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


Potholes California – Colorado River Steamship Landing

Potholes California is a former gold mining camp and ghost town located in Imperial County, California. The town is located on the western side of the Colorado River near the present day Laguna Dam. The location was first mined by Spanish Miners in 1871. These early workings and miners were lost during the Yuma War, 1850 – 1853.

Potholes California

From 1852 through 1909, Colorado Steamships ferried people and supplies up and down the Colorado River to mining camps and outposts. Following the discovery of gold in California, westward expansion of the United States was on the mind of most people seeking their fortune of livelihood. Wagon trains, horses and trains all brought people deep into the new county seeking their fortune. Lesser known is the role of the steamships, which brought supplies and people up the Colorado River from Baja California to the Green River in Wyoming.

There has been some little excitement in this part of the, country, caused by the discovery of new gold fields on the Rio Colorado, some fifteen miles above Fort Yuma, on the California side. I have just returned from the diggings, and find, after a careful examination of three days, that gold exists there in paying quantities, for many miles on both sides of the river. While at the newly discovered diggings, a considerable quantity of the oro has been taken out, considering the short time- they have been worked. From the claim of Messrs. Crandell & Co., $200 per day have been dug daily for the past six days. The manner of working is the same at at Jila city, heretofore described. The earth must be carried on the back a distance of one mile, and washed in a cradle. It is said that the total amount of the gold taken from Crandell & Co ‘s claim is about $4,000. – They have now constructed a cart-road from the mine to the river, and hereafter will be able to work at better advantage. Several other claims in the vicinity are paying from $10 to $16 per day; but most of the claims — for a good manner have been located — will not pay more than $2 per day to the hand, by the present process of working. If water could be obtained and sluice* used, from $40 to $100 per day might be washed. [We had news of these diggings in oar San Diego correspondence, published this morning, and the corroborating testimony of .our Fort Yuma correspondent is of much value, as confirmatory of the reports from San Diego. — Eds. Alta.]

I think, however, that the Gila mines are much more valuable, or will yield much more gold than these new diggings on the Colorado. Th« former have the advantage of being easily supplied with water, works for that purpose being now in progress.

Mining operations resumed again in 1859 with the rediscovery of gold. Placier mining operations proved successful in the 19th century. A steamship landing was established to ferry people and supplies to the location 15 miles up river from Yuma, Arizona.

The town of Potholes California was established during the building of the All American Canal and Laguna Dam.

Daily Alta California, Volume XI, Number 42, 12 February 1859

Town Summary

NamePotholes, California
LocationImperial County, California
Latitude, Longitude32.8289329, -114.5046713
Elevation160 feet
Post Office1905 – 1909, 1920 – 1922

Potholes California Map


Callville Nevada – Colorado River Steamship Landing

Callville Nevada is a ghost town and Colorado River Steamboat port, which is now submerged below the waters of Lake Mead. Bishop Anson Call founded and established a colony and warehouse on the Colorado River at the direction of the Mormon Leader Brigham Young. The settlement was located about 15 miles up river from the location of the future site of Hoover Damn.

  Call's Landing or Callville looking toward the west as it appeared in 1926 - Photo courtesy of R. F. Perkins
Call’s Landing or Callville looking toward the west as it appeared in 1926 – Photo courtesy of R. F. Perkins
Bishop Anson Call, Mormon Colonizer, May 13, 1810 – August 31, 1890
Bishop Anson Call, Mormon Colonizer, May 13, 1810 – August 31, 1890

Callville was established on December 2, 1864 when Anson Call arrived on a small bluff over looking the Colorado River in the Arizona Territory. The settlement was located at the conjunction of the later named Callville wash and the Colorado River.

The founding of the settlement was the churches effort to expand trade routes and European immigration into Utah from the south. The small portgage and landing site was one of several along the Colorado including St. Thomas, Saint Joseph, Overton, West Point, Mill Point ( Simonsville ) and Rioville.

During the Civil War, the army of the United States garrisoned at the site, to protect the Colorado River Steamboats and serve as a landing point for army. In December 1865, the outpost had the honor to become the county seat for Pah-Ute County, Arizona Territory. The station was short lived and transferred to St Thomas just two years later.

In 1869, the army garrison was removed. Following the war, Congress redrew some of the state boundaries and the settlement in the Arizona Territory is moved to Nevada. From 1866 to 1878, the landing at Callville was the High Water of Navigation for steamboat traffic on the Colorado River, which is 408 miles from Fort Yuma. The town was abandoned in June 1869 when the Steamships discontinued service to the site.

Today, the town lies in under 400 feet of water. However, the water levels in Lake Mead are at an all time low, and St. Thomas is currently above water.

“Take a suitable company, locate a road to the Colorado, explore the river, find a suitable place for a warehouse, build it, and form a settlement at or near the landing.” 

Brigham Young instructing Anson Call, 1864

Town Summary

LocationLake Mead, Clark County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude36.1133128, -114.6888720
Other Common NamesCall’s Fort, Old Callville

Callville Map


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


Nelson Nevada and Eldorado Canyon – Clark County Ghost Town

Rock spires carved by erosion located in Eldorado Canyon, Nelson, Nevada.
Rock spires carved by erosion located in Eldorado Canyon, Nelson, Nevada.

The ghost town of Nelson, Nevada, which is located in Eldorado Canyon along Lake Mojave, is a quaint destination which offers the visitor a brief glimpse into the past.


The Southwest Mining Company Quartz mill located just off the Colorado River.
The Southwest Mining Company Quartz mill located just off the Colorado River.

El Dorado Canyon has a long and storied mining history which includes 150 years of mining activities by Native Americans, Spanish Explorers and Mormons prior to 1861. In 1863, miners from nearby Potosi flooded the area and established four town sites in the narrow canyon, the establishment of which caused some excitement on the western coast.

Many structures are still standing, Nelson, Nevada.
Many structures are still standing, Nelson, Nevada.

In 1864, near the mouth of Eldorado canyon a ten-stamp stamp mile is built. This despite a six month lead time for supplied to arrive in the remote location. At the time, Eldorado canyon was part of the Arizona territory and the Eldorado mill was the first in the Arizona territory.

The steamboat Mohave departing the landing in El Dorado Canyon.
The steamboat Mohave departing the landing in El Dorado Canyon.

As the town grew, in 1865 the town added a post office. However the area was a rough camp with the nearest law about 300 miles away. Vigilantes dispensed justice to those who crossed the line.

Mill in Eldorado Canyon, circa 1890
Mill in Eldorado Canyon, circa 1890

Founded in 1905 Nelson, Nevada is located some seven miles west at the head of Eldorado Canyon. The town of Nelson slumped for two decades beginning in 1909, but the 1930’s found a resurgence in gold production. By 1941, the three cyanide mills processed 220 tons of ore daily. The population reached 600 persons, however increased costs caused the gold production to slow and eventually cease. The Techatticip mine produced over half of the total gold produced in the area. The gold produced by the region has an estimated valued at $10,000,000.00.

In 1951, Davis Damn is completed. The original town site in Eldorado canyon was buried and drowned by the rising waters of Lake Mojave.

A visitors center and store are open to those who travel here.  Nelson, Nevada
A visitors center and store are open to those who travel here. Nelson, Nevada


Today, the town of Nelson hosts some 37 people in the 2010 census. The older section of town hosts many old buildings, ruins, cars, mining equipment and all in all is an eclectic collection of mining and western history. The current occupants have a wonderful collection of old mining gear and western history, mixed with an eclectic collection of art.

Nelson, Nevada

The town was recently used as a movie set, and the a tour of the town is available to those interested.

Nelson, Nevada is a quiet destination worthy of a few hours if you are in the area.
Nelson, Nevada is a quiet destination worthy of a few hours if you are in the area.

Nelson and El Dorado trail map