Fort Halleck Military Reservation – Nevada State Historic Marker 47

Fort Halleck Military Reservation is nestled in the remote northeastern corner of Nevada in Elko County, and stands as a testament to the turbulent history of the American West. This modest military outpost, established during the height of the Civil War, played a crucial role in safeguarding emigrant routes, maintaining peace with Native American tribes, and protecting the interests of the Union. With a history spanning over a century, Fort Halleck’s story reflects the changing tides of American expansion, conflict, and settlement.

Fort Halleck (1879-1886; U. S. Army . First established as Camp Halleck in (1867-1879), to protect the California Trail and the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad. – Photograph by Timothy O’Sullivan

Early Exploration and Settlement

Long before Fort Halleck’s establishment, this region was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shoshone and Northern Paiute. Their presence in the area dates back thousands of years, with these indigenous peoples adapting to the harsh conditions of the Great Basin. As Euro-American settlers pushed westward during the 19th century, they came into contact with these native communities.

The first significant wave of Euro-American exploration in the region occurred in the 1820s and 1830s, with famed frontiersmen like Jedediah Smith and Peter Skene Ogden leading expeditions through what would become Nevada. However, it was the discovery of gold and silver in the 1850s that truly transformed the area. Thousands of prospectors and settlers flooded into Nevada, searching for their fortune.

The Need for Military Presence

With the influx of settlers came an increase in tension and conflict. As mining camps and trading posts sprang up, conflicts between the newcomers and native populations escalated. This prompted the need for a military presence to maintain order and protect the interests of the United States government.

In 1860, Captain Thomas Duncan was tasked with establishing a military post in the Ruby Valley, where Fort Halleck would later be built. The fort was named in honor of Major General Henry W. Halleck, who served as the Union Army’s chief of staff during the Civil War. Construction began in the spring of 1862, with soldiers and civilian laborers working tirelessly to erect the fort’s wooden structures.

Civil War and Fort Halleck

The Civil War was in full swing when Fort Halleck was established. Although the conflict primarily raged in the eastern United States, its effects were felt across the nation, including in the remote reaches of Nevada. Fort Halleck served as an important link in the western chain of forts that helped maintain control over the vast expanse of territory.

During the Civil War, Fort Halleck’s primary role was to protect the emigrant routes and telegraph lines that passed through the region. These routes were vital for communication and transportation, and their security was essential for maintaining Union control of the Western frontier. Additionally, Fort Halleck served as a supply depot for other forts in the area, including Fort Ruby and Fort Churchill.

Life at Fort Halleck

Life at Fort Halleck was challenging, reflecting the harsh realities of frontier military outposts. Soldiers stationed there faced extreme weather conditions, from blistering summer heat to bitter winter cold. They also had to contend with the isolation of the fort, which was located far from major population centers.

Despite the challenges, Fort Halleck offered some amenities. The fort boasted a hospital, a commissary, officer quarters, and barracks for enlisted men. It also had a small cemetery where soldiers and their families were laid to rest.

Conflict with Native American Tribes

One of the most significant challenges faced by Fort Halleck was its proximity to Native American tribes, including the Shoshone and Northern Paiute. Tensions between these tribes and Euro-American settlers often flared, leading to skirmishes and conflicts.

In 1865, the Snake War erupted, pitting the U.S. Army against the Shoshone tribes of the Great Basin. Fort Halleck played a critical role in this conflict, serving as a base of operations for military expeditions into the surrounding areas. The war was marked by violence and tragedy on both sides, but it ultimately resulted in the suppression of Native American resistance in the region.

Post-Civil War Era

With the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the need for military outposts like Fort Halleck diminished. Troop numbers were reduced, and the fort’s role shifted to that of a supply depot and administrative center for the surrounding region. Fort Halleck continued to play a vital role in maintaining order on the frontier, as tensions with Native American tribes persisted.

In 1880, the fort underwent significant renovations, with many of its wooden structures replaced with more durable stone and brick buildings. This renovation effort was a testament to the enduring importance of Fort Halleck in the region.

As the 19th century drew to a close, the American West underwent rapid changes. Railroads crisscrossed the region, making transportation more accessible, and settlements expanded. With these changes, the need for remote military outposts like Fort Halleck waned.

In 1886, Fort Halleck was officially closed, and its remaining personnel were transferred to other posts. The fort’s structures were abandoned, and the land was eventually sold off to private individuals.

Nevada State Historic Marker 47 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.

On July 26, 1867, Captain Samuel Smith established what became Fort Halleck twelve miles to the south near Soldier Creek.  In concert with Fort Ruby fifty miles further south, the Army intended the Fort to protect the California Emigrant Trail, the Overland mail route and construction work on the Central Pacific Railroad during conflicts with Goshute and Western Shoshone in that decade.

The camp was named for Major General Henry Wager Halleck, a prominent general who served as general-in-chief to the Army from 1862 to 1865.  In May 1868, Camp Halleck became a two-company post and the headquarters for the Nevada Military District when Fort Churchill, near Yerington, was abandoned.  By 1877, the Fort contained about 20 buildings of wood, adobe, and stone arranged around a rectangular parade ground.

Troops from the Fort participated in action against the Modoc Indians in Northern California in 1873; against the Nez Perce uprising in Idaho in 1877; against the Bannocks in Oregon in 1878; and against the Apaches in Arizona in 1885.  However, by the 1880s, the need for military stations throughout the American West was much diminished and the Army closed the Fort in December 1886.


Camp Halleck in 1871 - Photograph by Timothy O'Sullivan
Camp Halleck in 1871 – Photograph by Timothy O’Sullivan

Nevada State Historic Marker Trail Map

Fort Halleck Marker Summary

NameFort Halleck Military Reservation
Also KnownCamp Halleck
LocationElko County, Nevada
Longitude, Latitude40.9561, -115.4655
Nevada State Historic Marker47


Fort Mohave

Fort Mohave is a historic settlement located in the southwestern region of Mohave county, Arizona, United States. Nestled along the banks of the Colorado River near Beale’s Crossing, it has played a significant role in the development and growth of the American West. Over the centuries, this area has witnessed the presence of various indigenous tribes, Spanish explorers, American pioneers, and military forces, each leaving their mark on the region’s rich history.

The history of Fort Mohave dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation found in archaeological sites within the surrounding area. The Mojave people, from whom the fort derived its name, were one of the prominent Native American tribes in the region. They lived along the Colorado River, engaging in agriculture, hunting, and trade with other indigenous groups.

The first recorded European contact in the area occurred in the 16th century when Spanish explorers, including Melchor Díaz and Francisco Garcés, ventured into present-day Arizona. They encountered the Mojave people and established a limited presence in the region through the establishment of missions and trade routes. However, it wasn’t until the early 19th century that significant European-American exploration and settlement occurred.

In 1826, trapper and explorer Jedediah Smith traversed the Colorado River, reaching the vicinity of Fort Mohave. His expedition paved the way for subsequent fur trappers and traders who ventured into the area in search of beaver pelts and new trade opportunities. This influx of fur trappers and mountain men led to increased interaction between Native American tribes and Euro-Americans, often resulting in conflicts and tensions.

The establishment of Fort Mohave came about as a direct response to these conflicts. In 1858, the U.S. Army constructed the fort on the east bank of the Colorado River, near the confluence of the Mohave and Hardy rivers. Initially known as Camp Colorado, its primary purpose was to protect American settlers and travelers on their journey to the California gold fields during the height of the Gold Rush.

Fort Mohave was strategically positioned along the major transportation route that linked the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, known as the Mojave Road. It served as a critical outpost for the U.S. Army during the American Civil War, as troops were deployed to protect the mail and telegraph lines and maintain control over the region.

 Indians at Fort Mojave, Arizona, Sicihoot, War Chief of the Mojaves. - Photographer: Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882
Indians at Fort Mojave, Arizona, Sicihoot, War Chief of the Mojaves. – Photographer: Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882

The fort played a significant role in the military campaigns against Native American tribes, particularly the Mojave, Chemehuevi, and Navajo people, who were resisting the encroachment of settlers on their traditional lands. Numerous skirmishes and battles occurred in the area as tensions escalated between Native Americans and the expanding American population.

Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the fort gradually lost its military significance. In 1890, it was officially decommissioned, and the remaining structures were abandoned. However, the establishment of the Mohave Valley Irrigation Project in the early 20th century sparked a renewed interest in the region.

The irrigation project brought water to the arid lands surrounding Fort Mohave, facilitating the cultivation of crops and the establishment of farming communities. This development, coupled with the construction of the Davis Dam in the 1950s, which created Lake Mohave, transformed the economy and landscape of the area. The lake provided recreational opportunities, attracting tourists and supporting the growth of the local tourism industry.

The region continues to be influenced by its proximity to the Colorado River, offering a range of water-based activities such as boating, fishing, and water sports. The Fort Mojave Indian Reservation, located nearby, serves as a reminder of the area’s rich Native American heritage and provides a cultural center for the Mojave, Chemehuevi, and Navajo tribes.

Fort Mohave Trail Map


Chuck Yeagers NF-104 Crash Site

On December 10, 1963, Chuck Yeager, a legendary test pilot, crashed while flying an F-104 Starfighter at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mohave Desert of California. The incident resulted in serious injuries for Yeager and the grounding of the entire NF-104 fleet.

NF-104 Starfighter under rocket propulsion.
NF-104 Starfighter under rocket propulsion.


The NF-104 and F-104 are both variants of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter aircraft, but they have some significant differences.

The F-104 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft that was developed in the late 1950s for the United States Air Force (USAF). It was widely used by many countries, including Canada, Italy, Germany, and Japan. The F-104 had a single engine and was designed to be a high-performance interceptor aircraft. It had a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and was capable of flying at high altitudes.

The NF-104, on the other hand, was a modified version of the F-104 that was used for high-altitude flight training. The “NF” stands for “NASA Flight” because it was used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for astronaut training. The NF-104 was fitted with a rocket engine that allowed it to climb to higher altitudes than the F-104. The ceiling of the aircraft was supposed to be 125,000 feet. It was also equipped with a reaction control system (RCS) that allowed it to simulate the handling characteristics of a spacecraft.

Overall, the main differences between the F-104 and the NF-104 are that the latter had a rocket engine and RCS, which made it suitable for high-altitude flight training, while the former was a high-performance interceptor aircraft.

Chuck Yeager, on the other hand, was a highly experienced test pilot with a distinguished career. He was the first person to break the sound barrier in level flight, flying the Bell X-1 in 1947. Yeager was also known for his contributions to the development of several other aircraft, including the F-86 Sabre, the F-100 Super Sabre, and the B-58 Hustler.

The Crash

On December 10, 1963, Yeager was conducting a test flight of an NF-104 Starfighter equipped with a rocket engine at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The purpose of the flight was to evaluate the aircraft’s performance at high altitudes and high speeds. Yeager was flying at an altitude of 80,000 feet and a speed of Mach 1.5 when he experienced a loss of control.

According to Yeager’s account of the incident, he had just completed a steep climb to 108,000 feet and was beginning to level off when the aircraft suddenly pitched up and rolled to the left. Yeager attempted to recover the aircraft using the reaction control thrusters on. and applying opposite rudder and aileron, but the NF-104 continued to roll and dive and eventually fell into a flat spin.. Yeager ejected from the aircraft at an altitude of around 8,500 feet and landed safely, but he suffered several injuries, including a broken collarbone, several ribs, a punctured lung and severe burns to his face.


Chuck Yeagers NF-104 crash site is located in the Mojave Desert
Chuck Yeagers NF104 crashed in the Mojave Desert

Following the crash, the United States Air Force launched an investigation to determine the cause of the incident. The investigation revealed that the F-104 had a notoriously difficult flight envelope, with a high stall speed and a tendency to enter a flat spin at high angles of attack. The investigation also revealed that Yeager had been flying with a faulty attitude indicator, which may have contributed to the loss of control.

However, the investigation ultimately concluded that the cause of the crash was pilot error. The investigation found that Yeager had exceeded the aircraft’s design limitations by flying at an altitude and speed that were beyond the F-104’s safe operating range. The investigation also found that Yeager had not received adequate training on the F-104 and had not been briefed on the risks associated with flying the aircraft at high altitudes and speeds.


The consequences of the NF-104 crash were significant. The incident highlighted the dangers of flying high-performance aircraft without adequate training and briefing. As a result, the United States Air Force grounded the entire NF-104 fleet until additional training and safety measures could be implemented. The incident also led to changes in the way that test pilots were trained and briefed on new aircraft.

In 1922, the movie Top Gun: Maverick featured a similar incident written into the story of the movie. Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick is attempting to reach a new speed record or Mach 10, when, at high alititude he is forced to bail our of the experimental plane he was piloting.

Crash Location

Chuck Yeager’s NF-104 cam to rest in the Mohave Desert, just west of I-14 and south of California City Blvd.


NameChuck Yeagers NF-104 Crash Site
LocationMojave Desert, Los Angles County, California
Date of IncidentDecember 10th, 1963
Latitude, Longitude35.1236, -118.1469


X-15 Flight 3-65-97 Crash

On November 15, 1967, the X-15 Flight 3-65-97 experienced a catastrophic failure during a test flight, resulting in the death of pilot Michael J. Adams.

The wreckage of North American X-15 Flight 3-65-97, which crashed on November 15, 1967, killing USAF astronaut Michael J. Adams.
The wreckage of North American X-15-3, which crashed on November 15, 1967, killing USAF astronaut Michael J. Adams.

Beginning in the 1940’s, one of the most important locations for flight testing in the United States is the Mojave Air and Space Port, located in the Mojave Desert in California. With its wide-open spaces, dry climate, and proximity to aerospace companies and research facilities, the Mojave has become a hub for experimental aircraft testing and research, playing a vital role in advancing the field of aviation. In this report, we will explore the history and significance of flight testing in the Mojave, and examine some of the groundbreaking aircraft and technologies that have been developed and tested in this unique location.

The X-15 was a rocket-powered experimental aircraft developed by the United States Air Force and NASA in the 1950s and 1960s and the pinnacle of speed testing in the 1960’s. On November 15, 1967, the X-15 experienced a catastrophic crash during a test flight, resulting in the death of pilot Michael J. Adams. The crash was a tragic event in the history of experimental aviation and highlighted the risks and challenges of pushing the boundaries of technological innovation.

X-15 mounted below the wing of a B-52 while in flight.
X-15 mounted below the wing of a B-52 while in flight.

The X-15 was designed to fly at extremely high speeds and altitudes, reaching speeds of up to Mach 6.7 (about 4,500 miles per hour) and altitudes of over 350,000 feet. It was powered by a rocket engine and was capable of carrying out a wide range of scientific and engineering experiments in the upper atmosphere and beyond.

On the day of the crash, Adams was piloting the X-15 on its 191st test flight. The flight was intended to test a new navigation system and to gather data on the effects of high-altitude flight on the human body. The X-15 was carried to an altitude of 45,000 feet by a B-52 bomber, and then released to continue its ascent on its own.

However, shortly after reaching an altitude of about 50 miles, the X-15 began to experience control problems. The aircraft began to roll and yaw uncontrollably, and Adams was unable to regain control. The X-15 eventually went into a spin and began to break apart, with Adams ejecting from the aircraft at an altitude of about 15,000 feet. Tragically, Adams was unable to survive the ejection and the subsequent impact with the ground.

The cause of the X-15 crash was later determined to be a malfunction in the aircraft’s control system. Specifically, one of the X-15’s two reaction control system thrusters had become stuck in the “on” position, causing the aircraft to go into an uncontrolled spin. Despite efforts to regain control, the X-15 was unable to recover from the spin and ultimately crashed.

The X-15 crash was a tragic event that highlighted both the risks and rewards of pushing the boundaries of technological innovation. While the loss of Michael J. Adams was a devastating blow to the aviation community, his legacy lives on in the many important scientific and engineering discoveries made possible by the X-15 program.

X-15 Flight 3-65-97

X-15 Flight 3-65-97 came to rest East of Mojave just North of Highway 58. The site contains a small memorial and one should remember that a brave man lost his life at this location.


YB-49 Crash Site

The YB-49 was a prototype jet-powered flying wing aircraft designed and built by Northrop Corporation in the 1940s and 1950s. On June 5, 1948, the YB-49 experienced a catastrophic crash near Mojave in Los Angeles County, California, which resulted in the death of all five crew members on board. Captain Glen Edwards was the co-pilot of the flight, and the namesake of Edwards Air Force Base. The crash was a significant event in aviation history, as it raised questions about the safety of experimental aircraft and the future of jet-powered flight.

On June 5, 1948, the YB-49 experienced a catastrophic crash that resulted in the death of all five crew members on board.
On June 5, 1948, the YB-49 experienced a catastrophic crash that resulted in the death of all five crew members on board.

The YB-49 was designed as a successor to the earlier Northrop XB-35 flying wing bomber, which had been developed during World War II. The YB-49 was a radical departure from traditional aircraft design, with no tail or fuselage and a single large wing that housed the crew, engines, and weapons. The aircraft was powered by eight General Electric J35 turbojet engines and was capable of speeds up to 500 miles per hour and altitudes up to 40,000 feet.

On the day of the crash, the YB-49 took off from Muroc Air Force Base in California for a test flight. The flight was routine until about an hour into the flight, when the aircraft suddenly went into an uncontrolled spin and crashed into the desert floor. The cause of the crash was later determined to be a malfunction in the aircraft’s flight control system, which caused the elevons (the wing-mounted control surfaces that control pitch and roll) to become stuck in a partially raised position. This caused the aircraft to become unstable and enter the spin.

Brave Men Lost

The crash of the YB-49 cost these men their lives:

  • Major Daniel H. Forbes, Jr. – Pilot
  • Captain Glen W. Edwards – Copilot
  • Lt. Edward L. Swindell – Flight Engineer
  • Clare C. Lesser – Air Force civilian engineers
  • Charles H. LaFountain – Air Force civilian engineers

Muroc AFB was renamed Edwards AFB on December 5, 1949 in honor of the late Capt. Glen W Edwards

The crash of the YB-49 was a major setback for Northrop Corporation, which had invested significant time and resources into the development of the flying wing design. It also raised concerns about the safety of experimental aircraft and the need for more rigorous testing and evaluation of new designs before they are put into service. In the years following the crash, Northrop continued to develop and refine the flying wing design, eventually leading to the development of the B-2 stealth bomber, which entered service with the U.S. Air Force in the 1990s.

The crash of the YB-49 was a tragic event that highlighted the risks and challenges of experimental aircraft design. However, it also spurred innovation and development in the aviation industry, leading to the creation of new and advanced aircraft designs that continue to shape the field of aviation today.

YB-49 Crash Site Location summary

NameYB-49 Crash Site
LocationMojave Desert, Los Angeles County, California
Latitude, Longitude35.04243, -117.9926

YB-49 Trail Map

The YB-49 came to rest East of Mojave just North of Highway 58. The site contains a small memorial and one should remember that this is the location of the deaths of five brave men.