Ragtown Nevada

Ragtown Nevada is ghost town and Nevada State Historical Marker number nineteen. The town and Nevada State Historic Marker are located in the Churchill County, Nevada. The town was located about eight miles west of Fallon Nevada. Originally, the town was located near Leeteville, but later is relocated to its historic location. Today, nothing remains of the old settlement.

Ragtown Nevada
Ragtown, Nevada

The site which will become Ragtown started in 1854 as a station along the Humboldt Overland Trail. The station is located on a small ranch and the site is the first watering hole for travelers west of the dry alkali Forty Mile desert. The Forty Mile desert is one of the most notorious sections of the transit and the site of many tragedies. Travelers would rest and recoup from the journey along the northern bank of the Carson River before starting for the Sierra Nevada. The name Ragtown comes from the clothing hung to dry from the women doing their laundry.

During the late 1850’s, small structures are built from willow poles and canvas as temporary shelters for travelers. A summer seasonal population is comprised of traders, gamblers and those of less notable reputation. Samuel Clemmons visited Ragtown in 1861 on his way out west.

A flood in 1862 destroyed all of the structures and disinterred some 200 graves. The site is temporarily abandoned until the Reese River Excitement in 1863 started a renewal. By the late 1860s a post office is established and the small population of farmers worked the area. The location is bypassed with the establishment of the Central Pacific rail service.

Today, nothing remains of Ragtown beyond a historic maker.

Nevada State Historic Marker Text

Ragtown was never a town. Instead, it was the name of a most welcome oasis and gathering point. This mecca on the banks of nearby Carson River received its name from the appearance of pioneer laundry spread on every handy bush around.

The Forty Mile Desert, immediately to the north, was the most dreaded portion of the California Emigrant Trail. Ragtown was the first water stop after the desert. To the thirst- crazed emigrants and their animals, no sight was more welcome than the trees lining the Carson River.

Accounts tell of the moment when the animals first picked up the scent of water—the lifted head, the quickened pace, and finally the mad, frenzied dash to the water’s edge. Then, emigrants rested for the arduous crossing of the Sierra Nevada that lay ahead.

In 1854, Asa Kenyon located a trading post near Ragtown, offering goods and supplies to travelers during the 1850s and 1860s. Ragtown was one of the most important sites on the Carson branch of the California trail.


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. Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost of damaged.

Historic Photos

Desert Lake, near Ragtown, Western Nevada, ca. 1867 by Timothy H. O'Sullivan
Desert Lake, near Ragtown, Western Nevada, ca. 1867 by Timothy H. O’Sullivan

Pony Express

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

Ragtown Summary

NameRagtown, Nevada
LocationChurchill County, Nevada
PopulationTransitory, Seasonal, 50
Post Office186X –
Elevation4,029 feet
Nevada State Historic Marker19
Latitude, Longitude39.5057,-118.9215
NPS Pony Express Station160
Next Westbound StationDesert Wells Station
Next Eastbound StationNevada Station

Nevada State Historic Marker Map


One Reply to “Ragtown Nevada”

  1. Pingback: The Pony Express Trails and Stations In Nevada - Destination4x4

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.