21 The Humboldt Canal

on I-80, East of Winnemucca, Nevada

The Humboldt Canal, sometimes termed the Old French Canal, coursed southwestward from Preble, near Golconda, toward Mill City. The present highway crossed it at this point, from whence it ran southerly toward the Humboldt County Courthouse on Bridge and West Fifth Streets.

The canal was conceived in 1862 by Gintz and Joseph Ginaca. The waterway, with a projected cost of $160,000, was to be sixty-six miles long, fifteen feet wide and three feet deep, and with a fall of thirty-five feet. Its primary purpose was to supply water for over forty stamp mills planned at and above Mill City, but it was also designed for barge traffic and some irrigation water supply.

Construction of the canal began in 1863. Louis Lay, a French emigrant from California, excavated the first segment. Winnemucca City founder Frank Baud, another Frenchman, worked on the project as a teamster.

About $100,000, largely French capital, was expended in building the Humboldt Canal to the Winnemucca area. Because of engineering errors and severe seepage problems between Winnemucca and Mill City, that section was never completed or used.

Several portions of the old canal are still visible in the Golconda area, in various sections of Winnemucca, and at Rose Creek, south of the city.

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