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
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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.

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