Pony Express Trail (1860 – Sesquicentennial – 2010)

The Pony Express Trail (1860 – Sesquicentennial – 2010) is Nevada State Historic Marker #271 is located in Churchill County, Nevada. From Fallon drive head east on US 50 for 15 miles to Salt Wells Road. Turn south onto Salt Wells Road and travel for eight miles. This marker is the last historic marker approved by the the state of Nevada.

Pony express route April 3, 1860 - October 24, 1861 - Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942.
Pony express route April 3, 1860 – October 24, 1861 – Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942.

A Brief History

The Pony Express started to fill a need caused by the growing populations of California. After the discovery of Gold in 1848, thousands streaked to the golden state to seek their fortune in the ground. Additional demand for mail service was caused from migration along the infamous Oregon Trail and the Utah Mormon exodus in 1847. Stage Service was used to transfer correspondence across the Western United States.

The service was built and organized by three men, William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell. These men formed the company Russell, Majors & Waddell and in just two months in the winter of 1860 organized 184 stations, 80 riders and 400 hundred horse to race mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Some of the stations were existing stage stops while others were purpose built humble buildings deep in the Nevada territory. They hoped with a 10 day delivery time they could secure government contracts. The costs of the expedited service was 25000% greater that the slower stage service and a 1/2 package would cost $5 at the time.

Marker Text

One hundred and fifty years ago, the Pony Express was founded by W. H. Russell, Alexander Majors and William B. Waddell, operators of the Overland Stage Line of Leavenworth, Kansas. During a visit to Washington, Mr. Russell was urged by California Senator William Gwin to expand the Overland Stage operation to facilitate faster mail service. Mr. Russell’s partners hesitated due to the projected high costs; he persevered and the first ride began on April 3, 1860.

Overland stagecoach stations were located every 10-12 miles as far as Salt Lake City. Eighty skilled and experienced riders, 400 horses and approximately one hundred-eighty-four stations were located in Nevada from Utah (Deep Creek) to the California border (Genoa). The swift riders carried the mail 2,000 miles in 10 days from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The “Pony” improved nationwide communication, western expansion and was credited with California’s continued participation in the Union at the beginning of the Civil War.

A high price was paid for the improved communication, including the cost to post a letter and the trials of the employees during the ride. The cost of mailing a letter as advertised was not economical, “letters less than 1/4 oz cost $2.50; over 1/4 oz, not to exceed 1/2 oz cost $5.00 and so on.” The riders, station masters and division agents faced hostile environments including poor housing, extreme heat and cold, poor access to potable water, food and dangers due to the conflicts between the Tribes and the new comers to the west.

On October 24, 1861, the telegraph was born and the last ride was completed. What had taken ten days could be achieved in ten seconds thus ending the Pony Express but the memory of the riders and the route live on.


Nevada State Historic Marker Summary

NamePony Express Trail (1860 – Sesquicentennial – 2010)
LocationChurchill County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.287541, -118.571526
Nevada State Historic Marker Number271


Sutro Tunnel

The Sutro Tunnel was a drainage adit into the Comstock Load, which is located in Lyon County, Nevada.

The entrance to the Sutro Tunnel in the late 1800s. Suntro, Lyon County, Nevada.
The entrance to the Sutro Tunnel in the late 1800s. Suntro, Lyon County, Nevada.

Following Silver discovers and in the Comstock Load, a rush of people came into Nevada. The Comstock load is hindered by water flooding the tunnels at depth.

In 1865, Sutro’s tunnel gained traction and had gained approval from the federal and state governments. The Sutro Tunnel Company is formed and started selling stock certificates to raise funds. Construction began in 1869 and connected to the Savage Mine on July 8th, 1878. On June 30th, 1879, the tunnel is connect of all of the mines and the first water is released. The tunnel was 3.88 miles in length and runs from Dayton to Virginia City.

Sutro was a town, a tunnel and a man. The orderly town was headquarters for the Sutro drainage tunnel. Adolph Sutro, German born, came to the Comstock in 1860. He advocated a drainage tunnel, visualizing development of the Comstock resource by a system long used to drain and explore mineral deposits.

By 1865, his vision gained approval of state and federal legislation. However, the mining interests, having at first supported the tunnel, became strongly opposed.

When construction began in 1869, it was first financed by the mine workers, since the tunnel would improve mine safety. Later, the funding came from international bankers.

The main tunnel broke through in 1878. Lateral tunnels were extended and the project drained, ventilated and serviced the Comstock as planned. When the tunnel was proven, Adolph Sutro sold his interest in the tunnel company and returned to San Francisco. A “magnificent hole in the ground” remains.

Nevada State Historic Marker Summary

NameSutro Tunnel
LocationLyon County, Nevada
Nevada State Historic Marker85
Latitude, Longitude39.2744, -119.5645


Stokes Castle

Stokes Castle is a point of interest and Nevada Start Historic Marker number fifty nine located in Lander County, Nevada. The granite rock tower is located on a hillside just outside of Austin, Nevada.

Stokes Castle is a three-story stone tower named for Anson Phelps Stokes who was a banker, investor and railroad man who built the tower as a summer home. The design of his summer home is inspired painting which pictures a tower in Roman Campagna, Italy.

Construction is started in 1896 and completed the following year. The hand-hewn granite stones were lifted into place using a hand winch and secured with a rock and clay mortar. The first floor of the tower consisted of a dining room and kitchen. The living room was located on the second floor, while the third floor houses two bedrooms. Each floor benefitted from a fireplace and the second and third floors boasted balconies along with plate glass windows to accentuate the view of the valley below..

Despite the money and time investment, the Stokes family only occupied the granite towerN for a few short weeks. Stokes sold his interest is some of the local mining operations, and moved further west. After which the structure fell into disrepair.

Today, Stokes Castle is a privately owned property and recognized as Nevada State Historic Landmark. The structure is surrounded by a chain link fence to prevent unauthorized access.

Nevada State Historic Marker #59

Anson Phelps Stokes, mine developer, railroad magnate and member of a prominent eastern family, built Stokes Castle as a summer home for his sons.  After the castle (or the tower, as the

Stokes family always referred to it) was completed in June 1897, the Stokes family used it for two months.  Since then, with one possible exception, the structure has remained unoccupied.

Stokes Castle is made of huge, granite stones, raised with a hand winch and held in position by rock wedging and clay mortar.  The architectural model for the castle was a medieval tower Anson Stokes had seen and admired near Rome.  This building originally had three floors, each with a fireplace, plate glass windows, balconies on the second and third floors, and a battlemented terrace on the roof.  It had plumbing and sumptuous furnishings.

Stokes Castle has served for decades as an iconic Nevada building often photographed by enthusiasts of Western history.


Marker Summary

NameStokes Castle
LocationLander County, Nevada
Nevada State Historic Mark59
Latitude, Longitude39.4936, -117.07986

Nevada State Historic Marker Map


Powell of the Colorado Nevada State Historic Marker 37

Powell of the Colorado Nevada State Historic Marker 37 is a marker commemorating the 1869 exploration of the Grand Canyon by Major John Wesley Powell. The marked is located overlooking Lake Mead, Nevada.

Powell of the Colorado Nevada State Historic Marker 37- The 1871 Powell Expedition preparing to depart Green River.  Photo NPS
The 1871 Powell Expedition preparing to depart Green River. Photo NPS

Marker Text

On August 30, 1869, Major John Wesley Powell landed at the mouth of the Virgin River, about 12 miles south of here, thus ending the first boat expedition through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.

The expedition left Green River City, Wyoming Territory, on May 24, 1869. For three months Powell and his men endured danger and hunger to explore, survey and study the geology of the canyons along the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Exhausted and near starvation, the Powell party was warmly greeted and fed by the hardy Mormon pioneers of St. Thomas, a small farm settlement about 11 miles north of here.

The original sites of St. Thomas and the junction of the Virgin and Colorado Rivers are now beneath the waters of Lake Mead.

This, and later Powell surveys, stimulated great interest in the water conservation problems of the Southwest.

Marker Summary

Nevada State Historic Marker 37
NamePowell on the Colorado
LocationLake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude36.3072, -114.4201



Millers Nevada State Historic Marker 101

Millers Nevada State Historic Marker 101 is located at a rest stop alone highway 6 a few miles west of Tonopah, in Esmeralda county, Nevada. Millers was a train station and watering stop for the Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad

Charles R. Miller - Millers Nevada State Historic Marker 101
Charles R. Miller


As a result of mining excitement at Tonopah in 1901 and subsequent construction of the Tonopah and Goldfield Railroad, Millers was first founded in 1904 as a station and watering stop on that line.  The name honored Charles R. Miller, a director of the railroad and former governor of Delaware.  He was also vice-president of the Tonopah Mining Company and was instrumental in having its 100-stamp cyanide mill built here in 1906.  In 1907, the town boomed with the construction of the T. & G. R.R.’s repair shops and another large mill.  The population grew to 274 in 1910, when the town boasted a business district and post office.  By 1911, the railroad shops and a mill had been moved away, and Millers began to decline.  It was abandoned in 1947 when the railroad went out of business.


Marker Summary

Nevada State Historic Marker15
LocationEsmeralda County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude38.1402, -117.4539