Elko County

Heart of Nevada

The Markers Statistics

The name "Elko" is said to mean "white woman" -- said to be spoken by a Native American chief upon his first glance at the region's first white female settlers. Others believe that the name was given by a man who enjoyed putting the letter "O" after certain animal names. Rambunctious? It's in Elko's nature after all.

While the origins of Elko's name remain unclear, its growth and history remain absolute. This town began its life as a railroad town in 1868, having served as an important temporary terminus for both the Central Pacific and the first portion of the Transcontinental Railroad between California and Utah. When the railroad crews moved on Elko survived as a ranch and outpost before changing status as a mining and supply post. A courthouse was built a year later and with it the creation of a massive county with that same elusive name in 1869.

The railroad has since moved on and nobody knows how or why mining became the city's main trade. The massive Getchell Mine (technically in Eureka County) funds every bit of this old cowboy town. Bits of tourism, as well as continuous traffic from the interstate helps to top off Elko's steady and bustling economy. However, a lingering fear settles that once "the Mine" has petered out, Elko will soon fall victim to the typical boom and bust cycle of so many other Nevada communities. Nevada's own mini city is nestled in a broad valley just a few miles from the massive ramparts of the Ruby Mountains, located 368 miles east of Reno and more than 250 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. Elko enjoys its freedom and spaciousness in the far open expanses of northeastern Nevada. In fact, Elko relishes its seclusion and seems to get by just fine. This "The Heart of Nevada" writes its own rules.

The Great Escape
This place backs itself up on much more than gold. Geographically, Elko County comprises a massive chunk of Nevada that encompasses the entire northeast corner of the state. It even prides itself with a few superlatives. Elko is home to at least a dozen mountain ranges, including its own crown jewel - the Ruby Mountains, the most well-watered range in the Great Basin. It's also the birthplace of the Humboldt River, the longest waterway in Nevada and in addition to the Humboldt, hundreds of miles of streams tumble down its ranges. Here, it's simple to feel like a player in the county's sprawling outdoor arena. The typical Elko tourist may be interested in only a day's adventure, or they may feel the need for something deeper. Either way, Elko County welcomes everyone.

The Markers
Much like its scenery, road time in Elko County is also worthy of superlative status and you should expect more than their fair share of time behind the wheel. In fact, allow me to go down fighting and say this is the best county for conquering and one of the most difficult to tackle effectively! Elko's markers are widely distributed and visitors should not expect to conquer them in one day. I recommend spending an entire week to effectively capture these markers ...

With a little planning we found ourselves doubling back only once the entire trip during the fall of 2008. We began the week by tackling [151] Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Owyhee where one single pesky marker requires a long day's trip from any direction and ninety one miles from Elko. Immediately next, we made the slow ride up to capture two of the most difficult markers to obtain in Nevada. After spending two lovely days in Jarbidge we spent one whole day on US 93, conquering the two remote stragglers in Jackpot while making our back to the interstate and Elko's center of action. After meeting back up with Interstate 80 we made two trips including the necessary double-back to [46] and the 23-mile detour to lonely [73] in Montello.

In all, we had covered the eastern portion of the county in three and a half days, including the trip to Jarbidge thus completing an enormous circle back to Elko and spending a full day working the markers in and around the city. Finally, we cruised through the western portion of the county - tackling [48] and outward toward Carlin [112] and Palisade [65]. For those of you who wonder about such things, we we racked up a total of $125 in fuel over a five-day period at Elko's average price of $3.89/gallon (September 2008)! How's that for thinking ahead?

Markers of Elko County

So, what does all this mean, my friends? Conquering Elko's markers will require a bit of strategic planning if you wish to maximize your fuel consumption and a gruesome amount of back tracking. In terms of services, there should be little to worry about. Any Nevadan will describe Elko as its own animal -- an isolated nucleus of miners, ranchers, sportsmen, truckers, buckaroos and saddle makers. Elko comes complete with everything a visitor could possibly need. Find high dollar to hole-in-the-wall casinos, or relish in fine dining to a Big Mac with fries. Saddle up cowpokes: Elko County awaits.

  Trip to Jarbidge

Journey to Nevada's Most Remote Town

"The town of Jarbidge hides in a bucolic alpine canyon far away from what most Nevadans would call "civilization." To conquer "the Jarbidge markers," hunters must drive two hours on dirt to reach the town ..."

[3] -- West End of Hastings Cutoff

40.766071, -115.919849

"The canyon was first traversed in 1841 by the Bartleson-Bidwell Party, the earliest organized California emigrant group."

[45] -- Humboldt Wells

41.11755, -114.9781

"These springs, seen as marsh spots and small ponds of water in the meadows here, are the Humboldt Wells, a historic oasis on the California Emigrant Trail."

[46] -- Pilot Peak

40.84397, -114.20749

"In the period 1845- 1850, it was a famous landmark and symbol of hope and relief to the Reed-Donner Party and all other wagon train pioneers who traveled the 70-odd deadly, thirst and heat-ridden miles of the Great Salt Lake Desert."

[47] -- Fort Halleck Military Reservation (1867-1886)

40.95601, -115.46577

"Established as Camp Halleck by Captain S.P. Smith July 26, 1867, to protect the California Emigrant Trail and construction work on the Central Pacific Railroad."

[48] -- Tuscarora

41.28047, -116.11402

"In 1871, W.O. Weed discovered the rich Mount Blitzen silver lodes, two miles northeast of the Beard claims."

[50] -- Carlin Canyon

40.72867, -116.02006

"The Bidwell-Bartleson Party was the forerunner of the 1841-1870 California Emigrant Trail tide through the canyon--then known as Wall Defile or Fremont Canyon."

[69] -- Jarbidge

41.87751, -115.43048

"The name Jarbidge comes from a Shoshone word meaning "a bad or evil spirit."

[73] -- Unknown Soldiers

41.26196, -114.19341

"Victims of the influenza epidemic of 1918, the graves of ten soldiers buried here represent a mystery to this day as to their identity."

[106] -- Elko

40.84128, -115.75324

"On December 29, 1868, representatives of the Central Pacific Railroad started laying out lots for the future town of Elko."

[107] -- Elko Airport
(Terminus of the First Commercial Air Mail Route)

40.8287, -115.78029

"On April 6, 1926, Varney Air Lines pilot Leon Cuddeback, carrying one bag of mail, landed his tiny Curtis Swallow bi-plane at Elko, Nevada ..."

[108] -- Ruby Valley Pony Express Station (Reconstructed)

40.84176, -115.75273

"... Fine. I will eat my ballcap should this reconstruction ever receive a dose of spray paint!"

[109] -- Lamoille Valley

40.72797, -115.47863

"Because heavy use denuded the grass from the main Fort Hall route of the California Emigrant Trail along the Humboldt River, many emigrants left the river near Starr Valley."

[112] -- Carlin

40.71037, -116.11857

"Carlin, the oldest town in present Elko County, was established as a railroad division point in December, 1868, by the Central Pacific Railroad."

[151] -- Duck Valley Indian Reservation

41.99607, -116.13063

  Superlative: Northernmost in Nevada

"Established in 1877 by President Rutherford B. Hayes, this reservation is situated on the ancestral lands of the Western Shoshone Indians."

[153] -- Jarbidge Community Hall

41.87814, -115.43072

"With 1,500 population in Jarbidge Canyon by 1910, citizens built this pioneer type community hall with a "floating" maple floor."

[229] -- Oil From Shale

40.82574, -115.77942

"Driving of the main shaft began in 1916. Of several tries at extracting oil from shale, this was the only successful operation in Nevada."

[244] -- Dinner Station

41.09991, -115.86631 Missing

"Dinner Station stands as a reminder of Nevada's stagecoach era."

[251] -- Diamondfield Jack Davis

41.98471, -114.67209

"This historical marker commemorates the lasting notoriety of flamboyant western gunman Jackson Lee Davis (1870-1949), who was better known by the colorful name, "Diamondfield Jack."

[260] -- Contact

41.76957, -114.75334

"In the 1870s gold was mined in Contact, and a five-ton smelter, built in Contact, ceased functioning after three test runs."