Carlin Canyon


Carlin Canyon

Elko County
  40.72867, -116.02006

"Light says good-night on a balmy September afternoon. I have heard that the Carlin Police patrols Carlin Canyon to keep local young baddies at bay, and frankly, I don't want to test that, as much as I would love to spend the night here. I have developed a nasty callous on my smallest toes and my right knee has swelled red ... probably for me being in one position for hours on end. The sights are nice distraction, though. Such an immense and remarkably golden canyon all to myself! Well, not really. There is a river. And several thousand groves of sagebrush. And hundreds of singing cicadas to keep my company. If you count the faint whizzing of the interstate traffic, I guess I'm not completely alone. I'll just close my eyes and pretend to be. Yep. Much better." -- Journal Entry, September 2008

Along Old US 40 at the the former Carlin Canyon Rest Area

Original Date Visited: 9/23/08

Signed: No

Lonesome in Carlin Canyon
The SHPO lists the following directions for [50] "on Interstate Highway 80 at the Carlin Canyon Rest Area." Here's what those directions don't tell you:

Carlin Canyon Rest Area no longer exists!
Any marker hunter who tries to find such a rest area along Interstate 80 will pass it on by without a glimpse. "Carlin Canyon Rest Area" sits inside the deep defile of Carlin Canyon completely inaccessible from the interstate!

In the Beginning
You see before the interstate came to be US 40 was the only route that spanned the state of Nevada from east to west. Shops, motels and rest areas along the route's entirety provided service and respite from the long drive across the state. When I-80 was built US 40 lost its purpose and all of its shops, motels and yes... its rest areas fell to the wayside. What you see today is what's left of Carlin Canyon Rest Area. Considering that it's been out of use for thirty years, time has been patient with this place. Today, the old rest stop serves little purpose other than a windbreak and a shaded picnic lunch away from the crowds.

Now in terms in finding this marker, [50] can only be accessed one way ...

  • - Leave I-80 at Exit 280 signed for "Carlin," and make your way to Chestnut Street (Old US 40). At Chestnut, make a left heading eastbound out of Carlin. In approximately two miles, this sign will greet you ...

- If there is any traffic behind you most of it will likely turn left at this junction. Follow the sign and keep straight on old US 40. After two short, but very scenic miles, you will enter Carlin Canyon right alongside the Humboldt River. Look to the left to see the elusive marker and its even-more elusive rest area. You can thank me later.

- Thousands of people drive through the Carlin Tunnels everyday without even knowing this exotic canyon exists! We'll go even further and say that this marker might be forever forgotten without this website. Carlin Canyon is one of a few places left in Nevada where US 40 sits amazingly intact and relatively far from crowds. At left is the lumbering Humboldt River that still provides respite for all people crossing the Silver State. After two short but lovely miles, 40's journey is cut short in Carlin Canyon by a jersey barrier along I-80. If only this river could speak -- what stories it would share!

March 2009: Notice the missing plaque when we first discovered Marker 50 in 2009.

October 2014: Marker 50 after a complete reconstruction in 2014! This is one of 30 markers throughout the state completely re-done thanks to Battle Born 150th celebration.

  • Hidden Marker 50 within the deep defile of Carlin Canyon
  • Marker 50 was given a new facelift in 2014
  • Along the California Trail
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Exact Description:
In December, 1828, Peter Skene Ogden and his trapping brigade (Hudson's Bay Company's Fifth Snake Country Expedition) were the first whites to enter here. Joseph Paul, one of Ogden's trappers, died nearby--the first white man to die and be buried in the Humboldt county.

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. Late in 1845, John Fremont dispatched his Kern-Talbot-Walker subsection down the Humboldt; they traversed this canyon with difficulty on November 10. In September, 1846, the Reed-Donner Party, enroute to cannibalism and death in the deep snows of the Sierra Nevada, viewed the canyon.

The Central Pacific's Chinese track gangs constructed the railroad (now Southern Pacific) through here in December, 1868. Subsequently, the canyon became known as Carlin or Moleen Canyon. The Western Pacific, second transcontinental rail link across Nevada, was constructed in 1907.

In 1913, Nevada Route 1, the first auto road, took over the abandoned (1903) C.P. grade through the canyon. In 1920, Route 1 became the Victory Highway, and in 1926, U.S. Highway 40. In its freeway phase, it is now designated Interstate 80.

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Related Links & Markers

 [29] -- Chinese in Nevada   Lincoln Highway Association   Lincoln Highway in Nevada: Travel Nevada   Virtual Tour of the California Trail 

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