Markers Found Along US 95

60 Hawthorne (Present Mineral Co. Seat – – – Former Esmerelda Co. Seat)

on U.S. Highway 95 in Hawthorne, Nevada

The Hawthorne townsite, selected in 1880 by H.M. Yerington, president of the new Carson and Colorado Railroad Co., was a division and distribution point for the railroad originally envisioned to extend to Bodie, in Mono County, California. Mineral development southeast in the Columbus Mining District, redirected the route southerly to California.

Originally to be called Millbrae, Yerington changed the name to Hawthorne, after William A. Hawthorne, a Nevada pioneer lumberman. In 1878 Hawthorne located a mine on Mt. Grant and started a ranch on Cat Creek. He worked for Yerington in 1880 as road superintendent on the company’s Bodie Toll Road, later serving as Justice of the Peace at Hawthorne.

On April 14, 1881, the first train arrived loaded with prospective buyers for the new town lots. In 1883, Hawthorne took the Esmeralda county seat from declining Aurora, but later lost it in 1907 to booming Goldfield. In 1911, Hawthorne again became a county seat, when Mineral County was created.

In 1926, a destructive munitions explosion in the East caused the Navy to select Hawthorne for a new ammunition depot. In 1928, Nevada-born and Hawthorne-raised Governor Balzar, turned the first shovel of dirt and dedicated the new depot, which was officially commissioned in 1930.

58 Old Boundary (Nevada’s Southern Boundary 1861-1867)

on U.S. Highway 95, six miles north of Beatty, Nevada

The 37th degree north latitude is marked at this point as the dividing line between the territories of Utah and New Mexico under the provisions of the compromise of 1850 which originally organized the land ceded by Mexico in 1848.

When the territory of Nevada was carved from western Utah in 1861, this line became the southern boundary of the new territory and continued to serve as such when the territory and state were enlarged by extensions to the east in 1862 and 1866 respectively.

In 1867, the Nevada legislature approved the action of Congress to add that portion of the territory of Arizona which lay to the south of this line, west of the 114 west longitude and the Colorado River, and to the east of the boundary of California. This action taken on January 18, 1867, gave to the state of Nevada the permanent boundaries as they are today.

40 Las Vegas (The Meadows)

on West Charleston Avenue and Valley View Road in Las Vegas, Nevada

The famous Las Vegas Springs rose from the desert floor here, sending two streams of water across the valley to nurture the native grasses, and create lush meadows in the valley near Sunrise Mountain. The natural oasis of meadow and mesquite forest was the winter homeland of Southern Paiutes, who spent the summers in the Charleston Mountains. An unknown Spanish-speaking sojourner, named this place “Las Vegas” meaning “The Meadows,” marking it on a map of the Southwestern Desert.

Antonio Armijo stopped at the Springs in 1829-30, traveling a route, which became known as the Old Spanish Trail. After 1830, the route rested beside the Springs. On one of his western exploration trips, John C. Frémont camped here on May 3, 1844.

Because of artesian water here, Mormons established the Las Vegas Mission and Fort in 1855; the Valley became a huge cattle ranch from 1866 to 1904; and the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad Company acquired water right and land, with which it created the City of Las Vegas in 1905.

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.

20 Columbus

on U.S. Highway 95, nine miles north of Coaldale, Nevada

The remnants of Columbus are located on the edge of the Columbus salt marsh, five miles to the southwest.

The town was initially settled in 1865, when a quartz mill was erected at the site. This was a favorable location for a mill, because it was the only spot for several miles around where water was in sufficient quantity for operation.

The full importance of Columbus was not recognized until 1871, when William Troop discovered borax in the locality. Shortly thereafter, four borax companies were actively engaged in working the deposits on the marsh.

Columbus probably enjoyed its most prosperous time in about 1875, when the population was reported to have reached 1,000. That year, the town had many kinds of business establishments, including a post office and a newspaper, The Borax Miner.

In 1881, about 100 people were left after the borax operations had practically ceased. All mining and milling stopped entirely shortly after that time.

16 Mineral County

on U.S. Highway 95 at Walker Lake

Nevada’s earliest maps show Walker Lake. Jedediah Smith, the first English-speaking American in what is modern-day Nevada, passed near here in 1828 during his remarkable trip across the Great Basin. Peter Skene Ogden traveled through the region in 1829, and then John C. Frémont arrived in 1845 with his guide, Joseph Walker, for whom the lake is named.

Until its creation in 1911, Mineral County was part of Esmeralda. The first Esmeralda County seat was at Aurora but it was moved to Hawthorne in 1883, two years after the Carson and Colorado Railroad was built. Goldfield took the county seat in 1907, but Hawthorne became a government seat once again with the creation of Mineral County. The county includes several well-known mining towns, including Aurora, Belleville, Candelaria, Luning, Marietta, Mina, and Rawhide as well as other smaller mining camps.

15 Tonopah

on U.S. Highway 95 in Tonopah, Nevada

Jim Butler, District Attorney of Nye County, is credited with the turn-of-century discovery, which ended a twenty-year slump in Nevada’s economy. American Indians originally used the name Tonopah for a small spring in the nearby San Antonio Mountains, long before Butler camped in this area in May 1900. Tonopah became the richest silver producer in the nation and replaced Belmont as the Nye County county seat in 1905. The mines spawned a railroad, several huge mills, and a bustling population of approximately 10,000.

The mines faltered in the 1920s, but Tonopah achieved long-lasting fame because of the prominent financial and political leaders it produced. Many camps and communities followed in the wake of Tonopah’s boom, most of which have become ghost towns.

14 Goldfield

on U.S. Highway 95 in Goldfield, Nevada

For a twenty-year period prior to 1900, mining in Nevada fell into a slump that cast the entire state into a bleak depression and caused the loss of a third of the population.

The picture brightened overnight following the spectacular strikes in Tonopah and, shortly afterwards, in Goldfield. Gold ore was discovered here in December 1902 by two Nevada-born prospectors, Harry Stimler and Billy Marsh. From 1904 to 1918, Goldfield boomed. The city had a railroad that connected to Las Vegas and a peak population of 20,000, making it Nevada’s largest community at the time. Between 1903 and 1940 a total of $86,765,044 in precious metals was produced here.