When the energy from pressure built up underneath the Earth's thin crust is suddenly released, an earthquake occurs. At first the crust may just bend. But if the stress is great enough, the rocks will break and "snap" to a new position. This usually happens along fractures in the earth known as faults. If the fault lies close to the surface it may become visible following a large earthquake - the area directly in front of you is an example of this.
Between July and December 1954, six earthquakes and two major aftershocks rocked western Nevada and eastern California. The largest of these, measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale, was centered seven miles west of here and happened on December 16th. These quakes were felt as far away as Elko, NV and Sacramento, CA. More than 50 miles of faulting were exposed on Fairview Peak and in the Stillwater Range to the northwest. In a matter of moments, the mountains lifted up an average of six feet relative to the surrounding valleys. In some places the mountains rose more than 20 feet! Try to imagine what it must have felt like, and how you might have reacted if you had been camping in this area that day.
If you follow this road south, the exposed fault line is clearly visible in several places. Interpretive signs along the road provide more information. About four miles from here a short side road leads to a parking area next to the fault itself. Four-wheel drive vehicles are not usually required to reach this area, however buses and motor homes should stay on the main road.