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


West End of Hastings Cutoff – Nevada State Historic Marker 3

The West End of Hastings Cutoff is Nevada State Historic Marker number 3 and located on Interstate 80 in Elko County, Nevada.

Perhaps to most notorious story in the western expansion of the United States is that of the Donner Party. The Donner party was a wagon train which was bound for California, when running behind schedule, the became snow bound in the High Sierras. Notoriously, after several weeks of starvation they fell into despair and cannibalism.

The Emigrants' Guide to Oregon and California, written by Lansford Hastings, and published in 1845 - West End of Hastings Cutoff
The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California, written by Lansford Hastings, and published in 1845

One of the reasons the Donner Party was behind schedule is their use of the Hastings Cutoff, which a short cut along the California Trail. The route was not any shorter and dramatically more difficult and cost a lot of valuable lost time for the party. Following the Donner Party, and Hastings Cutoff soon goes unused and becomes a footnote to one of the most notorious tragedy’s of the west.

Nevada State Historic Marker 3 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.

Across the Humboldt Valley southward from this point a deeply incised canyon opens into a valley.  Through that canyon along the South Fork of the Humboldt River ran the disaster-laden route called the Hastings Cutoff.  It joined the regular Fort Hall route running on both sides of the Humboldt here.

The canyon was first traversed in 1841 by the Bartleson-Bidwell Party, the earliest organized California emigrant group.  In 1846, Lansford Hastings guided a party through this defile of the South Fork and out along the Humboldt.  The ill-fated Reed Donner Party followed later the same year.

By 1850, the dangers of the cutoff route were recognized and it was abandoned.


West End of Hastings Cutoff Marker Summary

NameWest End of Hastings Cutoff
LocationElko County, Nevada
Longitude, Latitude40.7661, -115.9198
Nevada State Historic Marker3

West End of Hastings Cutoff Trail Map


Jarbidge Community Hall – Nevada State Historic Marker 153

The Jarbidge Community Hall is a central gathering place for the residents of Jarbidge, Nevada. Built in 1939, the hall has served as a venue for community events, meetings, and social gatherings for more than 80 years. The hall is located on the main street of Jarbidge, and its distinctive Art Deco design makes it a landmark in the town.

The history of the Jarbidge Community Hall is intertwined with the history of the town itself. Jarbidge was founded in the late 19th century, during Nevada’s mining boom. The town was named after a nearby creek, and its population grew rapidly as miners flocked to the area in search of gold and silver.

Jarbidge Community Hall, Jarbidge, Elko county, Nevada
Jarbidge Community Hall, Jarbidge, Elko county, Nevada

By the early 20th century, Jarbidge had become an important mining town, with several mines operating in the area. The town’s population peaked in the 1920s, with around 1,500 residents. During this time, the town was home to several businesses, including hotels, saloons, and general stores.

However, the Great Depression hit Jarbidge hard, and the town’s mining industry began to decline. By the late 1930s, many of the mines had closed, and the town’s population had dwindled to just a few hundred people.

Despite the difficult times, the residents of Jarbidge remained committed to their community. In 1939, they came together to build a place to gather within the town. The building was designed by local architect Paul Revere Williams, who was one of the few African American architects working in the United States at the time. Williams was known for his Art Deco designs, and the Jarbidge Community Hall is one of his few surviving buildings in Nevada.

The Jarbidge Community Hall was built using local materials, including stone from a nearby quarry and wood from the surrounding forests. The hall’s Art Deco style is evident in its streamlined design, geometric shapes, and use of decorative elements such as the zigzag patterns on the building’s façade.

Over the years, the building has served as a venue for a wide range of events. In the early days, it was used for dances, social gatherings, and community meetings. During World War II, it was used as a venue for USO shows and other events to support the war effort. In the decades that followed, it continued to be a central gathering place for the residents of Jarbidge, hosting everything from weddings and birthday parties to town meetings and political rallies.

Today, the Jarbidge Community Hall remains an important part of the town’s identity. It is still used for community events and social gatherings, and it serves as a reminder of the town’s rich history and strong sense of community. The hall has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990, and it is considered one of the most significant Art Deco buildings in rural Nevada.

In recent years, the Jarbidge Community Hall has undergone several renovations to ensure that it remains a functional and attractive venue for the town’s residents. The building’s stone façade has been restored, and the interior has been updated with new flooring and lighting. The hall is now fully accessible, with a wheelchair ramp and updated restrooms.

Despite its small size, the Jarbidge Community Hall is a testament to the resilience and determination of the people of Jarbidge. It is a symbol of the town’s enduring spirit and its commitment to preserving its history and traditions for future generations.

Nevada State Historic Marker Text

Gold discoveries by Dave Bourne in 1909 created the town of Jarbidge.

With 1,500 population in Jarbidge Canyon by 1910, citizens built this pioneer-type community hail with a “floating” maple floor.  Support from the Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs and the community funded the restoration of the building.


Nevada State Historic Marker 153 Location

Jarbidge Community Hall Summary

NameJarbidge Community Hall
LocationJarbidge, Elko County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude41.8783, -115.4303
Nevada State Historic Maker 153


Jarbidge Nevada

Jawbidge, Nevada is a small town located in the northeastern part of the Nevada in Elko County. The discovery of gold and silver in the region brought an influx of miners and prospectors to the area, and Jawbidge quickly became a center of mining activity. “Jarbidge” is a name derived from the Shoshone language meaning “devil”. Native American Tribes believed the nearby hills were haunted.

Jarbidge, Nevada
Jarbidge, Nevada

Jarbidge, Nevada is a small town located in the northeastern part of the state with a rich mining history. The discovery of gold and silver in the region brought an influx of miners and prospectors to the area, and Jarbidge quickly became a center of mining activity.

The first miners in the area were individual prospectors who panned for gold along the Jawbidge River and its tributaries. The early miners found small deposits of gold, but it was not until the 1870s that larger deposits were discovered. These deposits were located in the hills and mountains surrounding the town.

In 1874, a group of miners discovered a rich vein of silver in the nearby Jarbidge Mountains. The discovery sparked a mining rush, and thousands of miners flocked to the area. The miners established camps and small settlements along the rivers and streams that ran through the region. The Jarbidge River, which runs through the town, was a particularly rich source of gold and silver.

The mining industry in Jawbidge was characterized by a boom-and-bust cycle. In the early days, the mining was done using simple tools like pickaxes and shovels. The miners worked long hours in dangerous conditions, and many of them died from accidents or from diseases like silicosis. Despite the dangers, the lure of gold and silver kept the miners coming.

In the 1880s, the mining industry in Jarbidge underwent a period of rapid expansion. New mines were opened, and new technologies were introduced that allowed for more efficient extraction of gold and silver. One of the most important innovations was the introduction of the stamp mill. This machine used heavy steel stamps to crush the ore, which was then separated from the waste material. The stamp mill allowed for large-scale mining operations, and it became the backbone of the mining industry in Jarbidge.

Jarbidge, Nevada photo 1909
Jarbidge, Nevada photo 1909

During this period, the town of Jarbidge grew rapidly. New businesses were established to support the mining industry, including supply stores, saloons, and boarding houses. The town’s population grew, and it became a center of commerce in the region.

In the 1890s, the mining industry in Jarbidge began to decline. Many of the mines had exhausted their deposits of gold and silver, and the cost of extracting the remaining ore became too high. The decline of the mining industry had a ripple effect on the town’s economy. Many businesses closed, and the population began to shrink.

Despite the decline of the mining industry, a few mines continued to operate in the area. In the early 1900s, a new mineral was discovered in the Jawbidge Mountains – tungsten. Tungsten was used to make steel alloys, and it became a valuable commodity during World War I. Several tungsten mines were opened in the area, and they helped to sustain the local economy.

In the 1920s, a new mining boom began in Jarbidge. This boom was fueled by the demand for copper, which was used in the construction of electrical wiring and other products. Several large copper mines were opened in the area, and they brought new jobs and prosperity to the town.

During World War II, the mining industry in Jarbidge played a critical role in the war effort. The mines produced copper, tungsten, and other minerals that were used to build weapons and other military equipment. The town’s population swelled as miners and other workers were brought in to support the war effort.

After the war, the mining industry in Jarbidge began to decline once again. The demand for copper dropped, and the mines began to close. The town’s economy shifted toward tourism and other industries.

Nevada State Historic Marker Text

As early as 10000 years ago, Native American hunting parties camped near horn to hunt game.  About a thousand years ago, Shoshone-speaking people entered the region, where they continue to live today.  The name Jarbidge comes from a Shoshone word meaning “a bad or evil spirit”.

Dave Bourne discovered gold in this isolated area in 1909 and production eventually totaled 59 million.  Population size varied, but in the early l920s, the Jarbidge district replaced fading Goldfield as the premier gold-producing area in Nevada.  The Jarbidge mines railed beginning in the tale 1920s.

On a stormy December 5, 1916, the last stagecoach robbery and murder in the history of the West took place in Jarbidge Canyon, ¼ mile south of the town.


Jarbidge Trail Map

Jarbidge Town Summary

NameJarbidge, Elko County, Nevada
Other NamesJa-ha-bich
LocationElko County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude41.8728, -115.4446
Elevation1932 meters / 6339 feet
Nevada State Historic Marker69


Jackson Lee Davis “Diamondfield Jack”

Jackson Lee “Diamondfield Jack” Davis who was pardoned for murder in Idaho and moved to Nevada where he founded several mining camps. Davis was a hired gun who worked for the cattlemen “protecting” cattle herds and their grazing land from sheep famers.

Jackson Lee "Diamondfield Jack" Davis (12 Aug 1863–2 Jan 1949)
Jackson Lee “Diamondfield Jack” Davis (12 Aug 1863–2 Jan 1949)

In 1895, Davis is hired by the Sparks-Harrell cattle company to keep the sheepherders off of the grazing lands. After an altercation where Davis wounded Bill Tolman in a shooting. Following this incident, he fled south to Nevada to star or of sight. While in Nevada, Davis is known to brad about his exploits.

In February, 1896, Davis returned to Idaho and returned to work for Sparks-Harrell in Idaho. During this time, two sheepherders, Daniel Cummings and John Wilson, are shot and killed. Due to he previous bragging and his being in the area at the time, Davis became a suspect. Davis fled to Arizona and is eventually captured. Upon his capture, he is returned to Idaho, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death for of the shooting.

DiamondField Nevada  - 1904 - Paher
DiamondField Nevada – 1904 – Paher

keep the sheep back. Don’t kill but shoot to wound if necessary. Use what measures you think best. If you have to kill, the company will stand behind you – regardless what happens.

While “Diamondfield Jack” is waiting his execution, two other men, James Bower and Jeff Gray, confess to the killing. During their trial, the two men are found not guilty. Regardless, this trial raised doubt as to the trial and Davis is reprieved one day before his scheduled execution.

Following a series of appeals, Davis is again scheduled for execution on July 3rd, 1901. At this point in time, public opinion no longer supported the death penalty. His execution is rescheduled until the Board of Pardons commutes his sentence to life in prisons. Davis is eventually pardoned on December 17th, 1902.

Following his release, Davis moved south into Nevada. In the spring of 1903, when news of promising gold strikes in Goldfield, Davis travelled to the town. After exploring and prospecting he uncovered promising ore ledges on McMahon Ridge northeast of town.

Within weeks of his discovery, prospectors flooded into the area. “Diamondfield Jack”, ever the opportunist plotted a townsite for the location and build a toll road to the new town from Goldfield. In the fall of 1904, the town reached its apex. At that time, it boasted a Post Office, three saloons, restaurants, general stores, schools, church, livery, butcher shop, blacksmith and union hall for the miners, which is impressive for a town just six months old. Public servants such as a sheriff, notary public and lawyer also maintained offices in the new formed district.

Nevada State Historic Marker #251 Text

This historical marker commemorates the lasting notoriety of flamboyant western gunman Jackson Lee Davis (1870-1949), who was better known by the colorful name, “Diamondfield Jack.” As a young man, after unsuccessfully prospecting for diamonds in the nearby hills, Davis was jokingly called “Diamondfield Jack,” a nickname that he carried the rest of his life.

In the late 1890’s, Davis gained a measure of fame as a gunman for the cattle interests, including rancher John Sparks, who would later become a Nevada governor, that were attempting to restrict sheep ranchers from southern Idaho and northeastern Nevada rangelands. Following a sensational trial in 1896, Davis was convicted of murdering two sheepherders. He was sentenced to be hanged, even after others confessed to the murders.

In 1902, Davis was finally pardoned for the crimes. He moved to the central Nevada mining towns of Tonopah and Goldfield, where he became a successful mine operator. He also helped found several mining camps, including one called Diamondfield. In later years, he drifted into obscurity and died in Las Vegas in 1949 after being struck by a car.

Nevada State Historic Marker #251 Summary

Nevada State Historic Marker251
NameDiamondfield Jack Davis
LocationElko County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude41.9847, -114.6720