Rioville Nevada – Colorado Steamship Landing

Founded in 1865, Rioville, Nevada was founded by Daniel Bonelli at the confluence of the Virgin River and the Colorado River. Bonelli was a Mormon settler who was sent to the area by Brigham Young. The town is long since drowned in the rising waters of Lake Mead.

Rioville, Nevada also known as Bonelli's Landing, circa 1900
Rioville, Nevada also known as Bonelli’s Landing, circa 1900

Originally known as Junction City, the small crossing of Stone’s ferry was purchase by Bonelli in 1870. Stone’s ferry was renamed Bonelli’s Ferry for its new owner, and the ferry crossing was moved to Junction City which was about two miles down river. In 1871, the site was abandoned by its settlers.

In 1880, a second wave of settlers arrived and the town was renamed to Rioville. The ferry was pulled over the river by a man with a rope line. It cost $10.00 to cross, which included a wagon and 2 persons with an additional charge $0.50 for each additional person. A post office was founded in 1881 and operated until 1906

The original ferry boat at Bonelli's Landing - 1890
The original ferry boat at Bonelli’s Landing – 1890

On July 8, 1879, the steamboat Gila, piloted by Captain Jack Mellon, made Rioville the uppermost landing for steamboats of the Colorado River. The arrival made the town high water head of navigation on the Colorado River and Captain Mellon finally proved that it was indeed the head of steam navigation on the Colorado River. The
Mormon population in town were “wonder-struck” to see a steamboat; one proclaimed it the “biggest thing he ever saw in water.”

Steamboats continued to traffic high up the Colorado River until 1887 when silver mining activity declined during high water months. The town was service from 1879 to 1882 the the sloop Sou’Wester during low water, carried locally mined salt to process silver ore in El Dorado Canyon. From 1869 to 1887, the landing at Rioville was the High Water of Navigation for steamboat traffic on the Colorado River, which was 440 miles from Fort Yuma.

The town was abandoned in the 1890s but the post office lingered to 1906 and the ferry until 1934. The rising waters of Lake Mead, caused by the construction of Hoover Damn drowned the location in water.

Town Summary

NameRioville, Nevada
LocationUnderwater Lake Mead, Clark County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude36.1502603, -114.3994176
Post Office 1881-1906
StatusVery Wet
Also known asJunction City, Junctionville

Town Map


One Reply to “Rioville Nevada – Colorado Steamship Landing”

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