Explore Nevada through virtual reality
I know my situation isn’t unique, but I have quite a few balls in the air these days. And often feel like I’m having to relearn how to juggle them amid this pandemic. I get frustrated by how different my job is now—how much longer it can take to secure and complete the interviews necessary for my stories, how much different it is to not to look my interviewees in the eyes when they’re speaking with me. Sometimes it leads to a considerable amount of wheel-spinning, and that leaves me looking for ways to fill my time and, often, wishing I could just go somewhere.
I’ve done some of the virtual tours museums across the country and world have to offer, but what I really love is Nevada and all of its rad places. That’s why when I found an old map of the American Flat Mill outside of Virginia City and newspaper clippings from the year it was demolished by the Bureau of Land Management while sifting through some boxes, I couldn’t believe it had taken me literally weeks of quarantine to remember that a perfect resource for people who love Nevada already exists. It’s the work of my former graduate school research adviser, Howard Goldbaum, and it’s called All Around Nevada.
Goldbaum taught at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno after moving to the state in 2003. Before that, he taught at Bradley University in Illinois for 26 years. He worked as a photojournalist and editor before that. He’s been a photographer since he was 14.
Goldbaum also specializes in virtual reality panoramic photography and creates beautiful, vivid virtual environments for people explore. It’s something he’d been doing for a long time before the summer of 2014, when he brought me along for the ride to assist him in creating a virtual tour of the American Flat Mill after winning a BLM contract to document it prior to its destruction.
We spent a week staying in rooms at the Gold Hill Hotel at night and painstakingly documented the mill’s buildings during the day. I’d loved the old mill since moving to Reno in 2004 for college, and documenting it was some of the best fun I’ve ever had.
When he’d finished the virtual reality tour, Goldbaum had made 137 interconnected VR panoramas, including multiple views of the eight mill buildings, historical panoramic photographs and panoramas made during the demolition process.
And thanks to Goldbaum, the American Flat Mill is only a drop in the bucket of what visitors to the All Around Nevada website can see. He’s also documented sites in the Black Rock Desert, caves around the state, little towns like Elko and big ones like Las Vegas. Seriously, there are weeks of virtual travel to be had on the site. You can explore them all using a computer or a smartphone.
Goldbaum has also documented locales around the world. To see more of his work, visit howardgoldbaum.com.