- p. 3:"Sulphur is found on the shore of Winnemucca Lake but as this bed is some 70 miles from railroad it will probably remain undisturbed some years although experts pronounce it of superior quality. Some months ago a San Francisco corporation discussed the feasibility marketing it and went so far as to contract 20,000 tons annually. The company was denied the privilege of hauling over the Indian Reservation road and bridge and we opine that is reason nothing further has been done."
- p 21: "WINNEMUCCA LAKE Lying parallel to Pyramid Lake and a little to the east of it is Winnemucca Lake the largest body of water in the State extending north and south sixty miles and north and south twelve miles. With Pyramid Lake it shares the water of the Truckee River The surrounding mountains are low and regular yet their geology is interesting and their sides are used as stock ranges. Winnemucca Lake is the home of the silver trout a fish not to be excelled the world over for beauty. When taken out of the water he looks like the highest perfection of the silversmith's art. Winnemucca Lake will one day be a famous resort as the piscatorial sport to be had here cannot be beaten. Felix McCormack the host here took us out on the lake not long ago and with trout as bait caught eighteen two pound fish in ten minutes with a single line five feet in length. To understand this record the reader must remember that minnow is the regulation bait McCormack has a fast team plenty of fishing tackle and a dozen good boats."
- p. 22: "Twenty five years ago Winnemucca Lake nearly dried up and became at an immense lake of soft mud. During the time it was in this condition it was called Mud Lake and by that name it is best known to day. McCormack's place at the mouth of the slough one could easily ford twenty years ago whereas now at this point there is a width of 100 feet a depth of 50 feet. Farther down the shore this lake Andy Russell and other stockmen built a stone corral which is now twenty feet the surface of the water. On the western was a piece of land containing about 500 acres meadow and salt grass which is now all water. The cause of this change of surface is sawdust and other waste material which is dumped into the Truckee river by the sawmills and carried along to the mouth of the river at the of the lakes where it is deposited and forms bar. A quarter of a century ago such a dam formed and cut off the water which went into Winnemucca Lake and all the water flowed Pyramid Lake. The result was that Pyramid Lake grew larger and larger and Winnemucca Lake nearly dried up. The high water of Pyramid at last backed far enough to burst the barrier and restore Winnemucca Lake. What happened twenty five years ago is happening to day only the inlet to Pyramid Lake is nearly closed and it is growing smaller and smaller. If allowed to it will dry up for a time within the next ten years if the inlet is not cleared by artificial means. The Indians realize this and are trying to prevent it by building a wing dam."
History of the Comstock Silver Lode and Mines (1889) Part 3 "Winnemucca Lake. This lake lies to the east of, and parallel with, Pyramid Lake, from which it is separated by only a single ridge of gray rock and sand. It lies principally in Humboldt County, though a part reaches south into Churchill County. The lake is now about sixty miles long, with an average width of twelve miles. Of late years it has been rapidly increasing in size, as more water has been flowing through its feeder than formerly. It has on the east side a high rocky ridge, like that which separates it from Pyramid, therefore it lies in a trough between two ranges of hills. Though so near to each other, the surface of the water in Winnemucca Lake is, forty feet lower than that in Pyramid. The Piutes remember a time when all was one lake. Were the waters of these twin lakes now united they would make a lake quite as large as the great Salt Lake of Utah. The inlet to Winnemucca Lake contains several old rafts of drift-wood, which prevent a free flow of water through it. Some years ago a freshet lifted these rafts from the bed of the stream, and the water found a channel beneath them. Since that occurred Winnemucca Lake has been steadily increasing in size. There are many Indian traditions connected with these lakes, one of which is in regard to immense animals that once herded in the neighborhood. This seems to be a tradition of the elephant or mastodon. All this region was once covered by an inland sea of fresh water, over 200 miles in length, and 80 or 90 miles in width."
- Citation: "U.S. Geological Survey. Geographic Names Phase I data compilation (1976-1981). 31-Dec-1981. Primarily from U.S. Geological Survey 1:24,000-scale topographic maps (or 1:25K, Puerto Rico 1:20K) and from U.S. Board on Geographic Names files. In some instances, from 1:62,500 scale or 1:250,000 scale maps."
- Alternate Name: "Mud Lake": "'Map of an Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842 - Oregon and Northern California in the years 1843-44,' Baltimore, MD: no publication date, no scale given. Litho by E. Weber & Co. Prepared by Brevet Capt. J.C. Fremont of the Corps of Topographical Engineers under the control of Col. J.J. Abert, Chief of the Topographical Bureau."
- Alternate Name: "Winnamuck Lake": "'Map of the Western Division of the Fort Kearney South Pass and Honey Lake Road, Western Wagon Roads,' Dept. of the Interior: 1857, scale 1:720,000 (1 inch=12 miles). Surveyed under the direction of John Kirk, Supt., by E. A. Bishop, Engineer."
- Granite Range (1894, Rp. 1923) (UNR) shows Winnemucca Lake.
- "Popular Science," 1881, p 139: "Sir J. H. Lefroy in the Geographical Section devoted his address to the advances made in geographical research in North America showing that the great increase of our knowledge of this region is due to railways and the various State surveys. Among the interesting facts mentioned are the rise in the level of some American lakes and the depths to which the ground is permanently frozen in the northern part of British North America.Though before 1866 the surface Salt Lake had been falling since that it has risen eleven feet. Pyramid Lake risen nine feet and Lake Winnemucca two feet. No theory of the cause advanced."
- The Academy, Volume 18, 1880. A bit more from Lefroy.
- Eugene M Hattori, Donald R Tuohy, "Prehistoric Human Occupation and Changing Lake Levels at Pyramid and Winnemucca Lakes Nevada," Geological Survey Circular, Volume 1119 of Circular, 1996. Winnemucca Lake reached its maximum depth of 26m in about 1880. At around that time, there was a Chinese fishing camp on the western shore.
- "The Encyclopaedia Britannica," 1898, p. 3169. "WINNEMUCCA LAKE in western Nevada lying in a desert without a visible outlet 27 miles long from north to south 4 miles wide from 50 to 57 feet deep, altitude 3,875 feet. It is supplied on the south by the eastern division of the Truckee River and receives part of the surplus waters of Lake Tahoe. It occupies the extreme southwest strip of Humboldt County and lying over into Washoe County its southernmost end lying in Churchill County. It lies between the Truckee range on the east and the Lake range on the west between it and Pyramid Lake which receives the western division of the Truckee River.
- "Historic Caves at Winnemucca Lake Looted," p. 13, 15-March-1955, Reno Evening Gazette.
- Regina C. Smith, Peggy McGuckian Jones, John R. Roney, Kathyrn E. Pedrick, "Prehistory and history of the Winnemucca District," BLM, 1984:
In 1952 Philip Orr began excavating a series of rockshelters on the east side of Winnemucca Lake. The work, conducted under the auspices of the Nevada State Museum, the Western Speleogological Institute (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History) and National Geographic, was intended to salvage materials threatened by guano mining and private collectors.
The first excavations were at Stick Cave and Crypt Cave. Stick Cave was a cache cave which yielded basketry, fishhooks, caches of chub, points, and a small painted granite effigy. Crypt Cave was used for habitation and burials. In addition to a number of mummies, this site yielded a cache of grasshoppers and a horse bone which could indicate association between Pleistocene fauna and humans (Orr 1952).
During 1952 through 1955 work continued at five other Winnemucca Lake Caves. Potentially most important is Fishbone Cave, where cultural materials may be associated with extinct Pleistocene fauna. In a pre- liminary report Orr (1956) describes stratigraphy in this site. Level 3, which consisted of dust, ash, burned guano, and other perishable organic matter included one Pinto and one Amargosa Point. Fragments of horse and camel bone found in Level 3 are believed to have originated in Level 4. Level 4, which underlies Level 3, contains more sand and less perishable material. It has been intruded upon by many cache pits from Level 3, result- ing in some mixing of the deposit. Level 4 includes horse and camel bone and brush that was radiocarbon - dated to 10,900 +/- 300 B.P. String, basketry, netting, and matting were all found in Level 4. Also, in Level 3 an awl made of horse bone was found. Thus, Fishbone Cave is very important in that it may show the contemporaneity of man and exinct fauna in the Great Basin. However, most students of Great Basin prehistory hesitate to accept this evidence in its present preliminary form (Heizer and Baumhoff 1970:3-4).
In another of the Winnemucca Lake Caves, Chimney Cave, Orr found a mummy which was radiocarbon- dated to 2,500 B.P. (Orr and Berger 1965). This specimen was used to test reliability of radiocarbon dates on various types of materials, Close agreement was found among dates on skin tissue, bone collagen, and vegetal clothing.
Although other brief accounts of the Winnemucca Lake Caves excavations are available (Orr 1955, 1972, 1974), a final report for these important sites has not yet been written. However, several papers do deal with specialized aspects of the Winnemucca Lake Caves. Harrington (1959) described an un- usual atlatl- flaking tool combination found in Cowbone Cave. Sears and Roosma (1961) analyzed pollen from guano and fishbone. Although their results support the Altithermal concept, with an extreme of aridity at about 6,250 B.P., lack of a continuous profile and provenience for some of the samples hamper their study.
Finally, Rozaire (1974) has described basketry from these sites in detail, relating technique of manufacture to function of the basketry and considering temporal and areal distribution of the various forms represented in the Winnemucca Lake Caves.
Collections and Archive Materials
Nevada Historical Society - Atlatl described by Harrington (1959). Nevada State Museum - Notes and artifacts from Orr's 1952-1958 excavations.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History - Possibly some materials recovered by Orr in 1952-1958. Southwest Museum - Possible stone artifacts collected by R. Simpson (Orr 1972:125).
Berger, R., and G.J. Fergusson and Harrington, M.R. 1959
W.F. Libby 1965 Heizer, R.F. and M.A. Baumhoff Broecker, W.S. and L. Klup 1957 1970
Broecker, W.S., L. Klup and Orr, P.C. 1952, 1955, 1956, 1972, 1974
C.S. Tucek 1956
Broecker, W.S. and P.C. Orr 1958 Orr, P.C. and R. Berger 1965
Crane, H.R. and J.B. Griffin 1958 Rozaire, C.E. 1974
Grosscup, G.L. 1958 Sears, P.B. and A. Rossma 1961
13. Coleman Locality
During work in caves at Falcon Hill on the northern end of Winnemucca Lake in 1959 through 1961, the Nevada State Museum made surface collections at the nearby Coleman Locality (Shutler n.d.). Artifacts from the Coleman Locality were briefly mentioned by Tuohy (1968) and by Warren and Ranere (1968) who relate them to the San Diequito Complex. These materials have been described and analyzed by Don Tuohy (1970). Of the four localities which Tuohy considered, one is a basalt quarry, two are workshops where basalt was the primary raw material, and one was a campsite. Projectile points and other artifacts were clearly comparable to Anathermal aged materials from Hathaway Beach. Tuohy also compared the artifacts from the Colman Locality to MacNeish's postulated Blade, Burin, and Leaf-point Tradition, which might date between 30,000 and 11,000 years ago.
Collections and Archive Materials
Nevada State Museum
Shutler, R., Jr. n.d. Tuohy, D.R. 1968, 1970a Warren, CM. and A.J. Ranere 1968
14. Falcon Hill Sites
In 1961 Richard Shutler, Jr., of the Nevada State Museum conducted archeological investigations at a number of archeological sites in Washoe and Churchill Counties. Among these were 11 caves and rockshelters at Falcon Hill, on the north end of Winnemucca Lake (Shutler n.d.).
Follett (1963) published a general, preliminary account of the Falcon Hill materials, proposing that they represent a "Lakeshore Ecology Phase" which may be contrasted with the Desert Culture concept. Radiocarbon dates from the Falcon Hill sites indicate a lacustrine adaptation by 7,590 B.C. Shutler also suggested that there was strong archeological continuity between the Lakeshore Ecology Phase and the historic Northern Paiute.
These preliminary and specialized reports do not deal with the full range of materials from the Falcon Hill sites. These sites are treated in detail by Hattori (1982).
Collections and Archive Materials
Nevada State Museum - Notes and artifacts.
Follett, W.I. 1963
Shutler, R., Jr. 1968, n.d.
- Kathryn E. Pedrick, "The Lake Range Quarry, Washoe County, Nevada," 1985 BLM. Includes references for Winnemucca Lake.
Skirmish at Mud Lake
- Sarah Winnemucca, "Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims," (1883) p. 76-78. In the chapter "Reservation of Pyramid and Muddy Lakes": (p "This reservation given in 1860 was at first sixty miles long and fifteen wide. The line is where the railroad now crosses the river and it takes in two beautiful lakes one called Pyramid Lake and the one on the eastern side Muddy Lake." ... "In 1865 we had another trouble with our white brothers. It was early in the spring and we were then living at Dayton Nevada when a company of soldiers came through the place and stopped and spoke to some of my people and said, "You have been stealing cattle from the white people at Harney Lake'" They said also that they would kill everything that came in their way men women and children. The captain's name was Wells. The place where they were going to is about three hundred miles away. The days after they left were very sad hours indeed. Oh dear readers these soldiers had gone only sixty miles away to Muddy Lake where my people were then living and fishing and doing nothing to any one. The soldiers rode up to their encampment and fired into it and killed almost all the people that were there. Oh it is a fearful thing to tell but it must be told. Yes it must be told by me. It was all old men women and children that were killed for my father had all the young men with him at the sink of Carson on a hunting excursion or they would have been killed too. After the soldiers had killed all but some little children and babies still tied up in their baskets the soldiers took them also and set the camp on fire and threw them into the flames to see them burn alive. I had one baby brother killed there. My sister jumped on father's best horse and ran away. As she ran the soldiers ran after her but thanks be to the Good Father in the Spirit land my dear sister got away. This almost killed my poor papa. Yet my people kept peaceful."
- Myron Angel, David F. Myrick, "Reproduction of Thompson and West's History of Nevada, 1881," (1881, 1958) p. 170. A report of Captain Wells killing 32 Indians at Mud Lake (Winnemucca Lake) on March 14, 1865, the same day as the station-keeper of Granite Creek Station was killed.
- Philip D. Smith, "The Sagebrush Soldiers: Nevada's Volunteers in the Civil War," Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Volume V, Nos. 3-4, 1962. An account of the "Expedition to Pyramid Lake", also know as ""Skirmish, Mud Lake, Nevada".
- Captain Almond B. Wells, "March 12-19 1865, Expeditions from Fort Churchill to Pyramid and Walker's Lakes Nev with skirmish 14th at Mud Lake and affair 16th near Walker's Lake Nev,"
- Oddly, this reports that Chief Winnemucca visited Captain Wells and that Winnemucca "expressed his approval at the results of the fight, as the Indians involved were not from his people, but were 'bad' Indians."
- "Camp Nye Nev March 19 1865 Sir In obedience to instructions from headquarters Military Sub District of Nevada Fort Churchill Special Orders No 15 dated March 11 18C5 1 have the honor to report that on the 12th of March with fifty men I traveled a distance of ten miles in a northeasterly direction and camped for the night At 6 o clock the next morning broke camp and marched a distance of forty eight miles in a westerly direction arriving at Pyramid Lake at 6 pm I immediately ascertained from good anthority that there was a band of Smoke Creek Indians encamped about eleven miles below that they were continually stealing cattle from the ranchmen and herders I placed a guard over the Indians encamped around me and gave orders not to let one escape The next morning the 14th instant at 3 o clock I left camp with twenty nine of my men and two citizens Messrs TW Murch and W II Wilson who volunteered their services as guides for the purpose of arresting the guilty Indians We came within sight of their encampment about 5.30 am I divided my command into three squads under Sergeants Wad leigh and Besat ten men remaining with me I then approached their encampment intending to arrest them but when within about 150 yards they commenced firing upon me The first shot took effect in Corporal Dolan's shoulder wounding him slightly the second passed through the cape of my overcoat I then ordered a charge with sabers The Indians fell back to the bushes on both sides of the slough By this time the men under Sergeants Wadleigh and Besat came up and a general engagement ensued The Indians fought like veterans I killed twenty nine in all but one escaped I destroyed several guns a quantity of powder fresh beef &c I pursued and fought them for about tea miles up into the mountains Some of my men had hand to hand conflicts with them Several were beaten on the arms with the Indians guns I also captured nine horses but as they were very poor I did not deem it necessary to bring them in Throughout the battle my men behaved with a valor and fortitnde rarely equaled Without an exception they were as cool and collected as though ou an ordinary skirmish drill. My acknowledgments are due Messrs Murch and Wilson for the benefit of their experience as guides and for the aid they afforded throughout the conflict After the battle Winnemucca chief of the Pi Utes called on me and expressed himself as highly pleased with the result He told me through the interpreter that he had been talking to them all winter telling them not to steal the white men's cattle and he thought that the punishment they had received would teach them a lesson I am sir very respectfully your obedient servant. AB WELLS Captain Company D First Battalion Cavalry Nevada Volunteers"
- Sessions S. Wheeler, "The Nevada Desert," (1971), p. 60 - p. 73. An excellent description of the murders at Granite Creek Station and Winnemucca Lake.
- Jeremy Pratt, "Truckee-Carson River Basin Study," Report to the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, September 1997. History of Winnemucca Lake.
- Emma Richey, "The History of Winnemucca Lake," Online presentation with a few resources.
- Rich Moreno, "Nevada's Lost Natural Wonders," Backyard Traveler. Blog. February 05, 2007. In 1936, Winnemucca Lake National Wildlife Refuge was designated. Winnemucca Lake dried up within a couple of decades of the creation of Derby Dam. In 1962, the national refuge status was removed.
- John W. Gourley, "The Whitecap Tungsten Mine," 1962. "Located at the southeast corner of Winnemucca Lake." Owned by Fred Crosby of Sutcliffe. Section 21, T 24 N, R24 E. at 4600 ft on a small peak of the Truckee Range. Probably at 39.941466, -119.285697. APN 079-320-15 is owned by Eugene Gabrych, a large land owner.
- "Tungsten Ground Developed by M.G.L Corporation," May 6, 1942, p. 6, Reno Evening Gazette. The area is known as the Senator Cowles tungsten property. Includes two pictures, one of Senator Cowles.
- See also Alford Jeakins for the Jeakins Mine in the Selenite Range
Possible Historic Images
- "Swesey family photos," University of Nevada, Reno, UNRS-P2240. (Image descriptions only)
- Swesey family. Winnemucca Lake, ca. 1914. Man rowing boat; three passengers; dog swims behind boat
- Winnemucca Lake, ca. 1914. Our black dog "Rowdy."
- Winnemucca Lake in background. 1914. Louise Swesey, Al Swesey, Scott Lourer, Nellie Swesey, ??
- "Louise Swesey Schmidt: Memories of Childhood in Gerlach Area: 1910 - 1916," 1977, F847.W3 S32, University of Nevada Oral History Program. Discusses Winnemucca Lake.
- Jay A. Carpenter Collection, "718, Tufa on west side of Winnemucca Lake, Washoe County. 17 May 1946", University of Nevada, Reno, UNRS-P1988-55. (Image description only)
- Sessions Wheeler, "688 Slide. Winnemucca Lake," University of Nevada, Reno, UNRS-P1999-06. (Image description only)
- Gus Bundy, "Winnemucca Lake, dry," University of Nevada, Reno, UNRS-P1985-08. (Image description only).
- "The do not want to go to Pyramid Reservation and no Room for Them There if They Did," p. 2, 13-Dec-1884, Weekly Nevada State Journal. The Indians claim that Winnemucca Lake was to be part of their reservation. There is a "resort for Chinese fishermen."
- Reno Evening Gazett, May 11, 1887, Felix McCormack had 35 guests at Lake Winnemucca last Sunday.
- "New Gun Club is Organized," p. 12, 25-Feb-1936. Charles Wibel is one of the board members. The club has already taken over the Wibel property and built a club house.
- "Zeller Given Map to Claim States Miner," 27-March-1936, Reno Evening Gazette. Art Zeller became stuck on the east side of Winnemucca Lake. His body was found 55 miles east. If he had walked 17 miles the other direction, he would have been safe.
- "Entertainment Guide," p. 4, 22-Aug-1936 Nevada State Journal. Mike Schon and his band play at Charlie's Place at Winnemucca Lake where there will be a dance and a skeet shoot.
- "Remember When," p. 4, 03-Aug-1956, Nevada State Journal. 20 years earlier the Winnemucca Lake Gun Club was established on the property of Charles Wibel, located 28 miles north of Nixon on west side of Winnemucca Lake along the Gerlach road. Thomas Moltzen was president, A. J. Shaver was secretary
- "Oral history interview with Ethel O'Neil, Josie French, and Mabel Wright Paulina," 1969, Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries. "...a mudhen drive on Winnemucca Lake..."
- "Winnemucca Lake is not too far from the Blackrock, Gerlach separates the Smoke Creek Desert from the Blackrock, if you ever heard about Dobie Charley? He had a small resort like there and built a boat to go on to Winnemucca Lake, every one was telling him to hurry because it was going to dry up. Well I have a couple photos of Him in his boat by a little dock he built. had a model T engine in it. He disappears no one knew what happened to him. his place was just like it always was nothing removed, but him, now that is a mystery. And there is water on the Winnemucca Lake. His old boat set for years along side the bank of the lake, I always wanted to go down there, well about 20 years ago my wife and I went down to see it. all is rotted away, just enough wood left to for the bow no engine in it." Donald Jeakins, 20-Oct-2013 email to Christopher Brooks, used by permission.
Chinese Fishing Camp
- Hattori and Tuohy (see above) state that there was a Chinese fishing camp on the Western shore around 1880 when the depth was about 26m.
- Sally Zanjani "Sarah Winnemucca," p. 259, 2004. The Paiutes evicted a colony of Chinese because they attempted to seize a portion of the commercial fishery upon which the Paiute's depended.