Pony Express
Historic Resource Study
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Chapter Eight:

NEVADA (Continued)


The first station west of Roberts Creek was Camp Station or Grub(b)'s Well. [1] Many historical sources generally agree that this station existed, but that it may not have existed until about July 1861, when it was probably built as an Overland Mail Company stage stop. Riders probably used the station during the last few months of the Pony Express' existence to breakup the thirty-five mile ride between Roberts Creek and Dry Creek Stations. [2]

No original station structures remain on the site. In 1979, a stone-and-concrete marker with a brass Pony Express emblem stood southwest of the site, eight miles north of Highway 50.3


Sources generally agree on the identity and use of this station by the Pony Express during its entire existence. [4] Men under Bolivar Roberts probably established Dry Creek in the spring of 1860, which possibly served as a home station as well. [5] Dry Creek, like several other stations, experienced Indian troubles in May 1860. Indians killed Ralph Rosier, the stationkeeper, and badly wounded his partner, John Applegate, who soon thereafter committed suicide. Two other men escaped to the next station. On October 11, 1860, when Richard Burton visited Dry Creek, he noted the grave of Rosier (a.k.a. Loscier) and Applegate and identified the stationkeeper as Col. Totten. [6] Hubert Howe Bancroft indicated that because of Indian troubles, every station as far east as Dry Creek and Simpson Park, were broken up during the Pyramid Lake War. [7]

The Overland Mail Company stage line also stopped at Dry Creek from 1861-1869 but reportedly used a separate structure from the Pony Express station. In 1960, a stone monument with a brass plate was erected near the ruins. In 1976, stone foundations of the Pony Express station remained. They were located on land owned by Peter and Bennie Demele. [8]


Sources, including a 1979 BLM report, generally agree on the identity of this station, known as Simpson or Simpson's Park. [9] The crew of Captain J. H. Simpson, who camped overnight here while surveying a wagon road in May 1859, gave his name to the area. In the spring of 1860, the Central Overland California & Pike's Peak Express Company or Pony Express established a station at Simpson Park, known for its abundant wood, water, and grass. On May 20, 1860, the day before the attack on Dry Creek Station, Indians raided Simpson Park, killed James Alcott, the stationkeeper, scattered the livestock, and burned the station. [10] When Richard Burton arrived at Simpson Park on October 13, 1860, he found an incomplete new station house. [11] During the last few months of the Pony Express, riders shared the station with the Overland Mail Company line, which stopped its stagecoaches at Simpson Park during most of the 1860s, until company officials shifted the route to include Austin.

Evidence of a small cemetery also existed on a hill north of the station as late as 1959. As late as 1976, the station's stone foundations existed near the mouth of Simpson Park Canyon, in the east end of a fenced meadow. [12]


Sources give this site several names, but generally they agree on its identity as a Pony Express station. [13] Named for stationkeeper George Washington Jacobs, the station possibly began on the site of one of George Chorpenning's 1859 mail posts near the Reese River. In the summer of 1860, Indians burned the station and a new, incomplete adobe structure greeted Richard Burton when he arrived on October 13 of that same year. [14] The Overland Mail Company and other stage lines also operated a station at the site, which grew into the promising little town of Jacobsville. When the silver boom began in Austin, Nevada, the Overland shifted its operations to that settlement about 1864. [15] In 1986, the ruins of the adobe Pony Express station still existed northwest of Jacobsville. [16]


Several sources pinpoint Dry Wells or Dry Well as a station. [17] Historical sources do not mention Dry Wells as an early Pony Express station, which suggests that it possibly began in the summer of 1861 as an Overland Mail Company stage stop. Without this station, the distance between Reese River and Smith's Creek was a long stretch for both horse and rider. The station possibly existed in Dry Wells Canyon, north of Railroad Pass in the Shoshone Mountains, but no ruins remain to mark its exact location. The Overland Mail Company used the station until about 1862 or 1863, when it shifted to a more northerly route that included Mount Airey, New Pass, and Edwards Creek. [18]


A number of sources identify Smith's Creek as a station, including the 1861 Overland Mail Company contract. [19] John M. Townley lists the site as a home station. [20] On October 14, 1860, the English traveler Richard Burton visited Smith's Creek and recorded his unusually favorable impressions of the station house and stone corral. [21] Two 1860 shootings remain associated with Smith Creek. One involved the stationkeeper, H. Trumbo, who shot rider Montgomery Maze in the hip after an argument. In the second shooting, rider William Carr quarreled with Bernard Chessy at Smith Creek. Carr later killed Chessy and was hanged at Carson City. [22]

Parts of the station existed on the present Smith Creek Ranch as late as 1979. Two adobe buildings with willow thatch roofs, identified as the corral and station house, still stand. The adobe station, originally used by the Pony Express, also has a later stone addition. [23]


Several sources identify Castle Rock as the next station west of Mount Airy, [24] but there appears to be little substantiation for this claim.


Several sources mention Edwards' Creek as a station, including the 1861 mail contract. [25] Townley notes the existence of possible ruins along the creek, where several conflicts between Indians and whites took place. [26]


Sources generally agree on the identity of Cold Springs as a station, [27] and Raymond and Mary Settle give Cold Springs the status of a home station. [28]

Bolivar Roberts, J. G. Kelly, and their crew erected Cold Springs Station in March 1860 for the C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. as they prepared for the beginning of the Pony Express the next month. Several men managed station operations at Cold Springs, including Jim McNaughton, John Williams, and J. G. Kelly. In May 1860, Indians attacked the station, killed the stationkeeper, and took the horses. They raided the station again a few weeks later. When Richard Burton reached Cold Springs on October 15, 1860, he found a roofless, partially built station house. [29] Townley notes that the Overland Mail Company line dropped Cold Springs from its route about July 1861 in favor of a site west of present U. S. 50. [30]

Much of the station's stone ruins still exist today. Thick walls, complete with windows, gunholes, and a fireplace, identify the station, and the remains of a corral stand nearby. As in Burton's visit in 1860, the structure has no roof. [31] The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been structurally stabilized for preservation and safety reasons. [32]


Several sources, including the mail contract of 1861, list Middle Gate as a station. [33] The exact location of Middle Gate or Middlegate remains unknown, but a station in this area would serve as a logical place to divide the thirty-five mile stretch between Sand Springs and Cold Springs. [34] Richard Burton mentions Middle Gate as a stopping place during his journey. [35]


Bishop and Henderson identify West Gate as a station between Middle Gate and Sand Springs. [36] According to John Townley, from West Gate, the trail split into a northern and southern route. Pony riders used the southern route, which continued on a relatively straight course through Sand Springs, Carson Sink, Hooten Wells, Buckland's, and Fort Churchill, until sometime between March and July 1861. After these months, the Overland Mail Company added a route ran northwest of the old Pony trail and included such new stations as Fairview, Mountain Well, Stillwater, Old River, Ragtown, and Desert Wells. Stagecoaches could travel more easily along the northern route, and riders may or may not have switched to the new trail during the waning months of the Pony Express. The two routes joined again near Miller's or Reed's Station. [37] Richard Burton only mentions West Gate as a geographical location rather than a station. [38]

147. SAND SPRINGS STATION: NR, 11/21/80, (number not available)

Several sources identify Sand Springs as a station, including the 1861 mail contract. [39] Like Cold Springs, this station existed due to the construction efforts of Bolivar Roberts, J. G. Kelly, and their crew in March of 1860 for the C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. [40] James McNaughton managed station operations for a time. On October 17, 1860, Richard Burton recorded his negative views of the roofless, dirty structure and its staff, stating that it was "roofless and chairless, filthy and squalid, with a smoky fire in one corner, and a table in the centre of an impure floor, the walls open to every wind, and the interior full of dust." [41] Travelers found a reliable source of water at Sand Springs, but its poor quality often poisoned animals and probably made people ill. [42]

In addition to the Pony Express, other individuals and businesses utilized Sand Springs until World War Two. The telegraph came through the area, and the site served as a freight, milling, and ranching center. Structural ruins from many of these activities still exist around the springs. [43] In 1976, the site was determined eligible for the National Register. [44] By 1981, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was structurally stabilized. This source locates the station's ruins near Sand Mountain, about three-fourths of a mile north of Highway 50. [45]


Bishop and Henderson, as well as the government mail contract of 1861, identify Sand Hill as a station between Sand Spring and Carson Sink. [46] Little else is known about this isolated station.


Sources generally agree on the identity of this station, known as Carson Sink or Sink of the Carson. [47] Townley suggests the station, which had a good source of water nearby, began as a few brush shelters on George Chorpenning's mail route in 1859. [48] In March 1860, Bolivar Roberts, J. G. Kelly, and their crew built an adobe station and made other improvements there. When Richard Burton visited Carson Sink on October 17, 1860, he found a "frame house inside an adobe enclosure," inhabited by at least one grumpy, half-asleep station tender. [49] After the end of the Pony Express, the station functioned as a rest stop for travelers in the 1860s, and then as a hay ranch until its abandonment before the turn of the century. [50] Portions of the corral's adobe walls remain visible in 1979.51


Several sources identify Williams Station as a Pony Express stop. [52] Roy Bloss also lists the station as Honey Lake Smith's. [53] According to one source, J. 0. Williams and his two brothers managed station operations until May 7, 1860, when Indians killed J. O.'s brothers and three other men. These deaths initiated the Pyramid Lake Indian War. [54] The exact location of this early station has not been determined.


L.C. Bishop and Paul Henderson, as well as the mail contract of 1861, list Desert as a station between Carson Sink and Fort Churchill. [55] This obscure station probably housed telegraph activities and possibly served as a Pony Express station during the last few months of its existence. A good source of water later made the station a popular stopping point for travelers, miners, and teamsters in the 1860s. [56]

A few sources identify Hooten Wells as a Pony Express station. [57] The site possibly functioned as a Pony Express station during the last few months of its existence and later served freight and stage operations. Rock ruins exist two miles south of Buckland's Station and twelve miles east of present Highway 95 alternate. [58] Townley lists the route from U.S. Alternate 95 to Hooten Wells as 11.5 miles and places Hooten Well slightly northeast of Desert Station. [59]


A number of sources identify Buckland's as a station. [60] Townley and the Bureau of Land Management suggest that Buckland's Station functioned as a home station. [61] In 1859, Samuel S. Buckland established a log ranch and trading post and he made an agreement with Bolivar Roberts in March 1860 for his ranch to serve as a Pony Express home station. In the summer of 1860, due to the Pyramid Lake Indian War, soldiers established Fort Churchill a few miles west of Buckland's Station. The Pony Express then moved its station to the fort's protective headquarters. [62] On October 19, 1860, when Richard Burton visited Buckland's, he described the station, as usual, in negative terms. [63]

The station's original log cabin no longer remains. By 1979, a house stood on the station site, eight and one-half miles south of Silver Springs, on Alternate Highway 95. [64]


Sources generally agree on the identity of Fort Churchill as a Pony Express stop. [65] Built during the summer of 1860 by Captain Joseph Stewart and his men, the adobe fort housed the Pony Express station in its headquarters building. Construction on the fort began on July 20, 1860, approximately twenty-five miles from Comstock, Nevada, along the edge of the Carson River. [66] When Richard Burton arrived at Fort Churchill on October 19, 1860, he gave it a positive review in his journal and named Captain F.F. Flint as the commander. [67] Since the Pony Express used Buckland's as a home station, Fort Churchill probably assumed a similar function when the Pony Express transferred its station from Buckland's to the fort. The Fort Churchill's ruins existed as late as 1979, including the headquarters building, and it is a Nevada state park. [68]


A few sources identify Fairview or Fair View as a station. [69] Fairview began as an Overland Mail Company stage station in the summer of 1861 and served as the first stop on the northern branch of the trail from Westgate. According to some sources, the Pony Express stopped at Fairview during the last few months of its existence. Little exists about Fairview in historical and/or contemporary sources, and its exact location remains unknown. [70]


A few sources list Mountain Well as the second west-bound station on the Overland Mail Company's "Stillwater Dogleg" route. [71] Pony Express riders may have stopped at Mountain Springs from July to October 1861, where they could find an abundant source of fresh water and plenty of hay and fresh vegetables from area farmers. After the Pony Express ended, the Overland Mail Company stage and telegraph continued to use the station for several years. Remnants of the station still exist, and in 1986 were included as part of a cattle camp. [72]


Several sources identify Stillwater or Still Water as a potential Pony Express station. [73] This station also began about July 1861 as part of the Overland Mail Company stage line and the telegraph route. The Pony Express may also have stopped at the station during the last several months of its existence. Ranchers kept the station and the neighboring mining areas well-supplied with beef, grain, and hay. In 1868, before the mail and telegraph operations transferred to the Central Pacific Railroad, Stillwater served as the county seat and had 100 residents. No identifiable station remains existed in 1986. [74]


A few sources also identify Old River as a station. [75] Like other stations along this route, Old River began about July 1861 as a stop on the Overland Mail Company line. The station stood between Stillwater and Bisby's, and the Pony Express reportedly may also have stopped at Old River during the last several months of its existence. [76]


Mabel Loving and Kate B. Carter list Bisby's as a station between Old River and Nevada. [77] About July 1861 it, too, functioned as an Overland Mail Company stage and perhaps a Pony Express station on the "Stillwater Dogleg" route. [78]


Loving and Carter identify Nevada as a station between Bisby's and Ragtown. [79] Pierson places it after Reed's Station. [80] It functioned as a Pony Express station during the late summer and early fall of 1861 and as an Overland Mail Company stage stop from 1861 to 1868. [81] Little more is known about it.


Townley identifies Ragtown as a station between Old River and Desert Wells. Like other stations on the "Stillwater Dogleg," Ragtown probably functioned briefly as a Pony Express station in the summer and fall of 1861 and as an Overland Mail Company stage stop from 1861 to 1868. L. Kenyon and his family managed station operations at the site for nearly fifty years. The station's name supposedly came from the common site of freshly washed travelers' clothing spread out to dry on surrounding bushes. [82]


Loving and Carter identify Desert Wells as a station between Ragtown and Dayton. [83] Pierson locates Desert Wells after Reed's Station, between Nevada and Dayton. [84] Desert Wells existed sometime after July 1861, when it began to serve as a relay station for the Overland Mail Company line. During the last few months of its existence, the Pony Express also used the Desert Wells station facilities. [85]


Sources generally agree on the identity of this station as a C.O.C. & P.P. Express Co. station, possibly located near the area where the north and south branches of the original Pony Express and Overland Mail Company trails rejoined. [86] Bloss lists Miller's and Reed's as separate stations, but other sources agree that the two names represent the same station. [87] The station began about 1849 or 1850 as a stopping point on the California Emigrant Trail, and the Pony Express included the site as one of its original relay stations in 1860. On July 1, 1861, the station passed into the hands of G. W. Reed. Even though Reed owned the station after that date, some people knew it as Miller's Station. On October 19, 1860, Richard Burton stopped at "Miller's Station" for about one and one-half hours, where he and his companions had a snack and waited for a heavy rain shower to end. [88] A letter written by an employee, C.H. Ruffing, on May 31, 1860, from Miller's Station to W.W. Finney stated:

I have just returned from Cold Springs-was driven out by the Indians, who attacked us night before last. The men at Dry Creek Station have been killed and it is thought the Roberts Creek Station has been destroyed. The Express turned back after hearing the news from Dry Creek. Eight animals were stolen from Cold Springs on Monday. Hamilton is at the Sink of the Carson, on his way in with all the men and horses. He will get to Buckland tomorrow. [89]

Nothing remains of the station's structures, but a well still exists on the site. [90]


Many historical sources generally agree on the identity of Dayton as a Pony Express stop. [91] In 1859 the Comstock Lode attracted 2,500 people to Dayton and made it a prosperous small town. [92] Dayton had two Pony Express stations. The first existed in a building known as Spafford's Hall Station, which had opened in 1851. Soon after the Pony Express began, the station moved to a new building that also housed stage activities. When Richard Burton visited Dayton on October 19, 1860, he described a town that had already lost the gold-rush excitement of the previous year. [93] A gravel pit now occupies the site of Spafford's Hall Station, and the Union Hotel stands at the second Pony Express station site. [94]


Sources generally agree on the identity of Carson City as a station. [95] Little information is available about the Carson City Station site, which was located on what is now Carson Street between Fourth and Fifth. [96] Bolivar Roberts, division superintendent, used Carson City as a base in March 1860 to hire riders and stationkeepers. [97] Since he worked as part of a team to build or acquire other stations along the route, Roberts probably established the Carson City station as well.


Most historical sources agree on the identity of Genoa as a station as well. [98] However, James Pierson also identifies the site as the Old Mormon Station. [99] The old post office apparently served as the station, and the livery stable across the street supplied riders with fresh horses. In 1976 the post office site was a vacant lot, and a picnic area occupied the livery stable location. [100]


According to many historical resources, Friday's, also known as Lakeside, is considered a Pony Express stop. [101] Friday's Station began operation in early 1860 as a franchise station on the Kingsbury Grade, a new road through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, near the Nevada-California border. Martin K. "Friday" Burke and James Washington Small managed operations at this home station for the Pony Express and later stage lines. Structures at Friday's included a one-room log cabin, a two-and-one-half-story hostelry, dining room, kitchen, storeroom, woodshed, and a roomy building that doubled as a stable and hay barn. [102]

Burke and Small conducted a profitable business at the station for several years after the demise of the Pony Express. In 1871 the partners split their land acquisition, with Small's share including the station site. In 1888 John Wales Averill purchased the station and surrounding property from James Small's brother, J. G. "Doc" Small, and renamed the site "Edgewood." The station experienced several phases of remodeling as it changed hands over the years, but portions of the interior retained their historical integrity as late as 1957.103 In 1976 the original 20 x 40 foot log blacksmith shop still existed as a shed. [104]

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Last Updated: 17-Jan-2008