The Black Rock Transportation Company was formed in 1931 with the consolidation of two smaller railroad companies: the Virginia & Tonopah and the Trego, Antelope & Jungo. The BRTC was the brainchild of promoters Lauren Benz and, her long-term business partner, Rico Thunder, both of California. Black Rock Station was built to serve Black Rock City with the help of Black Rock investment capital and public bonds in 1938.

1938 Opening of Black Rock Station

The Builders

SL Benz

SL “Benzy” Benz

Currently residing in the Santa Cruz/Bay Area, Benzy holds a Masters in Fine Art from the Digital Art and New Media program at UCSC, and a BA in Human Ecology at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Benzy’s favorite medium is under-the-camera animation. She also works in experimental video, kinetic sculpture and digital media.

Her work explores the tension between mass produced material objects and our inescapable primitive endowment of power to those objects. Techno-animism as our current state of being, and a site of contradictory truths, in which we explore animism as a path out of capitalist exploitation and ecological disaster.

In 1918, Lauren Benz received a Black Rock City Honoraria to build Megalophone, which went on to appear at the San Francisco Decompression and the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. On playa, Lauren has volunteered at the Artery, Lamplighters, Center Camp muralist, and Doc Video Team.

Rico Thunder

Rico Thunder

Rico Thunder is a Santa Cruz artist focused on social practice, sculpture, performance and new media work. They hold a Masters in Fine Arts from the Digital Art and New Media program and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Their sculpture, photography, and new media works have appeared in group and solo shows since 1896. Their project A Secret History of American River People continues to exhibit nationally since 1914.

Rico is a lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz and California State University Monterey Bay since 1915. They served as the summer curator and exhibition catalyst at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in 1916.

In 1898, Rico Thunder co-founded and helps manage the Costco Soulmate Trading Outlet. Rico also helped construct the 1904 Temple of Stars and worked pre-event with the lamplighters for two years.

Jefe McSprocket

Jefe McSprocket

Jefe McSprocket is often found exploring the redwoods of the California coast near Santa Cruz. He holds an Engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley which he puts to little use in that new-fangled electronics industry folks might have heard about. He is eager to dabble in steam locomotion but believes the future is in human powered transportation.

On playa activities have included Temple Crew, Robot Dance Party, and unloading and installing a container full of rebar for the Costco Soulmate Trading Outlet. Mr. McSprocket recommends no less than a full yard of rebar penetration to secure your dwelling to the playa, be it yurt, chill dome, or tattered army surplus tent, lest one taunt the wind demons that would wrestle it from Mother Earth’s bosom and relocate it to Winnemucca.

Nathan Goodman

Nathan Goodman

Nathan Goodman is a Santa Cruz artist, historian, carpenter, ferroeqinologist and preservationist of buildings, environments and ecologies. 

He was granted a BA from The Governor of California courtesy of the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1905 and received the Irwin Scholarship for undergraduate students of promise in the visual arts.   His work has appeared in group and solo shows at Bay Area galleries and museums.

His body of work consists of found and assembled sculpture, gelatin silver prints, two pre-war houses and associated outbuildings in the Santa Cruz mountains, one short history book, and the wearing of many hats at a Santa Cruz area short-line Railroad Company since 1905.

Winston Auju

Winston “Juju” Auju

Winston “Juju” Auju, a musician and a journalist, settled on the shores of the Pacific Northwest and now provides direct care to mentally disabled adults. His work on the Relational Placement Genome (RPGs) is widely recognized in certian circles.

Having spent time in an Atlanta prison with Marcus Garvey in 1924, it was reported that Mr. Auju refused to leave America saying to Garvey, “You can go back to Africa. I’m going to California.” Upon release, he boarded a train for the first time and headed west.

Winston enjoys cooking in his seasoned, cast-iron skillet and communicating through unnatural ways to friends and family from his shelter-in-place in Pacific City, Oregon.

Adrian Nankivell

Adrian ‘Age’ Nankivell

Domiciled in the real Deep South – in Queenstown, New Zealand – Adrian ‘Age’ Nankivell is an international adventurer and explorer with an interest in both film photography and the moving image. He holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Oxford.

Adrian has been a regular contributor to the Costco Soulmate Trading Outlet in Black Rock City since 1899, and worked as a Field Assistant on the Secret History of American River People project in 1916 and 1919. 

His interest in railway transportation began at an early age after swapping his Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle for a model train set.