks404 at 4:23 PM on December 3, 2001

Vis1on: I grew up in the Tri-Cities, and my findings would be the opposite of yours: Pretty clean (unless you were talking about dust), but absolutely, positively nothing to do. At all. For 19 years. God bless it.
posted by Hildago at 4:50 PM on December 3, 2001

i want a BM slide-show!
posted by subpixel at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2001

Hildago... I was talking compared to places like BM. I mean, they at least had a mall.

And yes... I was talking about the dust: it's everywhere. And a lot of the buildings look like they could really use a wash-down. It just felt/looked grimey.
posted by silusGROK at 5:08 PM on December 3, 2001

Tri-Cities, Washington for example has plenty to do...

Where? What? I'm confused!

Seriously. I've been looking for something to do here (besides shop) for about five years now. Okay, to be fair it has plenty to do if you're sporty or into hunting/fishing. But how about some interesting museums or galleries other than the 'Hanford Experience' or Hallmark stores. Some good theatre would be nice, too. There's something like 25 cinema screens in the Tri-Cities, but they all insist on playing the latest blockbusters and Disney. Not that there's anything wrong with Disney on occasion *grin* but something a little on the...dare I say...alternative side would be nice now and then.

I'm open for ideas!

posted by NsJen at 5:31 PM on December 3, 2001

Used to live in Reno... Moved to LA... One of the best things about LA is that it's another 600 miles from BM. God, I hated that town. Had to spend a week there waiting for a vehicle to be put in working order so i could get the hell out.
posted by phalkin at 5:47 PM on December 3, 2001

There was a great article about 12 years ago or so about Espanola, NM that came across the wire services when they started calling themselves the "Low-Rider Capital". It seems there was some hesitation from the New Mexico tourism people about publicizing it. The mayor of Espanola was interviewed, and he had some earthy things to say about was he considered to be the snooty, artsy, Santa Fe crowd. "...after awhile, all this 'authentic native charm' can get to be a real pain in the neck."

Incidentally, family ties would not prevent me from nominating several towns in the "Chemical Belt" of SE Texas/SW Louisiana for official Armpit.

posted by gimonca at 6:16 PM on December 3, 2001

I lived the first 10 years of my life in Elko, NV. Then the next 13 in Reno, with yearly or so visits to Elko to visit relatives.

Elko isn't too bad, some nice places around there (Ruby Mtns, compete with Tahoe for most beautiful place in Nevada)

The author already has one thing wrong. The road (I80)from Elko to BM is not straight and flat with nothing to see. There is the Humboldt river, the tunnels outside Carlin, some good hills at Emigrant Gap, more river and then some flatland with sagebrush. The stretch from BM to Winnemucca is worse.

And Chukar? My little brother and two of his buddies drove from Reno to BM to hunt chukar in the middle of winter. Hit black ice on the freeway and rolled twice out across the desert. Fortunately they wore their seatbelts, not hurt too bad. I was one of the rescue party, drove out from Reno to pick them up. They had put the dog (who miracuously survived being thrown clear in the rollover) in the county pound, which consisted of a chain link kennel out at the waste treatment plant. The sherrif at first wouldn't go out there so we could get the dog , and then the idiot led us down this snow-covered road where one of our vehicles managed to get very stuck.

Battle Mountain is pretty bad. Although I played my first video game ever there, some tank wars thing.

Funny that small-town America gets portrayed as midwest small town America in TV and movies, the Western reality is quite a bit different. Suppose its different everywhere...
posted by mutagen at 6:32 PM on December 3, 2001

Although I played my first video game ever there, some tank wars thing.

posted by y2karl at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2001

My vote is for Southern Florida (Dade, Broward, Palm Beach counties) aka Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. Culturally bankrupt, geriatrics rule with an iron fist, as well as a good sampling of neon-overloaded strip clubs and crazed anti-Castro "freedom fighters".
posted by owillis at 6:49 PM on December 3, 2001

Vis1on -- Yes, plenty of dust to go around.. Oddly, I never really noticed it until I moved away, then came back to visit. One of those things, I guess.

Jen -- The only entertaining activity I could ever find in Richland and Kennewick was to drive to places you haven't been to in two weeks and count how many new houses had been snapped together.

Just to pretend this is on topic, I ... uhh... liked the article. Nice, uplifting ending.
posted by Hildago at 8:05 PM on December 3, 2001

I can't say much about the West small town America, but from what I've heard it's a lot different from the Midwest.

For example, while traveling in far northern Kansas, if your car is not a Ford truck (circa 1975) you are given weird stares. I swear, only one street in the whole town, locals were standing up... hands over eyes as a visor... staring at us... each and everyone in that town must have been looking at us. There is a certain quaintness about watching a 50 year old man put down his paper and get out of his porch swing to look at you, a certain movie feel.

Oh and in small Midwestern towns there are always a 2:1 church to home ratio. Never fails. That's probably the big difference, the West was never... err... uhm... properly Christianized. I believe in some parts of far Western Kansas it's illegal still to buy alcohol (buy, not posses).
posted by geoff. at 8:39 PM on December 3, 2001

Thanks, Hidalgo - you owe me a new monitor and keyboard, here!

posted by NsJen at 9:05 PM on December 3, 2001

Told'ja you owed me a new keyboard, Hildago *shruggy laugh*
posted by NsJen at 9:07 PM on December 3, 2001

A followup.
posted by rdr at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2001

A followup.

Damn. I can't believe that woman was actually fired for talking about the town on the record. But I will say, for sure she can get any open position at any small-town paper in the country now....
posted by mattpfeff at 9:43 PM on December 17, 2001

Battle Mountain Bugle Editor Fired: Here's another followup article from the Reno Gazette and Poytner has her exit interview.
posted by danec at 10:03 PM on January 17, 2002

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