Imlay, Nevada: Thunder Mountain Park
Sprawling habitat of junk sculpture, the life's work of the late Frank Van Zant, aka "Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder." Roadsideamerica.com Report... [02/23/2009]
Visitor Tips and News About Thunder Mountain Park
Not a tip, so much as a cultural history reference:
In the late 1970s, during the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour, Bruce Springsteen was fond of introducing his song "Thunder Road" by relating the story of his visit to Thunder Mountain with friend and fellow E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zant (no relation to the monument's creator).
In one recording of a live concert from 1980 that I have, Springsteen describes finding the monument by accident during a cross country car trip, and seeing there a statue of Geronimo with a sign that read "Welcome to America, the land of peace, love justice and no mercy." Up ahead, he continued, "the sign post read "Thunder Road" ... (I'll leave it to those who know the song to now cue in their imaginations the amazing piano opening).
When I happened upon the monument in 1985, also by accident during a cross country car trip, I immediately recognized it as the site Springsteen was talking about. I was disappointed, though, not to find any statue of Geronimo nor any sign about American mercy.[J.B., 01/22/2009]
On I-80 through the Nevada desert I was riding shotgun when I noticed a weird structure on the side of the road and let out a "Whoa!" My co-worker asked what I was whoa-ing about and I responded that I didn't know -- some statue with antlers and Indians and stuff. There wasn't anywhere to turn around, so I just forgot about it. Later, I was looking for some quirky stuff to do on the way back to California, when I found Roadsideamerica.com and the description of Thunder Mountain! I knew right away it was the place I had seen from the side of the road. I knew we had to stop.
The directions I got from this website got us there, but I wasn't sure what to expect. We went down a bumpy dirt road, and there was plenty of parking for our rather large vehicle and room to turn around. The whole compound was surrounded by a fence with a gate, which was open. Once inside, the main building was fenced in but some statutes and buildings were "un-fenced" so we could get up close for pictures and exploring.
We met a local woman who started telling us some crazy things about the Chief Thunder (who constructed Thunder Mountain). Things I won't repeat here since I don't know if they are true. She also said Chief Thunder's son is trying to fix up the place, and her kids help him out. She made it seem like if you run into his son he might let you check out the inside. Moral of the story: talk to the other people wandering around -- you never know who they might be or what they might know! The ride across Nevada on I-80 is super boring so you definitely need to plan on stopping here! Totally quirky![Amanda, 11/01/2008]
Nearby Offbeat Places
- Chinatown Ruins Museum, Lovelock, NV - 37 mi.