Southwest Nevada Historical Markers

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

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Map of Southwest Nevada Historical Markers

Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section)
Belleville | Boyd Toll Road | Candlebraugh | Carson City Markers | Comstock Lode | Desert Station | Double Springs | Gardnerville | Glenbrook | Halls Station | Kingsbury Grade | Luther Canyon | Pyramid Lake Battles | Ragtown | Reno Markers | Mark Twain | Twelve Mile House | Washoe Indians

Marker Topic: Belleville
Address: State Route 360, eleven miles southwest of junction
City: Belleville
County: Mineral
Marker Text: Founded in 1873, Belleville flourished milling the ore from the Northern Belle mine in Candelaria. The mill located just east of here made its first bullion bar shipment ($9200) in April 1875.

Belleville was famous for murders, drunken brawls, "sporting" and practical jokes. It was also the terminus and work camp of the Carson and Colorado Railroad which reached town in 1882, when Belleville's population peaked at about 500 and was served by one doctor, assay office, express office, telegraph station, livery stable, schoolhouse, two hotels, restaurants and blacksmith shop, and by seven saloons. In 1887 water piped to Candelaria caused Belleville to decline being deserted by 1892.

Boyd Toll Road

Marker Topic: Boyd Toll Road
Address: U.S. Highway 395 fourteen miles south of Carson City
County: Douglas
Marker Text: William H. Boyd was granted a Utah Territory Franchise December 19, 1861, to provide a road to join Genoa to the Cradlebaugh Toll Road, the trunkline to the mining district of Esmeralda. Boyd's Toll Road is still visible to the northwest and southeast from this marker.

When the telegraph line from Placerville through Genoa was strung along it in 1863, the Boyd Road was also called "Telegraph Road." It was purchased by Douglas County from Henry Van Sickle and Lawrence Gilman in 1876 for $2,650.

Candlebraugh Bridge

Marker Topic: Candlebraugh Bridge
Address: U.S. Highway 395 nine miles south of Carson City
County: Douglas
Marker Text: The remains of Cradlebaugh Bridge, built in 1861 by William Cradlebaugh, stand .25 mile westward. That bridge shortened the distance from Carson City to Aurora in the then booming Esmeralda Mining District.

There were two routes from Carson City south to the bridge where they joined, crossed the river and headed into the desert. One followed the west side of the Carson River; the foothill alternate went via Jacks Valley and the old John James Ranch, then around the hill to the bridge. Five miles south of Cradlebaugh Bridge the road passed Desert Station, a lively hostelry, and beyond, the Twelve Mile House en route to Esmeralda.
The road and bridge were purchased by Douglas County in 1895 for $4,000.

Carson City Markers
Camp Nye

Marker Topic: Camp Nye
Address: Kings Canyon Road, 2.5 miles west of the Capitol Building.
City: Carson City
County: Carson City
Marker Text: Established one-half mile to the north in October of 1864, Camp Nye served as the home base for the men of Companies D and E, 1st Nevada Volunteer Cavalry, during the Civil War. Troopers from Camp Nye took an active part in protecting settlers from Indian attacks and Company D suffered the only two combat deaths incurred by Nevada Units during the War in a battle at Table Mountain in the Tuscarora Range in Elko County on May 20, 1865. Camp Nye was deactivated in August of 1865 and man and nature have obliterated all vestiges of the barracks, stables and other facilities.


Marker Topic: Dat-So-La-Lee
Address: Snyder Avenue at the Stewart Cemetery, Carson City
City: Carson City
County: Carson City
Marker Text: "Myriads of stars shine over the graves of our ancestors." Dat-So-La-Lee had seen some 95 winters, mostly in Carson Valley, when death came in 1925.
She was the last of those Washo weavers whose ancient art had been practiced by countless generations.

Gathering willow, fern, and birch with the aid of her husband, she wove into her masterpieces the legends of her people and their love of nature. Her baskets are unsurpassed for artistic conception and symbolic importance. She is buried in the adjoining cemetery, yet her memories and her visions are so woven into her baskets that she will live on to remind us of the history and unique tribal artistry of her people.

Orion Clemens Home

Marker Topic: Orion Clemens Home
Address: North Division and Spear Streets, Carson City.
City: Carson City
County: Carson City
Marker Text: Orion Clemens, secretary to Territorial Governor James W. Nye, lived in this house with his wife, "Mollie," from 1864 to 1866. His brother, Samuel, a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, who later became famous as "Mark Twain," stayed here periodically in 1864.

U.S. Mint

Marker Topic: United States Mint at Carson City
Address: State Museum in downtown Carson City
City: Carson City
County: Carson City
Marker Text: The original Carson City building is a formal balanced, sandstone block edifice, two stories high with a centrally located cupola. The sandstone blocks were quarried at the Nevada State Prison.

On March 3, 1862, Congress passed a bill establishing a branch mint in the territory of Nevada.
The output of the Comstock Lode coupled with the high bullion transportation costs to San Francisco proved the necessity of a branch in Nevada.
From its opening in 1870 to the closing of the coin operations in 1893, coinage amounted to $49,274,434.30

Comstock Lode

Marker Topic: Comstock Lode
Address: State Route 341
City: Virginia City
County: Storey
Marker Text: Near this spot was the heart of the Comstock Lode, the fabulous 2 1/2-mile deposit of high-grade ore that produced nearly $400,000,000 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.

Seven 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 and Utah mines.

Desert Station

Marker Topic: Desert Station (Overland Mail and Stage Station)
Address: U.S. Highway 50, eleven miles west of Silver Springs
City: Silver Springs
County: Lyon
Marker Text: Located approximately one mile south are the remains of a typical stage station of the period 1843-1869, an era of transition between the arrival of the first emigrant wagon trains and the completion of the trans-continental railroad.

Desert Well Station, which was later known as Nelsons, achieved a measure of fame when Mark Twain wrote of his experience there in Roughing It. The original site featured two wells, an inn, and corrals. One of the wells was used exclusively by camels brought to the Nevada desert to haul salt to the mines on the Comstock.
Double Springs

Marker Topic: Double Springs
Address: U.S. Highway 395 thirteen miles south of Gardnerville
City: Gardnerville
County: Douglas
Marker Text: Double Springs was the notorious Round Tent Ranch, or Spragues, another station on the road to Esmeralda. Here, James C. Dean, one of the owners and Justice of the Peace in the District in 1864, murdered his wife. This station was connected by the Olds Toll Road with the headquarters of the horse thieves at Fairview.

This was also the place where the Washo Indian tribe, assisted by their neighbors, the Paiutes, held round dances in the spring to assure the growth of the pine nut, their staple food, and again in the fall for the quality and quantity of the crop.
About four miles north is Mammoth Lodge, post office of the Eagle Mining District, and the polling place in 1861 of the Mammoth precinct of Douglas County. After 1866, it was known as Carter's Station, a stopping place on the road to Esmeralda.


Marker Topic: Gardnerville
Address: Located at the J and T Bar
City: Gardnerville
County: Douglas
Marker Text: Early Gardnerville served the farming community and teamsters hauling local produce to booming Bodie. The first buildings were a blacksmith shop, a saloon and the Gardnerville Hotel. The latter was moved by Lawrence Gilman in 1879 from the emigrant trail between Genoa and Walley's Hot Springs, where it was known as Kent House, to this site, the homestead of John M. Gardner.

Just as Genoa was the center for British settlers (largely Mormon) after 1851, so Gardnerville, after 1879, became the center for 1870 Danish immigrants. They founded the Valhalla Society in 1885 and met in Valhalla Hall--now gone.

Starting in 1898, Spanish and French Basque shepherds tended some 13,000 sheep in Carson Valley, increasing to 25,000 by 1925, when the Basques began acquiring their own sheep and land. After 1918, several Basques in Gardnerville opened inns which flourished during the Prohibition years.


Marker Topic: Glenbrook
Address: U.S. Highway 50 at its approach to Lake Tahoe
City: Glenbrook
County: Douglas
Marker Text: Lumbering operations in the Glenbrook area of Lake Tahoe began in 1861. Consolidation of V- flume systems in and near Clear Creek Canyon by 1872 made it possible to float lumber, cordwood, and sawed material from Spooner's Summit to Carson City and to eliminate wagon hauling over the 9-year old Lake Bigler Toll Road (King's Canyon Road).
In 1875, the new Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company, under Duane Bliss, assumed all operations, becoming the largest Comstock wood and lumber combine. It controlled over 50,000 acres of timberland, operating 2 to 4 sawmills, 2 Lake Tahoe steam tugs to tow logs, 2 logging railroads, the logging camps employing 500 men, and a planning mill and box factory in Carson City.

Timber depletion and reduced Comstock mining closed the company in 1898; it had taken 750,000,000 board feet of lumber and 500,000 cords of wood from Tahoe Basin forests during its lifetime.

Halls Station

Marker Topic: Halls Station
Address: Intersection of Main Street and Cemetery Road
City: Dayton
County: Lyon
Marker Text: Spafford Hall built a station and trading post in the early 1850's to accommodate emigrants bound for California. Hall, who was the area's first permanent settler, was severely injured in a hunting accident in 1854 and sold the station to one of his employees, James McMarlin, after which it became known as McMarlin's Station. Major Ormsby bought the station some time between 1854 and 1860; the title was still in his name in 1860 when he was killed in the first battle of the Pyramid Lake Indian War.

A special niche in Nevada's history is accorded this site as the place where the first recorded dance was held on New Year's Eve, 1853.

Kingsbury Grade

Marker Topic: Kingsbury Grade
Address: State Route 57 at the foot of the old Kingsbury Grade south of Ge
City: Genoa
County: Douglas
Marker Text: Dagget Pass Trail, named for C.D. Dagget, who acquired land at its foot in 1854, was earlier called Georgetown Trail. Replaced in 1860 by the wagon road built by Kingsbury and McDonald, for which they received a Territorial Franchise in 1861, it shortened the distance between Sacramento and Virginia City by 15 miles.

The road cost $585,000. Toll receipts were $190,000 in 1863. Heavy eastward travel occurred in 1860 to 1868. The toll for a wagon and four horses was $17.50 round trip from Shingle Springs, California, to Henry Van Sickle's station near the foot of the grade. Van Sickle, who helped finance the road, eventually acquired it and sold it to Douglas County in 1889 for $1000.

Horse-drawn water carts sprinkled summer dust, and sleds packed winter snow, providing a year- round hard-surfaced road. Pony Express and the line of the Humboldt and Salt Lake Telegraph Company followed Kingsbury Grade

Luther Canyon

Marker Topic: Luther Canyon (Fay Canyon)
Address: State Route 57 ten miles south of Genoa
City: Genoa
County: Douglas
Marker Text: Luther Canyon, west of this site, takes its name from Ira M. Luther, who from 1858-1865 had a sawmill there. The house across the road (east) was his home. In 1861, he was a delegate to the Second Nevada Territorial Legislature.

After 1865, the canyon came to be known as Horse Thief Canyon, because of the "business" of John and Lute Olds, owners of the next ranch south. Besides operating a station along the Emigrant Trail for a number of years, they rustled horses from emigrants. The animals were sent up the canyon to drift over the ridge into Horse Thief Meadows; after resting and feeding, the horses were driven down to Woodfords Canyon to sell to other emigrants. A prospector called Saw Tooth was allegedly murdered and buried in the barn south of the Luther house. Sam Brown, a notorious badman, was shot and killed in front of the Olds barn in 1861 by a man he threatened. "Lucky Bill" Thorington, implicated in a murder in California, for which he was hanged by vigilantes in 1858, had a ranch two and a half miles to the south--and the pioneers called the school district "Fairview."

Battles at Pyramid Lake

Marker Topic: The Two Battles at Pyramid Lake
Address: Along State Route 447, seven miles south of Nixon
City: Nixon
County: Washoe
Marker Text: On May 12, 1860, Northern Paiute warriors, fighting to retain their way of life, decisively defeated a volunteer army from Virginia City and nearby settlements. The battle and consequent white retreat began with a skillful ambush north of Nixon and continued along the plateau on the opposite side of the Truckee River almost to the present site of Wadsworth.
On June 2, 1860, a strong force of volunteers and regular U.S. Army troops engaged the Indians in battle along the tableland and mountainside. Several hundred braves, attempting a delaying action to allow their women, children and elders to escape, fought with such courage and strategy that the superior Caucasian forces were held back during the day until the Indians withdrew.

Paiute war leader Numaga (Young Winnemucca), described as a "superior man of any race," desired only peace for his people.


Marker Topic: Ragtown
Address: U.S. Highway 95 Alternate, one mile east of junction with U.S. Highway 50
County: Churchill
Marker Text: Ragtown was never a town, but the name of a most welcome oasis and hamlet. This mecca on the banks of nearby Carson River received its name from the appearance of pioneer laundry spread on every hand 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-craved emigrants and their animals, no site was more welcome than the trees lining the Carson River.

Imagine, if you will, 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, rest and repair for the arduous crossing of the Sierra Nevada that lay ahead.

In 1854, Asa Kenyon located a trading post near Ragtown. Here he offered goods and supplies to the trappers. During the 1850s and 1860s, Ragtown was one of the most important sites on the Carson branch of the California Trail.

Reno Area Markers
Civil War Plot

Marker Topic: Civil War Plot
Address: 10th and Angel Streets
City: Reno
County: Washoe
Marker Text: This plot was purchased in 1890 for $180 in gold coin by the General O.M. Mitchel Post No. 69, Grand Army of the Republic, to be used as a last resting place for their comrades-in-arms during the Civil War, 1861-1865. They made it a place of beauty during the early 1900's.

Following years of neglect and outrageous vandalism, restoration was initiated in 1963 by the Daughters of Union Veterans who served in their own state and neighboring areas of the West from 1861 to 1866.

Donner Camp

Marker Topic: Emigrant - Donner Camp
Address: Reno-owned property in Donner Springs in southeast Reno at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain's north side at Chirnmore Drive off of Rio Poco Road off of South McCarran Boulevard
City: Reno
County: Washoe
Marker Text: Upon entering the Truckee Meadows along the Truckee River thousands of California-bound emigrants turned their wagons southwest to avoid extensive marshes and uncrossable sloughs. Here at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain the emigrants established a campground which extended nearly two miles to the east and west, one half mile north and south. Numerous local springs furnished quality water and the protected location of the camp provided an ideal locale for a rest stop after hundreds of grueling miles spent traversing the Humboldt River Valley. Once rested the emigrants turned west to face their last major obstacle, the Sierra Nevadas.

In October of 1846, the ill-fated Donner Party spent five days in this area resting and grazing their weary animals. Plagued by a series of unfortunate incidents one member of the party, William Pike, was accidentally shot, died and was buried in the vicinity.

Great Train Robbery

Marker Topic: Great Train Robbery
Address: Railroad crossing near Verdi Inn at Verdi
City: Reno
County: Washoe
Marker Text: The West's first train robbery occurred near this site on the night of November 4, 1870. Five men, led by a stage robber, Sunday school superintendent John Chapman, boarded the Central Pacific Overland Express at Verdi, Nevada. Two took over the engine, one the express car, and two the rear platform. One-half mile east, the engine and express car were halted and cut free, then proceeded about five miles, where they were stopped by a barricade. Here the robbers forced the messenger to open up. Seizing $41,600 in gold coin, they rode off. The uncoupled cars coasted downgrade and met the engine. The train proceeded to Reno. After a two-state chase, all were caught, tried and convicted. About 90 per cent of the gold was recovered.


Marker Topic: Reno
Address: Intersection of South Virginia and Pine Streets
City: Reno
County: Washoe
Marker Text: The first Europeans in the Reno area - the Stevens-Murphy party - passed through the Truckee Meadows near Washo and Paiute Indian camping sites and winter villages and over Donner Pass in 1844.

With increased travel by 1859, C.W. Fuller established "Fullers's Ferry," a small lodging house, ferry and bridge at the site which would become the center of Reno. M.C. Lake bought the property in 1863, and it became known as "Lake's Crossing." When officials of the newly built Central Pacific Railroad platted the town around the central plaza where the station stood, it was called "End of the Track." Chosen by railroad officials, the town's permanent name honors a slain Civil War officer, General Jesse Reno.

Growth was rapid due to railroad activity and continued development of the nearby Comstock mines. Reno became the county seat in 1871, incorporated in 1876, but did not draw up a charter or hold elections until 1903. In 1906 the wife of a prominent U.S. industrialist came to Reno for a divorce. The resulting publicity started the city's divorce reputation. Tourism increased, and a new industry was established when gambling was legalized in 1931.

Truckee River - East

Marker Topic: Truckee River - East
Address: Approximately 10 miles west of Reno, along Interstate Highway 80 overlooking the Truckee River
City: Reno
County: Washoe
Marker Text: The Truckee River, seen below, runs from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. The river's first recorded discovery was by Captain John C. Fremont in January, 1844. He camped by its terminus at Pyramid, then followed it to the big bend at Wadsworth. Captain Fremont named the stream the Salmon-Trout River. At the end of his 1845 sojourn in Nevada, he followed it into the Sierra and crossed Donner Pass.

Beginning with the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend Party in 1844, the Truckee River became a route for California emigrants until the advent of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1868-1869 brought the wagon train period to a close. After the Southern Pacific took over the railway in 1899 and relocted much of its Nevada alignment, the old Central Pacific roadbed between Sparks and Wadsworth was deeded to Washoe County in 1904 for road purposes. In 1917, this road became a portion of State Road 1, which in 1920 became the Nevada section of the Victory Highway. In 1925, when Federal Highway names were replaced by a numerical system, the Victory Highway became U.S. Highway 40. In 1958, after reconstruction, this route became the initial section of Interstate 80 across Nevada. The river provides water for Reno, Sparks, the Fallon agricultural area and Pyramid Lake.

Truckee River - West

Marker Topic: Truckee River - West
Address: Approximately 10 miles west of Reno, along Interstate Highway 80 overlooking the Truckee River
City: Reno
County: Washoe
Marker Text: In prehistoric and early historic times, the Truckee River Valley in vicinity of Verdi was occupied by the Washo Indians. Their camps were on these flats near the river. Many fish blinds were located nearby for their use in this important subsistence activity. Even an earlier population left its mark in the form of petroglyphs on boulders in the area.
The Truckee River runs from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake and was first discovered by Captain John C. Fremont in January, 1844.

The Stephens-Murphy-Townsend Party in 1844 also followed the Truckee River into the Sierra and crossed the mountains via Donner Pass. The ill-fated Donner Party rested on the Truckee Meadows, at present Reno, but they tarried too long and were caught by the Sierra snows. Despite the Donner tragedy, many emigrant trains to California, particularly from 1849 until 1852, traversed the Truckee route.

In 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad followed the Truckee's course. From the 1920's to the 1950's, the surrounding meadows echoed to the heavy exhausts of the giant Southern Pacific, cab-ahead, articulated steam locomotives. During the same period, the primitive emigrant trail and the early toll roads were developed into the Lincoln and Victory Highways, and then into U.S. 40 and I-80, today's freeway.

Mark Twain

Marker Topic: Mark Twain
City: Virginia City
County: Storey
Marker Text: In 1864, Samuel Clemens left the Territorial Enterprise, moving on to California and world wide 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.

Twelve-Mile House

Marker Topic: Twelve-Mile House
Address: U.S. Highway 395 six miles south of Gardnerville
City: Gardnerville
County: Douglas
Marker Text: An important hostelry was so named because of its distance from Genoa and also from Cradlebaugh Bridge across the Carson River. It was built in 1860 by Thomas Wheeler where the Boyd Toll Road to Genoa and the Cradlebaugh Toll Road to Carson City converged. In this vicinity, a second station was built by James Teasdale. Twelve Mile House was an important stop on the road to the Esmeralda mining camp of Aurora. You will see buildings of the original station here.

Washoe Indians

Marker Topic: Washoe Indians
Address: along U.S. Highway 50, east of Spooner Summit and west of Carson City
County: Carson City
Marker Text: Long before the coming of the emigrant trains, this site overlooked the lands of the Washo Indians. A valley, a city and a county still bear their name. A nearby trail marks their ancient route from the lowlands to Lake Tahoe and California. Their language is distinctive from both Shoshone and Paiute. For many years they preferred to remain isolated, roaming their native High Sierra. They were a peace-loving people who hunted and fished to provide food for their families. Their pinenut ceremony is still held before harvest time, the women accompanying the men on this expedition. The departure is celebrated by singing and dancing. Their puberty ritual has been in existence for generations, and Washo basketry is justly world famous. The beautiful work of their most celebrated artist, Dat-So-La-Lee, is on exhibition today in the Nevada State Museum, Carson City, and the Nevada Historical Society, Reno. Captain Jim is the most revered of their last great chiefs.

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