Fort Ruby

Fort Ruby, also known as Camp Ruby is an old U. S. Army post which was built in 1862 during the American Civil War, The post is located in the “wilderness of eastern Nevada.” and protected the overland mail coaches and Pony Express, in order to maintain links and communication between residents of California and the Union states to the East.

Photo of Fort Ruby as it appeared in 1868, when famed western photographer Timothy Sullivan captured this image.
Photo of Fort Ruby as it appeared in 1868, when famed western photographer Timothy Sullivan captured this image.

The fort operated from 1862 to 1869 and was a small outpost in the land of the Western Shoshone tribes. The outpost is built prior to the signing of the Treaty of Ruby Valley in which the United States and the Western Shoshone agreed to allow access and mineral rights to the land in exchange for $5,000 a year for twenty years. These payments was supposed to be delivered in goods and livestock for the tribe. Sadly, only the first payment is delivered.

“Ruby Valley is a bleak, inhospitable place — no forage, nor lumber to build with, and as far as the Indians are concerned, entirely unnecessary to keep troops there,” 

Col. Patrick E. Conner

Col. Patrick E. Conner lead the expedition to the site in 1862 and along with 600 men from the 3rd Regiment of California Volunteers, built the fort from stone and wood from the nearby mountains. Fort Ruby was comprised of fourteen buildings including living quarters, stables, corrals and store houses. Water is supplied by the Fort Ruby Spring located close to the fort. Just one month after initial construction of the fort, the men prepared the fort for winter. Upon doing so, the majority of the soldiers packed up and left for Salt Lake City to establish Fort Douglas. In 1864, the California troops were replaced by the Nevada Volunteers, Company B, 1st Nevada Infantry.

The outpost is located in a vast remote location about halfway between Carson City, Nevada and Salt Lake City Utah. The main threat to the men after the treaty is boredom. Aside from a brief action known as the Goshute War with the local natives, there is nothing for the Troops to keep busy after the treaty is signed.

The camp is decommissioned on September 20th, 1869. As the troops left the outpost, ranch families waved goodbye. Fort Ruby and its soldiers had become a welcome part of the valley. the closing of the fort was a social and economic blow to the local ranchers.

Fort Ruby was salvaged by local ranchers and today, no much remains at the site aside from several graves and a historic marker.

Fort Ruby Summary

NameFort Ruby
LocationWhite Pine County, Nevada
Also Known AsCamp Ruby, Old Camp Ruby, Old Fort Ruby
Latitude, Longitude40.0677778, -115.5294444
GNIS1681469
Elevation1826 meters / 5991 feet

Fort Ruby Map

Resources

Ruby Valley Station

The Ruby Valley Station was started in 1859 as part of George Chorpenning’s mail route. Later the station served the Pony Express and Overland Mail Company line in White Pine County, Nevada. The station was managed by William “Uncle Billy” Rogers and Frederick William Hurst.

Ruby Valley, White Pine County, Nevada - Ruby Valley Pony Express Station - photo taken in 1944
Ruby Valley, White Pine County, Nevada – Ruby Valley Pony Express Station – photo taken in 1944

Richard Burton visited the site on October 7, 1860, Rogers served as stationkeeper. At that time, this station was considered a half-way point between Salt Lake City, Utah and the Carson Valley. Protection from angry Western Shoshone Tribes is provided from Fort Ruby from 1862 – 1869, which is located near by.

The area’s rich soil provided excellent opportunities to raise food and hay for the other stations along the route. A band of Shoshone and the army also established camps near the station at various times. Camp Floyd’s Company B of the 4th Artillery Regiment arrived at Ruby Valley in May 1860 to protect the mail route during the Pyramid Lake War and remained there until October. Thereafter, the station’s name appeared on the 1861 mail contract list.

NPS – Pony Express DIVISION FOUR: STATIONS BETWEEN SALT LAKE CITY AND ROBERTS CREEK

For preservation, the Ruby Vally station was physically relocated to the grounds of the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko in 1960. The Northeastern Nevada Historical Society donated a brass maker to identify the station site in 1979. 

Ruby Valley Station Map

Station Summary

NameRuby Valley Station
LocationWhite Pine County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude40.04652085477361, -115.4918430937907
GNIS845958
Elevation6030 feet
Pony Express Station No.131

References

The Pony Express Trails and Stations In Nevada

The Pony Express operated for a very brief period of time from April 3, 1860, to October 26, 1861. The mail service allowed quick delivery of mail, messages and newspapers between California and Missouri. The pony express was built and operated around one hundred and eighty six stations, which enabled a rider to change horses frequently and quickly traverse the county.

Pony Express Riders "Billy" Richardson, Johnny Fry, Charles Cliff, Gus Cliff - Ernest and Elaine Hartnagle (original tintype from the Martin E. Ismert Collection - Kansas City, Missouri) - http://www.historybuff.com/library/refrichardson.html
Pony Express Riders “Billy” Richardson, Johnny Fry, Charles Cliff, Gus Cliff – Ernest and Elaine Hartnagle (original tintype from the Martin E. Ismert Collection – Kansas City, Missouri) – http://www.historybuff.com/library/refrichardson.html

The Pony Express only operated for a brief 18 months. Yet, the lore of its riders racing the mail across the country maintains a special place in history. The service was not a financial success and heavily subsidized. Despite this influx of capital, the service was doomed on October 24, 1861 with the success of the transcontinental telegraph.

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.

“Men Wanted”

The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen men, familiar with the management of horses, as hostlers, or riders on the Overland Express Route via Salt Lake City. Wages $50 per month and found.

Ad in the Sacramento Union, March 19, 1860

The riders would received their delivery and store them in a special mail pouch or mochila. The rider would travel from station to station and changed horses at each station about every 10 miles. The riders would be changed every 75 to 100 miles and road 24 hours a day. A pony express rider earned $125 / month which was a good salary for the time

The last day of the pony express was October 26, 1861. On this day, the transcontinental telegraph completed the first direct communication between san Francisco and New York. On that day, the pony express officially became too slow, too expensive and ceased operations.

Illustrated Map of Pony Express Route in 1860 by William Henry Jackson ~ Courtesy the Library of Congress ~ The Pony Express mail route, April 3, 1860 – October 24, 1861; reproduction of Jackson illustration issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pony Express founding on April 3, 1960. Reproduction of Jackson's map issued by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
Illustrated Map of Pony Express Route in 1860 by William Henry Jackson ~ Courtesy the Library of Congress ~ The Pony Express mail route, April 3, 1860 – October 24, 1861; reproduction of Jackson illustration issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pony Express founding on April 3, 1960. Reproduction of Jackson’s map issued by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

Nevada Pony Express Stations

  • Alpine Ranch Station
  • Antelope Spring Station
  • Buckland’s Station ( Lyon County )
  • Butte Station
  • Carson City
  • Carson Sink Station
  • Cold Springs Station
  • Dayton
  • Deep Creek Station
  • Diamond Springs Station ( Eureka County )
  • Dry Creek Station
  • Dry Wells Station
  • Edwards Creek Station
  • Egan Station
  • Eightmile
  • Fort Churchill ( Lyon County )
  • Friday’s Station
  • Genoa
  • Grubb’s Well
  • Hooten Well Station
  • Jacob’s Well Station
  • Jacobsville Station
  • Middlegate Station
  • Miller’s Station
  • Mountain Spring Station
  • Prairie Gate
  • Robert’s Creek Station
  • Ruby Valley Station ( White Pine County )
  • Sand Springs Station
  • Scheel Creek Station
  • Simpson Park Station
  • Smith Creek Station
  • Spring Valley Station
  • Sulpher Springs Station
  • Van Sickle’s Station

Pony Express Rider Oath

I, … , do hereby swear, before the Great and Living God, that during my engagement, and while I am an employee of Russell, Majors, and Waddell, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers, so help me God.”

Oath sworn by Pony Express Rider

Pony Express Trail Map

References