San Emidio Desert

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The San Emidio Desert is located about 12 miles south of Gerlach.

Sources from around 1900 sometimes refer to the area as "Santa Meda".[1] A ranch in Kern County was named Santa Meda, which was sometimes confused with San Emidio [2]

A garlic drying plant opened in 1994[3] and was later closed and dismantled.

In 2020, water rights for Empire Farms were sold.[4]

See Also


  1. "A Rich Discovery," The Weekly Gazette And Stockman, Reno, February 1894, p.2
  2. "Gleanings from Exchanges," The Pioche Record, June 24, 1873.
  3. John W. Lund, Paul J. Lienau, "Onion and Garlic Dehydration in the San Emidio Desert, Nevada," GHC Bulletin, July 1994, (
  4. "Months before a company lobbied the Legislature to create its own county, it purchased faraway water rights that could fuel future growth," Daniel Rothberg, February 12, 2021, The Nevada Independent


15. San Emidio Desert and Area South of Gerlach

Previous work in the San Emidio Desert and Gerlach area began in November 1974 with a small survey of geothermal test hole sites. This was followed by similar projects until Dan Brooks inventoried two sections east of the Fox Range in 1977. Brooks located several sites of the Desert Archaic Tradition. Brooks presented three hypotheses that could be applied to future work in the region in order to establish aboriginal resource utilization.

In 1978, Peggy McGuckian and Regina Smith inventoried eleven sections east of the Fox Range but north of Brooks' survey. This resulted in 45 new sites recorded. All diagnostic projectile points dated to the Medi thermal period with no indicators from the most recent times. This inventory was followed by another series of small projects. Then in 1980 Richard Hanes, John Roney and Fred Petersen inventoried three sections in the San Emidio Desert. Twenty- five sites were located. The projectile point types suggest that the principal time of occupation is the past 4,000 years. Hanes felt that occupation is associated more with small water sources than with lake fluctuation levels.

In 1981 what started out to be a routine mining operation resulted in the location of a major find for this area (Smith 1981) . A drilling pad was placed immediately adjacent to a prehistoric quarry. This quarry hasr aboriginally dug pits where litliic material was extracted. The initial re- port on this site included a literature search focusing on intensity of use and distribution of chert in the surrounding area. Further work is currently being scheduled for this quarry. Smith's 1981 report contains a more complete bibliography of the area to date.

Collections and Archive Materials

Nevada State Museum - Materials from all surveys done by Bureau of Land Management.

Selected References