Jedediah Strong Smith – Nevada State Historic Marker 84

Jebediah Strong Smith was an early frontiersman, hunter, trapper, author, cartographer, mountain man and explorer of the western United States and the subject of Nevada State Historic Marker number 84.

Drawing of Jedediah Strong Smith (1799–1831), created around 1835 after his death by a friend from memory. It is the only contemporary image of Smith.
Drawing of Jedediah Strong Smith (1799–1831), created around 1835 after his death by a friend from memory. It is the only contemporary image of Smith.

Born in 1799 in Jericho, New York, Jedediah Strong Smith would grow up to become one of the most significant figures in the exploration of the American West during the early 19th century. His life was a testament to the indomitable spirit of discovery that characterized the era of westward expansion.

From a young age, Jebediah Smith exhibited an insatiable curiosity and an adventurous spirit that set him apart from his peers. Raised in a family of modest means, he received only limited formal education. However, his voracious appetite for learning and his natural inclination for exploration propelled him beyond the confines of the classroom.

Fur Trapping and the Path to the West

At the age of 21, Smith embarked on his first western expedition as a fur trapper, a career choice that would shape the course of his life. He joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and ventured into the untamed wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, determined to carve his own path in uncharted territories. His experiences during this period honed his survival skills and deepened his connection to the natural world.

The First Overland Expedition to California:

In 1826, Smith led a pioneering expedition that would take him and his small band of explorers on an arduous journey from the Great Salt Lake to California. This remarkable feat marked the first documented overland journey from the United States into California. Smith’s exploration helped to map previously unknown regions and establish crucial trade routes.

Mapping the West and Bridging Cultures

Jebediah Smith’s exploration efforts were not limited to geography alone. His interactions with various Native American tribes and his ability to communicate across cultural divides showcased his adaptability and diplomacy. He valued the knowledge and insights of the indigenous peoples he encountered, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of the American West.

Jebediah Strong Smith’s legacy is imprinted on the landscapes he traversed and the narratives he helped to shape. His meticulous journaling and mapping laid the groundwork for further expeditions, encouraging subsequent generations of explorers to continue pushing the boundaries of the known world. Smith’s untimely death at the hands of Comanche warriors in 1831, at the age of 32, underscored the risks and sacrifices inherent in his chosen path.

Jebediah Strong Smith’s life epitomized the restless spirit of exploration that defined the era of westward expansion in the United States. His contributions to mapping the American West, fostering cross-cultural connections, and inspiring future adventurers are enduring testaments to his remarkable journey. As a trailblazer who ventured into the unknown with courage and determination, Smith’s legacy continues to inspire individuals to seek new horizons and embrace the thrill of discovery.

Jedediah Strong Smith Nevada State Historic Marker 84 Text

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. These roadside markers bring attention to the places, people, and events that make up Nevada’s heritage. They are as diverse as the counties they are located within and range from the typical mining boom and bust town to the largest and most accessible petroglyph sites in Northern Nevada Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost or damaged.

From May to June 1827, explorer and trapper Jedediah Smith found a route from California’s central valley to the Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah.  He became the first European American to completely cross what is now Nevada.

Because Smith’s journal and map have never been found, his exact route is unknown.  Based on Smith’s own statements about his difficult trip, modern historians and geographers have pieced together the most plausible route.  Smith crossed the Sierra Nevada at Ebbetts Pass, swung southeast along or across the headwaters and middle reaches of the Walker River, and passed into central Nevada’s open spaces south of Walker Lake.

Smith entered Smoky Valley on its southwest side in June 1827 and crossed the valley in a northeasterly direction.  He then paralleled the future Simpson survey, route of the Pony Express and Overland Stage, along modern U.S. Highway 50.

He entered Utah at Ibapah.


Nevada State Historic Marker 84 Map

Nevada State Historic Marker number 84 is located near Ely, Nevada, in White Pine County. The marker is on U.S. Highway 93, on the east side of the highway. It is found in rest area, four miles north of Ely. 

Nevada State Historic Marker 84 Summary

NamedJedediah Strong Smith
LocationWhite Pine County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.2771, -114.8463
Nevada State Historic Marker84


Edward Lawrence Schieffelin

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin, a rugged and determined prospector, carved his name in the annals of American history as the man who discovered silver and founded the legendary mining town of Tombstone, Arizona. Born on May 7, 1847, in the small town of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Schieffelin embodied the spirit of adventure and exploration that characterized the American West during the late 19th century. From his humble beginnings as a prospector to his eventual success in striking it rich, this biography delves into the life and achievements of Ed Schieffelin, shedding light on his extraordinary journey and his enduring legacy in the American mining industry.

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin
Ed Schieffelin

Early Years and Adventurous Spirit

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin, known as Ed, was born into a family of eight siblings. Raised in a modest household, he developed a strong work ethic and a sense of wanderlust from an early age. Ed’s adventurous spirit led him to leave his hometown in pursuit of opportunities out West when he was just a teenager. Inspired by stories of the California Gold Rush, Schieffelin set out on a quest for fortune and adventure into California, Death Valley, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

In 1877, at the age of 30, Schieffelin arrived in Arizona Territory. The region was known for its hostile terrain, inhabited by hostile Native American tribes and infested with outlaws. It was an untamed and dangerous land, yet Schieffelin saw the untapped potential hidden within the rocky mountains and rugged landscapes.

The Discovery of Tombstone

Undeterred by the challenges, Schieffelin embarked on a solo prospecting expedition in the southeastern part of Arizona Territory. Despite being warned by soldiers at the nearby Fort Huachuca about the “all he would find would be his own tombstone,” Schieffelin remained undeterred and ventured into the wilderness.

After several months of searching and enduring hardships, Schieffelin struck silver in 1877. His find, located in the area that would become Tombstone, Arizona, ignited a rush of prospectors and speculators. Schieffelin named the mining district “Tombstone” in response to a friend,  Al Sieber who predicted he would only find his own tombstone.

As the news of Schieffelin’s discovery spread, the town of Tombstone boomed with activity. Miners, gamblers, and businessmen flocked to the area, transforming the once desolate region into a thriving mining town. Schieffelin, known for his eccentric personality and adventurous spirit, became a legend in his own right.

The Legacy of Tombstone

Tombstone, under Schieffelin’s influence, rapidly grew into a bustling frontier town. The rich silver veins of the area attracted numerous mining companies, turning Tombstone into one of the wealthiest towns in the West. The town quickly developed essential infrastructure, including saloons, theaters, banks, and a newspaper, the “Tombstone Epitaph,” which chronicled the tumultuous events that unfolded in the region.

Schieffelin, though he had made his fortune, continued to lead the life of a prospector, always searching for the next big strike. However, he faced his fair share of challenges and setbacks. The mines faced legal disputes, water shortages, and labor conflicts, which took a toll on the town’s prosperity. Despite the challenges, Tombstone remained a symbol of the American frontier spirit and resilience.

Ed Schieffelin Monument

A 25 ft tall monument is erected near to spot of Ed Shieffelin original claim in Tombstone. The monument represents the type of marker a miner makes in claiming a strike. A plaque on the monument reads, “Ed Shieffelin, died May 12, 1897, aged 49 years, 8 months. A dutiful son, a faithful husband, a kind brother, and a true friend.” The monument is located just to the East of Ed Schieffelin Monument road, north of the town of Tombstone.

John Peters “Johnny” Ringo

Johnny Ringo was an American gunfighter and outlaw most commonly associated with the infamous happenings in Tombstone, Arizona. He was often portrayed as the hired gun of the Clanton faction, an antagonist to Doc Holiday, and could be responsible for the kill of Morgan Earp. Although not formally educated, he supposedly quoted Shakespeare and cultivate an image of the refined gunman. Although in Tombstone at the time, and quarreled with Doc Holiday, he did not participate in the gunfight or every mince more than words with Holiday.

John Peters "Johnny" Ringo ( May 3, 1850 – July 13, 1882 )
John Peters “Johnny” Ringo ( May 3, 1850 – July 13, 1882 )

John Peters “Johnny” Ringo is born May 3, 1850 to Martin and Mary Peters Ringo in Greens Fork, Indiana. On July 30, 1864, when Johnny was 14, his family was relocation from Wyoming to California. While en route, Martin Ringo, Johnny’s father was killed when he stepped off their wagon holding a shotgun, which accidentally discharged. The head wound was gruesome and the family if forced to bury him on a hillside next to the trail. On their arrival in California, the family settled in San Jose.

Mason County War

In 1869, Johnny aged 19, left San Jose and moved to Mason County, Texas. While in Texas be befriended a former Texas Ranger Scott Cooley, who was the adoptive son of Rancher Tim Williamson. Williamson is arrested by a hostile mob and killed by Peter “Bad Man” Bader on May 13th, 1875. Following, Ringo and Colley rage a war of terror of those they felt guilty to Williamson’s murder. This became locally know as the “Hoodoo War” or the “Mason County Ware”.

On August 19th, 1875, Scott Cooley and Ringo killed Charley Bader when they mistook him for his brother Pete. The two men are jailed for the murder in Burnet, Texas, but soon escaped.

The Mason County War is over in November 1876 with about a dozen lives lost.

Ringo in Tombstone

Johnny found his way to Tombstone in the winter of 1880. He had a reputation of a bad temper and an alcoholic. He becomes associated with the Cochise County Cowboys alongs with the Clanton’s and may have participated in some of their “activities”. Ringo did not participate in the famous gunfight, however, on January 17th, 1882, he and Doc Holiday traded words and almost had a gunfight before both men were arrested.

Ringo was a fine man any way you look at him. Physically, intellectually, morally. He was six feet tall, rather slim in build, although broad-shouldered, medium fair as to complexion with gray-blue eyes and light brown hair. His face was somewhat long. He was what might be called an attractive man. His attitude toward all women was gentlemanly. He must have been a gentleman born. Sometimes I noticed something wistful about him, as if his thoughts were far away on something sad. He would say, ‘Oh, well,’ and sigh. Then he would smile, but his smiles were always sad. There was something in his life that only he, himself, knew about …. He was always neat, clean, well dressed, showed that he took good care of himself. He never boasted of his deeds, good or bad, a trait I have always liked in men. John…was a loyal friend. And he was noble, for he never fought anyone except face to face. Every time I think of him, my eyes fill with tears.

Mary Katherine Horony Cummings – Big Nose Kate

Following the attacks on Virgil and Morgan Earp, Wyatt Earp blamed Ringo for the ambush and murder of Morgan on March 18th, 1882. Morgans death prompted a “vendetta” ride which sees Wyatt hunting those whom he blamed for Morgan’s death. March 20th, 1882, Wyatt killed Frank Stillwell in Tucson, Arizona. Following, Johnny Ringo is deputized into a possse to search for the Wyatt and Holiday, although they never find them.

Mysterious Death

During Tombstone’s Fourth of July festivities, Ringo drank heavily. Two days letter he left Tombstone with several bottles of liquor. On July 8th, Deputy Billy Breakenridge ran into Ringo at Dial’s Ranch in the South Pass of the Dragoon Mountains. During this encounter “Ringo was very drunk, reeling in the saddle.” He encouraged Ringo to follow him back to the Goodrich Ranch. But, “he was drunk and stubborn and went on his way. I think this was the last time he was seen alive.”

At about 3pm on July 13, ranch hands at a nearby ranch heard a shot.

On July 14th, 1882, Ringo’s lifeless body is discovered by Teamster James Yoast, Ringo is found dead among “a bunch of five large black jack oaks growing up in a semicircle from one root, and in the center of them was a large flat rock which made a comfortable seat.” 

On discovery, Ringos body is already blacked from the hot Arizona sun.

His feet were wrapped in strips of cloth torn from his undershirt. Ringo had lost his horse with his boots tied to the saddle. The coroner’s report noted that “He had evidently traveled but a short distance in this foot gear.” A bullet hole is found at his right temple and an exit wound at the back of his head. The fatal wound was upward at a 45-degree angle between the right eye and ear. His Colt Single Action Army .45 revolver was still in his right hand with the hammer rested on the empty chamber. A knife cut was found at the base of his scalp, as if “someone had cut it with a knife.” His horse was found eleven days later about 2 miles away with Ringo’s boots still tied to the saddle. 

Despite the later claims by Wyatt Earp to have killed him, or movie depictions of Doc Holiday dispatching him and a show down, it is not difficult to image a very drunk Johnny Ringo committing suicide, after falling off and loosing his horse.


NameJohn Peters Ringo
Also Know ASJohnny Ringo, Johnny Ringgold
Birth / DeathMay 3, 1850 – July 13, 1882
Cause of DeathSuicide, Cochise County, Ariona
Side armColt Single Action Army .45 revolver
VictimsJames Cheyney – Killed – September 25, 1875 – Mason County, Texas
Charley Bader – Killed – August 19th, 1875 – Mason County, Texas
Louis Hancock – Wounded – December 1879 – Safford Arizona


Johannes Henricus “Henry” Wickenburg

Henry Wickenburg was a pioneering figure in the American mining industry during the mid-19th century. Known for his role in discovering the Vulture Mine, one of the richest gold mines in Arizona, Wickenburg’s tenacity, and entrepreneurial spirit left an indelible mark on the development of the region and a town which bears his name.

Henry Wickenburg (November 21, 1819 – May 14, 1905)
Henry Wickenburg (November 21, 1819 – May 14, 1905)

Early Life and Background

Henry Wickenburg was born on November 21, 1819, in the town of Crefeld, Prussia, in what is now Germany. Crefeld is known for coal mines, and he and his brother worked these mines as children. Following the reclamation of the families minueral rights on their land by the Prussian Government, In 1847, Henry Wickenburg arrived in the United States and settled in California during the height of the Gold Rush. He immediately recognized the potential for wealth and decided to try his luck in the goldfields. Wickenburg spent several years working as a miner, gaining experience and honing his skills in prospecting.

The Discovery of the Vulture Mine

Vulture City, Arizona - 1900
Vulture City, Arizona – 1900

In 1862, Henry Wickenburg embarked on a journey that would change his life and the future of Arizona. He led an expedition into the Arizona Territory, hoping to find gold and silver deposits. It was during this expedition that Wickenburg stumbled upon what would later be known as the Vulture Mine, situated in the harsh and rugged terrain of the Vulture Mountains.

The Vulture Mine turned out to be an extraordinary find, with vast deposits of gold. Wickenburg quickly recognized its potential and staked his claim, sparking a gold rush in the region. His discovery attracted prospectors from far and wide, leading to the establishment of the town that would later bear his name, Wickenburg, as a center of mining activity.

Establishing and operating the Vulture Mine was not without its challenges. Wickenburg faced numerous obstacles, including hostile Native American tribes, harsh living conditions, and technical difficulties in extracting the gold. However, his determination and resourcefulness allowed him to overcome these hurdles and develop the mine into a prosperous operation.

The Vulture mine is named “the largest and richest gold in in Arizona.” In 1866, Wickenburg sold 80% interest in the mine the the sum of $85,000.00. A down payment is made in the amount of $20,000 with the balance being maintained with a promissory note. Following the sale, Wickenburg relocated and started a ranch near another town which bears his name.

The Vulture Mine suffered repeated problems caused by its remote location, poor financial standing and mismanagement. Despite being the largest gold mine in the territory, a title dispute caused Henry to be unable to collect on the promissory note.

On May 14th, 1905, Henry Wickenburg is found dead of the gun shot wound to the head. A coroners report ruled the death a suicide and that Henry “had melancholy due to old age”.


John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell, a remarkable American explorer, geologist, and ethnologist, was born on March 24, 1834, in Mount Morris, New York. His expeditions through the uncharted territories of the American West not only added to scientific knowledge but also provided invaluable insights into the land’s geological and cultural diversity. Powell’s legacy as a pioneer of exploration and his tireless efforts in promoting conservation measures have left an indelible mark on American history.

Powell served as the second Director of the United States Geological Survey, a post he held from 1881 to 1894. This photograph dates from early in his term of office.
Powell served as the second Director of the United States Geological Survey, a post he held from 1881 to 1894. This photograph dates from early in his term of office.

Early Life and Education

Powell grew up in rural New York, where his love for nature and the outdoors was nurtured from an early age. Although he lost his right arm in a childhood accident, Powell’s determination and thirst for adventure were undeterred. He developed a keen interest in natural sciences and geography and pursued higher education at Illinois College and later at Oberlin College, where he focused on geology.

Grand Canyon Expeditions

Powell’s most famous and daring expedition was his 1869 journey down the Colorado River, known as the Powell Geographic Expedition. With a team of nine men, Powell set out to explore the largely uncharted canyons and rapids of the Colorado River and gather valuable scientific data. The expedition faced numerous hardships, including treacherous rapids, scarce food supplies, and hostile encounters with Native American tribes. Miraculously, Powell and his crew successfully navigated the treacherous river and completed the journey, providing unprecedented knowledge of the Grand Canyon and its geological formations.

First camp of the John Wesley Powell expedition, in the willows, Green River, Wyoming, 1871. - E. 0. Beaman - War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. Powell Survey. (1869 - ca. 1874)
First camp of the John Wesley Powell expedition, in the willows, Green River, Wyoming, 1871. – E. 0. Beaman – War Department. Office of the Chief of Engineers. Powell Survey. (1869 – ca. 1874)

Powell’s subsequent expeditions further solidified his reputation as a fearless explorer. He embarked on multiple journeys across the American West, including explorations of the Green and Colorado Rivers, the Rocky Mountains, and the Uinta Mountains. Powell’s meticulous record-keeping and scientific observations greatly expanded the understanding of the region’s geology, hydrology, and ethnography.

Scientific Contributions

Powell’s expeditions were not merely adventurous endeavors but also scientific ventures aimed at advancing knowledge in various fields. He published numerous papers and reports detailing his findings, including “Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and its Tributaries” and “Canons of the Colorado.” These works significantly contributed to the geological understanding of the American West, shaping subsequent research and studies in the region.

Additionally, Powell’s expertise in ethnology led him to conduct extensive research on Native American tribes. He documented their cultures, languages, and customs, recognizing the importance of preserving their heritage. His ethnographic studies formed a crucial foundation for future anthropological research in the United States.

Conservation Advocacy

John Wesley Powell was not only a scientist and explorer but also an early advocate for conservation. Recognizing the fragile nature of the American West’s ecosystems, he became a vocal proponent of sustainable land use practices and preservation efforts. Powell believed that the arid region’s limited water resources necessitated careful management and planning.

In 1879, Powell presented his influential “Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States” to Congress. This groundbreaking report emphasized the need for responsible irrigation and land development strategies, urging policymakers to consider the long-term consequences of uncontrolled resource exploitation. Powell’s report laid the groundwork for the eventual establishment of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, both crucial agencies in land and water management.

Legacy and Impact

John Wesley Powell’s contributions to exploration, science, and conservation continue to resonate today. His expeditions not only unveiled the wonders of the American West but also inspired future generations of explorers and scientists. Powell’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research and his understanding of the intricate relationships between humans and their environment remain