Interstate 80 Travel Corridor

This page shows the locations and descriptions of Nevada State Preservation Office Historical Markers that are related to the Overland Emigrant Trails and the Pony Express. Markers are listed from east to west across Nevada along the two major travel corridors - Interstate 80 and US Highway 50. Location maps are scattered throughout the page.

Interstate 80 Travel Corridor

Historical Marker and Interpretive Kiosk at the Pilot Peak exit of I-80.

Pilot Peak Historical Marker

The high, symmetrically shaped mountain seen rising to the north is Pilot Peak, named by John C. Fremont on his expedition in 1845. These emigrants had traveled one day and night across the Great Salt Lake Desert to find their first water here.

In the period 1845-1850, the peak 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 represented the worst section of the infamous Hastings Cutoff of the California Emigrant Trail.




Interpretive Panel Near the Pilot Peak Historical Marker

Where Did the Lake Go?

Imagine Lake Bonneville some 10,000 years ago as a vast lake larger than the present Great Salt Lake. Its eastern boundary would be the Wasatch Mountains at Salt Lake City and its western boundary the Toano and Goshute Mountains to your left.

The last major glacial period in North America began about 23, 000 years ago. During that time the water level of Lake Bonneville rose because of colder temperatures and a wetter climate. This freshwater lake was over 1,000 feet deep and covered 51,530 square miles - an area the size of Arkansas. If you were standing in this spot 15,000 years ago, you would be more than 500 feet underwater! Pilot Peak, the pyramid shaped mountain in front of you, was merely a small island surrounded by a freshwater lake teeming with fish.

About 14,500 years ago, water rushing through a break in a natural dam along Lake Bonneville's northern shore dropped the lake level over 300 feet in just a few months! These raging floodwaters deepened the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. A warmer and drier climate over the next 5,000 years slowly caused the lake to shrink even further. Look carefully at the surrounding hills, especially toward Wendover. You can still see the beach terraces left at the different high water marks as the lake receded. The Great Salt Lake is all that remains of this once vast lake.

Interpretive Panel Near the Pilot Peak Historical Marker

Can Anything Survive Here?

Summer temperatures in this high desert can exceed 100 degrees; winter temperatures may fall below zero. Rain and snowfall total a mere six to eight inches per year. Only drought tolerant plants such as Indian ricegrass, shadscale, and greasewood can grow in the valley around you. The jackrabbit and pronghorn antelope are just two of the many animals that have adapted to living in this harsh environment.

This area wasn't always a desert. Limber pine trees covered the Leppy Hills to the east from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. As the climate became drier, pinyon pine and juniper trees replaced the limber pines at the lower elevations. Pinyon pines are relative newcomers to the surrounding mountains. They didn't arrive until about 7,000 years ago. Today, limber pine and subalpine fir grow only at the higher, cooler and wetter elevations on Pilot Peak and nearby mountain ranges. Animals you might encounter in these forested areas include bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk and mountain lion.

In the fall thousands of raptors (birds of prey) migrate south along this valley. The Great Salt Lake Desert's lack of food, water and lifting air currents form a migration barrier for these birds. Food, water and roosting sites are easy to find in the Toano and Goshute Ranges. Air rising over these mountains to the west provides the lift these birds need to soar. Conserving energy by soaring as much as possible during their long journeys is a key to their survival.

Interpretive Panel Near the Pilot Peak Historical Marker

Tough Traveling in the Desert

The Bidwell-Bartleson wagon train was the first emigrant party to see Pilot Peak in 1841. Four years later, Captain John C. Fremont also saw this distinctive landmark, but from the Cedar Range in Utah - some 75 miles away. He wanted to establish a trail from the Great Salt Lake to the existing California Trail along the Humboldt River. Fremont sent Kit Carson, a member of his expedition, ahead towards this peak to scout for a safe passage across the salt flats. Carson's smoke signals from the mountain assured Fremont of a safe route and that the area contained food for the livestock and water for all. To recognize the importance of this mountain in crossing the desert, Fremont named it "Pilot Peak."

In 1846 the Reed-Donner Party crossed this valley, following the Hastings Cutoff to the main California Trail. Crossing the salt flats just east of here was extremely difficult. Stock animals perished, wagons broke down, and the emigrants barely reached the life-saving springs at the base of Pilot Peak. This "short-cut" slowed their progress and helped to set the stage for the disaster that lay 400 miles ahead of them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

As travelers today along Interstate 80, you're following the same route as these early explorers and emigrants. On a good day, they worked hard to cover 10 to 15 miles through this harsh landscape. In the comfort of your air conditioned vehicle, you can cover in 10 minutes the distance it took these earlier travelers all day to cover!

Humboldt Wells Historical Marker with the Springs in the green field behind it.

Humboldt Wells Historical Marker

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. Here during the period 1845 - 1870 hundreds of covered wagons each year rested and refitted from their arduous journey up Raft River, past the City of Rocks, across the Goose Creek Range and down Thousand Springs Valley, and prepared for the grueling 300 mile trek 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 from these springs. Its name was shortened to Wells in 1873.




Fort Halleck Historical Marker with Elko Mountain in the background. The marker is currently missing and scheduled for replacement.

Fort Halleck Historical Marker

NOTE: This marker is missing and scheduled to be replaced at some point. The actual fort site is about 12 miles southeast of this spot.

Fort Halleck Site 1867-1886

Established as Camp Halleck by Captain S.P. Smith, July 26, 1867, to protect the California Emigrant Tail 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, it became headquarters for the Nevada Military District when Fort Churchill was abandoned.

On April 5, 1879, it became Fort Halleck. The nine square mile reservation was set aside 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. However, they saw action 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, 1883.

The fort was closed December 1, 1886.





Fort Halleck Stone Marker

Fort Halleck

Located about 500 feet south of this marker. Established July 27, 1867 by Captain S.P. Smith, built by the 200 soldiers under his command and named in honor of General H.W. Halleck, commanding the Division of the Pacific. The first buildings were of adobe bricks. Hospital and other buildings were later built of wood. Built for a two company post, one infantry and one cavalry. Used as a base for explorations. Lieutenant Whipple made several trips through central and southern Nevada, accompanied by guards from the post, to map and secure military information.

Fort Halleck Cemetery (Private)

The Fort Halleck Cemetery is located on private land and permission must be acquired from the land owner to access the site. The land owners use the site for modern burials and per their request no photos include any recent graves.

Lamoille Valley Historical Marker

Lamoille Valley Historical Marker


Because heavy use denuded the grass from the main Fort Hall route of the California Emigrant Trail along the Humboldt River, many emigrants left the river near Starr Valley. They skirted the East Humboldt Range and the Ruby Mountains along a Shoshone Indian path, rested their livestock in Lamoille Valley, and returned to the Humboldt River.

John Walker and Thomas Waterman first settled the area in 1865. Waterman named the valley after his native Vermont. In 1868, Walker erected the Cottonwood Hotel, Store and Blacksmith Shop in the Valley, and the settlement became known as the "Crossroads." Here wagons were repaired and food and supplies could be obtained. The original buildings, and the more recent 20-bedroom Lamoille Hotel, Creamery, Flour Mill, and Dance Hall are gone.




Map below the Lamoille Valley Historical Marker text
Lamoille Canyon Historical Marker

Lamoille Canyon Historical Marker


The army was seeking new routes west in 1854. So scouts set out to study the land in central Nevada. The Huntingtons, Reese, and some teamsters had worked their way to southern Elko County.

During a noon halt, at the foot of the magnificent mountains, a man named Davis was panning for gold. He got colors, but instead of gold he found rubies (Red Garnets) and nearly broke up the expedition. Time was short, rations were scarce, and Indians were hostile, so the party named the range "Ruby Mountains" and hurried on to the west.

They made it, but the army changed its mind and later used another route. The Huntingtons reported a new way across Nevada. Free from alkali water, shorter than the Humboldt Trail destined to become famous as the way west for Pony Express, Telegraph, Stage Coach, and the highway known as U.S. 50.

DEDICATED JUNE 11, 2005 (6010)




Jiggs Historical Marker

Jiggs / Mound Valley Historical Marker

John C. Fremont passed through the area in 1845. Jiggs / Mound Valley was first settled in 1866. During the 1870s and 80s the area was a refuge for outlaws. The area produced two Nevada Governors, a US Senator and two murders, the basis for a western novel and a movie set. Several toll roads passed through the area, a main stop was the Hooten Station built in 1869, located just west of the present town site. In order, the names of the post offices have been Cottonwood, Dry Creek, Mound Valley, Skelton, Hylton and Jiggs, (after a comic strip character). The local women's club is the Maggie Club after Jiggs' wife. A school, a gas pump, and a bar, everything you need for a town.

DEDICATED JUNE 6, 6009 - 2004



Jacob's Well Station Interpretive Panels


The Pony Express Historic Trail has been a member of the National Trails System Act (NTSA, Public Law 90-543; U.S.C. 1242 et. seq.) since 1992.

Naval and Military Map of the United States - 1862 Pony Express and Telegraph Route

Sacramento Post, March 20, 1860

"Men Wanted! The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the management of horses, as hostlers or riders on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City. Wages, $50 per month and found [room and board]. I may be found at the St. George Hotel Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday," reads the ad, signed by William W. Finney, the agent for the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company.

  • On April 3, 1860, the first Pony Express riders departed St. Joseph, Missouri, and San Francisco, California.
  • Riders switched to fresh horses every 10 to 15 miles along the route at way stations such as Jacob's Well, handing off to a new rider every 75 miles or so to complete the 1,943-mile route.
  • The Pony Express continued in operation until November 1861 when it discontinued service partially as a result of the completion of the overland telegraph line, which eliminated the need for mounted couriers.


From 1860 to 1861 Jacob's Well served as a way station along the Pony Express Trail for the riders to change horses, have a meal, and rest. Later, it served as a stagecoach stop for the Overland Stage, which operated until 1869. Jacob's Well was abandoned after 1870.

In 1995 and 1996, the University of Nevada, Reno performed archaeological excavations and mapping at Jacob's Well Station (Goddard 1996, 1997) as part of the research that contributed to the Comprehensive Management and Use Plan / Final Environmental Impact Statement, California National Historic Trail and Pony Express National Historic Trail, 1999.

The excavations revealed:

  • A large wooden structure containing a rock fireplace and chimney with artifacts suggesting domestic and animal husbandry activities
  • The rock foundation of a small wooden structure
  • Deep, rock line cistern
  • Blacksmith shop
  • Domestic trash deposit that underwent repeated burning episodes
  • Privy / Out House
  • Corral area

A great variety and number of artifacts are now housed in the Nevada State Museum in Reno, Nevada.

Ruby Valley Pony Express Station (Relocated)

The Ruby Valley Pony Express Station was relocated from Ruby Valley to the grounds of the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko. There are two historical markers placed on either side of the station.

The marker to the left (west) of the station reads:


This small building was originally located 60 miles to the south, where it served the Pony Express from April 1860 to 1861. It was moved to this location in 1960.




The marker to the right (east) of the station reads:


The Pony Express was the first attempt to have fast mail service to California. This was done through the personal drive and bravery of very young men who were responsible for bringing the mail and other "deliverables" to the western territories on horseback in the mid-1800s. This cabin was located roughly 60 miles southwest of what is now the city of Elko. It was in the same area as Sherman Station, which now serves as the Elko area Chamber of Commerce and was reconstructed just west of this location. Structures such as the one exhibited here were resting and mount exchange stations for the tenacious couriers during their journeys. The cabin was brought to its current location in 1960 and restored to its present condition. In 1975 it was listed on the national register of historic places.

Dedicated on June 4, 2016/6021 by Lucinda Jane Saunders Chapter #1881 E Clampus Vitus ® Elko Nevada

Elko Hot Hole Interpretive Panels

Truck Stop Ahead (1850s Style)

Fertile valleys, grasslands, hot springs (oh my!). This is how miners and emigrants described the surrounding area when they passed through it on the California Trail. They were on their way to California in hopes of striking it rich as gold miners or as farmers and ranchers. Most often noted in their writings about this area were its numerous hot springs.

While on the Trail, travelers could see several hot springs in the nearby vicinity. However, in the Elko area, the California Trail was located on the north side of the Humboldt River. And all of the hot springs are located on its south side. Visiting them required crossing the Humboldt River, twice! If you were a worn-down traveler on a months-long, over-2000-mile journey, would you do this? Yet, many miners and emigrants did. For them, hot springs were one of the “truck stops” of the emigration era, one with a scenic view. Crossing the Humboldt was merely exiting and returning to the highway.

If you were a traveler walking the dusty path of the California Trail, what would you use hot springs for? Emigrant and miners used the springs for washing clothes, cooking, a nice place to camp, and possibly even for shaving! Just like today’s truck stops, one location contained laundry, eating, bathing, and sleeping amenities. Trail travelers greatly appreciated the hot springs and often recorded their experiences in their journals. This allowed others to discover them, just as you have done so today.

Three unnamed hot springs are located along the Humboldt River northeast of this sign. Above, on the right, is one of these springs under a cloud of steam.

This black-and-white photo shows the Hot Hole in 1920. Note that people aren't in the spring- it can be scalding hot! William Pritchard wrote the following about his August 1850 Hot Hole visit:

“We caught a snake and threw it in, also a frog. They gave one kick and all was over and as soon as we could get them out they were cooked for the flesh all came off the bone.”

Photo of Elko Hot Hole in 1920. Unknown Photographer

Elko's Geologic Wonders

The hot spring in front of you is known as Hot Hole, named after its round and reportedly deep waters. For centuries, this geologic wonder has fascinated and inspired people. Explorers included the Hot Hole in reports dating back to the 1830s. Later, emigrants and miners followed the paths of the explorers as part of the California Trail. They too visited this hot spring. Amazed by what they saw, they journaled their experiences and explored the area for more geologic wonders. Within a quarter mile, they found two other places with hot springs!

To the south and up the hill lies Elko Hot Springs, a cluster of springs that was the site of a late 1800s resort. Northeast of the Hot Hole, alongside (and flowing into) the Humboldt River, is a ribbon-like line of three unnamed hot springs.

All of the hot spring areas (Hot Hole, Hot Springs, and the “ribbon”) were visited by California Trail travelers, and not only because of fascination. Just like the modern-day truck stop provides for today’s travelers, the hot springs provided for 1850s travelers, and even provided some of the same amenities!

Elko Hot Springs is on private property. Be respectful and do not enter without landowner permission. The unnamed hot springs are not open for visitation. For more information about these springs, contact the California Trail Interpretive Center.

Located west of Elko, the California Trail Interpretive Center provides opportunities to experience the California Trail and to discover its global impacts. Things to do include viewing multimedia exhibits, hiking several trails, attending programs, and obtaining information for trip planning. The center is located at 1 Trail Center Way, Elko, NV 89801. Take I-80 West to Exit 292 for Hunter. For more information, call (775) 738-1849 or visit:

This marker is located on the south side of I-80 Hunter exit (#292).

End of Hastings Cutoff Historical Marker

West End of Hastings Cutoff

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

Nevada Centennial Marker No. 3

This marker is located right next to the End of Hastings Cutoff Historical Marker

Hoppe - Lienhard Wagon Group

This site is approximately 2½ miles from the Humboldt wagon trail. Hoppe-Lienhard traveled west with the Harlan-Young wagon train in 1847 to Fort Sutter. History reveals this party was part of the group which was responsible for the California Gold Rush.




NO. 1881

Carlin Canyon Historical Marker


In December 1828, Peter Skene Ogden and his trapping brigade (Hudson's Bay Company's Fifth Snake Country Expedition) were the first European Americans to enter here. Joseph Paul, one of Ogden's trappers, died nearby - the first emigrant to die and be buried in the Humboldt Country.

Late in 1845, John Fremont dispatched a group down the Humboldt. They traversed this canyon with difficulty on November 10. In September 1846, the Reed-Donner Party, en route to disaster in the deep snows of the Sierra Nevada, viewed the canyon.

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

In 1913, Nevada Route 1, the first auto road, took over the abandoned Central Pacific 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.



The nearby interpretive panel describes the unique geologic feature seen in the photograph.


Welcome to Carlin Canyon. The rocks around you reveal some of the Earth's history. What story do the exposed sedimentary layers in front of you tell?

Long, long ago, before the dinosaurs roamed the land, there was an ocean where you're now standing. Stones and boulders from the nearby mountains washed into the ocean in long horizontal bands. Eventually these rocks were cemented together to form the yellowish-black pebbly rocks at the bottom of the hill. 

But the bands aren't horizontal anymore. How did that happen? Faulting is the answer. Faulting, and associated earthquakes, shook this area and tipped the massive block containing these bands. one end of this block moved up and the other down, tilting the bands and, over time, forming a new mountain range.

To get to the Historical Marker below, continue driving through Carlin Canyon around the Humboldt River to another pullout.

Over millions of years wind and water eroded the upper end of the block. Sea levels rose, covering the eroded surface with a warm, shallow ocean. In this ocean, sediments were deposited gradually, forming the gray limestone layers now visible at the top of the hill.

The layering of limestone over the older eroded block records a gap in this portion of the earth's history. This gap is called an unconformity. Because the yellowish-black rocks meet the gray limestone at an angle, geologists call this an angular unconformity.

The ocean has been gone for millions of years now; the land has continued to change. More faulting tilted the gray limestone layers and further tipped the pebbly bands. This faulting and continued erosion created the rounded hills and river canyon you see today.

Peter Skene Ogden Historical Marker


Born February 12, 1790 in Quebec City Canada, Peter Skene Ogden was the son of Chief Justice Isaac Ogden and wife Sarah Hanson of Quebec.

Ogden joined the Northwest Co. in 1809. Ogden was known as a temperamental and violent man and in 1816 was reported for killing an Indian who traded with the Hudson Bay Company. Ogden's actions were considered deplorable especially seeing as he was son of a judge. The Northwest Co. moved him further west to avoid any further HBC confrontations. Eventually the two companies merged and Ogden's past was overlooked due to his ability to produce product. Between 1824 and 1830 Ogden led expeditions through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and eventually followed the Humboldt River to its sink. Ogden created a "fur desert" in his wake, decimating the beaver populations in the western states, including the canyon we are in today. But as the surrounding evidence shows, the mighty beaver is not so easily eliminated.


There are also two interpretive panels and a Trails West T-Marker (#C-39) near this historical marker.


Travelers have followed the Humboldt River and passed through Carlin Canyon since humans first came to this area. The first people to walk this route were the Native Americans. They used the canyon during hunting and foraging trips and as a pathway between winter villages once located near the modern towns of Elko and Carlin.

Trappers and Explorers

Beaver tails slapping the Humboldt River once sounded through Carlin Canyon. Then, in the late 1820s and early 1830s trappers and explorers, like Peter Skene Ogden and John Work, set their traps along the river banks. Within a few years the beaver were gone, but the number of people traveling through this canyon increased with each passing year.

"Mountain men" like Joseph R. Walker blazed the trails that became the main routes for the emigrants and gold seekers who sought to reach California. According to Walker, traversing Carlin Canyon "...included several stream crossings, and one passage down the river itself, to get around the canyon's steep, rocky ridges, many of which shelved out into the river itself."

Emigrant Trails

During the 1840s the shouts of men and the creaks of harness and wagon became common as the great migration west began. It started in 1841 when the Bidwell-Bartleson party became the first emigrant group to thread its way through Carlin Canyon. Two years later the Walker-Chiles party, traversing the California Trail from Ft. Hall, Idaho, rolled the first wagons into view. Over the next several years, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children bound for California and western Nevada passed this way.

As California grew, the wagon traffic to Sacramento increased. Winter snows often blocked the rough wagon road through the canyon. Other routes were sought for a permanent road west and for a transcontinental railroad, but Carlin Canyon remained part of the major route across northern Nevada. 



The ring of picks, shovels, and sledge hammers echoed through Carlin Canyon in late 1868, as Chinese laborers leveled the road bed and spiked down the Central Pacific Railroad tracks. For the next 35 years, steam engine whistles resounded through the canyon. By 1903, the curving tracks had been rerouted through a tunnel, eliminating the slow crawl along the river.


When the automobile became popular in the 1920s, motorists could drive State Route 1 through Carlin Canyon, following the paths of the emigrants and the railroad. The route became known as the Victory Highway in 1924, only to be renamed U.S. Highway 40 a year later. In the 1930s men from the Civilian Conservation Corp built the rock wall to protect the highway. Today, cars and trucks bypass Carlin Canyon in the same manner as the railroads.

The Carlin Historical Marker is in the NE corner of Richard Clark Perry Memorial Park.

Carlin Historical Marker

Carlin, the oldest town in present Elko County, was established as a railroad division point in December 1868, by the Central Pacific Railroad. It was named, by Central Pacific officials, after William Passmore Carlin, a Union officer who served his country with distinction during and after the Civil War.

When the railroad construction crews reached the Carlin Meadows, always a favorite stopping place for wagon trains along the California Emigrant Trail, a townsite was laid out and a large roundhouse and shops were erected. During the 1870's and early 1880's, Carlin competed actively with Elko, Palisade and Winnemucca for the staging and freighting business of the many mining camps north and south of the railroad. In 1965, it became the principle shipping point for the nearby Carlin gold mine, the second largest gold-producer in the U.S.

Carlin is still a principle division point on the Southern Pacific. During the period from 1906 until the early 1950's, Carlin was the principle icing station in Nevada for refrigerator cars on both the Southern and Western Pacific Railroads (Western Pacific reached Carlin from the easterly in 1908, but through freight and passenger service was not inaugurated over this transcontinental line until 1910).




Gravelly Ford Historical Marker

NOTE: This marker is only accessible in the Eastbound I-80 Beowawe Rest Area (which has been closed for several years).

7 miles southeast of here was a favorite pioneer crossing of the Humboldt River, Gravely Ford. Campsite of the Donner Party, here occurred the Snyder-Reed fight, as Snyder lashed at Reed he missed and hit Reed's wife. Reed then killed Snyder. Reed was banished without food from the wagon train. His daughter smuggled food to him enabling him to reach California. Reed later returned to rescue them from being snowed in at Donner Lake. In 1861 Indians massacred a wagon train. A squaw tried to save a child but was chased for days was caught and the child killed.


Lucinda Parker Duncan Gravesite Marker

The grave of Lucinda Duncan, called "The Maiden's Grave," reportedly was moved a short distance to its present site during realignment of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1906. Far from being a maiden, Lucinda Duncan was a seventy-year old grandmother traveling with her family to Galena, Nevada, from their home near Richmond, Ray County, Missouri in 1863.

The daughter of John and Charlotte Parker, Lucinda was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, ca. 1792. Early in life she moved with her parents to Anderson County, Kentucky, where she married Daniel Duncan on December 11, 1820. Around 1830 Daniel and Lucinda moved with their first four children to Ray County. Four more children were added to the family in Missouri. In 1849 Daniel and his three oldest sons joined a wagon train captained by Lucinda's cousin, Judge Daniel Parker. Daniel Duncan died in the California gold fields late in 1849. Lucinda Duncan remained a widow for the rest of her life.

In 1863, Lucinda and her family decided to emigrate to Nevada, then in the middle of gold and silver mining boom. Lucinda was called the "mother of the wagon train" as it consisted primarily of her seven surviving children, their wives and husbands, many grandchildren, and various other close relatives. Lucinda, still strong and vigorous at the age of seventy, occasionally drove her own horse-drawn carriage, the only team of horses in the company of sixty ox teams and wagons.

Family stories say that she suffered a heart attack on the trail above Gravely Ford, lingered for a day, and then died the night of August 15. The only contemporary account comes from the diary of James Yager, one of the contingent of non-Duncans in the train.

Sunday Morning 16. An event occurred last night that has cast a gloom over our camp; the death of one of its members. An old lady the mother and grandmother of a large part of our train. She had been sick for several days & night before last she became very ill so much so our train was compelled to lay over yesterday & last night she died. She was pious and beloved by the whole train, relatives & strangers. Her relatives took her death very hard. All of her children and grandchildren were present except a grandson who is in the confederate army.

Camp Wide Meadows Monday 17. We left Camp Reality yesterday about noon. Before leaving Mrs. Duncan' s funeral was preached by Captain Peterson [Peterson was captain of another train.] Her remains were carried to its last resting place as we proceeded on our journey & up on a high point to our left about one mile from camp, we paid our last debt & respect to the remains of the departed mother. There upon that wild & lonely spot, we left her, until Gabriel shall sound his trumpet in the last day. The scene was truly a sad one to leave a beloved mother on the wild & desolate plains. A board with the name of the deceased was put up at the head & boulders was laid over the grave to keep wolves from scratching in it. After this the train moved on.

Signing and Funding by: The Oregon-California Trails Association


This is a part of your American heritage. Honor it, protect it, preserve it for your children.

Battle Mountain

Battle Mountain's name derives from the mountain range to the southwest, where in 1850 angry California emigrants ambushed a band of Shoshones after the Indians had attacked their wagons.

As a town, it did not spring into existence until January 1870. In October 1868, the railroad established Reese River siding here, and made Argenta, five miles eastward, its principle station and point of departure for the busy mining camps to the southward.

Early in 1870, Argenta was moved bodily to this location, and Reese River siding was renamed Battle Mountain switch. Stage and freights roads north and south teemed with "mud wagon" stages and massive freight wagons, hauled by long jerk-line teams.

From 1880 to 1938, Battle Mountain was the operating headquarters for the Nevada Central Railroad, as well as the Battle Mountain and Lewis Railroad (1881-1890). The town's first copper boom developed in 1897, in the Galena (Battle Mountain) Range.




Located in the Valmy rest area south of I-80.

Valmy Historical Marker

Overlooking the old California Emigrant Trail, Valmy was named after the Battle of Valmy in France. Established in 1910 by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company as a section point, Valmy served during the steam era as a water and fuel stop for the railroad.

Treaty Hill to the northwest marks a division point between the Paiute lands to the west and Shoshone lands to the east. For generations the scene of battles over two springs, Treaty Hill marks the site where peace was wrought by compromise, when two chiefs sat down and divided springs and territory between the warring tribes.

The first post office here was established as Stonehouse on November 26, 1890. The name was changed to Valmy March 24, 1915.




Stone House Historical Marker

Native Americans and passing emigrants once camped here and the stone house was erected in the 1860s by officials of the Overland Stage Company as a dining and overnight rest stop. The Central Pacific Railroad line passed through this section of Humboldt County in 1868, and the nearby springs provided water for engines. A small community flourished here for a number of years to serve the needs of railroaders and neighboring ranchers, and a post office operated here from November 1890 to March 1915.




This marker is located on the southwest side of I-80 at exit 212.

Golconda Historical Marker

Golconda, a one-time Utah territory mining town and a landmark on the California Emigrant Trail, was famous for its hot springs. The Hot Springs Hotel was a swanky resort with doctors on staff.

In 1868, Golconda became an ore shipping station on the new Central Pacific Railroad. Renewed mining activity in 1897 resulted in the building of the narrow gauge Golconda and Adelaide Railroad south to the Adelaide mine. Golconda grew to 500 inhabitants by 1899, but the next year the mine and mill closed and railroad service ceased.




Former text read:

Golconda is a one time Utah Territory mining town whose hot springs, a landmark on the California Emigrant Trail, were of more enduring fame than its gold and silver boom.

In 1868, Golconda became an ore shipping station on the new Central Pacific Railroad. Renewed activity in 1897, resulted in the narrow gauge Golconda and Adelaide Railroad to the Adelaide Mine. Golconda grew to 500 inhabitants by 1899. But the next year the mine and mill closed and railroad service ceased.

The hot springs (97° to 150° F) flow at about 100 gallons per minute. A rare occurrence of tungsten in the silica deposit of a fossil vent, one mile east, was once mined. Active vents north of the railroad tracks were the site of a famous resort hotel until 1961 when it burned.

Humboldt River Historical Marker

NOTE: This marker is located in an I-80 rest area that is permanently closed and the fate or new location for the marker is unknown.

Peter Skene Ogden encountered the Humboldt River on November 9, 1828 during his fifth Snake Country expedition. Entering Nevada near present-day Denio, Ogden came southward along the Quinn River and the little Humboldt River. Emerging on the Humboldt main stem near this site, Ogden explored hundreds of square miles of the Humboldt’s course, left records of his trailblazing in his journal, and drafted the first map of the area.

Ogden gave the name “Unknown River” to the Humboldt at this time, as he was unsure where it went. After the death of his trapper Joseph Paul, Ogden renamed the stream Paul’s River, then Swampy River, and finally Mary’s River, after the Native American wife of one of his trappers. In 1833, the Bonneville-Walker fur party named it Barren River.

Ogden’s or Mary’s River were commonly used names for the Humboldt prior to the 1848 publication of a map of John C. Frémont.

The Humboldt was the only natural arterial across the Great Basin. It funneled thousands of emigrants along its valley enroute to the Pacific Coast during the period 1841-1870.




Humboldt Museum Markers

The Humboldt Museum in Winnemucca has an outdoor display with 6 interpretive panels. One is shown below along with its text. The others will be included here at a later time.


The Humboldt River is the only natural east-west corridor across the Great Basin. It has been a conduit for travel, trade and communication from prehistoric times to the present. From its headwaters near Wells, Nevada, the river slowly meanders 300 miles across the northern Nevada desert to its terminus in the Humboldt Sink near Lovelock, Nevada.

For thousands of years before the first Euro-Americans traveled the river, it was a thoroughfare and source of life for native peoples and wildlife. The river provided water, food and shelter in this arid environment.

Because of its vital importance to life, Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone people consider all water, including the Humboldt River, sacred.

Of particular importance to the health of the river were beavers. Beavers built dams that created ponds, wetlands and fertile meadows that were magnets for wildlife. The ponds acted as filters, purifying the water, and also provided stable water sources during periods of drought. Large salmon-sized Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, and important food source for Native Americans, thrived in these ponds.

Native Americans had a network of trade routes that enabled them to trade goods with other native peoples. Trade routes also served as travel routes to hunting and gathering areas. A major Native American trade route followed the Humboldt River; other routes extended to the north and south. Local Native Americans traded obsidian (volcanic glass) for items such as shells from the California and Baja California coasts. Obsidian was used to make tools while shells were used for necklaces and decoration of baskets and clothing.

Fort McDermitt Historical Marker

Established in 1865, Fort McDermitt was first called Quinn River Camp #33 on the East Fork, then renamed in honor of military district commander Lt. Col. Charles McDermitt, who died while fighting Native Americans. The fort consisted of several adobe, stone, and frame buildings surrounding a square. Its purpose was to protect the Virginia City-Quinn River Valley-Oregon road. Twenty-four years of operation made it the longest-serving active army fort in Nevada. Its troops participated in the Modoc War and in conflicts with the Bannock and Shoshone Tribes. It was the last of the Nevada army posts in service when converted into an American Indian reservation school in 1889.



Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins Historical Marker

Sarah Winnemucca, whose Paiute name was Thocmentony (Shell-flower), was the daughter of Chief Winnemucca, and granddaughter of Captain Truckee, a friend and supporter of Captain John C. Frémont. Sarah Winnemucca sought understanding between her people and European Americans when the latter settled on Paiute homelands. Sarah lectured, wrote a foundational book in American Indian literature, and founded the non-government Peabody School for Native children outside of Lovelock, Nevada. She worked tirelessly to remedy injustice for her people and to advocate peace. Here at Fort McDermitt she served as an interpreter and teacher. Because of her importance to the nation’s history, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins was honored in 2005 with a statue in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.




Previous text for this marker read:

The northern Paiute name Thocmetony (Shell-Flower) was bestowed on this valiant daughter of Chief Winnemucca and grandchild of the redoubtable Captain Truckee a friend and supporter of General John C. Fremont. Sarah sought understanding between her people and whites when the latter trekked across and settled on Indian homelands. By lecturing, by writing a book (presumably the first in English by an Indian woman) and by founding a nongovernment school for Indian children, she worked tirelessly to remedy injustice and to advocate peace. Here at Fort McDermitt as interpreter and teacher she served well both Indians and the U.S. military. This exceptional Indian woman, a leader of her race, believed in the brotherhood of mankind.

Applegate / Lassen Emigrant Trail Cutoff Historical Marker

Jesse and Lindsay Applegate headed south from Willamette Valley, Oregon, June 29, 1846, seeking a less hazardous route to that region from the east. On July 21, they came to a large meadow on the Humboldt River, what is now the nearby Rye Patch Reservoir. Thus they established the Applegate Trail.

During the remainder of 1846 and for the next two years, Oregon emigrants successfully traveled this trail.

In 1848, Peter Lassen, hoping to bring emigrants to his ranch, acted as guide to a party of ten to 12 wagons bound for California. He followed a route from here to Goose Lake where he turned southward over terrain that was barely passable. The emigrants suffered great hardships; many lives and livestock were lost. It became known as the "Death Route."




Humboldt House Historical Marker

Humboldt House, also known as Humboldt Station, was originally the point of departure for Humboldt City, Prince Royal, and the mines in that vicinity. In September 1866, it became a stage stop for the historic William (Hill) Beachey Railroad Stage Lines.

As the Central Pacific Railhead advanced from eastern California, it reached Humboldt House in September 1868. From 1869 to 1900, Humboldt House was well known as one of the best eating-houses on the Central Pacific Railroad. It was truly an oasis in the great Nevada desert, with good water, fruit, and vegetables. The large grove of trees to the west marks the site of this famous hotel.

Between 1841 and 1857, 165,000 Americans traveled the California emigrant trail past here. In 1850, on the dreaded Forty Mile Desert southwest of present-day Lovelock, over 9,700 dead animals and 3,000 abandoned vehicles were counted.



Beautiful Jumble

The land you presently occupy once stood as a formidable barrier for those who elected to spread westward, and their long-held dreams of prosperity. The account of one Eleazar Stillman Ingalls paints a bleak picture over the canvas of this Grand landscape.

Before this point travelers were bested by all manner of tribulations in the form of stampedes, hail storms, and tornados. Mild wagon troubles such as broken axles gave way to an arduous journey poignantly displayed by a roadside warning: an unfortunate soul who had slit his throat to escape the misfortunes behind and ahead.

God's greatest test came between the Humboldt and Carson Rivers. No water lay between. Possessions lost value. Horses were only worth the water they could trade for, and the soured alkali filled meat hanging from their bones. Kind souls and noble acts came few and far between from here to the Carson River. Only strong wills and luck could carry those miserable pioneers beyond the graveyard of a desert to the spoils of the west.

So take time to consider your good fortune and privilege as you pass through this beautiful land. God's green earth is yours to explore. Do not take it for granted.

Dedicated on March 28th, 6025

Jesse Lee Reno 1422

Outpost of Lucinda Jane Saunders 1881

E Clampus Vitus ®

Pershing County Historical Marker

Here was a key point on Nevada’s earliest road, the famed Humboldt Trail that brought 165,000 immigrants west in the 1840s and 1850s. Travellers named this rich valley the Big Meadows. They stopped here for water and grass before continuing south to cross the dreaded Forty Mile Desert, the most difficult segment on the trail to California.

Mining began here in the 1850s. George Lovelock, merchant, rancher and prospector, gave his name to the county seat. The coming of the railroad in 1869 brought new growth to the area. Pershing County, established in 1919, was previously part of Humboldt County.



Forty Mile Desert

The 40 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, it was traveled by night because of the great heat.

The route was first traveled by the Walker-Chiles Party in 1843, with the first wagon train, regardless of its horrors, it became the accepted route, as it split five miles southwest of here into the two main trails to California—the Carson River and Truckee River routes.

Starvation for men and animals stalked every mile. A survey made in 1850 showed these appalling statistics---1,061 dead mules, almost 5,000 horses, 3,750 cattle, and 953 graves. The then value of personal property loss was set at $1,000,000.

The heaviest traffic came from 1849 to 1869. It was still used after completion of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869.





Truckee River (East)

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 relocated 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.




Historic Transportation Marker

The historic road corridors from the Truckee Meadows northwestward into the Honey Lake area contains a tangle of intertwined routes following the course of valleys, portions of an emigrant trail cutoff, toll roads, county roads and casual parallel routes developed to bypass blockages such as mud holes. Construction of the paved precursor to U.S. 395 and recent freeway construction along this same corridor have obliterated much of the earlier road system, cutting it into isolated segments. The road is associated with the continuing history of transportation in the state of Nevada, reflecting the process of road improvement and economic and demographic change.

Honey Lake 1856-1863

In 1856, the early settlers of the region, the Honey Lakers, proposed the territory of Nataqua, encompassing the land along the eastern Sierra from Susanville to Carson Valley. The 1859 silver strikes in the Comstock Lake generated a prosperous market for the ranchers' livestock and produce. Freight wagons and stagecoaches ran regularly over the rutted road from the Honey Lake area to Virginia City and strengthened the settlers' attachment to eastern Sierra settlements rather than those in California. The Honey Lake ranchers felt so strongly about their independence and connection to the Great Basin environs, they fought the 1863 Sagebrush War attempting to block their annexation to Plumas County, California.

Emigrant Trail 1851-1855

In 1851, James Pierson Beckwourth (1798-1866), the son of Sir Jennings Beckwith and a slave, located and constructed a wagon road connecting the California Emigrant Trail in the Truckee Meadows to Marysville, California via Sierra Valley (portions of Highway 70). Beckwourth, a trapper and trader, hoped to earn his fortune with the opening of the road; however, he was never reimbursed as promised by the mayor or Marysville for road construction. The trail served for a few years as an alternative pass through the Sierra; it became a byway for local traffic after 1855.

Roadside Stations and Ranches 1850s

This marker is located at the Peavine Ranch, an overnight stop for the travelers along the road from the Truckee River to ranches near Honey Lake. The ranch advertised a well-stocked table and bar and first class beds. Purchased in 1862 by Fielding Lemmon, it was initially part of real estate and mining promotion as platted on this 1867 map, but Peavine grew instead into a prosperous livestock operation. Several other ranches were located along the road, yet, for nearly a hundred years regional growth centered around downtown Reno and Sparks. Over time, most of the ranches and stage stops were replaced by small isolated communities, then larder communities, and eventually suburbs.

Highway System 1930s-Present

The Three Flags Highway gave way to U.S. 395, which was an extension of Virginia Street in Reno. In the 1970s a four-lane system was proposed. The highway generally follows the same transportation corridor and still cuts through the Peavine Ranch property.

Three Flags Highway 1923-1930s

One of the first federally funded highways in Nevada was a macadam road from Reno to the Nevada/California border. The Nevada Highway Commission was organized in 1917. Federal money was mandated for Nevada in 1921 and construction started in April 1922 for the Three Flags Highway, the road linking Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Portions of the road still remain.

Toll Roads 1850s-1860s

Prior to state and federally constructed highways, a stage and toll road between Honey Lake and Virginia City was more or less maintained under a succession of private owners such as Myron C. Lake. In 1861, Lake traded property in Honey Lake Valley for the log toll bridge across the Truckee River with Charles W. Fuller of Susanville. Lake applied for a franchise to improve, maintain and construct a toll road from three miles south of this bridge to the California/Nevada border excluding passage through town streets of Reno. The early road, approximately 20 miles long, was in a constant deplorable condition and impassable at times.

This marker is placed through the cooperation of the Sierra Pacific Power Company, Nevada Department of Transportation, State Historic Preservation Office and United States Bureau of Land Management. (Marker Number 256.)

Emigrant - Donner Camp

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 lace their 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.




The Truckee River

Flowing out of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west, the Truckee River is Reno’s most striking natural and historical feature. Shown below on a relief map of the surrounding Reno area are a few of the more significant historical sites near the river.

Chinatown. This section of Reno was inhabited by the city’s oriental population from 1869 to around 1920.

Reno Gas Works. Established in 1878, the plant on this site produced illuminating gas for Reno through 1890.

The Alhambra. A former gristmill, this structure later became a saloon and lodging house. Reno’s first school opened here in the Fall of 1868 and early clergymen held services here.

The Lake House. A way station founded by Myron C. Lake in 1862. It later developed into the Riverside Hotel. Lake donated land for a depot and townsite when the Central Pacific Railroad came through the Truckee Canyon. He is considered the Father of Reno.

Lake’s Toll Bridge. The main crossing of the Truckee River on the Honey Lake Toll Road, 1862-1877.

Washoo County Courthouse. Following the established of Reno as the county seat of Washoe County in 1871, the first courthouse was built on this site.

Belle Isle/Wingfield Park. In 1911 an amusement park and dance pavilion was built on this site. Known as Belle Isle, it was a community cultural and recreational center, in 1920, financier George Wingfield donated the property to the city as a park site.

Site of Eugene Ely’s Flight. On July 4, 1911, the famous aviator Eugene Ely make one of the earliest exhibition flights in Reno’s history at this site.

Old Virginia and Truckee Railroad Bridge. Constructed in 1871, this bride was part of the famous V and T Shortline Railroad connecting Reno with Carson City and the Comstock Lode.

Truckee River (West)

Native Americans settled for thousands of years in the Truckee Valley. Their camps were on these flats near the river. They used fish blinds near here and left petroglyphs on boulders in the area.

The Truckee River runs from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, and was first discovered by Captain John C. Frémont 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. Two years later, the ill-fated Donner party rested in 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 1920s to the 1950s, the surrounding meadows echoed with the heavy exhausts of the giant Southern Pacific, cab-ahead, articulated, steam locomotives. During the same period, the Emigrant Trail, and the early toll roads, were developed into the Lincoln and Victory highways, and then into U.S. 40 and 1-80, today’s freeway.




The above text is for a proposed replacement sign. The text below is what appears on the sign as in the photograph:

In prehistoric and early historic times, the Truckee Valley in the vicinity of Verdi, was occupied by the Washoe 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 this 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 tollroads, were developed into the Lincoln and Victory Highways, and then into U.S. 40 and I-80, today’s freeway.