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25,000-11,000 years ago. Lake Lahontan covered the region.

14,800 or 10,500 years ago. Petroglyphs created at Winnemucca Lake. As of 2014, these are the oldest petroglyphs in North America.

1800-10-31 b. Peter Lassen

1843-12-30 "On both sides, the mountains showed often stupendous and curious-looking rocks, which at several places so narrowed the valley, that scarcely a pass was left for the camp. It was a singular place to travel through-shut up in the earth, a sort of chasm, the little strip of grass under our feet, the rough walls of bare rock on either hand, and the narrow strip of sky above. The grass to-night was abundant, and we encamped in high spirits." -- John C. Fremont

1844-01-10 John C. Fremont named Pyramid Lake

1846-07-21 Jesse and Lindsay Applegate headed south from Willamette Valley, Oregon, June 29, 1846, seeking a less hazardous route to that region from the east. On July 21, they came to a large meadow on the Humboldt River, what is now the nearby Rye Patch Reservoir. Thus they established the Applegate Trail.

1848-02-02 The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

1849-08-16 "We started about six o'clock, with anxious hearts and sad forebodings on our perilous journey . . . As I walked on slowly and with effort, I encountered a great many animals, perishing for want of food and water, on the desert plain. Some would be gasping for breath, others unable to stand, would issue low moans as I came up . . . my sympathies were excited at their sufferings, yet, instead of affording them aid, I was a subject for relief myself . . . after covering nearly forty hours without food or water . . .we found this to be an oasis in the desert. A large hot spring [Black Rock Spring] . . . but we found the grass nearly consumed, and our cattle could barely pick enough to sustain life. (Alonzo Delano, August 16-17, 1849)

1849-09-25 "The road terminated as it were, at the edge of the very apex of this hill, and I looked down . . . the declevity and its base, retained vestiges of unfortunate traveling in the shape of broken wagons, wheels, hubs, tires, axels, and 3 dead oxen. (Joseph Goldsborough Bruff, September 25, 1849)

1854 Pacific Railroad Survey

1859-04-26 Peter Lassen murdered in the Black Rock Range.

1860-05-12 First Battle of Pyramid Lake - Northern Paiute warriors, fighting to retain their way of life, decisively defeated a volunteer army from Virginia City and nearby settlements. The battle and consequent white retreat began with a skillful ambush north of Nixon and continued along the plateau on the opposite side of the Truckee River almost to the present site of Wadsworth.

1860-06-12 Second Battle of Pyramid Lake - A strong force of volunteers and regular U.S. Army troops engaged the Indians in battle along the tableland and mountainside. Several hundred braves, attempting a delaying action to allow their women, children and elders to escape, fought with such courage and strategy that the superior Caucasian forces were held back during the day until the Indians withdrew. Paiute war leader Numaga (Young Winnemucca), described as a "superior man of any race," desired only peace for his people.

1865-07-23 Major Kimball traverses northern Washoe County and meets up with his herd of sheep at "Trout Creek", probably near the Quinn River. [1]

1865 Camp McGarry here on the old Applegate Trail was an Army fort manned from 1865 to 1868. Troops protected the Idaho-California mail and stage roads and the nearby trails in Nevada and Oregon. Officers' quarters, mess hall, barracks and a 100-horse stone barn were constructed 12 miles south of the fort. In 1866, Camp McGarry was made headquarters of the District of Nevada. In autumn, 1868, troops were moved to Camp Winfield Scott, north of Paradise, Nevada; and Camp McGarry, largest military reservation in Nevada, comprising 75 square miles, was abandoned.

1867-1869 Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel - At Pyramid Lake.

1910-1916 Louise Swesey Schmidt Ch. 2: Life Near Gerlach: 1910-1916 (Oral History, see also Pacific Portland Cement Company)

1943 Black Rock Desert Gunnery Range built.

~1951 Sierra Pacific provides electricity to Gerlach. Before that time, John James Thrasher provide power to residents from a generator. In 1953, Thrasher was selling electricity from Sierra Power to Gerlach residents.

1951 Telephone service to Empire is provided via radio telephone.[2][3]

1954 The Empire school burns and is rebuilt that year.[4]

1955 http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=2090&category=Notes ... As noted in Hollywood Reporter news items, portions of Bad Day at Black Rock were shot on location in Lone Pine, CA. ...

1957 Empire gets television service.[4]

November, 1960 At this point in time, Highway 34 is paved all the way to Gerlach, but there is no regular telephone service, only one radio-phone and Western-Pacific's private line (Peggy Trego, " The 40 Wilderness Miles North of Gerlach, Nevada," Desert Magazine, November, 1960.)

1965 Empire gets regular telephone service.[4]

April 29, 1988 1988 Nuclear Verification Experiment - 10 tons of TNT detonated under the Black Rock Desert as part of an experiment in detecting small explosions.

Labor Day, 1990 The first Burning Man at the Black Rock Desert is held.

2000-12-21 President Clinton signed The Black Rock Desert - High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trail National Conservation Area Act of 2000, which established 797,000 acres as a NCA and about 75,000 acres as wilderness.

See Also


  1. Clel Georgetta, "Sheep In Nevada," in the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Summer, 1865 and in "Nevada, The Silver State," vol. 1, p. 29, Western States Historical Publishers, 1970.
  2. "Reno-Empire Phone Service Is Available," Reno Evening-Gazette, May 25, 1951.
  3. Francis M. Ryan, "Radio Off the Beaten Path," p. 152, Autumn 1955.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Nevada, The Silver State," vol. 2, p. 825, Western States Historical Publishers, 1970.

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