Carson River Basin Group

61 Mound House

on U.S. Highway 50 six miles east of Carson City, Nevada

Mound House was located one-half mile north of this point. Originally constructed in 1871 as a station and siding on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, it served for some time simply as a wood and water stop. In 1877, a post office was established. Mound House came into its own in 1880, when the V & T began construction of a narrow-gauge railroad from here to the mining camps of western Nevada and the Owens Valley region of California. Named the Carson & Colorado, it turned Mound House into a booming shipping point.

The Southern Pacific Railroad purchased the C & C from the V & T in 1900, just prior to the Tonopah silver strike. In 1905, the Southern Pacific built a short line from its new station at Hazen, on the main line, to intersect the C & C at Fort Churchill. The Hazen cutoff took most of the booming Tonopah-Goldfield business away from the V & T.

From 1900 to 1920, extensive gypsum mining and milling operations, to produce plaster, were carried on immediately northwest of Mound House.

The narrow-gauge line was abandoned from Mound House to Fort Churchill in 1934 and the V & T track from Carson City to Virginia City in 1938. Within a few years, Mound House had disappeared.

44 Carson City

on the Capitol Grounds in downtown Carson City

In 1851, Frank and Warren L. Hall, George Follensbee, Joe and Frank Barnard and A.J. Rollins established one of the state’s oldest communities, Eagle Station, a trading post and ranch on the Carson Branch of the California Emigrant Trail. The station and surrounding valley took their name from an eagle skin stretched on the wall of the trading post.

In 1858, Abraham Curry purchased much of the Eagle Ranch after finding that lots in Genoa were too expensive. Together with his friends, Jon Musser, Frank Proctor and Ben Green, Curry platted a town he called Carson City. Curry left a plaza in the center of the planned community for a capitol building should a territorial state seat of government eventually be located in his town.

In March 1861, Congress created the Nevada Territory. Seven months later in November, Carson City became the capital of the territory due to the efforts of Curry and William M. Stewart, a prominent lawyer. When Nevada became a state three years later, Carson City was selected as the state capital, and by 1871, the present capitol building was completed in the plaza Curry had reserved for it.

28 Mark Twain

As Noehill documents, this is an oddity amongst Nevada Historical Markers. The marker itself is mis-numbered (27 instead of 28) and the State Historic Preservation Office refuses to acknowledge the existence of a 28th marker. It was likely placed by a private party and made the SHPO mad.

100 years ago, in 1864, Samuel Clemens left the Territorial Enterprise, moving on to California and worldwide fame. He was a reporter here in 1863 when he first used the name, Mark Twain. He later described his colorful adventures in Nevada in “Roughing It.”

Nevada Centennial Marker No. 27
Plaque placed by James Lenhoff, 1964
Editor and Publisher
Territorial Enterprise

26 Forty Mile Desert

at the junction of Interstate Highway 80 and U.S. Highway 95.

The Forty Mile Desert, beginning here, is a barren stretch of waterless alkali wasteland. It was the most dreaded section of the California Emigrant Trail. If possible, travelers crossed it by night because of the great heat.

In 1843, the Walker-Chiles Party became the first wagon train to use the route. Regardless of the desert’s horrors, this became the accepted trail, as it divided five miles southwest of here into the two main routes to California – the Carson River and Truckee River trails.

Starvation and thirst preyed upon people and animals every mile. A survey made in 1850 illustrated appalling statistics—1,061 dead mules, almost 5,000 horses, 3,750 cattle, and 953 graves. The value of personal property loss was set at the time at $1,000,000.

The heaviest traffic occurred between 1849 and 1869. The trail was still used after completion of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869, although it saw declining traffic after that.

25 Nevada’s Capital

at 101 North Carson Street, Carson City

Completed in 1871, Nevada’s splendid Victorian-era Capitol was built of sandstone from the quarry of the town’s founder, Abe Curry. The octagon annex was added in 1907, the north and south wings in 1915. Notable features are its Alaskan marble walls, French crystal windows, and elegant interior.

19 Ragtown

along U.S. Highway 95 Alternate, one mile east of junction with U.S. Highway 50

Ragtown was never a town. Instead, it was the name of a most welcome oasis and gathering point. This mecca on the banks of nearby Carson River received its name from the appearance of pioneer laundry spread on every handy bush around.

The Forty Mile Desert, immediately to the north, was the most dreaded portion of the California Emigrant Trail. Ragtown was the first water stop after the desert. To the thirst- crazed emigrants and their animals, no sight was more welcome than the trees lining the Carson River.

Accounts tell of the moment when the animals first picked up the scent of water—the lifted head, the quickened pace, and finally the mad, frenzied dash to the water’s edge. Then, emigrants rested for the arduous crossing of the Sierra Nevada that lay ahead.

In 1854, Asa Kenyon located a trading post near Ragtown, offering goods and supplies to travelers during the 1850s and 1860s. Ragtown was one of the most important sites on the Carson branch of the California trail.

13 The Comstock Lode

along State Route 341 at Virginia City

Near this spot was the heart of the Comstock Lode, the fabulous 2 ½ mile deposit of high-grade ore that produced nearly $400,000.00 in silver and gold. After the discovery in 1859, Virginia City boomed for 20 years, helped bring Nevada into the union in 1864 and to build San Francisco.

Several major mines operated during the boom. Their sites are today marked by large yellow dumps, several of which are visible from here – the Sierra Nevada a mile to your left, the Union, Ophir, Con Virginia and, on the high hill to the southeast, the combination. The Lode was worked from both ends, north up Gold Canyon and south from the Sierra Nevada Utah mines.

12 Nevada’s Birthplace

at the junction of U.S. Highway 395 and State Route 88 just north of Minden, Nevada

Carson Valley is the Birthplace of Nevada. By 1851, people settled at a place they called Mormon Station, renamed Genoa in 1856. With the early establishment of a post office and local government, the community can lay claim to the title of “Nevada’s first town.”

Thousands of emigrants moved over the old road skirting the west bank of the Carson River as they prepared to cross the Sierra, feeding their livestock on grass cut along the river. At Genoa; at Mottsville, settled in 1852; and at Sheridan, settled by Moses Job about ’54; emigrants stopped to enjoy produce of the region’s first gardens. Pony Express riders used this route in 1860, switching a year later to the shorter Daggett Trail, now Kingsbury Grade.

10 Sand Mountain

along U.S. Highway 50, twenty miles east of Fallon, Nevada

Sand Mountain dominates the Salt Wells Basin and is visible from Mt. Rose peak in the Carson Range 82 miles to the west. The dune is important to off highway vehicle enthusiasts, biologists, Native Americans, and geologists. Sand Mountain is a sinuous transverse dune derived from Ice Age Lake Lahontan beach sands piled here by southwesterly-trending winds. The dune is the Stillwater Northern Paiutes’ Panitogogwa, a giant rattlesnake traveling to the northeast with the wind to its back. The snake can be heard as it moves toward its hole, a phenomenon geologists associate with “singing” sand dunes. The Sand Mountain blue butterfly is only found here where it is depends on the Kearney buckwheat plant. The dunes clearly marked the location of nearby Sand Springs, improved and mapped in 1859 as a potential emigrant stop by Army Lieutenant James H. Simpson. Sand Springs later served as the location of the Sand Springs Pony Express Station in 1860 and the terminus of the 1866 Fort Churchill and Sand Springs Toll Road.