Save Black Rock Station

Save the charming and historic Black Rock Station which has served as a lifeline for our fragile community in the Black Rock Desert since the 1930s. For nearly a hundred years, the little rural station standing on the stark desert sands served as an oasis for those traveling the Black Rock Desert between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. Once an important stop on the Western Pacific Railroad, the station is now endangered by neglect and the ravages of time, slowly disappearing into the sands of the playa. 

Black Rock Station is also an important scientific research outpost. Over the years, the station has drawn researchers seeking to understand a localized chronological anomaly, the station's still-unexplained seeming 'time slip' between the 1850s and the twenty-second century that has disoriented generations of travelers. 

We are begging for your help in restoring and stabilizing this foundational piece of our community's history. Our goal is to restore it to its full glory in the summer of 2022!  Please help save the Black Rock Station. 

Black Rock Station is a classic rural train station built in the mid-1930s to serve Black Rock City and the communities scattered throughout the vast Black Rock Desert. The station has come unstuck in time, unstable and oscillating through various moments over the last 150 years and beyond, with ghost trains heard but not seen, an ever-shifting interior life, and a subtle narrative that cuts against conventional historical themes.

We were offered a Burning Man Art Honoraria to bring Black Rock Station to life on the playa, and now we are asking your help to cover the other half of the costs.

UPDATE: Okay, interesting twist. It was just announced that Burning Man is off for 2021 and we are considering our options. We really want to do this, so thinking about the logistics of 2022 and having an extra year to prep it. 

UPDATE: We are committed to bringing Black Rock Station to Burning Man 2022. Will you be there?

Check out the Black Rock Station website .

Service to Black Rock City and Beyond

Black Rock Train Station is complete with a length of track, a platform, benches, a working signal bridge, and two working crossing signal masts. Inside, the station will have the faded elegance of an authentic train station existing in the 1982 narrative frame, including a station clock, bench, train schedules, TV, and ticket window.  A dusty vision of incongruous real-world normalcy, bringing up the first mystery of the piece: How did this get here?

Visitors will hear freight trains pass and scheduled passenger trains approach and depart at real-life volumes at trackside. On the platform and in the station, visitors will hear announcements and floating bits of audio and musical clues. 

A Mystery to Unravel

The work is a mystery for people to unravel. As the train station cycles through time, pausing briefly in one of eight moments over a 250 year period from 1858 to 2110, visitors will catch snippets of mysterious audio or video, or explore ephemera on the walls and on racks in the station.

A Site-Specific Immersive Installation

Black Rock Station is an interactive site-specific installation that uses northern Nevada's historic railroad history and the playa's harsh and beautiful environment to create a memorable and mysterious experience for participants. It follows in the contemporary art tradition of installation art that is uncommodifiable, interactive, and participatory. 

Black Rock Station is a fully immersive piece embracing all the senses to craft a subtle and open-ended narrative in which visitors are encouraged to explore and discover. We hope that visitors leave with a profound sense of wonder and disorientation about time and events. We hope visitors will ask, "Where exactly am I? When am I?"

Critical Questions

The piece playfully suggests critical questions including:

* What is the meaning of objective time, in a context when our experience of time is so variable?
* What do we really know about our shared history?
* What alternate futures and pasts are possible?
* How do we reexamine what we think we know about history?
* Whose history gets recorded and told?
* How can we use travel (though time or place) as a metaphor for our own journeys?

There Will Be Pie (Charts)

The project has a $26K budget with roughly $10K covered by the Burning Man Honoraria and $6,000 covered by in-kind donations. That leaves about $10K that we need to raise to bring the station to the playa.

While the honoraria covers most of the materials, the additional funds allow us to pay the artists who will be developing the project in the months to come and the sizeable crew who will be in the desert making it happen.

So we need your help to bring the project to the playa and make sure that the artists and crew are paid equitably.  Thank you for your support of the project.

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  • Joe Childs 
    • $10 
    • 4 mos
  • ernest brooks 
    • $200 
    • 4 mos
  • ernest brooks 
    • $70 
    • 6 mos
  • Brandon Kinman 
    • $200 
    • 7 mos
  • Stephan Meyers 
    • $50 
    • 8 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Black Rock Preservation Society (3)

Wes Modes 
Gerlach, NV
Molly Stevens 
Team member
Reinko Hallenga 
Team member