Nye County

Written in the Stars

The Markers Statistics Related Links

Aside from its breathtaking stargazing, is it any coincidence that Nye's fate was also written in the stars? Maybe it's a surprise that Nye County is shaped like a mushroom cloud or a miner's pick axe? When we carved out this giant chunk of Nevada perhaps it was sheer coincidence that these two 'ingredients' played such an extensive role in Nye County's past. Being the largest kid in the park doesn't necessarily mean it has to be the most outspoken ... and this gentle giant is usually left behind the curtains. It was the search for precious metals that really brought interest in exploring remote central Nevada. Fortune seekers eventually found their way to the Monitor Range at the site of several claims and with it, a new spot on the map. It was little Ione in 1863 that placed Nye County on the map. In 1867, the action moved south to Belmont when new strikes were found further down the Toquimas. Here, Belmont sat high on the power chair until a "new hope" was discovered thirty years later.

Queen of the Silver Camps
They say finding silver was so easy back in the day that even an ass could do it. Now enter Jim Butler. Nobody knows exactly how he found his lode, but popular belief separates the "butt" of all jokes. Stories say that his ass (mule) kicked over a fist-sized stone that contained eighty four percent silver. And this find couldn't have come at a better time! Nevada's dangerous economic plunge had just begun statewide - a drop that would jeopardize its very statehood. Butler's fabulous find was a symbolic new hope for Nevada, once again, restoring the faith of men.

It was the city of Tonopah ... the state's next fledgling in the sage that prompted prospectors and the regular entrepreneurs to the opportunity. One year later a booming full-fledged city was unearthed. Tonopahns didn't try to keep their find a secret either. Promoters went far for Nevada's last great hope and headlined the city in newspapers nationwide. Fate still hasn't let go. Tonopah proudly retains its spot as the seat of Nye - 130 years later.

Save for Pahrump's massive suburbia sprawl in the south, Nye County hasn't changed much in that time. For this reason, it's natural to fall head over heels for the county's steady-habit lifestyle, resonating heritage, and its beautiful landscapes. Some of our most pristine mountains and deserts are found within Nye's borders. The country's largest herds of antelope and wild mustangs run free here without the restrait of bridles or an encroaching human population. Six of Nevada's highest mountain ranges scrape the sky and span lengthwise down the region like caterpillars crawling across an open plain. Take a trip across central Nevada on US 6 (America's true loneliest road) and re-think what really matters in life as you rack up 160 deliciously remote miles from Tonopah to Ely. Even after the dying of the mines over a hundred years ago the "still-beating hearts" of Nye still hang onto life - worn and restless but drunk on clean air and supreme solitude!

The Markers
Until you ante up and take on something like its historic markers you just don't realize the immensity of this huge place. You will not get this done in one day. Instead, bite away at this county little by little as you focus on the other adjacent counties on its borders. For a county of this size it's somewhat disappointing that several of its markers reside along a single highway (SR 376 in the Big Smoky Valley). The rest though are widely scattered across its 18,000 square miles. Don't be surprised if this place leaves you wondering where to start and how to get from here to there. Your biggest challenge will be deciding where to go first and how to tackle things effectively! We conquered Nye in three individual visits and for convenience purposes, we've split Nye into three regions. You might find this helpful in your journey as well ...

"The North" -- The majority of Nye's markers reside here in the north including the six in Big Smoky Valley. Six bordering counties present an effective strategy for tackling northern Nye. In 2008, we conquered [159] by combining the trip with a couple Churchill markers then finished off in Austin (Lander County). Otherwise, visiting Ione for the sole sake of capturing this one marker is a long trip from any direction. On the next few outings we started in Austin and worked south to Tonopah through the Big Smoky Valley - thus tackling two counties and several markers in one day.

"The Center" -- Three markers reside at the center of Nye County, but these might be the most tedious to conquer efficiently. Outside of the safety of Tonopah (which ironically sits isolated from most of Nye itself!) the "center" has the least amount of services in the entire county and things in these parts are far and few between! You're more than likely going to start and finish your day in Tonopah by working your way around the region while bagging several markers. Consider taking on an excellent 1-3 day trip by conquering Nye's center with all of the northern Esmeralda markers.

"The Stem" -- Unless you're headed to Las Vegas, the stem will be your biggest challenge simply because this portion of Nye is a long drive from the rest of the county. The stem is connected by only one route: US 95 and the 95 will be your lifeline to any and all services here. You'll find two markers around Beatty, which in and of itself calls for a very long out-and-back from Tonopah. We suggest combining southern Esmeralda with the taking of "the stem" for a comfortable few days of roadtripping. Then, there is the last straggler - [171] in Pahrump. This one's extremely inconvenient and rather than making the tiresome three-hour detour to Pahrump from Tonopah ... for one marker ... we suggest conquering this one on your way to Las Vegas or save it for the taking of Clark County.

Think big in Nevada's biggest county!

Markers of Nye County

Perhaps more interesting than the conquering of the markers here is the blessed variety given to marker hunters! Most of Nye's markers pay homage to its "still beating hearts" and some of the state's earliest settlements and operations. The region known as Central Nevada has just now caught the attention of travel seekers. Lucky you!

[15] -- Tonopah

38.06702, -117.22957

"Jim Butler, a rancher from Belmont, was tracking his strayed burro when he made the discovery on May 19, 1900, that set off the stampede to Tonopah."

[42] -- Big Smoky Valley

38.78302, -117.17517

"Named for its hazy distances, this valley has seen a parade of famous men and stirring events."

[58] -- Old Boundary (Nevada's Southern Boundary 1861-1867)

36.98318, -116.72456

"When the Territory of Nevada was carved from western Utah in 1861, this line became the southern boundary of the new territory ..."

[64] -- Ophir

38.93854, -117.19713

"Over $2 million worth of gold and silver were mined from the Murphy vein and from surrounding properties. Iron, copper and arsenic were also found in the area."

[96] -- Round Mountain

38.7265, -117.11485

"One of many early 1900 gold camps, Round Mountain is unique because ..."

[97] -- Manhattan "The Pine Tree Camp"

38.57073, -117.18161

"The place name persisted in local use and was adopted in 1905 when John Humphrey found gold at the foot of "April Fool Hill," near the old stage route."

[138] -- Belmont

38.59568, -116.87594

"Once the most flourishing town in eastern Nevada, it was the county seat from 1867-1905."

[159] -- Ione

38.94962, -117.5852

"Silver was discovered in 1863, and in 1864 Ione City was named first county seat of newly created Nye County."

[165] -- Nevada Test Site

36.59745, -116.00306

"Selected as on-continent test site in 1950, the first test took place on Frenchman Flat in January, 1951."

[171] -- Chief Tecopa (Peacemaker of the Paiutes)

36.20889, -115.98926

"During his life-span, which covered almost the entire 19th century, his energy and time were devoted to the betterment of his people."

[172] -- Tybo (Silver-Lead-Zinc Camp)

38.30974, -116.27604

"Eight miles northwest of this point lies what was formerly one of the leading lead-producing districts in the nation."

[173] -- Beatty (Center of the Gold Railroads) -- "Chicago of the West"

36.90618, -116.75605

"Beatty was the center of three short-lived, so-called "gold" railroads that were spawned by the strikes of the early 1900's in Tonopah, Goldfield and Rhyolite."

[217] -- Tate's Stage Station (1886-1901)

38.97821, -117.19652

"In 1886, he and his wife established a station due east as an overnight stop between the county seats of Austin and Belmont."