Rebuilding the Mountain
Renovations continue at Imlay's state landmark
July 24, 2002
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Imlay, NV - If you're looking for something different to do this summer, maybe a trip to Imlay should be on your schedule.
Across Interstate 80 from Imlay is Thunder Mountain, which could be described as different - or unusual - or unique - or -?
"Dad wanted to point out the plight of the American Indian," said Daniel Van Zant.
Dad was Frank Van Zant, better known as Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder, who moved to Imlay in 1967 with his new wife. From the humble beginnings of a small trailer, he began to build a monument to American Indians.
His eldest son Daniel wants to preserve his dad's work. His dad died in 1989 and since that time not much has happened at the site.
"In 15 years nothing has been done," Van Zant said.
The three-story rock and bottle building complete with auto windshields for windows that was home to the elder Van Zant and his family is being renovated. Work has already included repairs to the home's interior and roof.
Van Zant and his wife took their vacation time this year to work on this project and with her help and some friends from America's Veterans, a lot has been accomplished.
Repairs are being financed primarily through a recent gift.
"A generous visitor donated $20,000," Van Zant said.
Van Zant says that Thunder Mountain has been designated a State Historical Site and they are now working on getting it identified as a National Historic Site, but that will take some time.
Their current objective is to make the area safe and secure. There has been some vandalism and the guesthouse burned down several years ago, but there is still much to see.
It will be easy to spend a couple of hours walking around the compound looking for the unexpected or just sitting and relaxing in one of the concrete chairs.
The third floor still has a tetherball hanging from the ceiling that his dad's eight children played with on rain days.
"I think I'll keep that," said Van Zant, who added that he would like to see the monument preserved for posterity and that work would continue as donations come in.
There is a donation box available at the entrance to the site.
To reach the site, simply take the Imlay exit, go across Interstate 80 and turn left and drive down the side road for about half a mile.