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Sheepshead is the site of a former town that is located west of the Smoke Creek Desert. Laird Spring is to the south, the Parker Ranch is located to the north.

Thompson and West (1881) state "South of this is Murphy's Salt Marsh, where B. F. Murphy has been preparing salt for the market for the past ten years. His salt works are located at Reno."

"Eight miles south of Murphy's is Sheep Head, a station in the desert on the stage road. A spring of water is found here, the only good water in the desert. This stretch of inhospitable land is in some places forty miles wide, and is surrounded by a scant growth of sage-brush and grease wood, while for miles there is no vegetation whatever. Alkali, salt, borax and gypsum are the leading components of the soil, rendering a trip across its arid waste extremely unpleasant. Six miles south of Sheep Head is a spring called Buck, or Bull, Spring, and six miles farther south is Rotten Egg Spring, a name peculiarly appropriate, so extremely disagreeable is the water both to the smell and taste. Round Hole, or Deep Hole, Spring lies six miles more to the south, and the water, although not very pleasant is used for drinking purposes. It is on the above route that the stage road runs, and sixteen miles southeast of Round Hole is Pyramid Lake, on the road now followed by the stage, passing through Pyramid City, and Jonesville, which lie on the line between Washoe and Roop Counties."[1]

Burchard (1883) conveys a report by Mr. BF Murphy of "Sheephead" concerning the Cottonwood Mining District.[2]

A 1884 Gazetteer states that Murphy & Lingus had a salt works in Sheepshead: "SHEEPHEAD A post village in Washoe county 141 miles northwest of Virginia City and 89 northwest of Reno the county seat nearest railroad station and banking point Salt is shipped Population 100 Mail daily Bonham JT general store and saloon Murphy & Lunigus salt works."[3]

A 1911 Nevada Historical Society report states: "Sheephead is a small village located on Smoke Creek near Pyramid Lake. It popularly goes by the name Round Hole so called from a big round spring located there (Footnote b: Authority of Mr JH Smith Buffalo Meadows Nevada) Sheephead took its name from Sheephead Springs which is about twelve miles from the present location of Sheepshead. Sheepshead Springs was so named from finding near the spring the head of a mountain sheep which was nailed to a tree and remained there for several years.(Footnote c:Ibid)"[4]

Rolland Bonham (d. 1952) operated stage stops in the area: Twenty Mile House, Sheep's Head Station, Round Hole Station. [5]

Other Sheep Head Springs

Note that there is also a Sheep Head Spring, located in the Black Rock Range near Pinto Hot Springs in Humboldt County. The Nevada location appears Degroot's Map of Nevada(1863).[6]

There is also a Sheep Head Spring located in the Lava Beds in Pershing County.[7]


  • GNIS
    • Citation: "Carlson, Helen S., 'Nevada Place Names, A Geographical Dictionary,' Reno, Nevada: University of Nevada Press, 1974, 282 pp. Reference work giving historical background on place names in Nevada. p114"
      • p. 20 of Carlson says that Sheepshead Ranch was named for Sheepshead Springs, "which got its name from the head of a mountain sheep nailed to a tree at the site"
      • The Sheepshead post office was in operation from March 28, 1879 until March 15, 1926.
      • Variants are "Sheep Head" and "Sheephead".
  • The 1880 Census mentions "Sheep Head".
  • "General history and resources of Washoe County, Nevada, published under the auspices of the Nevada Educational Association." (1888)
    • p. 19: "Passing south we come to the Salt Marsh where Adams takes out about 200 tons of salt annually for which he finds a market in Sierra Valley. He obtains his salt by evaporation. Sheep Head, Deep Hole and Round Hole Springs follow. Going southeast from Round Hole sixteen miles we reach Pyramid District."
  • Granite Range (1894, Rp. 1923) (UNR) shows "Sheep-head Spring"
  • 1895 U.S. Atlas - Washoe County shows "Sheephead"
  • 1896 Post Route Map shows "Sheephead" 2 miles north of "Pyramide (n.o)" and 26? miles south of Salt Marsh (n.o.)
  • "Nevada And The Southeastern Portion Of California," Third Edition, The Clason Map Company, Denver, Colorado, 1907. Shows Sheepshead.
  • Reno, Washoe Cty, Nevada 1920-21 City Directory Page 234 Lists Bonham Bros. and Bonham, Maud (milliner) along with others.
    • "SHEEPSHEAD. A postoffice on Smoke Creek, 20 miles north of Sand pass, the shipping point on Vv P Ry, 36 miles northeast of Amdee Cal, and 71 miles north of Reno, the county seat and banking point. Stockraising is the principal occupation.
    • Population 50. Martha Ross, Postmaster.
    • Bailey Ed, stage
    • Bonham Bros, cattle dlrs
    • Bonbam Maud, milliner
    • Christensen & Nelson, salt mfrs
    • Cornell Eaton, farmer - Overton (1947) reports that Mr. Cornell, living at Sheepshead Station, knows where Buffalo Salt Works is located.
    • Hager Chas, rancher
    • Heller Bros, salt mfrs
    • Heller Margaret, dresmkr
    • Hom Arthur, cigars and tobacco
    • Laird Ed, horse dlr
    • Mott Roy, farmer
    • Norton H L, notary public
    • Parker W T, farmer
    • Rogers Chas, horse dlr
    • Ross Martha, postmaster, hotel and stock raising
    • Ross Wm, Farmer
  • Find-a-grave Ross Francis Bonham b.1888, Sheepshead, d. 1966
  • Sketch map of Nevada and the southeastern portion of California," Clason's, 1906.