Humboldt County

Full of Surprises

The Markers Statistics Related Links

John C. Fremont first muttered the name "Humboldt" while on his trans-continental exploration from 1845 to 1846. The name "Humboldt" in Nevada refers to both a river and a county, in fact, the "filthiest, muddiest stream" in all of the world - some harsh words to call a river that also inexplicably saved thousands of lives. The river still plays a vital role in the life of today's Humboldt County, but it's Interstate 80 that many believe brings life to this area of the Silver State. Interstate 80 bisects Nevada east to west and connects the county with the rest of Nevada, a true blessing and a curse, first in importance, twenty-fours a day and a necessary chain that links Humboldt life together.

Grand Humboldt: North
Before the days of modern man, the county that came to be was a true outback in the Great Basin. Arguably there is no other place in Nevada more remote than northwest Humboldt County - a grand swath of remote country contained within a circle west of Denio that encompasses the Sheldon Antelope Wildlife Refuge, Duferrena Wetlands, Summit Lake, and Soldier Meadows. Northern Humboldt retains endangered riparian canyons and wetlands that are some of the last remaining untouched wildlands in the entirety of the Great Basin. People today can even mine for a famous gemstone as their ancestors probably did many centuries ago. Nevada's state gemstone, the Virgin Valley Fire Opal. Here's a rock that's one of the world's rarest gemstones, highly valued, and found only in the dry, ugly clay hills of northern Humboldt. The stone's given rarity can demand a price tag well over six digits. Mysteries like these are concepts worlds away from any yellow lined strip of intrusive interstate concrete!

Southern Humboldt is another diamond in the rough. It's the county's southwest corner in fact that continues to mystify man. Just when we begin to question Nevada's true self the Black Rock comes on strong in its silence-is-golden rule. The remoteness here is more like a rough paradise suited for the extremist who wishes to see "everything" in the world at the same time. Here, the land is primal and full of surprises! And, the Black Rock is not alone in its wildness. Island sanctuaries like the Jackson Mountains and the Quinn River drainage supplies life with the resources it needs to play out its symphony. Save for a handful of ranchers and a party full of Labor Day "burners," this remote corner of Humboldt still receives only a small amount of visitors per year. Old emigrant trails still demark the land as raised tracks in the sage undisturbed and likely to remain so for centuries.

What's a "Winnemucca?"
Moving eastward Central Humboldt is the county's population center, comprising both the Quinn River and Paradise Valleys. The corridor along US 95 extends from Winnemucca to the tiny hamlet of McDermitt. Along this path, the highlight of central Humboldt is the Santa Rosa Range - not just another island of mountains but one of the county's most-dependable watersheds. Of course, that pesky interstate carries life as well. Friendly folks and tattered stories reside in some places like Golconda and Valmy, young saplings that sprouted out of the sagebrush and rooted to the interstate.

Perhaps no other place is more fastened to the 80 than Winnemucca, a name that literally means, "Place by the River" and named for the great Chief Winnemucca. His daughter Sarah was an author and a humanitarian who vowed for peace and co-existence between whites and her native Paiutes. What we have some 150 years later is a mini-city here in Nevada with just about every amenity the weary interstate commuter might need ... twenty four hours a day. A visit to Winnemucca will undoubtedly highlight its reason for being: to serve the interstate, but locals are trying to change that image to a cowboy "hotspot." Even so, most will probably see the little burg for what it is - a quick pit stop on the way to Reno or Salt Lake City. Love it or hate it, the 80 remains a complete necessity in all things old and new in Humboldt County.

The Markers
With your new fresh state of mind imagine a sweet space where you are your only company in a land vast and testing. This is what you can expect on your conquering of Humboldt County ... if you venture off the interstate. Find an atlas of Nevada and pinpoint "Soldier Meadows." No pavement here for close a hundred miles! Allow yourself the true experience of Humboldt's hidden niches.

Start by staying in WInnemucca and work your way eastward to tackle the "easy markers" along the interstate. Double back from the Lander line and make your way back to US 95. Travel north up to the Oregon border and spend the night under the McDermitt stars. Pick a camp near Disaster Peak or in a side canyon of the Santa Rosas and the thought of that interstate will soon fall away! This is just a primer to tackling Nevada's most remote historic marker.

Start your next day by filling up in McDermitt before retreating even deeper into the Humboldt County outback. Head northwest toward Denio and prepare yourself for a few days' solitude at "Soldier Meadows" ... and Marker 162. If camping doesn't interest you can always book a night at the Soldier Meadows Guest Ranch - the only form of services for a hundred miles. As a guest, you can wake up to a fresh-cooked meal with hot showers and a warm, comfortable bed. Whatever your fancy, welcome to the real Nevada. Now... where's that interstate again?

Markers of Humboldt County

Perhaps more interesting than the conquering of the markers here is the blessed variety given to marker hunters! Humboldt's markers dive into a multitude of subject matter from the daily life of 19th century ranching operations, the introduction of agriculture, to some of the state's earliest attempts to build peace and order in a most hostile region. The only thing better is the journey you'll entail during this adventure. Since these markers are vastly spread out, a minimum of three days is a reasonable timeframe that even accounts for the conquering of [162] at Soldier Meadows. Such is the spice of life in the every day ramblings of a marker hunter in Humboldt County.

  Trip to Soldier Meadows

Journey into the "Northwest Corner"

"Nevada's "forgotten corner" is set far away from what most of America would dub as civilization - tucked at the very boundaries of California, Oregon, and Nevada in extreme northern Washoe and Humboldt Counties."

[2] -- Pioneer Memorial Park

40.978626, -117.741791

"This spot was part of the pioneer cemetery where rests Frank Baud and others of the pioneers who founded Winnemucca, earlier known as French Fort."

[21] -- The Humboldt Canal

40.9818, -117.72699

"Its primary purpose was to supply water for over 40 stamp mills planned at the above Mill City, but it was also designed for barge traffic and some irrigation water supply."

[22] -- The Humboldt River

41.01586, -117.57378

"Entering Nevada near present Denio, Ogden came southward along Quinn River and the Little Humboldt River, emerging on the Humboldt main stem near this site."

[89] -- Paradise Valley

41.49159, -117.53466

"Paradise Valley soon became the granary and fruit-raising center for the mining camps of central and eastern Nevada and those of southwest Idaho Territory."

[105] -- Golconda

40.94849, -117.48655

"In 1868, Golconda became an ore shipping station on the new Central Pacific Railroad. Renewed activity in 1897 resulted in the narrow-gauge Golconda and Adelaide Railroad to the Adelaide mine."

[143] -- Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (1844-1891)

41.97265, -117.62186

"Sarah sought understanding between her people and whites when the latter trekked across and settled on Indian homelands."

[144] -- Fort McDermitt

41.94294, -117.70751

"Its purpose was to protect the Virginia City-Quinn River Valley-Oregon Road. Twenty-four years of operation made it the longest active Army fort in Nevada."

[146] -- McDermitt Indian Reservation (Northern Paiute)

41.96138, -117.7107 Missing

"In the mid-1860's many Paiutes returning from Oregon's Indian reservation here joined some from the Pyramid Lake Reservation (home of the "Cui-ui Eaters") because of poor treatment and dishonest dealings of U.S. agents."

[162] -- Camp McGarry

41.395060, -119.165660

  Superlative: Most Remote in Nevada

"In 1866, Camp McGarry was made headquarters of the District of Nevada. In autumn 1868, troops moved to Camp Winfield Scott, north of Paradise, Nevada, and Camp McGarry, largest military reservation in Nevada, comprising 75 square miles, was abandoned."

[164] -- Button Point

41.01579, -117.57366

"Using their famous Double Square brand, they raised thousands of fine horses on the 4,000 square miles of ranchland."

[167] -- Valmy


"Overlooking the Old California Emigrant Trail, Valmy was named after the Battle of Valmy in France."

[239] -- Stonehouse

40.83958, -117.19173

"This historic site takes its name from the stone house whose ruins can be seen to the northwest on Lone Tree Hill."