Elko Group

50 Carlin Canyon

Along Old US 40 at the the former Carlin Canyon Rest Area

In December, 1828, Peter Skene Ogden and his trapping brigade (Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fifth Snake Country Expedition) were the first whites to enter here. Joseph Paul, one of Ogden’s trappers, died nearby–the first white man to die and be buried in the Humboldt county.

The Bidwell-Bartleson Party was the forerunner of the 1841-1870 California Emigrant Trail tide through the canyon–then known as Wall Defile or Fremont Canyon. Late in 1845, John Fremont dispatched his Kern-Talbot-Walker subsection down the Humboldt; they traversed this canyon with difficulty on November 10. In September, 1846, the Reed-Donner Party, enroute to cannibalism and death in the deep snows of the Sierra Nevada, viewed the canyon.

The Central Pacific’s Chinese track gangs constructed the railroad (now Southern Pacific) through here in December, 1868. Subsequently, the canyon became known as Carlin or Moleen Canyon. The Western Pacific, second transcontinental rail link across Nevada, was constructed in 1907.

In 1913, Nevada Route 1, the first auto road, took over the abandoned (1903) C.P. grade through the canyon. In 1920, Route 1 became the Victory Highway, and in 1926, U.S. Highway 40. In its freeway phase, it is now designated Interstate 80.

48 Tuscarora

on State Route 226 in Tuscarora, Nevada

This colorful historic camp originated with an 1867 discovery of placer gold by John and Steve Beard. In 1871, W.O. Weed discovered the rich Mount Blitzen silver lodes, two miles northeast of the Beard claims. The camp was named by C.M. Bensen, who had served on the Civil War gunboat Tuscarora, named after a tribe in the Iroquois Confederation.

Tuscarora’s first boom, 1872-1878, boosted its population to over three thousand, which included a large number of Chinese. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, hundreds of Chinese workers came to the Tuscarora mines. They started extensive placer operations at the Beard discovery site, later called Old Town, to differentiate it from the main camp two miles distant on Mount Blitzen.

Estimates of silver and gold production during the camp’s lifetime, 1867-1915, ranged from 10 million to 40 million dollars. Toll roads, crowded with stage coaches and long strings of heavy freight wagons, serviced the camp from railheads at Elko, Carlin, Battle Mountain and Winnemucca.

47 Fort Halleck Site (1867-1886)

along Interstate Highway 80 at the Halleck Interchange east of Elko, Nevada

Captain S.P. Smith established Camp Halleck on July 26, 1867 to protect the California Emigrant Trail and construction work on the Central Pacific Railroad. The camp was named for Major General Henry Wager Halleck, at that time Commander, Military Division of the Pacific. In May 1868, Camp Halleck became headquarters for the Nevada Military District when Fort Churchill was abandoned.

On April 5, 1879, the military installation became Fort Halleck. The nine-square-mile reservation was set aside on October 11, 1881. The Fort was a two-company post, with about twenty buildings of wood, adobe, and stone construction arranged around the sides of a rectangular parade ground.

Troops from the fort took no part in local Indian troubles. They did, however, see action elsewhere: in February 1873 against the Modoc Indians of Northern California; against the Nez Perce uprising in Idaho in 1877; in 1878 against the Bannocks in Oregon; and against the Apaches in Arizona in 1883.

The Fort was closed on December 1, 1886.

46 Pilot Peak

along Interstate Highway 80, ten miles west of Wendover, Nevada

The high, symmetrically shaped mountain seen rising to the north is Pilot Peak. In the period 1845-1850, it was a famous landmark and symbol of hope and relief to the Reed-Donner Party and all other wagon train pioneers who traveled the 70-odd miles of deadly, thirst-and-heat-ridden steps across the great Salt Lake Desert. This desert, between the Cedar Range on the east and Pilot Peak on the west, represented the worst section of the infamous Hastings Cutoff of the California Emigrant Trail.

The peak was named by John C. Frémont on his expedition of 1845. Kit Carson, the expedition’s guide, sent ahead to locate water, found a line of springs at its eastern base, now known as McKellar Springs. Carson is reputed to have guided the rest of Frémont’s expedition across the Salt Desert by sending up smoke signals from the peak: hence, Frémont’s name for it.

During the years 1849-1850, relief parties sallied forth periodically with water from the Pilot Peak Springs to rescue thirst-crazed emigrants and their livestock struggling across the terrible Salt Desert to the eastward.

45 Humboldt Wells

along Interstate Highway 80 at the Union Pacific Railroad overpass in Wells, Nevada

These springs, seen as marshy spots and small ponds of water in the meadows, are the Humboldt Wells, a historic oasis on the California Emigrant Trail. Between 1845 and 1870, hundreds of covered wagon trains camped here, refitted from their arduous journeys, and prepared for the grueling 300 mile trek west along the Humboldt Valley. Ruts of the old emigrant trail winding down to the springs can still be seen on the slopes above them and to the northwest.

The City of Wells, first established as the water stop of Humboldt Wells on the Central Pacific Railroad in September 1869, is named after these springs. Its name was shortened to Wells in 1873.

3 West End of the Hastings Cutoff

Located on I-80, ten miles west of Elko at Hunter Interchange
Original marker language:

Across the Humboldt Valley southward from this point, a deeply incised canyon is seen opening into the valley. Through that canyon along the South Fork of the Humboldt ran the disaster-laden route called the Hastings Cutoff. It joined the regular Fort Hall route running on both sides of the Humboldt here.

The canyon was first traversed in 1841 by the Bartleson-Bidwell Party, the earliest organized California emigrant group. In 1846 Lansford Hastings guided a party through this defile of the South Fork and out along the Humboldt. The ill-fated Reed Donner Party followed later the same year.

1012 proposed rewrite from Nevada State Historic Preservation office:

Across the Humboldt Valley southward from this point a deeply incised canyon opens into a valley. Through that canyon along the South Fork of the Humboldt River ran the disaster-laden route called the Hastings Cutoff. It joined the regular Fort Hall route running on both sides of the Humboldt here.

The canyon was first traversed in 1841 by the Bartleson-Bidwell Party, the earliest organized California emigrant group. In 1846, Lansford Hastings guided a party through this defile of the South Fork and out along the Humboldt. The ill-fated Reed Donner Party followed later the same year.

By 1850, the dangers of the cutoff route were recognized and it was abandoned.