It was during this Pleistocene, or glacial epoch, that an ancient fault line in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was further carved and filled by glaciers and glacial melt, thereby forming Lake Tahoe and to the east, the Carson Range. Scientific examination of Lake Tahoe's sediments indicates that at that time the lake was approximately 2,600 feet deeper than its current maximum depth of 1,645 feet.(1) The maximum prehistoric depth has been reported to have been 7,000 feet.(2)
It was during this Wisconsin age, and as recently as 12,500 years ago, that much of the area now contained within the upper Carson River Basin was covered in snowpack and glaciers, while much of the lower Carson River Basin was covered by the pre-historic Lake Lahontan. Lake Lahontan, along with Lake Bonneville, which covered northwestern Utah and parts of eastern Nevada, represented the Great Basin's major Ice Age lakes which inundated vast portions of Nevada and Utah. The cooler temperatures and far more abundant precipitation that were prevalent during this period resulted in a more lush and hospitable environment for both flora and fauna throughout this region. Now, only the Great Salt Lake remains as a reminder of the prehistoric presence of Lake Bonneville, and only Pyramid Lake and Walker Lake remain as major lake remnants of Lake Lahontan.
Lake Lahontan experienced several peaking enlargements at approximately 65,000, 45,000, 30,000, and as recently as 12,500 years ago, and at other times nearly dried up.(3) At its peak surface elevation (highstand), which occurred approximately 65,000 years ago, Lake Lahontan covered an estimated 8,655 square miles in northwestern Nevada, an area equal to almost eight percent of the State of Nevada's present surface area. This Ice Age lake was fed by the flows of the Truckee, Carson, Walker, Humboldt, Susan and Quinn rivers, attained a maximum surface elevation of approximately 4,380 feet above mean sea level (MSL), and reached a maximum depth of at least 886 feet where Pyramid Lake (in the Truckee River Basin), the lowest point in the system, now remains.(4) Lake Lahontan also covered the Lahontan Valley wetlands (Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Carson Lake and Pasture in the Carson River Basin) to a depth of 500-700 feet.(5) Also in the lower Carson River Basin, Lake Lahontan covered the site of the Fallon townsite by almost 420 feet, and in the Walker River Basin it created a pool in Walker Lake some 520 feet deep.(6)
At its peak surface elevation, the north-south extent of Lake Lahontan stretched from just below the Nevada-Oregon border in the north to just south of Walker Lake to present-day Hawthorne, Nevada, a point some eight miles past Walker Lake's present southern shoreline. Lake Lahontan also extended well up the lower Truckee River canyon towards, but not quite reaching, the Truckee Meadows and the present-day cities of Reno and Sparks, Nevada, to a point near the present-day location of Lockwood near Lagomarsino Canyon.(7) In the Carson River Basin, Lake Lahontan extended up the lower Carson River to a point just below the present-day community of Dayton in Lyon County. And in the Walker River Basin, Lake Lahontan extended its reach through the Adrian Pass, a low-lying valley connecting the lower Carson River Basin to the north end of Mason Valley, down the Campbell Valley to fill the Walker Lake sub-basin and then up the Walker River to a point just below the present-day city of Yerington in Mason Valley.
It was also around this time of the late glacial period that Lake Tahoe continued to be formed and filled by the movement and the melting of massive Ice Age glaciers. The outlet to Lake Tahoe was established near present-day Tahoe City, located on the lake's northwestern shore, in Placer County, California. It was at this site that in 1870 the first Tahoe dam was constructed. Eventually this regulating facility came to have important implications on the supply of the waters of the Truckee River Basin to the lower Carson River Basin, and specifically with respect to waters provided to the Newlands Irrigation Project located in Lahontan Valley in Churchill County, Nevada.
While flowing a seemingly short distance of only 184 miles from its origins in the high Sierra Nevada Mountains just north of Sonora Pass, to its terminus in the Carson Sink, the Carson River's importance to a variety of water users in this arid and water-starved region would be magnified many times. Early conflicts over competing uses of the Carson River's waters arose among agricultural interests in Carson Valley, mining and milling interests along the lower Carson River in Dayton Valley (Carson River Canyon) near Brunswick Canyon, and logging interests (mill men), who supplied essential lumber products to the mines, ore-processing mills, and railroads. It became obvious shortly after the mines' stamping mills began operations in the early 1860s that the Carson River lacked sufficient water for all users. From this time, it would take nearly 120 years for some lasting agreement to be reached through the 1980 Alpine Decree on how to divide the limited waters of the Carson River for the benefit of all users.
The record of man's existence in and around Lake Lahontan and in the lower Truckee and Carson River basins began at Fishbone Cave, located on the eastern shore of the dry lake bed of Winnemucca Lake. The cave's excavation produced bones of horses, camels, and marmots, as well as burned human bones. Little else was revealed about these Paleo-Indians who lived on the shores of Lake Lahontan and its remnant bodies of water towards the end of the Wisconsin period. This period of time, however, corresponded to the approximate period when the last land bridge existed between Siberia and Alaska. For extended periods during the Wisconsin Age, a period that lasted from 75,000 to 10,000 years ago, the world's oceans were approximately 300 to 330 feet lower than they are today. During certain intervals within this period, namely approximately 40,000-35,000 years ago, 28,000-23,000 years ago, and 13,000-10,000 years ago, these continents were connected by a land bridge and migrations of prey and pursuing hunter were possible along a route down the Pacific coastline, which was relatively free of ice fields and glaciers.(8)
As Lake Lahontan was in its final descension phase, the Lahontan Valley around Grimes Point, several miles east of the city of Fallon in Churchill County, Nevada, was home to a race of marsh-dwellers called the "Spirit Cave Man." These people were known for their highly advanced and intricate weaving and textiles. Other than this, little else is known of the origins, existence, and ultimate demise of these people. Between 7,000 and 4,000 years ago, western Nevada became extremely arid, including a 1,000-year period commonly termed "The Big Drought." It is thought that during this later period, the region became more or less uninhabitable for humans, and the native people living in the Lahontan Valley either died off or migrated north to wetter climates, such as the Klamath or Modic regions.(9)
Ancient petroglyphs were drawn by an ancient people on basalt boulders at Grimes Point, located approximately ten miles east of Fallon, Nevada, in Churchill County and the Loahontan Valley in the Lower Carson River Basin. The Grimes Point site represents one of the largest and most accessible petroglyph sites in northern Nevada. It is believed that the carvings were of "magico-religious" significance in insuring the success of large game hunts and were located near seasonal migration routes. Running east and west along the ridge, on the hill above the petroglyphs, there is evidence of an aboriginal drift fence for driving deer or antelope. This would have required concentrated group action in construction and operation.(10)
In the more recent pre-recorded history period, various tribes of Paiute (Pah Ute), Shoshone, and Washoe (Washo) Indians inhabited the area now contained within the Lake Tahoe Basin, and the Carson, Truckee, and Walker River basins. The Paiute Indians were concentrated primarily around Pyramid and Walker lakes as well as in and around the wetland areas within the Lahontan Valley. The Western Shoshone Indians tended to be located further to the east and south. The Washoe Indians occupied the more mountainous regions in an area stretching from Castle Peak and the Donner Lake area in the north, located near the present-day town of Truckee, California, to Ebbetts Pass in the south, and from Lake Tahoe in the west to the area around present-day Virginia City in the east.(11)
1800s (Before the White Man's Arrival) The Washoe (Washo) Indians were the dominant people of the upper portion of the Carson River Basin. By the early 1800s there were about 900 members of the Washoe Indian Tribe located throughout the Great Basin and within the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. These people moved throughout this area with the changing seasons, between its deserts and mountains, in search of food. In the early spring the Washoe Indians would leave the desert lowlands and migrate into the mountains towards the headwaters of the Carson River and to Lake Tahoe, the big lake in the sky. When the aspens came ablaze with fall colors, the Washoe would return to the foothills and eventually to the desert basins below. Adventurous tribal members were reported to have journeyed far to the west and undertook trade with the Miwok and Maidu Indian Tribes on the Sierra's western slopes.(12)
The lower portion of the Carson River Basin in the vicinity of Stillwater Marsh was inhabited the Toidikadi, or "Cattail-eater" Northern Paiute people. These people held as their home district a large area surrounding the Carson Desert, a homeland which was bounded on the north by the West Humboldt Range and on the south by the Desert Mountains and adjacent Cocoon Mountains, on the east by Dixie and Fairview valleys and the Clan Alpine Mountains, and on the west by the Virginia Range. Their prominent food sources consisted of trout, ground squirrels, marmots, jackrabbits, water fowl, wild onions, and cattails.(13)
1823 Most maps of this period showed vast regions of unexplored territory in the western United States between the Rocky Mountains and the Central Valley of California. Some more imaginative cartographers also depicted the existence of the mythical San Buenaventura River, a large river which was believed to run due west from the Rocky Mountains and into San Francisco Bay.(14) The seed to the existence of the San Buenaventura River was originally planted by early Spanish missionaries who had explored the area around the Great Salt Lake in 1776 and imagined a mighty inland waterway flowing out of this lake to the west across terrible deserts, through the lofty Sierra Nevada Mountains, and onward to the Pacific Ocean.(15)
1826 (Fall) Jedediah Strong Smith, leader of a party of fifteen trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, traversed the southern tip of Nevada along the Virgin and Colorado Rivers, ending up at the San Gabriel Mission near the present site of Los Angeles. Disregarding the Mexican government's request to return the way he had come, Smith left Los Angeles in early 1827 and headed north through the San Joaquin Valley. Then, with only two other companions, he crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Ebbetts Pass, crossed the Walker River and skirted Walker Lake to the south,(16) coming within thirty miles of the Carson River Basin. After enduring incredible hardships while crossing the central portion of Nevada in 44 days, Smith finally returned to his Great Salt Lake trapping headquarters in early July of 1827.(17)
1828 (November) Peter Skene Ogden, a trapper for the Hudson's Bay Company, led a party of trappers south from the Columbia River basin and first discovered the Humboldt River, arriving near the vicinity of present-day Winnemucca, located in Humboldt County, Nevada. At first the weather was accommodating and his party enjoyed a few days of trapping. However, as an introduction to this region's highly variable weather conditions at this time of year, a sudden blizzard forced a hasty evacuation eastward along the Humboldt River Valley towards the Salt Lake Valley.(18) Known by many names--Ogden's River, Mary's River, Paul's River, Barren River, and Unknown River--the Humboldt River was later named by John C. Frémont after Baron Alexander von Humboldt, a German scientist whom Frémont admired, but who had never even seen the river.(19) This river valley would soon become the most important transportation corridor for early emigrants traversing the Great Basin on their way to California by means of the Overland Trail and Emigrant Trail. The Carson River route traversed the Carson Sink, then went up the Carson River through Carson Valley, and over the Sierra Nevada Mountains by way of Luther or Carson passes.
1829 (Spring) Peter Ogden returned to the Humboldt River and, not pressed by adverse weather as he had been the previous November, his party followed the river along its course to the Humboldt Sink, where the remaining waters of this rapidly diminishing river disappeared completely. While camped along the Humboldt River near present-day Lovelock in Pershing County, Nevada, local Indians recounted to Ogden the first description of the rivers lying further to the west.(20) The lack of potential commercial trapping value probably precluded further interest in verifying the presence of these rivers (Carson and Truckee) at that time.
1829 (Summer-Fall) It is believed that during Peter Ogden's second trip to the Humboldt River area in 1829, he continued beyond the Humboldt Sink, crossed the Carson Sink and Desert (i.e., the infamous Forth-Mile Desert), and discovered the Carson and Walker rivers and perhaps Walker Lake as well. Despite his early exploration of Northern Nevada, which preceded the arrival of John Charles Frémont (1844) by almost 15 years, little would remain within Nevada to bear Peter Ogden's name. Later explorers would claim considerably more honor and fame than this pioneering British fur trapper, explorer, and adventurer.(21)
1833 Joseph Walker, chief lieutenant for Captain Benjamin Louis Eulale de Bonneville, both of whom were in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company, led a party of explorers and trappers along Ogden's "Unknown River" (the Humboldt) all the way to California via the Humboldt River, the Humboldt Sink, the Carson Sink, and then up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains by either the Carson or Walker River.(22) This represented the first recorded east-to-west passage through Nevada using the Humboldt River corridor, a route later travelers and emigrants would soon follow. It is also believed that Walker and his men were the first whites to trade directly with the Washoe Indians of this area.(23)
1837 Washington Irving's Adventures of Captain Bonneville in the Rocky Mountains and Far West was published, and subsequently aroused widespread interest in the region we now call the Great Basin. This publication also led to the commissioning of Captain John Charles Frémont to explore the territory more extensively.(24)
1841 (Spring) The Bartleson-Bidwell emigrant party made the first successful crossing of the Great Basin, reportedly without even a guide or a map.(25) Coming down the Humboldt River, the party divided and was then reunited. Many of the party fell ill and were subsequently befriended by local Indians who gave them pine nuts and fish. After crossing the Humboldt and Carson sinks, they reached the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the West Walker River in October. The party then spent the next two weeks crossing the mountains, probably at Sonora Pass.(26) Finally, on the last day of October 1841, six months after their trip had begun near Independence, Missouri, they reached the San Joaquin Valley in California without loss of life. Reports of their successful crossing of the Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountains would inspire others to attempt the passage.
1842 Influential U.S. Senator Thomas H. Benton of Missouri made arrangements for his son-in-law, John Charles Frémont, to lead exploring expeditions into the little-known region beyond the Rocky Mountains. Frémont was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Topographical Corps and had considerable experience as a surveyor and map maker.(27)
1844 (January 10) Traveling south from the Columbia River basin, John C. Frémont, conducting an expedition for the U.S. Bureau of Topographical Engineers, became the first white man recorded to have seen Pyramid Lake(28) and five days later, on January 15th, Frémont reached the lower Truckee River.(29) Based on the large pyramid structure on Pyramid Lake's eastern side, Frémont gave the lake its present name, but his naming of the Truckee River as the Salmon Trout River would not prove enduring. Frémont's party enjoyed the hospitality of the local Paiute Indians and the munificence of the local waters which teemed with an "incredibly large" Pyramid Lake sub-species of the Lahontan cutthroat trout (Salmo clarkii henshawi). Some of these magnificent fish weighed well over 40 pounds and attained a length of up to four feet.(30) In his diary and record of his travels, Frémont commented that "Their flavor was excellent--superior, in fact, to that of any fish I have ever known. They were of extraordinary size--about as large as the Columbia River salmon--generally from two to four feet in length."(31) The fish relied on the Truckee River for their spawning runs in early spring, traveling up the entire river's length as far as Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake where they required the cool, pristine waters and clean gravel beds to lay their eggs.
From Pyramid Lake, the Frémont Expedition followed the Truckee River to a location near present-day Wadsworth, where the river flows from the west. As Frémont was looking for the mythical San Buenaventura River that was supposed to drain from east to west through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, he did not continue further up the Truckee River, but instead proceeded south into the Lahontan Valley and soon crossed the Carson River.(32) Later Frémont named this river after his expedition guide, Kit Carson.
From the Carson River, Frémont continued south to the Walker River and Bridgeport Valley, then turned north and proceeded up into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Frémont named the Walker River for another guide who had accompanied his party, Joseph Walker, who had been through the area in 1833. After ignoring the warnings of his local Indian guides, Frémont's party persisted in their efforts to cross the mountains and suffered many hardships in the deep winter snows, eventually abandoning the howitzer they had brought with them in Deep Creek Canyon above Antelope Valley in the Walker River Basin just west of present-day Topaz Lake.(33)
From Deep Creek Canyon, Frémont's party traveled northwest through the mountains, crossed over into the Carson River Basin and discovered Grover Hot Springs in Hot Springs Valley above present-day Markleeville, California.(34) From here his party of 39 men proceeded further up into the mountains traveling through Hope Valley and crossed the summit in the vicinity of Carson Pass. It was at this point that Frémont viewed Lake Tahoe for the first time on February 14th from Red Lake Peak (10,061 feet), located 16 miles due south of the lake. The Frémont party's difficulties only intensified as they continued down the western slope of the Sierras into the Sacramento Valley. Eventually, on March 6, 1844, they arrived at Sutter's Fort near the American River in present-day Sacramento and were formally greeted by Captain John Augustus Sutter.(35) Here they were able to rest their remaining livestock and replenish their supplies in anticipation of their return trip. From Sutter's Fort, Frémont headed south through the San Joaquin Valley and then recrossed Nevada through Las Vegas, perhaps camping very near the street later named in his honor in the heart of that city.(36) It was Frémont who first recognized the unique geophysical structure of the Great Basin and named it so.(37) Interestingly, for all his exploration and extensive documentation of the Great Basin and Nevada, other than a street in Downtown Las Vegas and a relatively abundant species of cottonwood (Populus fremontii), little remains as a tribute to this individual's extensive and remarkable accomplishments.(38)
1845 (December) John Frémont undertook his third expedition into the west and his second into the Great Basin region.(39) The Third Frémont Expedition would separate at Whitton Spring (now known as Chase Spring) in Independence Valley east of the Ruby Mountains in eastern Nevada. The main group, under Theodore Talbot and guided by Joseph Walker, journeyed down the Humboldt River while a smaller party under the command of Frémont headed off to the south. Eventually both groups joined at Walker Lake some three weeks later.(40) One of the first official government reports about this area was written by Edward W. Kern, who was a member of the Talbot-Walker group that traveled past the Carson Lake in the southern Lahontan Valley. Kern specifically described the Carson Lake as a "very pretty sheet of water, about 11 miles long, bound on the west by a low range of mountains [the Dead Camel Mountain range]. About mid-way on the west side a stream enters it."(41) The stream referred to could only be the Carson River and indicated that, at that time, the Carson River's major flow was through the southern portion of Lahontan Valley, through Carson Lake, and then north into the Carson Sink.
1848 (January 24) Gold was discovered by James W. Marshall and a construction crew at Sutter's sawmill on the South Fork of the American River at Coloma, California. This discovery would precipitate the greatest gold rush in American history. Reports of the discovery did not begin to circulate widely in the eastern United States until late summer when it was too late to begin the long overland trip to California. In December of 1848, the discovery received widespread attention when President James K. Polk spoke of the rich gold fields in his message to Congress.(42)
1848 The Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo was signed with Mexico, thereby ending the Mexican War and ceding to the United States what was to become the United States "Southwest," consisting of all or parts of the future states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.(43)
1848 (August) Upon being recalled back to Zion (Salt Lake City) by Brigham Young, Henry W. Bigler and a small party of Mormons, members of the Mormon Battalion, came down the Carson River's West Fork into Carson Valley and are believed to have been the first white men to enter the valley. Bigler and his party had been commissioned at Sutter's Fort to open a wagon route over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to replace the one over Donner Pass, which was plagued by fourteen crossings of the Truckee River. It took Bigler and his party one week to cut a road through Woodfords Canyon and along the banks of the West Fork, which Bigler at that time called Pilot River. Bigler then described Carson Valley as about 12 miles wide, having plenty of grass, and home to roaming antelope.(44)
1849 The rush to the gold fields of California began in earnest and an unprecedented era of westward migration began. In January 1849 alone, more than 50 sailing ships left East Coast ports on the extended journey to California.(45) California's population would explode from approximately 14,000 persons in 1848 to over 100,000 persons by 1850 and to 250,000 persons by late 1852.(46) Early overland travelers used the natural transportation corridor afforded along the route of the Humboldt River. At this river's terminus, the Humboldt Sink, those travelers electing the more southern route of the Carson Pass (Carson River West Fork) and Sonora Pass (West Walker River) found that the Forty-Mile Desert, located at the western end of the Humboldt Sink, presented an imposing and forbidding barrier to their passage. Similarly, those traveling the more direct Truckee River route found that Donner Pass afforded a no less formidable impediment to overland travel through that area.(47)
1849 (1849-1869) The Forty-Mile Desert, beginning at the Humboldt Sinking to the site of Ragtown and the first waters of the lower Carson River, represented the most dreaded stretch of the California Emigrant Trail. It was a barren stretch of waterless alkali wasteland which, if possible, was only traveled by night because of the great heat. It was first traveled in 1843 by the Walker-Chiles party, but between 1849 and 1869 it received its greatest traffic flow up until the completion of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869. Starvation for men and animals stalked every mile. A survey made in 1850 showed these appalling statistics: 1,061 dead mules, almost 5,000 dead horses, 3,750 dead cattle, and 953 graves.(48)
1849 While appearing uniformly lush and cultivated today, Carson Valley appeared somewhat differently to the original "Forty-Niners" who first used the California (Carson River) branch of the Emigrant Trail to get to the gold fields of California. Originally, the valley presented a relatively narrow strip of meadow along the banks of the river with sage brush elsewhere. By 1858, Carson Valley settlers extended the rich meadowlands by irrigation in order to provide hay, meat, and butter for the miners in Virginia City and neighboring towns. Beginning in 1870, German, Danish, and Swiss immigrants enlarged the area still more to supply produce to booming Bodie and, after 1905, to Tonopah and Goldfield. Good range and agricultural practices, combined with the natural fertility of the area, made Carson Valley one of Nevada's premier agricultural areas.(49)
1850 (Circa) Woodfords, the first white settlement in the Carson River Basin, was established as an outpost by Sam Brannan along the West Fork of the Carson River at the southern end of Carson Valley along the emigrant trail to Carson Pass. For a while it was known as Brannan's Springs; after 1851 it was Cary's Mills, named for a sawmill erected nearby by John Cary. Subsequently, Daniel Woodford erected a hotel at the site and later still, when a post office was opened, it was given the official name of Woodfords.(50)
1850 Congress established the Utah Territory comprising most of what is now the State of Utah, most of Nevada, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.(51) Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, became the first Territorial Governor and dispatched Mormon settlers throughout the new territory, establishing the first farming communities and trading posts.
1850 Members of a Mormon emigrant wagon train en route to California camped in the Dayton Valley near present-day Dayton along the lower Carson River and noted the reddish color in a ravine leading up to the north towards Mount Davidson. They named the ravine Gold Canyon and then moved on, little knowing that they had left behind one of the richest silver deposits ever to be discovered in North America. Later that same year a group of Sonoran Mexicans arrived at this location and began digging for gold.(52)
1850 California became the 31st state of the Union. Eventually, California adopted the "California Doctrine" with respect to the administration of water rights, a doctrine consisting of a combination of both the common law doctrine of riparian water rights and the statutory "doctrine of prior appropriation" (appropriative water rights). The principles underlying these two doctrines are diametrically opposed. Riparian water rights allow persons who own land adjacent to a body of water to make "reasonable" use of those waters without regard to the time of use or to any actual use at all. Such rights cannot be sold or transferred for use on other (non-riparian) lands. In the western states where the land along and contiguous to a stream had not passed from government ownership into private ownership, no riparian rights prevailed and the appropriation doctrine would apply, but would be subject to other upper or lower riparian rights. This combination of water rights concepts would eventually provoke numerous controversies and many legal battles.(53)
1850 H.S. Beatie and Abner Blackhorn set up a temporary trading post at a site which was later known as Old Mormon Station, located approximately one mile north of the present-day location of Genoa along the western edge of Carson Valley.(54)
1850 As a grim testament of the inhospitable nature of the dreaded Forty-Mile Desert, it was estimated that during this year some 45,000 people used the Overland Trail (Humboldt River) with most of them traveling the Carson River route--Forty-Mile Desert, Dayton Valley, Eagle and Carson valleys, Woodfords Canyon, Hope Valley, and Carson Pass. In their trek across the first phase of this route, the Forty-Mile Desert, one party reported that they encountered a barren expanse of alkali desert in which previous travelers had left behind 9,771 dead animals, 3,000 abandoned wagons, and 963 graves.(55)
1851 (June 1) Morman Station, the first permanent settlement by whites in Carson Valley (and in the State of Nevada, for that matter) was established along the old Carson Emigrant Trail-Pony Express-Overland Stage Road on the west side of Carson Valley by Colonel John Reese, his nephew, Stephen Kinsey, and others.(56) In 1858 its name would be changed to Genoa.(57) Genoa would later become the county seat for Douglas County, Nevada, and remain so until 1915, when the county seat was moved to Minden.(58)
1851 By the middle of this year, approximately 100 prospectors, mostly placer miners who had drifted east over the Sierra Nevada Mountains from unsuccessful digs in California, began working their way up Gold Canyon from present-day Dayton, Nevada, towards present-day Silver City, following a thin stream of placer gold. A makeshift little community was formed in the canyon named Johntown. Pickings were slim, however; it was estimated that the average take per miner was rarely more than about five dollars a day.(59) Eventually, Silver City would be established some 3.5 miles above the Carson River in Gold Canyon. Later, Gold Hill would be founded two miles above that, and finally Virginia City was established one mile further up the canyon at the base of Mount Davidson (7,856 feet).
1851 (July 14) Hiram Mott and his son Israel Mott arrived in Carson Valley with a wagon train bound for California. They decided to stay in the valley and subsequently built a house some four miles south of Mormon Station (Genoa). Here he began a community which would later be named Mottsville, located where Mott Canyon Creek entered the Carson Valley.(60) Their homestead became the site of a number of firsts in Carson Valley and Carson County, Utah Territory: (1) 1851: Israel Mott's wife, Eliza Ann Middaugh, was the first white woman settler; (2) 1854: Mrs. Israel Mott opened the first school in her kitchen and the Mott's second child, Louisa Beatrice, was the first white girl child to be born in the valley and county; (3) 1856: Judge W.W. Drummond held the first session of the U.S. District of the Third District of Utah Territory in Mott's barn; and (4) 1857: The Mott's third child died and was buried in what became the first cemetery, the only remaining landmark of the site of Mottsville.(61)
1851 Nevada's State Capital, and one of the state's oldest towns, was first established as Eagle Station, a trading post and small ranch on the Carson Branch of the California Emigrant Trail. The station and ranch were operated by Frank and W.L. Hall and George Jollenshee. The station and surrounding valley took their names from an eagle skin stretched on the trading post wall. Carson City itself would not be founded until 1858 by Abraham Curry.(62)
1852 The Carson River West Fork entered the pages of recorded history several years before the East Fork due to its strategic location on the route to Carson Pass and Luther Pass. In this year traders and station keepers began to modify the West Fork's banks to allow its waters to spread across adjoining natural meadows to increase the growth of grass. It was also recorded that in this year the first 260 acres were brought under irrigation in Carson Valley using the waters of the West Fork.(63)
1852 Henry Van Sickle arrived in Carson Valley. In 1855 he took up a claim about one mile south of the present site of Walley's Hot Springs, ran a way station (Van Sickle Station) for travelers and freight haulers, and served as inn keeper, trader, and blacksmither, and eventually had a house built for him there in 1857. This location proved very strategic for his business when the Kingsbury Tool Road (Kingsbury Grade) was opened in September 1860 over Daggett Pass, which was located just above his station.(64)
1852 (December 24-30) Carson Valley was subjected to the earliest flood of record taking place after the establishment of the first white communities at Woodfords (Brannon's Spring) in 1850 and at Genoa (Mormon Station) in 1851. With these locations situated above Carson Valley's floor, there was little resultant damage to man-made structures when the valley floor became inundated. Worse-case floods in Carson Valley and along the lower reaches of the Carson River typically occurred during the winter months of December-January, and generally were characterized by excessive rains on saturated soils (wet-mantle flood), or by a sudden change in climatic conditions (rain-on-snow, or rain on frozen ground). This particular 1852 flood was caused by two days of heavy snowfall which resulted in three feet of snowpack on the floor of Carson Valley. On the third day the snowfall turned to a relatively warm rain, which lasted for four more days and completely melted the snowpack. By December 30th Carson Valley was inundated.(65)
1853 (July 1) The first sawmill in Carson Valley was reportedly constructed by millwright Thomas Knott at the mouth of the Carson (Woodfords) Canyon on the Carson River West Fork. Knott had traveled through Carson Valley on his way to California in 1852 and noted the numerous clear streams flowing out of the mountains. In March 1853 he returned to the valley with several companions through Woodfords Canyon and found all the tools he needed to start a sawmill lying where they had been abandoned by earlier emigrants. The steepness of the West Fork at this location provided Knott with a "twenty-four foot head and fall" to power his sawmill.(66)
1853 The Grosch brothers, Ethan and Hosea, arrived in Gold Canyon near Dayton and were immediately disappointed in their prospects of ever making a significant gold strike. They knew enough about geology, however, to take a special interest in the blue mud that emanated from the digging sites, recognizing it to be "silver lead." Later they identified at least four major veins of the silver ore; preliminary assays estimated a value of silver within the troublesome "mud" at some $3,500 a ton.(67)
1853 The first sheep entered (and exited) Carson Valley. Kit Carson, assisted by a crew of Mexican sheepherders, drove 5,000 head of sheep from New Mexico through Carson Valley and up the Carson (Woodford's) Canyon on their way to the hungry miners in California. For many years thereafter, both sheep and sheep herders were openly abused throughout Carson Valley and in the upper alpine meadows. It was not until 1890 that the sheep's position was articulately and logically put forth by Robert L. Fulton, land agent of the Central Pacific Railway. Subsequently, the industry began to expand and many of the valley's largest ranchers began to raise both cattle and sheep.(68)
1853 The area between Mormon Station (Genoa), located on the west side of Carson Valley, and Woodfords, located at the valley's extreme southwest corner, had become settled by whites who established roadside businesses for weary emigrants traveling to California.(69) These settlements along the bench lands of the western slopes of the Carson Range would soon accommodate other communities, namely Van Sickle's, Walley's Hot Springs, Mottsville, Sheridan, Fairview, and Fredericksburg. While these hamlets were strategically located above the valley's floor and the effects of periodic floods, some of them were imprudently located on the alluvial flood plains of the steep, narrow valleys of the eastern slope of the Carson Range.
1853 (December 31) The first recorded dance in present-day Dayton was held at Hall's Station on New Year's Eve. Spafford Hall built a station and trading post on the site of Dayton in the early 1850s and became the area's first permanent settler, accommodating emigrants bound for California coming up the Carson River. James McMarlin bought the station in 1854 at which time it became known as McMarlin's Station. Sometime between 1854 and 1860 Major Ormsby purchased the station, which he owned up until his death in the first battle of the Pyramid Lake Indian War on May 12, 1860.(70)
1854 C.D. Dagget acquired land at the foot of the old Kingsbury Grade route in Carson Valley. Earlier called Georgetown Trail, the route then became Dagget Pass Trail, named for its new owner. In 1860 it was replaced by a wagon road built by Kingsbury and McDonald, for which they received a Territorial Franchise in 1861. The new Kingsbury Grade shortened the route between Sacramento and Virginia City by 15 miles. Henry Van Sickle later established a road station near the foot of the grade, eventually acquired it himself and sold it to Douglas County in 1889 for $1,000.(71)
1854The first permanent settlers along the lower Carson River were the family of Asa Kenyon, who took up residence at the site of Ragtown, situated approximately seven miles west of present-day Fallon in Churchill County, and at that time strategically located along the Carson River (where it turned south towards Carson Lake) and at the terminus of the Forty Mile Desert, the most dreaded portion of the California Emigrant Trail.(72) The Kenyons proved to be a most enterprising lot, not only selling fresh stock and supplies to the weary travelers, but reportedly also enlisting the aid of local Indians to pilfer stock from the emigrants, which was then "recovered" for a fee.(73)
1854 Hot Springs Valley, which had been first "discovered" by John C. Frémont in February 1844 and was located 2.5 miles up the Markleeville and Hot Springs creeks from Markleeville, California, was first settled by John Hawkins, who later leased the land to C.H. Kilgore. Kilgore operated a dairy business, producing butter and cheese while making improvements to the hot springs. During the 1870s, A.M. Grover, while serving as the local deputy sheriff and tax assessor, gained title to the property, transferring his name to the hot springs located there.(74)
1854 (June 10) As reported in the Placerville, California, Mountain Democrat: "The Indians [of Carson Valley] are quiet and friendly...they are engaged in fishing for trout, large quantities of which they take from the Carson River, and exchange with the whites for bread and other provisions."(75)
1854 The first flour mill in Carson Valley was built by millwright Thomas J. Knott for Colonel John Reese, one of the original founders of Mormon Station (Genoa). Located on Mill Street in Genoa, it used wheat brought in from Honey Lake, California, and served the needs of early immigrants to the valley. The second flour mill in the valley was built in 1857 or 1858 for Hiram Mott of Mottsville, and was situated on Mott Creek.(76)
1855 Moses Job, who owned the principal store in Carson Valley at the time, scaled the lofty peak which towered above his establishment and planted an American flag, thereby giving this mountain its present name, and providing him with a deserved degree of immortality.(77)
1855 (Circa Mid-1850s) Around this time camels were imported into the United States for military purposes. Lt. Edward Beale of the U.S. Army tested the animals' caravan operations in the deserts of the Southwest. The experiment was not successful and the animals were auctioned off. Some were brought to Dayton on the lower Carson River to haul wood and salt to the mines and mills of the Comstock. After being used for some ten years in this manner, they were later abandoned to fend for themselves. Few were seen in the area after the 1880s.(78)
1856Beginning in this year and continuing through 1864, John "Snowshoe" Thompson, a native of Norway, fashioned his own skis and volunteered to carry the mails between Placerville, ("Old Hangtown") California, and Mormon Station, Utah Territory (Genoa, Nevada), when the snows along "Hangtown Road" became too deep for normal equestrian travel.(79)
1856H.F. Dangberg took up his first claim in Carson Valley (which he subsequently lost to a claim jumper).(80) Dangberg and his descendants would become some of the largest and most important farmers and ranchers along the Carson River East Fork and would figure prominently in shaping the development and history of Carson Valley.
1856 (Spring) From the autobiography of Richard Bentley: "I was very much pleased with the Carson [River] and surrounding valleys...mountain trout were very abundant in the river and small streams emptying into it; so much so that after the spring overflow on the bottoms had subsided, a great number of fish was left in the low places and pools on the bottom land, and the farmers turned their hogs loose and they got fat on fish..."(81)
1856 The first Chinese were brought to the present-day site of Dayton to build the "Reese" ditch from the Carson River to the entrance of Gold Canyon. The ditch was used for placer mining and when claims became abandoned by the miners, the Chinese soon began reworking the sites. So many Chinese followed (200, more or less) that the settlement was called Chinatown. It was subsequently renamed to Dayton in 1861.(82)
1857The Grosch brothers, who were the first to realize the significance of the blue mud that emanated from the digging sites in Gold Canyon near Virginia City, both died in this year: Hosea injured his foot with a pick and died of gangrene, while Ethan died from exposure in a Sierra snow storm while on his way to California to raise capital to more fully exploit the extensive silver claims they had staked out in Gold Canyon. Upon Ethan Grosch's departure for California, a Canadian miner and drifter named Henry Thompkins Paige Comstock moved into the Grosch's stone cabin and let it be known that he had been promised a share in the enterprise in return for keeping claim-jumpers away. Most historians agree that Comstock was unaware of the vast fortune in silver lying beneath the claims he was "protecting." Comstock was known throughout the area as a lazy braggart; history recorded him as having an uncanny talent for being in the right place at the right time.(83)
1857 The first land was brought under irrigation along the Carson River East Fork--96 acres. From this time until the early 1900s, the development of irrigated acreage along the East Fork in Carson Valley would closely correspond to the expansion of the region's mining development, first beginning around 1858 in Gold Hill, Silver City, and Virginia City, and later in 1863 in Esmeralda County (Aurora), Nevada, and Mono County (Bodie), California.(84)
1858 The townsite of Konigsburg (later renamed Silver Mountain City) was first settled by Scandinavian immigrants. The town was located on Silver Creek several miles upstream from its confluence with the Carson River East Fork. By 1863 it was reported that its population was between 2,500 and 3,500 persons. In 1864 it would become the first seat of government for the newly-created Alpine County when rich silver strikes brought some 16,000 persons into the area.(85)
1858 Ira M. Luther established a sawmill in a canyon, named after him, located in Carson Valley approximately ten miles south of Genoa. The sawmill operated in Luther Canyon between 1858 and 1865. After 1865, the canyon came to be known as Horse Thief Canyon because of the "business" of John and Lute Olds, owners of a ranch just to the south of the canyon. In addition to operating a station along the Emigrant Trail for a number of years, these individuals also rustled horses from passing travelers, sending the animals up the canyon to drift over the ridge into Horse Thief Meadows. Later the animals were driven down to Woodfords Canyon and sold to other emigrants.(86)
1858 Carson City was founded and laid out by Abraham Curry, who bought Eagle Station (established in 1851) and ranch when he found lots at Genoa too expensive. Curry named his town after the Carson River and left a plaza in its center for his predicted location of the state capitol building. In 1861, true to Curry's prediction, and aided considerably by his own shrewd maneuvers, Carson City became the Capital of Nevada Territory and then the new state's capital in 1864. In 1871, the present capitol building was constructed in the plaza Curry had reserved for it.(87)
1858 Federal Indian agent F. Dodge visited Carson Lake, Carson Sink, and the Walker River areas as part of a general survey of western Utah Territory to determine the condition of the native Indian tribes in the region. His report showed that the native Indian population totaled some 1,625 people with a preponderance of men and children--848 men, 372 women, and 405 children--indicating either in influx of men from other areas seeking refuge from growing difficulties with the white man's encroachment, or that the women were in hiding, a common occurrence of the day. The people were reported to be in good condition, but feeling some of the influences of the alien presence of the white man.(88)
1859 (Spring and Summer) Captain James H. Simpson of the U.S. Army's Corps of Topographic Engineers explored a new route from Salt Lake City to Carson Valley. From Ruby Valley (in present-day Elko County, Nevada), he proceeded southwest on a route approximately paralleling the current route of U.S. Highway 50, passing through Churchill County via Cold Springs, Middlegate, and Sand Springs, then skirting Carson Lake to the south and then into Carson Valley. Simpson's route, which proved to be considerably shorter than the Overland Trail (Humboldt River) route, also avoided the dreaded Forty-Mile Desert of the lower Carson River Basin. This route was later improved by U.S. Army detachments that erected signs and protected springs and became the route used by the Pony Express, Union Telegraph, and the Overland Stage Company in the early 1860s.(89) While camped near Carson Lake, Simpson reported on his first encounter with the Northern Paiute people there, called "Cattail-Eaters," particularly noting their hunting techniques and their use of duck decoys. Simpson obtained two such duck decoys for display in the Smithsonian Institution.(90)
1859 (June 12 or 13) Patrick McLaughlin and Peter O'Riley discovered specks of gold mixed with blue mud at the top of Sixmile Canyon near present-day Virginia City in Storey County, Nevada, a site located only about a mile away from Gold Canyon. By the end of the summer samples were sent to professional assayers in Grass Valley and Nevada City, California.(91) The ore samples were found to contain high quantities of silver, valued at $3,000 to the ton, along with quantities of gold valued at $876 per ton.(92) The Comstock Lode, as it would come to be called, marked one of the richest silver strikes in North American history, and began a population influx to Northern Nevada which would rapidly accelerate the demands for the region's natural resources, particularly lumber and water. Based on Philipp Deidesheimer's invention of the square set method of timbering mines, which allowed voluminous subterranean caverns of ore to be readily extracted and replaced with a rigid, interlocking timber structure, the Comstock's appetite for the region's forests became ravenous.(93) The development of the Comstock mines, burrowing deep into the ground and tapping scalding pockets of geothermal waters, began a process of both water diversions (for cooling spray misters) and mine dewatering (the four-mile long Sutro Tunnel) in an effort to cool the mines and drain the scalding geothermal waters from the depths. Little concern was shown for the sources of these waters and an era of interbasin water diversions began. Water supplies were initially diverted from below Hobart Creek Reservoir on Franktown Creek (Hobart Creek) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (in the Truckee River Basin) to Virginia City (located in the Carson River Basin). Water was also diverted from Lake Tahoe and the Lake Tahoe Basin at Incline Village for flumes to float logs over to sawmills in Washoe Valley to make the square-cut timbers for shoring up the caverns carved in the deep recesses of the Comstock. Other waters were diverted to provide for the needs of the mines' workers and the steady influx of new residents. The heavy demands for timber, particularly for the mines, ore-processing mills, and railroads, began a process of extensive logging and saw mill operations throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These operations quickly and severely degraded the quality of the Carson River's waters and in the Truckee River, sawdust choked the river's banks and bed, even creating sawdust bars at the river's terminus at Pyramid Lake forming barriers which proved impassable to native fish attempting to spawn upstream. The discovery of silver in Northern Nevada marked the beginning of an era of environmental degradation unparalleled in the state's history, denuding vast expanses of forests, eroding the now-barren hillsides, polluting rivers and streams with sawdust and logging debris, diverting waters vast distances from their natural flow, and creating the state's only "Superfund" site along a vast extent of the lower reach of the Carson River due to mercury discharges from silver ore processing.(94)
1859 (July 9) It was reported by the Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City) from Genoa that "the Indians are supplying our market with excellent trout, which are caught in [the] Carson River in great abundance."(95)
1859 Centrally located between the first Nevada settlement at Genoa in Carson Valley to the south and the precious metal deposits of the Comstock Lode to the north, Eagle Valley and the site of Carson City became a vital link in land communications. In this year the first overland telegraph, colloquially known as "Bee's Grapevine," from F.A. Bee, its builder, was completed from Placerville to Carson City.(96)
1859 (November 29) To preserve Indian rights to Pyramid Lake, located approximately 30 miles northeast of Reno in the Truckee River Basin, lands around the lake were withdrawn from the public domain by the United States General Land Office. The date of withdrawal was important as it would later establish the priority date ("prior appropriation doctrine") for water rights for irrigation of agricultural lands under the "federal reservation doctrine" (Winters Rights Decision of 1908).(97) At the time of granting, water rights were intended solely for irrigation, not lake restoration or preservation.
1860 In a report made by the Surgeon-General of the State of California, it was estimated that during the 30-period beginning in 1860, approximately 35,000,000 board feet (5,000,000 cords) of lumber had floated down the Carson River between Alpine County and Empire City, "Nevada's Desert Port." The upper Carson River watershed had become the singular source of lumber for the mines beneath Virginia City, a demand for timber which denuded the upper basin forests and devoured wood at the rate of 20,000 board feet and 4,000 cords each day. The most common variety of cut wood supplied to the mines was the "saw log" of 12"x12"x8 feet.(98)
1860 J.J. Cushman and Dave Wightman established ranches on the "South Branch" of the Carson River below Ragtown. In addition to their ranching activities, they also operated a freight station at Mountain Wells (a lush area in the Stillwater Range) with access to the mines in the area. Hostile encounters with local Indians were first reported by them when they were fired upon while cutting and transporting hay, a crop whose land requirements increasingly infringed upon the habitat of the local Indians' food sources.(99)
1860 (May and June) Based on the kidnaping of two young Paiute Indian women by three white men, who were subsequently killed by a band of rescuing Indians, the Pyramid Lake Indian War ensued. In the first major confrontation (May 12th), a poorly organized group of white miners and settlers led by Major William Ormsby was ambushed while proceeding down the Truckee River to attack the Paiute Indians, resulting in an initial Indian victory in which 76 white men were killed, including Major Ormsby. In a later confrontation (June 2nd) in which the Indians were badly outnumbered by better organized white troops, the attacking white men proved victorious, killing almost 160 Indians while suffering a loss of only 3 or 4 of their own number.(100) No further hostilities ensued; the Indians were driven off their reservation, but later allowed to return so long as they agreed to use peaceful means to settle disputes and grievances.(101)
1860Based on the threat to white settlers from the recent Pyramid Lake Indian War, Fort Churchill was built on a bluff overlooking the Carson River and just across the river from the Adrian Valley. The fort's commander, Colonel F. W. Lander, soon negotiated a peace treaty with the leader of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Chief Numaga, and officially brought the Pyramid Lake Indian War to a close.(102)
1860 On the east shore of the Carson River near the town of Empire, the first small ore processing mill was constructed. Later it would be enlarged to become The Mexican Mill. The Comstock's milling operations, led by The Mexican, Yellow Jacket, Brunswick, Merrimac, Vivian and Santiago would produce fortunes in gold and silver over the next 40 years of their operation. At first, ore was hauled from the Comstock mines to the mills by wagon, and later by the famous Virginia & Truckee Railroad which was built in 1869.(103)
1861 (March 2) By an Act of Congress, signed by President James Buchanan, the region of Nevada achieved territorial status, separate from Utah. Later, President Abraham Lincoln appointed James W. Nye of New York to serve as Nevada's first Territorial Governor. The new Territorial Secretary, Orion Clemens, arrived in this year, bringing with him his brother Sam. Finding few employment opportunities in Carson City, Samuel Clemens first tried his hand at mining, then ascended to the Comstock and eventually proved far more adept as a reporter for Virginia City's Territorial Enterprise, whereupon he began using the pen name "Mark Twain" on his news stories.(104)
1861 Virginia City journalist William Wright, who wrote for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper under the name Dan DeQuille, and two companions made a grand tour through the whole of the Carson Desert, including the Stillwater Mountains. Wright's account, titled Washoe Rambles, reportedly provided the best description of the location and the culture of the native American people living in and around the Stillwater Marsh, a group of Northern Paiute Indians called Cattail-eaters.(105)
1861The Territory of Nevada was created with nine original counties consisting of Churchill, Douglas, Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lyon, Ormsby, Storey, Washoe, and Lake. Lake County would later be renamed Roop County (1863), and even later (1883) incorporated into Washoe County when the state line was finalized between Nevada and California and showed that the Honey Lake and Susanville areas were actually in California.(106)
1861 A small herd of Bactrian camels from the Gobi Desert in China was driven over Ebbetts and Monitor passes and into Nevada. These animals proved somewhat ill-suited to the region due to injuries to their hooves. Further, local stock of oxen, horses, and mules were found to be terrified of these strange creatures.(107)
1861 The Allerman Ditch (Canal) was constructed on the Carson River East Fork in order to irrigate approximately 600 acres. In 1876 H.F. Dangberg acquired an interest in this canal and lengthened it about a mile and a half.(108) The Allerman Canal would take off from a point 0.4 miles upstream from the confluence of Long Creek and head off towards the north where (ultimately) it would be used to fill three reservoirs--Allerman No. 1, 2, and 4--located along the east side of Carson Valley. This canal would also be used to intercept Pine Nut Creek and Buckeye Creek, which flow out of the Pine Nut Mountain range.
1861 The first of many Cradlebaugh Bridges was built by William Cradlebaugh across the Carson River as part of a toll road that he operated known as the Cradlebaugh Toll Road.(109) A station house was constructed at the bridge site and during wood drives the site would attract numerous wood drivers as well as curious resident spectators. Uncle Billy, as William Cradlebaugh came to be called, kept the station's horse water troughs filled to capacity by means of a "flutter wheel," a device which lifted the water from the Carson River. The lifting device was of particular interest to curious local youths, one of which was George Washington Gale Ferris, who went on to design the famous Ferris wheel of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.(110)
1861 Jacob Marklee built a cabin on the present site of the Alpine County Courthouse in present-day Markleeville, California. Marklee built a bridge across Markleeville Creek and derived most of his income from tolls charged for its use. The town grew rapidly and by 1864 its population was recorded at 2,620 persons. In that same year Jacob Marklee was shot to death. The Alpine County seat of government was moved here in 1875 from Silver Mountain City when that community lost virtually all of its residents due to the decline in mining activity there. In 1886, Markleeville experienced a disastrous fire and was never fully rebuilt.(111)
1861 (August 14) While settlers were busily filing claims and constructing the first ditches in the upper Carson River Basin for lands for agricultural development, other interests were equally aggressive in filing claims for mill sites in the canyon of the Carson River at Empire City (at the head of Dayton Canyon). As noted by the Deputy Surveyor of Nevada Territory, Butler Ives, the "Carson River passes through a deep rocky canyon and has from 30 to 40 feet fall in a few miles and is valuable for its mill power, most of it being appropriated to that purpose. There being five quartz mills in operation in this township..." In his letter of this date, Survey General John North added that "The mill privileges on the Carson River are very valuable and eagerly sought after as owing to the scarcity of fuel. Water power must necessarily remain almost the sole dependence for crushing and reducing the mineral products of the region."(112)
1861 Dayton, located along the Carson River at the mouth of Gold Canyon and previously known as Chinatown (1856), was officially renamed in honor of John Day, who laid out the town and later became Surveyor General of Nevada. Dayton, one of the earliest settlements in Nevada, was first known as a stopping place on the river for California-bound pioneers. Coming in from the desert they rested here before continuing westward. Dayton would later be the county seat of Lyon County until 1911 when it was moved to Yerington.(113)
1861 By this year, around the general store established by Moses Job (Job's Peak) prior to 1855, had grown up the village of Sheridan. Located on the western side of Carson Valley some eight miles south of Genoa, Sheridan consisted of a blacksmith shop, a store, a boarding house, and two saloons. The Surveyor General, in his 1889-90 biennial report, stated that Sheridan was the metropolis of the Carson River West Fork farmers. Today, the Sheridan House, built sometime before 1875, is all that remains of this once-thriving "metropolis."(114)
1861 (November 21) C.H. Hobbes, J.C. Russell, David Smith, and J.C. Pennell secured a franchise from the Nevada Territorial Legislature to improve the Carson River East Fork's channel in order to float logs down to the saw mills located at Empire City. These "log drives," which began the following spring (March 1, 1862), would take place over the next 40 years in order to satisfy the increasing needs of the mines, mills, and railroads.(115)
1861 (November 21) The first Nevada Territorial Legislature made it "unlawful to catch fish in any of the waters within the Territory of Nevada by the use of any drag, or any kind of net, or any fish basket, or pot, pond or weir, or by any poison or by any deleterious substance, or by obstructing, in any manner, the natural transit of fish."(116)
1861 (December 20-January 2, 1862) The earliest flood in Carson Valley occurred for which there was a record of property damage. A heavy, wet snow fell the week before Christmas and accumulated to a depth of about two feet. Extremely cold temperatures froze the snow. On Christmas day, a warm rain began falling which lasted for three days. At first, the rainwater flowed across the snow, then melted it and carried it away. Both forks of the Carson River, as well as the ephemeral streams on the valley's east side (primarily Buckeye Creek and Pine Nut Creek) flooded and turned the valley into a lake. While not specifically reported, it may be assumed that the twin Cradlebaugh Bridges over the Carson River on the Cradlebaugh Toll Road (present-day U.S. Highway 395) were also washed out, as they were in practically every recorded winter wet-mantle, rain-on-snow, or frozen ground flood event since that time.(117)
1862 In addition to the damage wrought in Carson Valley, the flood of 1861-1862 also produced substantial changes to the Carson River's channel in the lower basin in Lahontan Valley. Prior to this time the Carson River flowed from Ragtown south to Carson Lake by a single major channel and several small sloughs. From Carson Lake's outlet it then flowed into Stillwater Slough and thence to the Carson Sink. After the flooding of 1862, however, the river divided below Ragtown and reopened an abandoned channel called Old River, which flowed to the northeast directly into the Carson Sink.(118) A portion of the river's flow remained in the South Branch that continued to flow into Carson Lake. Subsequent floods further established this new drainage pattern which remained throughout the 19th century(119) and hastened the rapid contraction of Carson Lake, which was once described as being between 11 and 12 miles long.(120)
1862 (March 1) With the commencement of log and wood drives on the Carson River East Fork (see entry under November 21, 1861), the ranchers of Carson Valley were confronted with a new obstacle to their normal occupation of growing hay: floating logs and saw wood. The saw wood was particularly detrimental to the ranchers as it was smaller and lighter and frequently floated over the woodmen's booms positioned across the dammed sloughs and ditches and clogged them completely, forcing the water to flow over the fields spreading bark, logging debris, and sand over an extensive area.(121)
1862 (March 3) Congress passed a bill establishing a branch mint in the Territory of Nevada at Carson City. The output of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, coupled with the high bullion transportation costs to San Francisco, proved the necessity of a branch in Nevada. From its opening in 1870 to the closing of its coin operations in 1893, the U.S. Mint at Carson City produced $49,274,434.30 in coins.(122)
1862 Walley's Hot Springs was founded adjacent to the Carson branch of the Emigrant Trail and the route of the Pony Express. The spa, built for $100,000, contained 11 baths, a ballroom, and extensive gardens. In 1896 it was sold for a mere $5,000 and in 1935 the original structure burned down.(123) The springs, with water temperatures ranging between 155 and 165 Fahrenheit, were formed naturally along the fault line break that forms the Eastern Front (Carson Range) of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Before David and Harriet Walley established the first spa, the springs had been a regular stopping place along the trail where weary travelers could bathe and wash their clothes. In its heyday, Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant came to "take the waters."(124)
1862 (May 20) As a means for the federal government to encourage the settlement of the Western states and territories and promote the spread of small farms in the sparsely settled West, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act. This law, which was amended several times and finally repealed in 1977, provided that anyone who was either the head of a family, 21 years old, or a veteran of 14 days of active service in the U.S. armed forces, and who was a citizen (or had filed a declaration of intent to become a citizen), could acquire 160 acres of land in the public domain(125) and acquire title to it after residing on the land for a period of five years and completing certain requirements as to cultivation. The period of residence was later reduced to 14 months, and entry by anyone already owning 160 acres of other lands was prohibited. The act contained no water-development requirements or restrictions.(126) Later federal homestead laws were essentially modifications of the 1862 act. The subsequent opening of federal property under this act, and the 1877 Desert Land Entry Act (Desert Land Act), created land rushes as immigrants and existing citizens alike were lured by the prospects of owning their own land on very reasonable terms.(127)
1862 It was reported that by this year there were 23 ore-processing mills on the Carson River which were being run by water power; it was also reported that there were nearly 100 mills in the four counties of Washoe, Ormsby (Carson City), Storey, and Lyon.(128) Thus arrived in the basin another competing user for the Carson River's waters, in addition to the growing agricultural interests upstream in Carson Valley and the loggers of the upper basin. Conflicts between primarily the Dayton Valley mill men and the Carson Valley farmers over the limited waters of the Carson River would become the dominant issue of contention within the basin for nearly the next 40 years.
1862 The town of Stillwater, named for large pools of tranquil water nearby, originated as an overland stage station. The community, located near the Carson River's terminus in the Lahontan Valley, was granted a post office in 1865 and became Churchill County's third county seat in 1868. Stillwater farmers developed one of the state's first irrigation systems to supply nearby booming mining camps with produce. The community's population peaked in 1880, and when the county seat was removed to Fallon in 1904, barely three dozen residents remained.(129)
1862 As an inducement to the builders of the transcontinental railroads, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Land Grant Act which gave the rail companies every other section (one square mile or 640 acres) of land for 20 miles on each side of the rail line.(130)
1862 (Fall) The Carson River Lumbering Company became the first such enterprise to organize a wood drive down the East Fork of the Carson River. The "drive" began near Herrick's Landing, located approximately two miles below Markleeville, California, and ended at Empire City, Nevada, located at the upper end of Dayton Valley, where the logs would be taken out of the river, cut, and hauled up to the Comstock. By the mid-1860s more than 45 portable circular saws were eating their way through the forested hillsides in the upper Carson River Basin. Probably the biggest lumber drive was recorded at about 250,000 cords and consisted of logs stacked eight feet high and extending upstream for nearly four miles. By the mid-1870s, the once-plentiful forests of the upper Carson River Basin were reduced to isolated stands of timber cut entirely back from the Carson River for at least one mile.(131)
1862 (December 19) The second Nevada Territorial Legislature made it unlawful for "any sawmill, slaughterhouse, brewery or tannery to obstruct the natural flow of water of any stream, or to allow any sawdust, chips, shavings, slabs, offal, refuse, tan bark, or other offensive matter to enter the stream so as to damage the purity of the water." The law was intended to protect irrigation water and agricultural land rather than fish and wildlife, and, interestingly, the mines were exempt from its provisions.(132)
1863 Having made his first trip to the Comstock in 1859, Adolph Sutro(133) returned to the region and established a reducing mill on the Carson River at Dayton consisting of eight stamps and 20 amalgamating pans. It was during this time that Sutro's thoughts developed pertaining to the construction of a long tunnel to drain the mines of the Comstock.(134)
1863 The town of Monitor (renamed Loope), located approximately 1.5 miles up Monitor Creek off the Carson River East Fork, was incorporated when more than 50 silver ore-bearing ledges were discovered nearby. By the following year the town consisted of more than 100 buildings. By 1873 the town's Tarshish Mine had become too expensive to work and most of the population moved on to Bodie, California. What remained of the town after this was virtually destroyed by an avalanche during the great "White Winter" of 1889-90.(135)
1863 Comstock miners first discovered the Leviathan Mine site, located approximately nine mines up Bryant Creek and then Leviathan Creek off the East Fork of the Carson River. A tunnel (adit) was driven some 400 feet into the hillside in search of copper sulfate for processing silver sulfide ore in Virginia City, Nevada. Copper sulfate was found, but not in sufficient quantities to continue the operation.(136)
1863 Having risen in importance due to its strategic location on the immigrant trail to California, and later on the road between Placerville, California, and Virginia City, Nevada, via the Carson Pass, Genoa was relegated to relative obscurity with the opening of the King's Canyon Toll Road up from Carson City, a route which significantly shortened the trip to Placerville.(137)
1863 The (Old) Virginia Ditch (Canal) was constructed in order to irrigate approximately 2,500 acres of land beneath it. In 1876 the New Virginia Ditch would be constructed to by-pass a portion of the old ditch due to a loss of "carrying capacity."(138) The original Virginia Ditch takes off from the East Fork of the Carson River less than one-half mile downstream from the Dressler Indian Reservation.
1863 (October 22) Attesting to the bounty of the Carson River system, it was reported in the Virginia Evening Bulletin (Virginia City) that "a man arrived in town this morning from the Carson River near Carson City, who brought with him from that place a whole load of wild ducks and geese, which he sold 'like hot cakes' at from $1 to $2.50 per pair. He sold his whole load, of several hundred pairs, in less than an hour." And from the Gold Hill News (October 28, 1863): "Game must be very plenty on [the] Carson River, if the large lots arriving daily at Virginia [City] prove that source as any indication. Ducks, geese, fat and lucious [sic] are found in proniscuous [sic] profusion about our markets."(139)
1864 (May 14) As reprinted in the Lyon County Sentinel (Como): "A.M. Crow, of the Carson River Lumbering Company is busy driving logs down the East Fork of the Carson River, for the mill of the company at Empire City...There are forty men at work. The timber is cut on the mountains of Alpine County...Huge dams are constructed, which are allowed to fill with water...Flood gates are opened and the logs sent bounding...a distance of eighty miles. It is the calculation to drive 2,000,000 [board] feet before the river gets too low...capable of sawing 30,000 feet of lumber every twenty-four hours."(140)
1864 Alfalfa seed, also known as "Chile clover," which had been grown in California since the 1850s, was first introduced into Carson Valley and became an intensive forage crop covering the expanding agricultural fields along the Carson, Truckee, and Walker rivers. Alfalfa was found to tolerate salt saturation in soils, variable climates, drought, and insects. As a legume, it actually adds fertility to soils while producing three to six cuttings of hay during the average growing season. Once planted it needs little cultivation for six to ten years, although now the rotation of alfalfa fields is becoming more frequent.(141) Ervin Crane, a pioneer Steamboat rancher in the Truckee Meadows (Truckee River Basin), located near Reno, Nevada, proved that alfalfa thrived best on sagebrush bench lands plowed and irrigated. By the mid-1870s, alfalfa was the reigning staple crop of the agricultural areas along the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.(142)
1864 Alpine County, which contains nearly the entire portion of the upper Carson River Basin located in California, was created from parts of Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mono, and Tuolumne counties. Silver Mountain City, originally known as Konigsberg, became the county seat and boasted a population of nearly 3,500 persons along with a post office, telegraph office, Wells Fargo express office, two newspapers, numerous saloons, a school, and several hotels.(143)
1864 In this year, W.C. Ralston founded the Bank of California in San Francisco and sent William Sharon to the Comstock.(144) This began a period of highly questionable lending practices and financial arrangements, even by Virginia City's riotous standards. Through the practice of generous loan advances, depriving business, and subsequent foreclosures, the Bank of California quickly became a major stakeholder in the fortunes of this area. By 1869, the bank would come to own all the major mines of the Comstock and 17 of its or-processing mills along the Carson River. The bank also built the Virginia and Truckee (V&T) Railroad, soon to be known as "the crookedest railroad in the world," and not necessarily for its winding tracks.(145)
1864 (August 22) Henry Yerington, one of the owners of the Merrimac Mill located two miles below Empire City, brought suit against East Fork Carson Valley ranchers--Dangberg, Madison, Nesmith, and others--to limit their water usage. The action was settled by a stipulation which showed that the defendants had free use of the waters of the East Fork to irrigate lands acquired between 1857 and 1860, i.e., lands which had been irrigated prior to the arrival of the mills.(146) This action represented the first recorded enforcement of the right of "prior appropriation" on the Carson River. But this would not be the last such suit filed by the mill owners and reflected their growing frustration over inconsistent rates of flow in the lower Carson River through Dayton Valley. In reality, the situation reflected a combination of the seasonal volatility of the Carson River's flows, the recurrent drought conditions along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and new ditch construction and the increased irrigation of newly developed agricultural lands.
1864 (October 31) Nevada was admitted to the Union as the 36th state. Ultimately, in 1885, by a decision of the Nevada Supreme Court, the state adopted the "prior appropriation doctrine" with respect to the state's administration of water rights. Under this doctrine, the first person to take a quantity of surface water (and later groundwater) and put it to beneficial use has a higher priority of right than a subsequent user. Under drought conditions, the demands of higher priority users are satisfied before junior users receive water.(147) This statutory doctrine of prior appropriation used exclusively in Nevada would come into conflict with the common law doctrine of riparian water rights in use in the State of California regarding the diversion and use of the waters shared between these two states, specifically, Lake Tahoe and the Truckee, Carson, and Walker rivers.
1865 (February 4) The Sutro Tunnel Company was incorporated by an act of the Nevada State Legislature. The act granted the company and its superintendent, Adolph Sutro, an exclusive franchise to construct and operate a tunnel to drain the mines of the Comstock for a period of 50 years. Provisions stipulated that the mouth of the tunnel was to be located between Corral Canyon and Webber Canyon, that shafts were to be sunk along the course of the tunnel, and that the tunnel was to be started within one year from the passage of the act and completed within eight years. Neither of these provisions were met.(148)
1865 (June 25) As reported in the Virginia Daily Union (Virginia City): "A singular sight is presented just now in the immense amount of fish passing from the Lower to the Upper Sink of the Carson. This last spring the two sinks became so low by evaporation that the slough between them dried up entirely...The Lower sink soon became so strongly alkaline by evaporation that the fish in it have died by millions. Within a short time past, the river having raised, the Upper Sink is now flowing through the slough into the lower one. The poor alkalied [sic] fish, as soon as they got a scent of the fresh water, started after it...An eye witness informs us that in the slough there is a solid streak of fish constantly passing up it two feet thick and four or five feet wide."(149)
1865 (November) Construction was begun on the Monitor Consolidated Mining Company Dam, located on the Carson River East Fork about 0.2 mile downstream from its confluence with Monitor Creek. The dam was constructed on 3-foot X 3-foot X 12-foot local timbers packed with earth fill and fed a 100-yard flume that developed a 24-foot fall. At its peak, the power generated by this dam ran a mill capable of reducing 50 tones of ore in 2.5 hours, an Alpine record at that time. The dam was later washed out by floods.(150)
1866 (March 3) The Nevada State Legislature made its first attempt to obtain a record of water diversions in the state by approving Chapter 100 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. This act required any person intending to construct a ditch or flume to file a certificate with the county recorder setting forth the name by which the ditch would be known and the description of the place or places of use. The act also allowed for the "appointment of appraisers" to assess land through which ditches were to run when the consent of existing owners could not be obtained.(151)
1866 (March 15) Maggie Ferris, older sister of George Washington Gale Ferris, married noted Carson Valley rancher H.F. Dangberg. Younger brother George Ferris became a distinguished bridge builder in the 1890s and the inventor of the Ferris wheel which became a sensational attraction of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. H.F. Dangberg provided the tuition to send George to school in Oakland and then for George's further education at Rensselaer Polytechnic School in Troy, New York. It was reported that the inspiration for the Ferris wheel came to the youth as he watched the flutter wheel at Cradlebaugh's Bridge near the present location where U.S. Highway 395 crosses the Carson River at the north end of Carson Valley.(152)
1866(May) The Bank of California acquired its first mill property, the Swansea Mill in Lyon County, Nevada. Within twelve months the bank had acquired a total of seven mills(153) through the highly questionable practice of extending loans, depriving business and subsequently foreclosing.(154)
1866 (June 16) In the Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City) is was reported that "at Russell & Crowe's Mill, Empire City, thirty-four thousand [board] feet of lumber, mostly plank, was sawed within the space of twelve hours...This same mill has turned out since last July  upwards of six million feet of lumber..."(155)
1866 Lahontan Valley ranchers began extensive cuttings of natural stands of tules and cattails in order to enlarge the meadows and improve grazing. In the previous year it was reported that some 30,000 acres of native hay had been harvested in the area. These activities directly affected the subsistence resources of the native Indians, called Cattail-eaters, and set in motion significant pressures for cultural change among these native people.(156)
1867 As a somewhat imaginative proposal, Nevada's surveyor-general proposed to the 1867 Nevada Legislature that a canal be constructed for barge traffic from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. On a more realistic and prophetic note, however, he also warned against allowing California from piping water from Lake Tahoe to San Francisco, as Nevada "...has, or will soon have, use for every particle of water now possessed, or which can be obtained."(157)
1867 (June) Based on the Bank of California's growing investment in the Comstock and its ownership of numerous foreclosed properties, upon Mr. Sharon's advice the bank organized the Union Mill and Mining Company in order to purchase and manage its accumulation of holdings. Within two years of its formation, the new company would own 17 mills as well as the Comstock's major mines, as the trustees of the mills were also the owners of the mines.(158)
1867 (August 12) The Gold Hill News reported on flood damages stating that "The storm of yesterday afternoon washed away Carpenter & Dirdsall's Dam, at Dayton, and the Ophir Mill Dam, and did the same job for the Kelsey Mill. A large number of tailing sluices, in the [Sixmile] canyon, from Devil's Gate to Dayton, were washed out..."(159)
1867 (December 20-January 2, 1868) Carson Valley and the lower Carson River were subjected to two severe winter storms and extensive flooding. It was reported that some 2,000 cords of logs which had been floated down to Empire City (at the head of Dayton Valley) were washed away and that every dam and bridge on the river had been swept away.(160) The log booms on the Carson River East Fork were torn from their moorings and some $100,000 of logs and cordwood were launched on a premature and chaotic trip down the East Fork and thence down the Carson River itself, no doubt adding to the destructive potential of the flood. The rebuilt Cradlebaugh Bridge over the Carson River was washed out, as it probably was in the previous 1861-1862 flood, as well as the bridges on Boyd's (Genoa) Lane, which joined the east and west sections of Carson Valley. The flooding resulted from a prolonged wet-mantle storm in the valley in which rain fell for six days on already saturated soil, and rain-on-snow storm conditions in the upper basin. The second storm struck with heavy rains on December 30th and continued until January 2nd, turning Carson Valley into an area of "watery desolation." By this time the Carson River had crested well above the high-water mark of the 1861-1862 flood.(161)
1867 (December 12) The Carson Daily Appeal (Carson City) reported on the high water in the Carson River near Empire stating that "yesterday morning the Mexican dams were carried away..."(162) The major flooding in the Carson River Basin continued to redefine the lower Carson River's new flow patterns below Ragtown in Lahontan Valley. During the 1862 flood, a major channel, previously abandoned, was re-opened below Ragtown that led the river northward directly to the Carson Sink, beginning the process of diverting waters from the southern flow into Carson Lake. In this year the Carson River's flood waters opened an additional channel that cut almost due east and emptied into Stillwater Slough, the connecting link between Carson Lake, Stillwater Marsh, and Carson Sink. This new channel became known as New River.(163)
1868 (January 16) It was reported in the Carson Daily Appeal (Carson City) that "During the late storm the water in the sinks of the Carson and Humboldt rose above the land usually intervening and formed one immense lake."(164) This is the only record found thus far reporting on a joining of the lower Humboldt River Basin with the lower Carson River Basin into one contiguous body of water.
1868 (February) Construction was begun by Joseph Coulter on the Mount Bullion Tunnel Company Dam and Mill. The dam was located on the Carson River East Fork just above its confluence with Monitor Creek. The mill was ready in May 1869 and on the 15th of that month a flood weakened the structure. In December 1871 the dam failed completely and washed into the Monitor & Northwestern Company Dam located just downstream. The dam was never replaced.(165)
1869 Mining interest was renewed at the Leviathan Mine site located off the Carson River East Fork approximately nine miles up Bryant and Leviathan creeks. Whereas during initial exploration in 1863 the miners were interested in copper sulfate to process the silver sulfide ore from the Comstock, this time they were after the copper itself. By the following year, the miners had extracted some 500 tones of 30 to 50 percent copper ore from two tunnels (adits). It was at this time that the miners noticed that their excavations were "bottoming" in an immense sulfur deposit.(166)
1869 (September 29) Having largely fulfilled its purpose of protecting the area's settlers and travelers, and the Overland mail route and the Pony Express Route, Fort Churchill was officially abandoned. The fort had been established in late 1860 on the northern bank of the Carson River across from the Adrian Valley after an Indian uprising (the 1860 Pyramid Lake Indian War) among the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indians.(167)
1869 (October 19) Work began on the "Sutro Tunnel," a mine de-watering project which had been commissioned by the Nevada Legislature in 1865 through the incorporation of the Sutro Tunnel Company. In April 1866, Adolph Sutro, the company's founder and superintendent, secured contracts with 23 of the principal Comstock mining companies, which represented 95 percent of the stock-market value of the Comstock Lode at that time. By these contracts, the Sutro Tunnel would intersect the mines at about the 1,600 foot (vertical depth) level and drain away unwanted waters into the lower Carson River. In return, the mines agreed to pay Sutro's company the sum of $2 for every ton of ore extracted after the extension of the tunnel and its lateral drifts had reached designated points.(168)
1869 The Central Pacific Railroad met the Union Pacific Railroad at Promontory Point, Utah.(169) The nation had now been connected by rail lines and overland migration westward would no longer be the hazardous and daunting task it was.
1870 Located on the south edge of Carson City at the terminus of a 12-mile "V" flume running from Spooner Summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains lay the immense lumberyard of the Carson-Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company. This company was the greatest of the Comstock lumbering combines operating in the Lake Tahoe Basin during 1870-1898. The lumberyard was approximately one mile long and one-half mile wide. A spur line of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad served the lumberyard and carried rough lumber to the company's planing mill and box factory, which was located one-half mile north on Stewart Street. The railroad also carried timbers and cordwood to the Carson Yards to be hauled to the Comstock mines and mills.(170)
1870 (November) A suit was filed by Peter W. Van Sickle against James W. Haines, et al.,concerning the prior appropriation of the waters of Daggett Creek, a small tributary of the Carson River flowing down alongside Kingsbury Grade in Haines Canyon. The suit claimed that Haines had diverted away from Van Sickle the one-half of the flow of the creek which had been his from "time immemorial." Haines, who had recently acquired land over which the creek flowed, claimed a riparian right to the "reasonable use" of its waters. The District Court, however, ruled in favor of the prior appropriative right of Van Sickle.(171)
1871 (March 2) Legislation was passed making it unlawful for any person between the first day of January and the first day of September to catch any trout in any of the waters of Nevada with any seine, gillnet, or any spear, weir, fence, baskets, trap, explosive material or other substance or implements, or in any manner except by hook and line; and it was made unlawful at any time for any person to catch fish by any poisonous deleterious or stupefying drug, explosive material or other substance. The law also provided that fish ladders needed to be constructed at mill dams, except that the Carson River (with its preponderance of hydro powered ore-stamping mills, each with its own dam and diversion structure) was exempt from this provision. All other acts relating to fish were repealed.(172)
1871 Williams and Charles Kaiser began importing sheep for their ranches near Stillwater in Lahontan Valley in the lower Carson River Basin. Soon herds and herdsman were spread across the valley and into the Clan Alpine Mountains and Stillwater Range. These activities further impacted and restricted the native habitat and traditional food sources of the local Indian people.(173)
1871 (June 3) In a note to the efficiency by which the loggers denuded the orests of the Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges, it was reported in the Gold Hill News that "the wood-choppers have cleaned the eastern slope of the eastern range of the Sierras [the Carson Range], from base to summit, from a point northwest of Carson City to a point one mile south of where the King's Canyon road [U.S. Highway 50 and Spooner Summit] crosses the summit, and are extending their operations still further southward and down the western slope toward Glenbrook, southwest, and toward Delicone Bay, north. At a rough guess there must be cut and corded up within one mile of the line of the Clear Creek flume 140,000 cords of wood. For miles the side of the mountain, where dense forests of great pines once grew, is treeless as a prairie..."(174)
1871 Mound House, located approximately six miles east of Carson City and down the Carson River, was established as a station and siding on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, serving as a wood and water stop. The site grew rapidly after 1880 when the V&T Railroad built a narrow gauge railroad from Mound House to the mining camps of western Nevada and the Owens Valley region of California. The new railroad, named the Carson & Colorado, turned Mound House into a booming shipping point. In 1934 the narrow gauge line was abandoned from Mound House and the site virtually disappeared.(175)
1871 Nevada's Victorian capitol in Carson City was completed with sandstone from the quarry of the town's founder, Abe Curry. The octagon annex was added in 1907 and the north and south wings were completed in 1915. Notable features included its Alaskan marble walls, French crystal windows, and elegant interior.(176)
1871 (November-December) The case of Van Sickle v. Haines, which appeared to have firmly established the case for the concept of prior appropriation with respect to the waters of the Carson River, was reversed on Haines' appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.(177) The reaction of the press was swift and vocal in its condemnation of the Supreme Court's decision. In the Reno Crescent (predecessor of the Reno Gazette-Journal) it was noted that "The principle of law laid down is subversive of all preconceived ideas on the subject in dispute...the transitory character and limited number of running streams on the Pacific Coast suggested at an early day the inapplicability of the common law [riparian] doctrine touching water rights to our case..."(178)
1872 While the dispute over riparian versus appropriative water rights continued in Nevada, substantive changes took effect in the composition of the Nevada Supreme Court which were destined to establish the prior appropriation doctrine as the law of the land (and waters). In 1872 Justice Garber resigned and in that same year T.P. Hawley was elected to succeed Justice Lewis. Later, in 1874, the term of Justice Whitman expired. But it was the election of Justice Hawley that proved of greatest importance. During his tenure from 1872 through 1890 he heard several important water-related cases and introduced the concept of universal "custom" and a system already established by custom, i.e., the doctrine of "prior appropriation," and the inapplicability of the doctrine of riparian rights.(179)
1873 Silver was demonetized nationally and the nation adopted the gold standard alone. This action effectively brought to an end the silver "boom" in Alpine County that had begun in the late 1850s. While silver production would continue in the Comstock in and around Virginia City for at least another 10 years, the relatively smaller claims of lower-grade ore in the upper Carson River Basin began to rapidly close down. After this, Alpine County's population declined from a peak of more than 11,600 persons in 1864 to 1,200 persons in 1875, 680 persons in 1890, and only 500 persons by 1910.(180)
1873 (May) A.W. Von Schmidt, working under a U.S. government contract to resolve the boundary issue between California and Nevada, surveyed his way through the upper Carson River Basin during this period. Von Schmidt's survey, however, mistakenly placed the border several hundred yards to the west, awarding Nevada a million or so extra acres rightfully belonging to the State of California. The error was noted by the California Legislature which eventually got the land returned, but not until the boundary had been resurveyed and the issue finally settled in 1899.(181)
1873 (August) The first waters from the Truckee River Basin reached Gold Hill and Virginia City, located in the Carson River Basin. The water system, certainly an engineering marvel of its day, was over 21 miles in length and capable of delivering 2.2 million gallons of water in 24 hours (6.75 acre-feet per day or almost 2,500 acre-feet per year).(182) The system consisted of a diversion dam below Hobart Creek Reservoir on Franktown Creek (Hobart Creek),(183) which flows into Washoe Lake from the eastern slope of the Carson Range. From this point of diversion, the water flowed through four miles of box flumes to a pressure pipe almost eight miles in length that transported the water across the Washoe depression (Washoe Valley) to Five-Mile Reservoir in the Virginia Range, and finally through a 5.66-mile flume which took the waters to Gold Hill and Virginia City.
1874 (January 20-29) The entire eastern front of the Sierra Nevada Mountains were subjected to heavy precipitation resulting in extensive flooding in the valleys below. A heavy, wet snowstorm began on January 20th and lasted for three days. On January 27th a warm chinook wind began an early thaw, which was followed on the 28th and 29th by a heavy, warm rain which melted the remaining snow, flooding Carson Valley and causing considerable damage throughout Carson Valley and Eagle Valley (Carson City) to the north, as well as at Empire City and the ore reduction mills in Carson River Canyon (Dayton Valley) below Eagle Valley all the way to Dayton.(184)
1875 (January 16-21) Less than a year after the 1874 flood, the Carson River flooded again. Heavy snow began falling on January 6th and quickly accumulated to a depth of some two feet in both Carson and Eagle valleys. On the morning of January 18th, the falling snow turned to a warm rain and by the next day the rain had transformed the considerable mass of accumulated snow into running water. Between noon on the 19th and 7:00 a.m. on the 20th, the Carson River through Carson and Eagle valleys rose by approximately six feet, inundating both these valleys and causing considerable damage to infrastructure, as well as eroding stream banks and channels throughout Carson Valley.(185)
1875 Based on the declining gold and silver fortunes of Silver Mountain City, the county seat of Alpine County was moved to Markleeville, California, where it remains.(186)
1875 Recognition of the doctrine of riparian ownership of water rights in Nevada was provided in the State of Nevada through the early court case of Barnes v. Sabron. Subsequently, in 1885 the Nevada Supreme Court would reject this concept and formally approve and adopt the prior appropriation doctrine for all the state's water supplies.(187)
1875 (March 23) By Executive Order, retroactive to November 29, 1859 when lands were first set aside for this purpose, President Ulysses S. Grant formally proclaimed the creation of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Tribe.(188) The reservation occupied almost 477,000 acres with its dominant feature being Pyramid Lake, located at the terminus of the Truckee River.(189) At that time, before diversions began at Derby Dam to convey Truckee River water to Lahontan Valley farmlands, Pyramid Lake's surface area was estimated to be between 140,000 and 150,000 acres. This area corresponds approximately to a lake surface elevation of 3,884 feet MSL and a total volume of 32,580,000 acre-feet.(190) By comparison, today (April 30, 1996) the lake has a surface elevation of 3,798.94 feet MSL, an area of approximately 111,000 acres, and a volume of approximately 21,610,000 acre-feet.(191)
1875 H.F. Dangberg constructed the Pinenut Creek Ditch in order to take advantage of the intermittent flows of that "flash" stream.(192) This ditch system lies to the east of the Virginia Ditch on the east side of Carson Valley and is interconnected with several reservoirs (Allerman No. 1, 2, and 4) located near that location and which are fed by the Allerman Canal as well as inflows from Buckeye Creek, another intermittent stream flowing out of the Pinenut Mountain range.
1875 A second flume and pipe system, diverting waters from the Truckee River Basin to the Carson River Basin, was constructed from Franktown Creek (a tributary of Washoe Lake and eventually Steamboat Creek) below Hobart Creek Reservoir, across Washoe Valley to Five-Mile Reservoir in the Virginia Range to serve the water needs of Gold Hill and Virginia City. Like the first system installed in 1873, the capacity of this system was also 2.2 million gallons per day.(193)
1875 (July) A drought year occurred in the Carson River Basin following heavy floods earlier in January, again demonstrating the volatile conditions in this region. An article in the Carson Valley News (Genoa) noted that frustrated quartz mill owners on the lower Carson River had proposed the acquisition of some large valleys at the head of the main branches of the Carson River in order to construct dams and impound water for use by the mills during the dry season.(194)
1875 (August) Following up on the idea proposed by the mill owners the previous month, the Comstock mine owners, who had a vested interest in the operations of the mills, put forth a new proposal to increase the water available to the mills. This proposal was for the construction of a tunnel through the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to tap the waters of Marlette Lake (with a volume of about 380 acre-feet), which drains directly into Lake Tahoe.(195)
1875 (August 28) The situation in the mills on the lower Carson River became critical. Half the stamps at the mills were without sufficient water power and were hung up, leading to the closing of the mines and extensive layoffs of workers in Virginia City and throughout the Comstock.(196)
1875 (October 26) To compound their troubles during a particularly dry year, Virginia City was overwhelmed by the most devastating fire in its relatively young but riotous history. The conflagration reportedly began when a drunken tenant at the boarding home of "Crazy" Kate Shay knocked over a kerosene heater, igniting the one-story structure located at 19 "A" Street. In the resulting inferno, some 400 businesses and 1,000 homes were engulfed, including the courthouse, Catholic, Methodist and Episcopal churches, Piper's Opera House, Consolidated Virginia Hoisting Works, Consolidated Virginia and Ophir mines, and the freight and passenger depots of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. The flames reached so high that people in Carson Valley reported that they could see "orange-colored claws reaching for the sky."(197)
1876 (June) Just as conflict over the previous year's drought was beginning to come to a head, the Carson River flooded in the spring and summer. By June ranches on the West Fork were flooded by the East Fork which, as it had done previously in 1861, rolled over from its own bed into that of the West Fork near the head (south end) of Carson Valley.(198)
1876 As the water diversions from Franktown Creek and Hobart Creek Reservoir soon proved insufficient for the growing needs of the Comstock, the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company received permission to draw water from Marlette Lake, a 380 acre-foot body of water located in the Carson Range and which drained into Lake Tahoe.(199) This action would directly divert the waters from Lake Tahoe Basin to Virginia City and the Carson River Basin. This would not be an easy task, however, as Marlette Lake lay on the western slope of the Carson Range and the water would have to be transported around (or through) to the eastern slope where the Franktown Creek flume and pipe system was already in place.
1876 Due to a loss of "carrying capacity," the (Upper) New Virginia Ditch (Canal) was constructed along the East Fork of the Carson River, by-passing a portion of the original Virginia Ditch (Canal) for a distance of approximately 1.8 miles. The original Virginia Ditch was constructed in 1863. Also in this year, the Allerman Ditch (Canal) was lengthened and H.F. Dangberg constructed the Ezell Ditch leading from a branch of the East Fork called the Cottonwood Slough.(200)
1876 (August 7) The Gold Hill News reported that "The fish in the lake known as the Lower sink of the Carson [River] are dying, and are floating to the shores in thousands."(201)
1876 (November 31) It was reported in the Carson Valley News (Genoa) that "The Genoa Flume Company have done Genoa Canyon. They commenced operations three years ago, and during the intervening time have flumed 52,700 cords of wood from the mountain gorge down the Carson River to Empire [City]."(202)
1877 (March 3) The Desert Land Entry Act (Desert Land Act) was passed by Congress in recognition of the limited application of the 1862 Homestead Act. As first approved, it provided that title to 640 acres (one section) of arid land could be procured by conducting water to the land and reclaiming 20 percent of it. In 1890, the acreage was reduced to 320 acres. In order to receive a patent, at least 40 acres had to be irrigated.(203)
1877 (July) A low water year ensued for the Carson River, greatly complicating the "wood drives" whereby logs (and in later years, cord wood) were floated down the river to the sawmills at Empire City. At this time, due to the particularly low flow of the river through the Carson Valley, the farmers and the woodmen agreed that during the drought the woodmen would use the entire flow of the river during the day and the farmers would use it only at night until the drive was completed.(204) Thus came into being the custom of "rotation" on the Carson River to more effectively and completely use its limited waters.
1877 (October 27) The Sutro Independent (Town of Sutro) reported that one "Paiute Captain Breckinridge reports that the Carson Sink never was so low as at present. The main channel of the river is completely destitute of water for more than twenty miles from the sink and lake [Carson Lake], and has been so for over two months."(205)
1877 (November 23) An article in the Carson Valley News (Genoa) about the planting of catfish in the Carson River added some insights into the disappearance of the more sensitive trout species in this river. It was reported that "From Empire to its source the crystal waters of the Carson have not yet been polluted with "mud" and probably never will until there is a change of management in the mining affairs in Alpine; and were it not for the wood-driving business, trout would be as plentiful in the river today as they were twenty years ago. The water becomes impregnated by filtering through the "jams" of fresh pine wood as it lies in the river for weeks at a time, which is quite as distasteful and unhealthy to the fish as the much complained of sawdust in the Truckee and other streams."(206)
1878 The Buckeye Creek Ditch was constructed to capture the intermittent "flash" waters of this stream originating in the Pinenut Hills.(207) Buckeye Creek enters Carson Valley about 3.5 miles north of Pinenut Creek and empties into the Allerman Canal, where a similar flood retaining canal was constructed in 1875 for that creek as well.
1878 In a risky move with respect to its exposure to periodic flooding, John Gardner established the settlement of Gardnerville in the middle of Carson Valley on the banks of the Carson River's East Fork. Up to this time, settlements in the valley (i.e., Van Sickle's, Walley's Hot Springs, Mottsville, Sheridan, Fairview, and Fredericksburg) had been concentrated on the west side of the valley, generally above the floodplain, between Genoa in the north and Woodfords in the south. Only three years prior (January 1875), Carson Valley had been inundated by flood waters with significant damage to roads, bridges, and farmlands.(208)
1878 (July 8) After a total construction period of eight years, eight months, and nineteen days, the Sutro Tunnel was completed through to the Savage mine. The length of the final tunnel was 20,498 feet (3.88 miles), and for the greater part of the distance the tunnel, inside of the supporting timbering, was 7-7.5 feet in height, 8 feet wide across the top, and 9-9.5 feet wide across the bottom. Lateral tunnels to drain the various other mines along the Comstock Lode were then begun. Over the course of the next several years, the north lateral, at 4,403 feet in length, reached the Union mine shaft, and the south lateral was extended 8,423 feet to the Alta mine shaft.(209) Total cost of the project, including lateral branches constructed up to March 1, 1881, was estimated at $5,069,801.(210) By one source, it was estimated that in 1880 the Sutro Tunnel drained some 3.5 million gallons of water daily and that during the year 1,277.5 million gallons (3,920 acre-feet) of water, or 4,752,605 tons, drained through the tunnel. Even more drainage was expected after the laterals were fully completed.(211) While admittedly an engineering wonder, the Sutro Tunnel turned out to be largely an economic failure.(212) Contributing to the failure of the Sutro Tunnel was the fact that by the time it was completed, a number of the Comstock mines had already gone below its 1,600 foot drainage level.
1878 (October 1) Reported in the Gold Hill News: "Two large boxes of salmon eggs arrived at the freight depot in Virginia [City] yesterday, consigned to Fish Commissioner Parker... when hatched the young salmon will be placed in the Carson River, the Truckee, and other of our rivers and lakes. A few will also be placed in the large reservoirs of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, by way of experiment."(213)
1879 (January 2) Nevada Fish Commissioner H.G. Parker reported in his First Biennial Report that on August 10, 1878 he had placed in the Carson River, about four miles from Carson City and above the Mexican dam site, in a slough connected with the main river, and protected from the "wood drive" disturbances, two thousand cat-fish, of the variety herein named [Schuykill River variety from the Sacramento River].(214)
1879 Beginning in this year the mill men began to try to allocate the waters of the Carson River in Carson Valley by the use of "water men," who would undertake to divide the waters of the river equitably for both farmers and the mill operators. Between 1879 and 1882 a Mr. L.M. Coffin, acting on behalf of the Union Mill and Mining Company, performed this task without incident.(215) This represented to first effort to create a "watermaster" to control the Carson River's operation and enforce water rights.
1879 J.W. Marsh, along with his sons Wilbur and William, introduced pedigreed, registered, short-horned Durham dairy cattle into Carson Valley, significantly improving the quality of the valley's dairy herds. The original foundation stock of a great many of the valley's present dairy herds came from the Marsh herd of Durham short-horns.(216)
1879 Congress created the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of the U.S. Department of the Interior to undertake extensive exploration, mapping, and scientific study of the nation's resources, particularly water resources of the arid West.(217)
1880 (November 9) The Gold Hill News reported that the daily flow of water from the Sutro Tunnel (completed in July 1878), in standard gallons, was 3,593,272.(218)
1881 (January 17) H.G. Parker, Nevada Fish Commissioner, reported in his Biennial Report that of the catfish planted above Carson City in August 1878, several have been caught at Woodford's, thirty miles up the river and others have been found sixty miles down the river, the latter "having passed through all the poisonous substances flowing into the river from mining operations."(219)
1881 (February) The Nevada Fish Commissioner made the first introduction of carp into the Carson River, although this was not reported until the Biennial Report of December 29, 1884.(220)
1881 Major John Wesley Powell was appointed Director of the U.S. Geological Survey. For the next six years, until 1887, he would lobby Congress on the possibilities for the irrigation of the West, emphasizing the appalling economic loss that was being permitted by not realizing to the full extent all possible returns on the nation's undeveloped but presumably irrigable lands in the western states. His efforts were largely ignored, however, until early January 1887 and the arrival in Congress of the newly elected senator from Nevada, William M. Stewart.(221)
1881 With the waning of fortunes at the Comstock mines, Nevada's Twenty-Year Depression began.(222) Eventually, this depression (1881-1900) caused Nevada's population to fall by 32 percent from 62,266 persons in 1880 to only 42,355 persons by 1900. Storey County's population (Virginia City) fell from a peak of 19,528 persons in 1875 to only 3,673 persons by the turn of the century. Carson City's (Ormsby County) population declined from 5,412 persons in 1880 to 4,883 persons in 1890, and then fell even more dramatically to only 2,893 persons by 1900. Agriculture proved more enduring, however, stabilizing Douglas County's (Carson Valley) population at 1,581 persons in 1880, 1,551 persons in 1890, and 1,534 persons in 1900. Churchill County, situated at the basin's terminal end, remained largely undiscovered until the 1902 Reclamation Act, with its population recorded at only 479 persons in 1880, 703 persons in 1890, and 803 persons by 1900.(223)
1882 (August-September) Israel Cook Russell surveyed Pyramid Lake. Records of this and earlier visits (Frémont in 1844 and King in 1878) indicated that the under natural conditions the lake covered approximately 140,000 acres (220 square miles) and its lake level fluctuated as much as 20 feet between wet and dry periods. This surface area corresponded to a lake surface level of nearly 3,863 feet above mean sea level (MSL) and a volume of almost 29,600,000 acre-feet.(224)
1882 A sample of Pyramid Lake water recorded a total dissolved solids (TDS) content of 3,500 milligrams per liter (mg/l). By comparison, TDS concentration of seawater is about 35,000 mg/l while TDS concentrations in the Truckee River just below the Lake Tahoe dam are typically 100 mg/l.(225)
1883 (January 4) In his Biennial Report, Nevada Fish Commissioner H.G. Parker reported that "From the poisonous substances used in quartz mills on the upper Carson [River] much injury must result, particularly to the young fish, as the spawning beds are in this locality, but as it is within the boundary of California, the Fish Commissioner of Nevada is powerless in suppressing the evil, and can only report its existence. Other than this no complaints against deleterious substances have been made."(226)
1883 (July 22) Another water shortage loomed in the Carson River Basin. It was reported that the low waters on the lower Carson River had forced the Brunswick and Mexican mills to virtually shut down; the latter mill was operating at only one-quarter of its capacity and the mines supplying these stamping mills were beginning to lay off miners. It was also alleged that at this same time the ranchers in Carson Valley were spreading the river's waters over waste lands to grow grass or wash the alkali out of the soil.(227) Further, the miners and mill owners were becoming increasingly alarmed by the expansion of upstream ditches and the accompanying new lands being brought under cultivation.(228)
1883 (August) As the drought conditions intensified and rumors of upstream water wasting persisted, the owners of Union Mill and Mining Company, which owned many of the mills along the lower Carson River, felt a more aggressive approach was needed to obtain a guaranteed water supply. An examination of the events of this period showed that since the early 1860s, the mills had suffered water shortages in virtually every year except high water years, that is, even "normal" year flows were generally insufficient to satisfy both the operations of the mills and the needs of agriculture. This shortage typically became acute by late summer. In fact, in prior court decisions, for example, 1864 and 1872, it had been noted that the water shortage problems on the Carson River were largely problems precipitating from the vagaries of nature and not of man.(229)
1883 (Summer-Fall) This marked a period of increasing hostility in the Carson River Basin between the upstream ranchers and farmers and the downstream mill men. In this drought year, Union Mill and Mining Company put a particularly aggressive "water man" on the river, a John D. Ludwig, replacing L.M. Coffin, who had ably served in that capacity since 1879. Mr. Ludwig effectively, if not ruthlessly, divided the waters of the Carson River through the irrigating seasons of 1884, 1886, and 1888. His method was to either block the diversion of the water into the ditches, tear down the diversion dam, fill up a portion of the diversion ditch, or, in extreme circumstances, to cut up the ditch entirely.(230) These efforts were not intended to entirely deny water to the farmers, but to limit diversions for only those lands which had a right (prior appropriation) and for only those periods needed to grow the crops, thereby preventing continuous diversions. Out of these actions came scheduled irrigation periods whereby the farmers would be allowed to take water from the river for two weeks, after which all the water would flow to the mills, except what the farmers would need for their stock.
1884 (August 1) As a clear indication of the Carson River's use in commerce as a transportation system, in the Genoa Weekly Courier it was reported that "The rear of Hanson & Campbell's wood drive is gradually making its way through the [Carson] valley. Sam Longabaugh has the contract for delivering it at the different points of destination along the river. Eleven thousand cords of wood started from Markleeville; 500 cords will be taken out at Empire, 1,500 cords at the Brunswick mill, 1,000 cords at the Eureka mill, and 1,000 cords at the Woodworth mill. The balance of the wood is to be taken out at Dayton. There are also 1,000 cords of Bryant's wood in the drive for Stevenson's mill."(231)
1885 (March 6) The Genoa Weekly Courier reported that they had been "informed that about 12,000 cords of wood will be driven down the Carson River during the coming season. This is about the average drive of late years, but in the flush times as high as 180,000 cords were sent down in one season."(232)
1885 The Nevada Supreme Court formally approved the doctrine of prior appropriation for all the state's water supplies, although an earlier (1875) lower court decision had given recognition to the doctrine of riparian ownership.(233)
1886 (January 20-26) Carson Valley, and particularly its western slopes [Carson Range], was subjected to another severe flood event. Unlike most storm events which flooded Carson Valley prior to this time (e.g., wet-mantle storms, rain-on-snow, or rain on frozen ground), this flood event was caused by an intense downpour and resultant flash flooding out of the narrow, steep valleys of the Carson Range. Light rain began falling on January 20th and turned into a torrential downpour by the morning of the 23rd, continuing through until 4:00 a.m. of the following day. By the morning of the 24th, the Genoa Courier reported that Carson Valley "presented the appearance of an inland sea." By January 26th the rains had ceased. The most severe damage from this storm was caused by the flash flooding out of the narrow, steep valleys on the western side of Carson Valley. It was along this stretch from Genoa in the north to Woodfords in the south, a number of small hamlets (Van Sickle's, Walley's Hot Springs, Mottsville, Sheridan, Fairview, and Fredericksburg) were situated along the old Carson Emigrant Trail-Pony Express Route-Overland Stage Road above the valley floor and, up until this time, out of the reach of periodic rising floodwaters. As was noted in the Genoa Courier, "Every mountain gorge sent out a torrent of water, and scarcely any piece of property in Genoa escaped without more or less damage."(234)
1886 Silver Mountain City, located approximately 3.5 miles up Silver Creek from its confluence with the Carson River's East Fork, ceased to exist. In 1864, Silver Mountain City had become the county seat for Alpine County and contained a population of nearly 3,500 persons. Subsequently, the population had declined rapidly along with the activity in the gold and silver mines. By 1868 only 200 residents remained and by 1872 there were only 30 persons left in this once bustling mining town.(235)
1887 (January 12) William M. Stewart was elected to the U.S. Senate by the senate of theNevada Legislature. Senator Stewart had retired from politics and the U.S. Senate in 1875 and practiced law in San Francisco. In 1886, Stewart was induced to return to Nevada and seek his old senate seat which had been held by William Sharon from 1875-1881, and by James Fair from 1881-1887. His arrival in Washington, D.C., would begin a new era in the development of western water reclamation projects, eventually culminating in the Reclamation Act of 1902.(236)
1887 (February 8) The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Indian Reservation was officially established in Churchill County, Nevada, when land allotments were granted from the public domain to certain Paiute and Shoshone Indians pursuant to the General Allotment Act, as amended. Originally, 50 allotments of 160 acres each (8,000 total acres) were granted to individual Indians.(237)
1887 Tapping the waters of Marlette Lake in the Lake Tahoe Basin,(238) a third pressure pipe was installed across Washoe Valley in essentially the same location as the first two (see entries under 1873 and 1875).(239) When completed, the water system constituted the most extensive interbasin transfer of water within the state. The completed system, serving the municipal and mining water needs of Virginia City and Gold Hill with waters from the Lake Tahoe Basin and a Truckee River tributary (the outflow of Hobart Creek Reservoir enters Franktown Creek, which eventually flows to the Truckee River via Washoe Lake and Steamboat Creek), consisted of three reservoirs (Marlette Lake, Hobart Creek Reservoir, and Five-Mile Reservoir), over 21 miles of pressure pipes across the Washoe depression (Washoe Valley), approximately 46 miles of covered box flume, and a tunnel 3,994 feet in length.(240)
1887 (July 1) It was reported in the Genoa Weekly Courier that Nevada "Fish Commissioner W.M. Cary, on Monday, deposited sixteen mud turtles on the bank of the Carson River, near Wally's [Hot] Springs, where it is thought, they will thrive and multiply. They came from Sacramento Valley and are said to be the large kind. When full grown they will dress from ten to fifteen pounds, and the meat is very tender and toothsome."(241)
1887 It is generally believed that in this year H.H. Bence, a Nevada land surveyor, first located a possible canal route to link the Truckee and Carson River basins when he was surveying government land in the Carson and Humboldt sinks.(242)
1887 The Nevada and Lake Tahoe Water and Manufacturing Company proposed a four-mile tunnel through the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to connect Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley to the east. Rivalries among potential water users in Nevada prevented any effective cooperative efforts on this project.(243)
1888 (March 29) Congress passed the Irrigation Act of 1888. By this act, Congress tasked the Secretary of the Interior, through the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, to make an investigation of the arid regions of the West where agriculture is carried on by means of irrigation. On October 2, 1888, $100,000 was appropriated to pursue such investigations. On March 2, 1889, Congress appropriated an additional $250,000 to conduct the irrigation survey and authorized a committee--Select Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation--to investigate arid lands of the West. U.S. Senator William M. Stewart (Nevada) was made the committee's chairman.(244)
1888 (August 3) In a newspaper article in the Genoa Weekly Courier, the District Attorney of Douglas County expressed his desire "to call the attention of the ranchers who take water from the Carson River and its tributaries to the necessity of placing screens in their irrigating ditches to keep the fish from leaving the river, as many thousands of fish are yearly destroyed by this neglect on their part, and prosecutions may follow any omission to attend to this matter."(245)
1888 (August 4) During a drought year and in an attempt to secure a more reliable source of water, the Douglas County Artesian Well Company was incorporated by H.H. Springmeyer, H. Fulstone, D.B. Park, A.J. Ruckman, L.G. Sprague, and Laurence Frey.(246)
1889 (March 9) The Nevada Legislature enacted Chapter 113 of the Nevada Revised Statues, a very lengthy and comprehensive act designed to regulate the use of water for irrigation and other purposes, to settle the priority of water rights, to provide for the condemnation of land for reservoirs, to record claims to water rights, and to appoint water commissioners.(247) The act, which contained 33 sections, clearly indicated the state's increased interest in enhancing the control and use of water for irrigation purposes brought about by the great expansion of irrigated lands along the Carson, Walker, Truckee, Humboldt, and Mudd rivers, their tributaries, and many smaller streams. Of importance was Section 9 which required that any water user make a filing prior to September 1, 1889, under oath, with the proper county recorder, giving the pertinent data regarding his diversion and use of water. The county recorders were required to prepare an index book of such water claims.(248) This chapter was repealed (Chapter 127) by the 1893 Nevada Legislature.(249)
1889 (April) The concept of riparian water rights received further condemnation in the Nevada press when the Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City) wrote further comment on the long-remembered (and subsequently reversed in April 1885) Nevada Supreme Court decision of Van Sickle v. Haines. According to the author, believed to be the editor, Dan DeQuile: "Water, in some countries, is a nuisance, and in others it is a jewel. We have drain ditches in the East and irrigation ditches in the West. We have riparians in the East and appropriationists in the West."(250)
1889 (June-July) The U.S. Geological Survey commenced the first federally-funded hydrologic watershed investigations in the Truckee and Carson River basins. These studies would continue intermittently until the newly organized U.S. Reclamation Service (USRS, renamed the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, USBR, in 1923) commenced its investigations in the summer of 1902, just after its creation. One of the USGS team's engineers, a Colonel Lyman Bridges, claimed that 500,000 acres could be reclaimed [for irrigation purposes] on the Truckee River alone.(251)
1889 (July) U.S. Senator William M. Stewart (Nevada), who had recently been appointed as Chairman of the Congressional Select Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, and Colonel Lyman Bridges of the U.S. Geological Survey, visited Nevada counties to determine water-related needs. Colonel Bridges noted a number of reservoir sites on the Carson River, to include Hope Valley (West Fork), Long Valley, and the Horseshoe Bend site (East Fork).(252) Other potential sites included Wolf Creek and several sites along Silver Creek, both being tributaries to the East Fork. Finally, Colonel Bridges announced that with these projects, what existed "here in the Carson Valley [was] the foundation for an empire of 50,000 people."(253)
1889 (July) The Union Mill and Mining Company published a formal notice of its intent to strictly enforce its rights "to all of the waters of the Carson River or so much thereof as may be required for the purpose of using the same for motive power in running our mills and other machinery on said Carson River."(254) In this same issue of the Genoa Courier its owner and editor, George M. Smith, said of the Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City) that "from its high perch on Mount Davidson, [they] should be able to see that there is no snow in the mountains and that the country to the southward is extremely dry..."
1889 (July-August) The first signs of an internal rift among Carson Valley farmers appeared. In these months, meetings were held in Gardnerville to discuss recent threats made by the Union Mill and Mining Company. Carson River West Fork farmers took exception to a meeting of East Fork farmers and noted that "...West Fork water ditches were constructed to take care of return flow of water, that the shortage of water in the Carson was caused by water being taken out through ditches of recent date and used at great distances with no attempt being made to return waste water to the river." This was an obvious reference to recent new ditches along the East Fork [particularly the Allerman Canal] and the consequent expansion of adjoining newly irrigated lands there.(255)
1889 (August) The Carson River Basin experienced its worst drought until the basin's record drought year of 1931.(256) In a meeting of interested parties held in Virginia City, it was reported that there was only 5,000 miners inches of water in the East Fork (equivalent to a rate of flow about 125 cubic feet per second) and that most of this was being used in upstream ditches constructed long after the mills had begun operation. From this meeting a resolution was adopted alleging: (1) that the use of the Carson River's water by the mills long antedated that by Carson Valley farmers (false as to 4,700 acres on the East Fork and 3,900 acres on the West Fork which were under irrigation before 1861); (2) that suits and court decisions had been in favor of the mills (partly true); (3) that the ranchers continued to increase the acreage under cultivation (true); (4) that the farmers were flooding sagebrush land and growing second crops of alfalfa (true); and (5) that 15,000 people were being adversely affected by these actions which benefitted a community of only 700 persons (true with respect to the relative populations of Virginia City and Carson Valley at that time). The group was resolved that if the farmers in Carson Valley persisted in these actions the community [Virginia City] would immediately institute legal proceedings.(257)
1889 (August 21) It was reported in the Nevada State Journal (Reno) that only six weeks after the U.S. Geological Survey team had begun its study of the Truckee and Carson River basins, a USGS spokesman informed the Reno press that "the Truckee River will be turned above Wadsworth to the plains and plateaus southeast of Wadsworth [i.e., Lahontan Valley]." It was astutely noted by the writer that six weeks did not appear to be sufficient time for USGS survey crews to map a connection between the Truckee and Carson rivers. It was therefore suggested that the USGS engineers were merely verifying a route that was already known locally,(258) and very possibly the same route noted by the land surveyor H.H. Bence in 1887.
1889 The possibility of constructing an irrigation canal from the lower Truckee River to the Carson Sink (Lahontan Valley) was reported in the U.S. Geological Survey Annual Report, 1889-90; Part II, Irrigation. This report also sounded the first note of caution regarding any proposed such reclamation irrigation project by recognizing that while the water would be utilized primarily within Nevada, any comprehensive system of water use from these river sources was made more complex by differences in jurisdiction and water privileges between the states of California and Nevada(259) [i.e., riparian water rights of the lakeshore property owners at Lake Tahoe versus the appropriative water rights of the federal government and project farmers in the Lahontan Valley.] This represented the first official warning that the water stored in Lake Tahoe, in particular, may not be readily available for a proposed irrigation project in the Nevada desert.
1889 (September 11) Controversy over the allocation of the Carson River's waters came to a head. A Bill of Complaint (Union Mill & Mining Company v. H.F. Dangberg, et al.) was filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States. Some 120 defendants were named in the suit. Further adding to the discord among farmers and ranchers was that twelve Carson Valley ranchers had signed a stipulation with the mills in return for recognition of their claimed rights and for certain guarantees of water. Otherwise, a close association formed among the defendants, who were determined "...to fight for their rights..."(260) According to the Union Mill's spokesman, Francis G. Newlands,(261) the mills were demanding a perpetual right to 6,000 [miner's] inches of water at Cradlebaugh's Bridge(262) (equivalent to a rate of flow of 150 cubic feet per second, or 108,600 acre-feet per year). The farmers, on the other hand, rightly claimed that that much water typically did not exist in the river during the summer season.(263) Of particular interest is that by 1902, as a U.S. Representative to Congress (1892) and later as U.S. Senator (1903) from Nevada, Francis Newlands, once the champion the interests of the mines and mills, would make claim to having championed the Reclamation Act in support of this area's agricultural interests.
1889 (December 24) In a highly revealing and confidential letter to a Mr. Robert L. Fulton, Francis Newlands expressed his intention to purchase land for three reservoir sites in the Carson River Basin ostensibly for use by the mills. Mr. Newlands, in conjunction with these proposed reservoirs, was also in the process of purchasing land for agricultural purposes. One parcel of land, which Mr. H.H. Bence (see 1887 H.H. Bence entry) was acquiring for Mr. Newlands, consisted of about 7,000 acres downstream from Dayton (probably around the present site of Lahontan Reservoir) that would use the Carson River's waters after they passed the mill sites. More interestingly, the second parcel of land Mr. Newlands was seeking included some seven or eight thousand acres further downstream in Churchill County,(264) a location which would ultimately become the site of the Newlands Irrigation Project.
1890 H.H. Bence, a Nevada land surveyor (see entry under 1887 and 1889), was employed by Francis G. Newlands to survey a possible canal route and estimate the quantity of potentially irrigable land in the Lahontan Valley near Fallon, Nevada.(265) His reports to Newlands recommended that the lower Carson area (Lahontan Valley) could support a reclamation project of 100,000 acres, a figure which ultimately proved far more realistic than the more grandiose plans supported by the U.S. Reclamation Service a decade later.(266)
1890 (January 15-February 1) and (March 1-June 15) The effects of the great "White Winter" of 1889-90 caused extensive flooding in Carson Valley and the upper Carson River Basin. Unlike past floods which were typically a combination of a single severe event (i.e., wet-mantle storm, rain-on-snow or rain on frozen ground), these floods were the result of the rapid break-up of a most severe winter. The Sierra Nevada Mountains had been subjected to severe, practically continuous snow storms from mid-November 1889 through the latter part of January 1890. A sudden chinook period set in on January 25, 1890, and in a few days had reduced the deep snows in Carson Valley and lower foothills to a roaring torrent of floodwaters. An ice jam on the East Fork sent a 50-foot wall of broken cakes of ice, boom timbers, logs, cordwood and other debris out into the Carson Valley. Near Gardnerville, blocks of ice one foot thick and the size of the side of a house were turned on edge, forming a dam 20 feet high and sending the river's waters spreading out over the valley floor. By January 28th, dynamite had to be used on the ice dam in an attempt to get the river back into its channel. Most bridges on both the East and West forks were washed away. After the January thaw, icy weather returned to the Sierra and new snow accumulations formed huge drifts. It was around this time that most of the town of Monitor (renamed Loope), located above Markleeville, California, was destroyed by an avalanche. The effects of the harsh winter weather on the local population were only exacerbated by the outbreak of an influenza epidemic (commonly known as "la grippe" in those days). By February 24th the last of the blizzards had blown itself out and the weather warmed rapidly, beginning a second thawing phase for the winter snowpack. By early March streams flowing into Carson Valley were flooding and the entire valley north and east of Genoa was a large lake. Through the southern portion of Carson Valley the East Fork was up to one mile wide in places. By late May, the East Fork levee ruptured, allowing its waters to spread over the southern portion of Carson Valley towards the West Fork. Ore processing mills on the lower Carson River through the Carson Canyon (Dayton Valley) were forced to suspend operations when their water wheels became submerged and diversion dams were swept away. The shutdown of the mills caused certain mines at Gold Hill and Virginia City supplying them with ore to shut down as well. This flood represented the first flood event of this area for which relatively detailed damage assessment information was compiled.(267)
1890 After touring western states as the Chairman of the Congressional Select Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, U.S. Senator William Stewart (Nevada) made a strong attack on the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, John Wesley Powell. Powell had been a strong advocate for a national approach to western irrigation projects, and in late 1889 his staff had identified and withdrawn 9 million acres from public entry of the most irrigable acreage, thereby preventing state development.(268) Stewart's actions resulted in the repeal of that portion of the Irrigation Act of 1888 which authorized the reservation of land for reservoirs, ditches or canals, and the withdrawal from sale of all lands susceptible of irrigation below these sites. By 1894, Senator Stewart's continued attacks on Powell would force Powell to resign as USGS Director, a position he had held since 1881.(269)
1890 (August) In a publication printed by the Reno Gazette and distributed by the Nevada State Board of Trade titled An Address to the People of Nevada on Water Storage and Irrigation, Francis Newlands singled out and named ranchers in Carson Valley who were also owners of unimproved land which he complained they had acquired at a down payment of only twenty-five cents per acre. According to Mr. Newlands: "Unfortunately for Nevada, under our too generous laws very many acres of our best irrigable lands are controlled by applicants who have paid twenty-five cents an acre and hold these lands to reap the benefit resulting from the public-spirted action of others, or from a liberal policy of public works on the part of the State."(270) [Ironically, by the early 1900s, this very same Francis Newlands would become the self-proclaimed champion of public largesse for federal reclamation projects and irrigation of arid western lands.]
1890 Francis G. Newlands, who was quickly assuming a prominent role in western water matters, proposed a network of reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to serve the future development of Nevada. According to Newlands, Lake Tahoe afforded the "cheapest reservoir space known in the West."(271)
1890 (June) Nevada's 1889 Water Law (see March 9, 1889 entry) was declared unconstitutional by Judge Fitzgerald of the District Court in Humboldt County (Winnemucca). In a petition of constitutionality filed before the Nevada Supreme Court on behalf of water users on the Humboldt, Truckee, and Carson rivers, the law's validity was questioned on several grounds, the primary one being that it was a special law in a case where a general law can be made applicable.(272)
1891 (January 14) In a letter to John W. Mackay (after whom the University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Mines building was named), Francis Newlands expressed his first realization of the futility of pursuing the Union Mill and Mining Company's suit (Union Mill & Mining Company v. H.F. Dangberg, et al.) against Carson Valley farmers stating that "I gave our attorneys instructions some time ago not to press the suit..." and for justification he added "...protecting the interests of the farmers, and promoting the cause of irrigation, upon which I am satisfied the future of Nevada depends; for the mining industry will gradually wane, as it has in California, and the agricultural, fruit and cattle interest will take its place."(273)
1891 Annual National Irrigation Congresses began to be held in major western cities as a recognition that irrigation projects represented the salvation for the settlement of arid lands in the West. These meetings typically ended with a petition to the federal government to provide assistance in this reclamation effort, in a manner similar to the various Homestead Acts. It was strongly suggested that it was the federal government's obligation to provide water to arid Western lands so that they could be settled and farmed on the same advantageous basis.(274)
1891 Pyramid Lake's maximum surface elevation in recent history was recorded at 3,877.9 feet above mean sea level (MSL).(275) According the bathometric tables of the lake,(276) this surface elevation corresponded to a lake volume of approximately 31,730,000 acre-feet, a surface area of 144,000 acres (225 square miles), and a maximum lake depth of 419 feet. By comparison, Pyramid Lakes lowest point (nadir) was reached on February 6, and March 6, 1967, when it attained a surface elevation of 3783.9 feet MSL, corresponding to a volume of approximately 19,980,000 acre-feet (down 11,750,000 acre-feet from 1891), a surface area of 106,800 acres (167 square miles, down 37,200 acres, or 58 square miles from 1891), and a maximum lake depth of 325 feet (down 94 feet from 1891).
1891 (August 14) The Genoa Weekly Courier reported that one Mr. Ab. Fray "came up from Reno a short time ago, bringing with him twelve dozen frogs, imported from Paris [France]. He turned them loose in the swamp and springs about the [Carson Valley] fields and expects to harvest a good crop next year..."(277)
1891 (August 29) As was reported in the Lyon County Times (Dayton): "Last spring and this summer, when the water in the [Carson] river was quite high, the sloughs along its banks were full of catfish. When the water began to lower many fish were caught in the sloughs, while the smaller ones got out into the river and into the ditches on the Italian ranches. Thousands of the small fish were drawn off onto the potato fields in irrigating and now there are rows of fish two to three inches deep on some of the lower ranches, and the stench is terrific. It is rough on the fish, but the finest thing in the world for enriching the land."(278)
1892 Francis G. Newlands of Nevada was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. There was some question surrounding the legality of the election, particularly in Storey County where it was said that Newlands' supporters, both alive and otherwise, "...voted often, voted early..."(279)
1893 (May 15) Testimony began to be taken in the case of Union Mill & Mining Company v. H.F. Dangberg, et al. in U.S. Circuit Court before Judge Thomas P. Hawley. The defendants included some 120 Carson Valley farmers and ranchers. The Court's final opinion would not be handed down until four years later on May 24, 1897.
1893 A severe national recession, lasting from 1893 through 1897, precluded serious efforts by the federal government to undertake new spending programs, particularly reclamation irrigation projects in the arid West.(280)
1893 (June 24) In a news article in the Lyon County Times (Dayton) it was noted that "Since the mills have shut down on the Carson River trout have come down as far as this place. Many have been caught at the Rock Point dam. When the mills were running the acids and slimes poured into the river [and] killed the fish that came down as far as this."(281)
1894 As a testament to the quality of dairy products being produced in Carson Valley, butter from the Douglas County Creamery, incorporated on May 24, 1893, was awarded the gold medal at the Mid-Winter Fair in San Francisco, California. Contracts were regularly secured with the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and other high-class establishments for the valley's agricultural produce.(282)
1894 Another 146 land allotments of 160 acres each (23,360 acres total) were granted to the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Indian Reservation near the present-day city of Fallon in Churchill County, Nevada. Reservation acreage now totaled 31,360 acres.(283)
1894 (August 18) Congress approved what was commonly called the "Carey Act," which was expected to be a major milestone in the reclamation of desert lands in the western states. The act's purpose was to aid the public-land states in the reclamation of desert lands, provide for the granting to each of the states containing desert lands an amount not to exceed one million acres, and direct that the states cause these lands to be reclaimed, occupied, and irrigated. It was further provided that 20 acres out of each 160 acres be cultivated by settlers within 10 years after passage of the act. With few exceptions, the Carey Act did not measure up to initial expectations.(284)
1894 Jim Richards moved his store from Stillwater, which had been established along the Stillwater Slough in 1862 and became the county seat for Churchill County in 1868, to a small crossroads on New River at Mike Fallon's ranch. At first the site was called "Jimtown" by local Indians in his honor. Later, a townsite was laid out and in 1903, as work began on the Truckee-Carson (Newlands) Irrigation Project, Fallon became the official county seat.(285)
1895 (May 25) As noted in the Lyon County Times (Dayton): "Fishing in the Carson River in this vicinity is now very fair. Catfish, chubs and succors [sic] are plentiful, and occasionally a fine trout, weighing from one to three pounds, is caught. While fishing in the Carson River, above the mills, has always been good, below the mills, when running, the fish could not live on account of the water being so strongly impregnated with the chemicals which came from the mills. Of late years the fish have had a chance because nearly all the mills have been shut down and the water in the river has become moderately clear. It would be the proper thing for the Fish Commissioner now to plant some trout in the river in this vicinity."(286)
1895 (August 17) To note how quickly river conditions can change (see May 25, 1895 entry), it was reported in the Lyon County Times (Dayton) that "For the past two weeks the water in the Carson River...has been so low it has also been very filthy. It is thick with some sediment that makes it look almost white as milk...probably comes from the Eureka Mill...unfit for drinking or irrigating purposes."(287)
1896 (June 3) The Alpine Land and Reservoir Company was incorporated. Two days after filing articles of incorporation, the new company purchased fifteen reservoir sites in Alpine County, California, from individual owners who were the incorporators of the new company. As described in its certificate of incorporation, the purpose of the corporations was "...to purchase, acquire, own, hold in its own right and name and to deal in lands of all description and character, reservoirs, reservoir sites, dams, water, water rights, water courses, water ways, ditches and flumes for string, gathering, accumulating, and holding water for domestic, mining, mechanical irrigation and other useful purposes in the States of California and Nevada, and particularly in Alpine County, California, and Douglas and Ormsby Counties, Nevada."(288)
1896 (June 13) As reported in the Lyon County Times (Dayton): "Several more nice trout, weighing from three-fourths of a pound to a pound and a half each were caught in the Carson River at this point this week. Since the Eureka Mill shut down there is not so much slime in the water, and the fish can live this far down in the stream."(289)
1897 At a time when western interest in annual Irrigation Congresses had reached a nadir, Captain Hiram M. Chittenden of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a lengthy report recommending that if the federal government wanted its homestead policy to be effective, it would need to build and operate a comprehensive series of reservoirs and irrigation districts in the West. The report called for a federal reclamation program.(290)
1897 (May 24) Judge Thomas P. Hawley of the U.S. Circuit Court rendered his final decision in the case of Union Mill & Mining Company v. H.F. Dangberg, et al. According to one water rights expert,(291) the judgement led to the best judicial summary of the principles of prior appropriation that we have and became the very foundation of the livelihood of the ranchers in Carson Valley and, whether or not perfectly understood by all, have come to form the matrix of opinion that underlies all questions concerning the use of water. Judge Hawley's decision embodied the concepts of: (1) prior appropriation; (2) beneficial use; (3) economical use; and in particular regard to the Carson River, (4) the concept of a "broken stream" in years of low water.(292) Of particular importance to the operation of the Carson River, this lawsuit demonstrated the inestimable service performed by Union Mill and Mining Company's water men in allocating the limited waters of the river to the advantage of all users. This practice came to be know as "rotation."(293) While opinion varied as to precisely who "won" this lawsuit, it appeared that the farmers held the upper hand. While the resulting decree gave certain rights to the mills (i.e., 6,000 miners inches under a four-inch pressure), it excluded this right during the July 1 to October 1 time frame, exactly when the Carson River would typically be at its lowest rates of flow. Further, the farmers were allowed to take sufficient water at all times for household and domestic purposes and for watering their stock. Therefore, the victory seemed to be with the farmers as they may take waters before July 1 when the river generally has sufficient flow for both, and after July 1st when flows drop dramatically. Sometime later, Union Mill and Mining Company removed its mills from the river and apparently lost its rights under this decision by abandonment. In any case, available evidence indicates that the terms of the decree were never actually enforced to any great extent.(294)
1897 To reverse the tide of waning interest in western state reclamation projects, George H. Maxwell, a California attorney, gave up his law practice, opened an office in Washington, D.C., and became a highly enthusiastic and persuasive lobbyist for the reclamation effort. Much of his financial support came from the transcontinental railroads. With these funds, and releases written by members of the U.S. Geological Survey's staff of engineers and hydrologists, Maxwell was able to conduct a highly effective national publication campaign to make the nation "reclamation-conscious." Soon Wyoming's Senator Francis Warren and Nevada's U.S. Representative Francis Newlands were meeting frequently with Mr. Maxwell. Progress on appropriating funds for reclamation projects was stymied, however, due to an eastern agriculture power bloc in the House of Representatives which feared both the costs of such programs and the competition it would produce for their home states.(295)
1898 By this year it was reported that Spanish and French Basque shepherds were tending approximately 13,000 sheep in Carson Valley. This number increased to some 25,000 sheep by 1925, when the Basques began acquiring their own sheep and land. After 1918, several Basques in Gardnerville opened inns which flourished during the Prohibition years.(296)
1898 (August 27) The Lyon County Times (Dayton) began reporting the presence of cyanide in the Carson River. In one such article it was noted that "The cyanide which escapes into the Carson River from the plant at the Eureka Mill has been fatal to a number of animals about Dayton. Many chickens have died from drinking the water; several dogs and cats have keeled over after quenching their thirst with river water, and several horses have been made quite sick by drinking from the river. Again the Times would caution the residents of this place to drink none but well water during the low stage of water in the river."(297)
1898 (November 12) Ranchers of Carson Valley met and organized the Carson Valley Water Storage, Irrigation and Canal Company. The purpose of this organization was essentially the same as that of the Alpine Land and Reservoir Company formed in 1896.(298)
1899 The John Wesley Powell U.S. Geological Survey irrigation investigation established stream-gaging stations on the Truckee River and its tributaries. This constituted one of the first steps towards a comprehensive, quantitative investigation of the overall water supply potential of this basin. These studies became crucial in the approval and subsequent development of the Truckee-Carson (Newlands) Irrigation Project in 1902 and located in Lahontan Valley in the lower Carson River Basin.
1899 The general belief that Carson Valley farmers had won the lawsuit filled against them by the Union Mill and Mining Company was reinforced in this year when Occidental Land and Improvement Company, a company which Francis Newlands had specifically formed to begin buying land in the upper and lower Carson River Basin, disposed of 5,076.22 acres of desert land. This land, along with a Long Valley reservoir site, had been purchased for Francis Newlands in 1889 and 1890 by H.H. Springmeyer, who was one of the defendants in the Union Mill and Mining Company lawsuit.(299)
1899 Based upon a complaint filed in the 1870s by the California Legislature as to the placement of the California-Nevada border (the "Von Schmidt Line"), which had been surveyed by A.W. Von Schmidt through Alpine County and the upper portions of the Carson River Basin in May 1873, a six-year U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey was completed in this year and established the border at its present location, returning to the State of California approximately one million acres.(300)
1899 (July 18) The rancher trustees of Carson Valley Water Storage, Irrigation and Canal Company entered into an agreement with the Alpine Land and Reservoir Company for the purchase of the issued and unissued stock of the Alpine Company and for nine of its original reservoir sites and for two others acquired following its incorporation in 1896. The Carson Valley Company subsequently took on the name of the Alpine Land and Reservoir Company.(301)
1899 Colonel Emmet D. Boyle, who would later become Nevada's governor, asked the Nevada Legislature for a franchise to tap the waters of Lake Tahoe with a tunnel draining into Washoe Valley. The water would be used to drive generators and then released for irrigation.(302)
1899 December) After two seasons of drought, the users of water on the Carson River's West Fork in Douglas County (primarily Carson Valley farmers in Nevada) filed a suit (Anderson v. Bassman) against West Fork water users in Alpine County, California (primarily farmers in Diamond Valley and the upper watershed valleys). The suit was heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States, Northern District of California, and a final judgement would not be rendered until 1905.(303)
1. Houghton, Samuel G., A Trace of Desert Waters: The Great Basin Story, University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada, 1994, page 52.
2. Hyne, N.J., et al., Quaternary History of Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada: Geological Society America Bulletin, Volume 83, 1972, page 1435.
3. Benson, Larry V., "Preliminary Paleolimnologic Data for the Walker Lake Sub-Basin, California and Nevada," Water Resources Investigations Report 87-4258, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, Denver, Colorado, 1988, page 1. Also see Houghton, op. cit., page 63.
4. Houghton, op. cit., page 73.
5. Initial Bench & Bottom Land, Map and Criteria, Newlands Project, Nevada, Division of Water and Power Resources Management, Water Operation and Maintenance Branch, Irrigation Section, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior, Sacramento, California, September 1990, Revised January 1992, page 11, and Strickland, Rose, "Stillwater: Its Friends and Neighbors," Dividing Desert Waters, Nevada Public Affairs Review, Number 1, 1992, Senator Alan Bible Center for Applied Research, University of Nevada, Reno, page 68.
6. Computed from information presented in Horne, Alex J., Ph.D., James C. Roth, Ph.D., and Nicola J. Barratt, M.S., Walker Lake--Nevada, State of the Lake, 1992-94, Report to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley and the Environmental Engineering and Health Sciences Laboratory, Richmond, California, December, 1994, page 17.
7. Houghton, op. cit., page 63.
8. Ibid., pages 26-27 and 78-79.
9. Reno Gazette-Journal, April 25, 1996, pages 1A and 5A.
11. Murphy, Shane, The Lore and Legend of the East Fork--A Historical Guide for Floating the East Carson River, The Carson River Conservation Fund, Zephyr Cove, Nevada, 1982, page 18.
12. Ibid., pages 18-20.
13. Fowler, Catherine S., In the Shadow of Fox Peak--An Ethnography of the Cattail-Eater Northern Paiute People of Stillwater Marsh, Cultural Resource Series Number 5, U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, 1992, page 9.
14. Land, Barbara and Myrick, A Short History of Reno, University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada, 1995, page 8.
15. Murphy, op. cit., page 21.
16. Houghton, op. cit., page 104.
17. Hulse, James W., The Nevada Adventure, Sixth Edition, University of Nevada Press, Reno, Nevada, 1990, pages 34-36.
18. Ibid., pages 34-35.
19. Ibid., page 47.
20. Townley, John M., Tough Little Town on the Truckee, History of Reno Series, Volume One, Great Basin Studies Center, Reno, Nevada, 1983, page 24.
21. Hulse, op. cit., pages 36-37.
22. Ibid., page 37.
23. Murphy, op. cit., page 22.
24. Houghton, op. cit., page 29.
25. Hulse, op. cit., pages 49-52.
26. Houghton, op. cit., page 105.
27. Hulse, op. cit., page 40.
28. When first viewed by Frémont, it was noted that Pyramid Lake was some 50 miles long and 12 miles wide (as compared to some 30 miles long and about 8 miles wide today), although this length seems to have been highly exaggerated. In his journal he reported that the lake "broke upon our eyes like the ocean" and was "set like a gem in the mountains."
29. Houghton, op. cit., page 63.
30. Ibid., page 81.
31. Frémont, John Charles, Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, 1842, and to Oregon and North California, 1843-44, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1845.
32. Townley, John M., The Truckee Basin Fishery, 1844-1944, Water Resources Center Publication 43008, Desert Research Institute, University of Nevada System, November 1980, page 1.
33. WALKER RIVER ATLAS, Department of Water Resources, The Resource Agency, State of California, Sacramento, California, June 1992, page 8. In 1861 the "lost" cannon was eventually discovered and taken to Virginia City where it was put on display. Then sometime during World War I it disappeared, presumably sold for its scrap metal value. [See Houghton, op. cit., page 105.]
34. Murphy, op. cit., page 22.
35. John Augustus Sutter, a Swiss emigrant, first arrived in California on July 1, 1839, and became a naturalized citizen of Mexico on August 29, 1840. In September of 1840, he was appointed Justice of the Peace and official representative of the Mexican government. The New Helvetia (New Switzerland) land grant, consisting of some 47,827 acres around the fort he had constructed near the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers, was given to Sutter by Governor Alvarado in 1841. Another land grant of an additional 96,800 acres was made in 1844. While Sutter and his fort became well known for their hospitality to weary travelers during the early 1840s, his dream of establishing a new empire in California began to unravel with the discovery of gold in 1848 at his own sawmill on the American River at Coloma, California. After a number of business set-backs, Sutter left California in 1865, never to return. He journeyed to Washington, D.C., to pursue his rights to the land grants made to him by the Mexican government. After fourteen years of frustration and disappointment, Sutter died in a hotel in the nation's capitol on June 18, 1880. [See "Sutter's Fort State Historic Park" (Pamphlet), State of California, The Resources Agency, Department of Parks and Recreation, April 1989, pages 3-7.]
36. Horton, Gary A., Nevada: A Historical Perspective of the State's Socioeconomic, Resource, Environmental, and Casino Gaming Development, Business & Economic Research Associates, Reno, Nevada, July 1995, page 5.
37. Houghton, op. cit., page 23.
38. While Frémont has certainly lacked visible notoriety in Nevada except as noted, he has been remembered through a number of plant species patronyms in California and the Great Basin. Some of these include the flannelbush (Fremontodendron), freckled milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus fremontii), pigweed or goosefoot (Chenopodium fremontii), silk tassel bush (Garrya fremontii), peppergrass (Lepidium fremontii), box thorn (Lycium fremontii), bush mallow (Malacothamnus fremontii), phacelia (Phacelia fremontii), polyctenium (Polyctenium fremontii), and psorothamnus (Psorothamnus fremontii), to name the most commonly recorded. [Information provided courtesy of Glenn Clemmer, Administrator, Nevada Natural Heritage Program, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Carson City, Nevada.]
39. Frémont's first expedition west was conducted in 1842 and left from St. Louis, Missouri, but only got just beyond South Pass in the northern Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. [See Donald K. Grayson, The Desert's Past: A Natural Prehistory of The Great Basin, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1993, pages 3-4.]
40. Houghton, op. cit., page 105.
41. Simpson, Captain James H., Report of Explorations Across the Great Basin in 1859, U.S. Army Engineering Department, Washington, D.C., page 479.
43. Hulse, op. cit., page 59.
44. Dangberg, Grace, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, Carson Valley Historical Society, Minden, Nevada, November 1972, page 1.
46. Multimedia Encyclopedia, (Electronic Encyclopedia), The Software Toolworks.
47. The site of Ragtown, located at the upper end of the Lahontan Valley where the Carson River enters, became a welcome rest stop for early emigrants using the Humboldt Trail after the arduous trek across the Carson Sink and Desert (Forty-Mile Desert). It was here that these early travelers first encountered the Carson River and took advantage of the water and available forage and rested and washed their alkali-covered clothing. With newly washed clothing hanging on virtually every available bush, tree, and shrub, the naming of the site became obvious. Up until the spring flood of 1862, the Carson River's course turned south at Ragtown and flowed into Carson Lake, a substantial body of water located at the southern end of Lahontan Valley. The floods of 1862, however, turned the river into an old stream channel leading directly to the east and the Carson Sink, thereby by-passing Carson Lake, which subsequently began to diminish in size.
50. Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, County Report 8, Division of Mines and Geology, Department of Conservation, The Resources Agency, State of California, Sacramento, California, 1977, page 4.
51. Hulse, op. cit., page 68.
52. Land, op. cit., page 21.
53. The doctrine of riparian rights to the use of water has been completely abrogated in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The Pacific Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California and the tier of six states, starting with North Dakota on the north and extending southward to Texas, recognize to varying degrees both the appropriation and the riparian doctrines. The effect of court decisions and statutes has made the existence of the riparian doctrine of minor significance in Washington, Oregon, and Kansas. [See Hugh A. Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, as Related to the Development and Evolution of the State's Water Resources, From 1866 to About 1960, Water Resources Bulletin 46, Prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey in cooperation with the Nevada Division of Water Resources, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State of Nevada, Carson City, Nevada, 1991, page 4.]
54. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 8.
55. Fowler, op. cit., page 16.
56. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 8.
57. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, USDA Special Report on Water and Related Land Resources, Central Lahontan Basin, Carson River Sub-Basin, Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Carson City, Nevada, November 1973, page 4.
58. Soil Survey of Douglas County Area, Nevada, Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, page 1.
59. Land, op. cit., page 21.
60. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 8.
63. Dangberg, Grace, Conflict on the Carson, Carson Valley Historical Society, Minden, Nevada, November 1975, page 2.
64. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 40.
65. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, op. cit., page 4.
66. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 51.
67. Land, op. cit., pages 21-22.
68. In response to "scurrilous attacks" on sheep by the (Virginia City) Territorial Enterprise, Mr. Fulton pointed out that eight or ten sheep will thrive where one cow will live, that a sheep will produce two crops a year--wool and meat--that, in contrast to cattle, a sheep will provide these two crops in one third of the time that it takes to put meat on a beef animal that can go to market, and, finally, that the time taken to replace lost, dead, or sold sheep is one third of that required for cattle. Mr. Fulton also sagely observed that to operate an outfit owning 5,000 sheep required the boss, two herders and a packer, all four of whom, in contrast to the one man required to utilize the same area with 500 cattle, were free spenders in the community. [See Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 127.]
69. Murphy, op. cit., page 22.
73. Fowler, op. cit., page 18.
74. Ibid., page 41.
75. McQuivey, Robert, "Nevada Habitat and Fisheries Historical Media File," Habitat Bureau, Nevada Division of Wildlife, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, 1996.
76. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 48.
77. Ibid., page 3.
79. John "Snowshoe" Thompson was born in Prestijeld, Norway, in 1827 and emigrated to America with his family when he was ten years old. By 1850, his family was working a farm in the Sacramento Valley. Upon hearing of the periodic closure of the "Hangtown Road" over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, he began to carry the mails on skis fashioned by himself. In the 1860s, he retired to a small farm in Diamond Valley, southeast of Woodfords, California, just off the Carson River West Fork. He died in 1876 from a common cold, reportedly the first of his life. Although Thompson was never paid for his services, after his death Congress fulfilled a long-standing request from the U.S. Postal Service and paid $6,000 to Thompson's widow, Agness Scossa, the daughter of John Scossa, one of Carson Valley's earliest settlers, who homesteaded a ranch in Diamond Valley. [See Murphy, op. cit., page 45.]
80. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 8.
81. McQuivey, op. cit.
83. Land, op. cit., pages 22-23.
84. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 2.
85. Murphy, op. cit., page 27. Another source (Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, op. cit., page 4) reported that this town was not established until 1862.
88. Fowler, op. cit., pages 18-19.
89. Townley, John M., Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, Nevada Historical Society, Reno, Nevada, 1977, pages 3-4.
90. Fowler, op. cit., page 18.
91. Ibid., page 25.
92. Land, op. cit., page 25.
93. Murphy, op. cit., pages 22-24.
94. Horton, op. cit., pages 9-10.
95. McQuivey, op. cit.
97. A Study of Water Rights and Their Enforcement [in the] Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Carson River Basins, Prepared by Water Rights Study Group, Pyramid Lake Task Force, [for the] U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Solicitor, Sacramento Region, Sacramento, California, August 1971, pages 116-117.
98. Murphy, op. cit., pages 41-43.
99. Fowler, op. cit., page 19.
100. Hulse, op. cit., pages 89-91.
101. Townley, Tough Little Town on the Truckee, op. cit., page 54.
102. Houghton, op. cit., page 80.
104. Horton, op. cit., pages 8-9.
105. Fowler, op. cit., page 19.
106. From the original nine counties, reduced to eight with the incorporation of Lake County (renamed Roop County in 1863) into Washoe County in 1883, there followed the creation of Lander County in 1862 (out of Esmeralda County), Nye County in 1864 (out of Esmeralda County), Lincoln County in 1866 (out of Nye County), Elko and White Pine counties in 1869 (both out of Lander County), Eureka County in 1873 (out of Lander County), Clark County in 1909 (out of Lincoln County), Mineral County in 1911 (out of Esmeralda County), and Pershing County in 1919 (out of Humboldt County). Carson City and Ormsby County incorporated in 1969 and Bullfrog County was created out of Nye County in 1987, and then returned to that county in 1989. County creations were also accompanied by additions to Nevada's Territorial and State boundaries: 1862 (from 116 west longitude eastward to 115 west longitude); 1866 (from 115 west longitude eastward to 114 west longitude); and 1867 (from 37 north latitude southward to 35 north latitude). These expansions came at the expense of Utah and Arizona. [See Political History of Nevada, 9th Edition, Secretary of State, State of Nevada, Carson City, Nevada, 1990.]
107. Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, op. cit., page 6.
108. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 28.
110. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., pages 105-106.
111. Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, op. cit., pages 4-5.
112. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 4-5.
115. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 78.
116. McQuivey, op. cit.
117. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, op. cit., pages 4-5.
118. It was also reported that local area farmers re-routed the river's main course back towards the Carson Lake. [Personal communication, Norm Saake, Statewide Waterfowl Specialist, Game Bureau, Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW), Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Fallon, Nevada, May 1996.]
119. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 9.
120. Edward M. Kern, who led a detachment of John C. Frémont's 1845 expedition past Carson Lake, described it as a "very pretty sheet of water, about 11 miles long..." Also, Thompson & West's History of Nevada, 1881, had a description of the lake which stated "...is about 12 miles in diameter, and is about 50 feet deep at the utmost." [See Robert Stewart, "Carson Lake Navigability," unpublished technical paper, Nevada Division of State Lands, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Carson City, Nevada, 1995.] These descriptions would indicate a lake of approximately 90 square miles (it was neither round nor square), or 58,000 acres, considerably larger than the 1,400 acres reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1994.
121. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 78.
124. Reno-Gazette Journal, February 16, 1996, pages 1E and 3E.
125. The public domain, or federally owned land, presently includes land in all states except the original 13 and Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. [The Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia.]
126. Shamberger, Hugh A., Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, as Related to the Development and Evolution of the State's Water Resources, From 1866 to About 1960, Water Resources Bulletin 46, Prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey in cooperation with the Nevada Division of Water Resources, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Carson City, Nevada, 1991. page 90.
127. WALKER RIVER ATLAS, op. cit., pages 52-54.
128. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 7.
130. Reno Gazette-Journal, February 23, 1996, page 3B.
131. Murphy, op. cit., pages 41-43.
132. McQuivey, op. cit.
133. Born Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro on April 29, 1830, in Aachen, Prussia, Sutro emigrated to the United States at the age of 20 along with his family. After several months in New York City, Sutro left his family and sailed for San Francisco, California, arriving there on November 21, 1850. Within several years he owned several stores, mostly dealing in imported tobaccos. In 1859, Sutro made his first trip to the "Washoe country" and was greatly impressed by the happenings at the Comstock, then in its infancy. Sutro soon demonstrated attributes highly useful in this new and evolving land: limitless energy, a great promoter, a proficient speaker, and a tenacious fighter. [See Shamberger, Hugh A., Water Supply for the Comstock, Prepared in Cooperation with Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey, Carson City Nevada, 1969, page 32.]
134. Shamberger, Hugh A., Water Supply for the Comstock, Prepared in Cooperation with Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey, Carson City Nevada, 1969, page 32.
135. Murphy, op. cit., pages 28-29.
136. Leviathan Mine 5-Year Workplan, California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Lahontan Region, California Environmental Protection Agency, State of California, Sacramento, California, July 1995, page 5.
137. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 11.
138. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 28.
139. McQuivey, op. cit.
141. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 95.
142. Townley, Tough Little Town on the Truckee, op. cit., pages 116-120.
143. Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, op. cit., page 4.
144. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 7.
145. Horton, op. cit., page 11.
146. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 10.
147. The prior appropriation principle, or doctrine, in the form in which it is recognized throughout the west, originated from the requirements of a mining region for protection in the use of water supplies needed to work mining claims on lands not contiguous to streams or other sources of water. The appropriation doctrine is recognized on surface waters in all states west of the 100th Meridian (100 degrees west longitude); however, only eight of the western states--Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming--are exclusively (prior) appropriation states. [See Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., pages 4-5.]
148. Shamberger, Water Supply for the Comstock, op. cit., page 33.
149. McQuivey, op. cit.
150. Murphy, op. cit., page 29.
151. Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., page 5.
152. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 104.
153. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 7.
154. Horton, op. cit., page 11.
155. McQuivey, op. cit.
156. Fowler, op. cit., page 21.
157. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 47.
158. Ibid., pages 7-10.
159. McQuivey, op. cit.
160. Carson Daily Appeal, December 28, 1867.
161. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, op. cit., pages 5-6.
162. McQuivey, op. cit.
163. Fowler, op. cit., page 11.
164. McQuivey, op. cit.
165. Murphy, op. cit., page 28.
166. Leviathan Mine 5-Year Workplan, op. cit., page 5.
167. "Lyon County Reflections," The Mason Valley News, Inc., and the Fernley Leader-Dayton Courier, 1966, pages 21-23.
168. Shamberger, Water Supply for the Comstock, op. cit., page 33.
169. Hulse, op. cit., page 125.
171. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 13-14.
172. McQuivey, op. cit.
173. Fowler, op. cit., page 21.
174. McQuivey, op. cit.
177. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 14.
178. Reno Crescent, December 9, 1871.
179. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 16-17.
180. Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, op. cit., page 6.
181. Murphy, op. cit., pages 48-49.
182. The Marlette Lake Water System, A Report on the Feasibility and Desirability of Its Retention, Bulletin No. 79, Legislative Commission of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, State of Nevada, Carson City, Nevada, February 1969, page 15.
183. Several names have been attached to this stream. It was first known as Dall Creek after a Mr. Dall who had a lumber mill in Long [Little] Valley. Later it was known as Hobart Creek and when the diversion points for the Virginia City water system were established below Hobart Creek Reservoir at Red House, the reach below Red House was known as Franktown Creek and the reach above Red House was known as Hobart Creek. [See Shamberger, Water Supply for the Comstock, op. cit., page 8.]
184. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, op. cit., page 7.
185. Ibid., page 7-8.
186. Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, op. cit., page 6.
187. Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., page 5.
188. Janik, C. Anne, and Ronald M. Anglin, "Nevada's Unique Wildlife Oasis," Dividing Desert Waters, Nevada Public Affairs Review, Number 1, 1992, Senator Alan Bible Center for Applied Research, University of Nevada, Reno, page 55.
189. Briefing Document, Public Law 101-618, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, Carson City Office, Carson City, Nevada, February 1994.
190. Extrapolated from tables contained in Harris, E.E., "Reconnaissance Bathymetry of Pyramid Lake, Washoe County, Nevada," Water Resources-Information Series, Report 20, Prepared Cooperatively by the Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Division of Water Resources, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State of Nevada, Carson City, Nevada, 1974.
191. From Pyramid Lake gaging station records obtained from the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division, Carson City, Nevada.
192. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 28.
193. The Marlette Lake Water System, op. cit., page 16.
194. The Carson Valley News, July 31, 1875.
195. Territorial Enterprise, August 28, 1875.
196. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 22
197. Reno Gazette-Journal, October 26, 1995, page 2B.
198. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 25.
200. Ibid., pages 28-29.
201. McQuivey, op. cit.
203. Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., page 90.
204. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 21-22.
205. McQuivey, op. cit.
207. Ibid., page 29.
208. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, op. cit., pages 7-8.
209. Shamberger, Water Supply for the Comstock, op. cit., pages 33-34.
210. Thompson and West, History of Nevada, Howell-North Press, pages 504-505.
211. Lord, Eliot, Comstock Mining and Miners, 1883, page 259.
212. In addition to the Sutro Tunnel, Sutro also built a stamping and processing mill to process his own ore, laid out a complete town site (Town of Sutro), and built himself a mansion (at company expense) at the mouth of the tunnel. Shortly after the completion of the project, however, a dispute arose with the mine owners and the royalty fee was reduced from $2 per ton to $1 per ton. In 1879 Adolph Sutro resigned his position as Superintendent of the Sutro Tunnel Company, sold his stock for $709,012 (reportedly the only person to make much money on the project), moved to San Francisco and invested in real estate. In 1894, Sutro was elected the mayor of that city. Adolph Sutro died in San Francisco in 1898. Sutro's mansion at his town site along the Carson River burned in the 1940s, and the processing mill was destroyed by fire in 1967. [See Shamberger, Water Supply for the Comstock, op. cit., pages [34-36.]
213. McQuivey, op. cit.
215. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 29.
216. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., page 110.
217. Houghton, op. cit., page 119.
218. McQuivey, op. cit.
221. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 19.
222. Hulse, op. cit., page 153.
223. Population of Nevada Counties and Communities, 1860-1980, compiled by Waller H. Reed, RSVP Volunteer, Nevada Historical Society, Reno, Nevada, Winter 1983-1984.
224. Harris, op. cit. The last recorded Pyramid Lake surface elevation taken before diversion began at Derby Dam was 3,861.80, recorded on September 1, 1904. After diversions began at Derby Dam in 1905, Pyramid Lake would reach its recorded low point (nadir) in 1967 at a surface elevation of 3,783.9 feet MSL, corresponding to a surface area of 106,800 acres (170 square miles) and a volume of 19,980,000 acre-feet, a volume loss of 9,620,000 acre-feet, or 32.5 percent.
225. By the mid-1990s, Pyramid Lake TDS concentrations had risen to approximately 5,000 mg/l, indicative of the combination of effects from high levels of evaporation from the lake's and reduced Truckee River inflows. [TRUCKEE RIVER ATLAS, Department of Water Resources, The Resources Agency, State of California, Sacramento, California, June 1991, page 27.]
226. McQuivey, op. cit.
227. Territorial Enterprise, July 22, 1883, and Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 25.
228. This concern was not without justification. The 1860s and 1870s represented a period of considerable expansion of irrigation ditches in Carson Valley and new lands being brought under cultivation. Most of these additions came about after the first milling operations began in 1860-1861 and included the Allerman Ditch (1861), the (Old) Virginia Ditch (1863), the Pinenut Creek Ditch (1875), the Allerman Ditch (Canal) extension (1876), the New Virginia Ditch (1876), the Ezell Ditch (1876), and the Buckeye Creek Ditch (1878). With each ditch came new irrigated lands and appropriations of water after that of the mills.
229. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 25-26.
230. Ibid., pages 29-39.
231. McQuivey, op. cit.
233. Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., page 5.
234. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, op. cit., pages 8-10.
235. Mines and Mineral Resources of Alpine County, California, op. cit., page 6.
236. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 19.
237. Briefing Document, Public Law 101-618, op. cit.
238. In order to transport the waters of Marlette Lake, located at an elevation of 7,823 feet MSL on the west side of the Carson Range within the Lake Tahoe Basin, to the eastern slope of the Carson Range for transport across Washoe Valley, a flume was constructed from Marlette Lake due north along the ridge line for nearly 4.5 miles to Tunnel Creek Station where it entered a tunnel running for about 0.7 mile through the crest of the Carson Range to another flume on the eastern slope which ran for almost 2.5 miles to Franktown Creek at the location of existing two diversions (located 0.8 and 1.0 mile downstream from Hobart Creek Reservoir, located at an elevation of 7,440 feet MSL).
239. The Marlette Lake Water System, op. cit., page 19.
240. In 1963 the State of Nevada purchased this water system from the Marlette Lake Company for $1,650,000, to include some 5,378 acres of land, easements, pipelines, flumes and other fixtures and appurtenances used for their water operations in Washoe, Ormsby (Carson City), and Storey Counties. [See The Marlette Lake Water System, op. cit., page 21.]
241. McQuivey, op. cit.
242. Townley, John M., The Orr Ditch Case, 1913-1944, Water Resources Center Publication 43007, Desert Research Institute, University of Nevada System, October 1980, page 16.
243. Strong, Douglas H., Tahoe: An Environmental History, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1984, page 97.
244. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 111-112.
245. McQuivey, op. cit.
246. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 134.
247. Actually, the year 1889 saw the Nevada Legislature take action on six water-related bills, none of which had significant impact on the control or use of water in Nevada. Chapter 15 prohibited the throwing and deposit of sawdust in or on the water of any lake, river, or running stream in Nevada. Chapter 48 was aimed at preventing the unlawful diversion or waste of water during the irrigation season. Chapter 78 established fines for any owner or superintendent of any water ditch or artificial water course who allowed the water from such ditch or water course to run uncontrolled upon any public road. Chapter 104 amended Section 3 of the 1866 Act providing that any person maintaining a ditch would have the undisputed right of flowing water through it to the full extent of its capacity for mining, milling, manufacturing, agriculture, and other domestic purposes, but not to the extent of interfering with existing water rights. Chapter 112 provided for the storage of water, to reclaim the arable lands of the state, to develop the state's agricultural resources, and to provide the necessary funds. Chapter 113 was intended to regulate the use of water for irrigation and other purposes. Both Chapters 112 and 113 were repealed shortly thereafter. [See Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., pages 11-13.]
248. Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., page 13.
249. Ibid., page 7.
250. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 17-18.
251. Townley, The Orr Ditch Case, op. cit., page 16.
252. This would become the future site of the Watasheamu Dam and Reservoir, which became part of the USBR's "Washoe Project" proposed in the 1950s.
253. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 69-70.
254. Genoa Weekly Courier, July 19, 1889.
255. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 72-73.
256. Ibid., page 70.
257. Territorial Enterprise, August 17, 1889, and Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 70-71.
258. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 70-71.
259. Townley, The Orr Ditch Case, op. cit., page 17.
260. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 73.
261. Francis Newlands became involved with the action of the Union Mill and Mining Company through his relationship with William Sharon, who served as U.S. Senator from Nevada from 1875-1881. Mr. Sharon was sent to the Comstock in 1864 by W.C. Ralston of the Bank of California, and began the acquisition and the consolidation of the mines and mills and, upon Mr. Sharon's advice, initiated the formation of the Union Mill and Mining Company. Francis Newlands married William Sharon's daughter, Ada, and upon Mr. Sharon's death in 1886, Mr. Newlands became the trustee of Sharon's estate. [See Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 7-10 and pages 74-75.]
262. The Cradlebaugh Bridge site was located near where the present U.S. Highway 395 crosses the Carson River in the northern portion of the Carson Valley.
263. Genoa Weekly Courier, October 18, 1889.
264. This letter is particularly revealing as it clearly described Newlands' goal to use the Union Mill and Mining Company's lawsuit to isolate the Carson Valley's principal farmers and ranchers and obtain virtual control of the Carson River "to the advantage of both the agricultural and the milling interests." Newlands also discussed his relationships with H.H. Springmeyer, one of the defendants in this lawsuit, who was, at the same time, acquiring land in the upper basin for Newlands, and with H.H. Bence, who was acquiring land downstream for Newlands for future agricultural development. One can only wonder, therefore, whose "agricultural interests" Newlands had in mind when he proposed to gain control for both the advantage of the ranchers and the mill men. [See Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 79-81.]
265. Townley, The Orr Ditch Case, op. cit., page 16.
266. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 23.
267. History of Flooding--Carson Valley and Carson City Watershed, op. cit., pages 10-14.
268. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 19.
269. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 59 and 112.
270. The ranchers Mr. Newlands referred to were H.F. Dangberg, R.P. Greeley, W.C. Noteware, and H.H. Springmeyer. More revealing still, in acquiring his lands, Mr. Springmeyer was, in fact, acting as the agent of Mr. Newlands. [See Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 78-79.]
271. Strong, op. cit., page 97.
272. The primary contentions questioning the law's constitutionality were first, that as a special law it applied to only particular rights to the use of water and embraces only a part of the territory of the State. Second, it took away vested rights of property without due process of law and without giving the owner an opportunity to be heard. Third, it granted rights and imposed burdens upon some of the citizens of the State, which are not granted to or imposed upon others. And fourth, it delegated the law-making power to the Governor and clothed him with power to create water districts and the discretion to extend to or withhold from the people of the State the provisions of a statute law. [See Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 90-91.]
273. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 91-92.
274. Rowley, William D., "The Newlands Project: Crime or National Commitment," Dividing Desert Waters, Nevada Public Affairs Review, Number 1, 1992, Senator Alan Bible Center for Applied Research, University of Nevada, Reno, page 39.
275. Water Resources Data, Nevada, Water Year 1994, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Data Report NV-94-1, Nevada District Office, Water Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, Carson City, Nevada, 1995, page 314.
276. Harris, op. cit.
277. McQuivey, op. cit.
279. As was written in poem so eloquently by Sam Davis pertaining to the election "irregularities" in Storey County, and appeared in the Carson Daily Appeal: "On yonder hillside, bleak and barren, Lies many a friend of William Sharon, Who in election's hurly-burly Voted often, voted early. But since old Sharon went to glory, The younger Billy bosses Storey, And at his beck those sons of witches Rise, to vote without their britches. To take a hand in the election And hustle back without detection. As we recall those mem'ries hoary, Let's bless the graveyard vote of Storey." [See Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 112-113.]
280. Rowley, op. cit., page 39.
281. McQuivey, op. cit.
282. Dangberg, Carson Valley--Historical Sketches of Nevada's First Settlement, op. cit., pages 111-112.
283. Briefing Document, Public Law 101-618, op. cit.
284. Shamberger, Evolution of Nevada's Water Laws, op. cit., page 85.
285. Fowler, op. cit., page 23.
286. McQuivey, op. cit.
288. The incorporators included William Thornburg and H.F. Musser of Alpine County, California, and George Lamy, George Keith, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, Reinhold Sadler, and A. Livingston of Carson City, Nevada. [See Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 106.]
289. McQuivey, op. cit.
290. Townley, John M., Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 24.
291. A.E. Chandler, who was the first State Engineer of Nevada (1903-1905) and later professor of Irrigation Law at the University of California.
292. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 96.
293. Ibid., pages 101-102.
294. Ibid., pages 100-101.
295. Townley, John M., Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., pages 24-25.
297. McQuivey, op. cit.
298. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., page 106.
299. Ibid., page 101.
300. Murphy, op. cit., pages 48-49.
301. Dangberg, Conflict on the Carson, op. cit., pages 106-107.
302. Townley, Turn this Water into Gold: The Story of the Newlands Project, op. cit., page 47.
303. Ibid., pages 134-135.