Few mining claims are listed in Walker Lake and yet one personal mine, named Jeepers Creepers, sits on display as yard art in front of Pete and Nan Ferlisi’s home. The custom-made rendition of a loaded ore cart coming out of a gold mine was created by their craftsman friend, Buster Heckman of Hawthorne.
The friendship, as well as the initial commission to create the elaborate outdoor project, began with an inquiry into an indoor display case at Whiskey Flats RV park. Upon seeking out someone that could replicate a mining cart, Heckman’s name was repeatedly given as the man for the job. From one display case a new vision expanded, developed and took shape.
Once the idea took hold for an actual outdoor mini-mine, it became as authentic as possible by recycling salvaged wheels, gathering weathered wood from old fencing and locating rails from an old wrecking yard. Vintage spikes to deteriorating shovels, as well as bent lanterns were gathered to accessorize the prospector’s whimsey.
“We always said if we can’t own a real gold mine, at least we can create our own claim right in our front yard,” the Ferlisi’s stated. As a tribute, “Nan’s Goldmine” sign officiated her claim.
And so without using a pick or a jackhammer, a screwdriver drilled this mine together. Wooden beams supported the old hewn sides and hidden inside an old mannequin miner is bent down to move his potential gold. The cart has an assemblage of local rocks, with an evening display of colorful lights that are hidden among the precious minerals of potential gold, iron and ore.
There is a saying about mining which evolved in phrasings and authorship since 1881, but is credited to Mark Twain. It says, “A mine is a hole in the ground owned by a liar to trap a fool.” Well the three individuals that dreamt up this Walker Lake showcase are no fools and no one got shafted in the process. The Ferlisi family continues to smile in the pleasure of this shared project by adding selective pieces to enhance this local structure that is full of continued delight.