Fort Halleck

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Elko County

AKA: Camp Halleck

Camp Halleck as it was known, was originally located in Lander County. In July of 1867, troops from Winnemucca arrived here to establish a military fort at this location. They were led by Captain Samuel Smith and Lieutenant Augustus Starr (Starr Valley namesake). The camp took its name from Major General Henry Halleck. These troops were sent to the area to protect the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad against attacks. The Central Pacific Railroad would become the reason why towns like Elko and Wells eventually boomed in 1869 and after. The living conditions and all-around isolation of the post were extremely harsh. Several men deserted. When Fort Churchill closed in 1868, the troops that were stationed at that fort were transferred to Camp Halleck. Upon completion of the railroad at Halleck to the north, the camp grew. The railroad provided an easy source of supplies to the area. By 1870, the population of the camp had grown to approximately 150 residents. I am unsure of how this census was taken. Was this a citizen count? Soldier count? Or both? The camp eventually contained a bakery, hospital, store, hotel, kitchen and post office. A local rancher named John Day ran a saloon and dance hall that provided entertainment to the area. Today, John Day Canyon is named after him. This canyon is a beautiful, wooded canyon with a stream running through it. This canyon also provides hiking access to some of the lakes in the very high elevation of the Ruby Mountains. 1873 saw a fire destroy many buildings at Halleck. The name was changed to Fort Halleck in 1879, but the post office didn't change its name until 1880. A newspaper called the Halleck Gossip began publishing in 1885. There had been much pressure for years coming out of Washington D.C. to move the fort closer to the railroad many miles north. Because the fort had cost so much to build, this was never accomplished. The fort was officially abandoned by 1886 and the remaining soldiers were transferred to Fort McDermott. Ranching dominated the area after this. Today, this area is still a huge cattle ranching area. The location where Fort Halleck stood sits on a private ranch. You can find the historical marker not far from the John Day Canyon turnoff and the current Chevalier Ranch.

Post Office: Camp Halleck- October 21, 1868 to March 5, 1869 (Lander County); March 5, 1869 to November 30, 1869; December 29, 1869 to May 17, 1880: Fort Halleck- May 17, 1880 to May 15, 1907.

Last Trip/ Road Conditions: My family has owned property not far from here for over 50 years. This site sits on the back road from Spring Creek, through the Lamoille Valley, to the Ruby Valley. The road is dirt, but it is graded. Every so often, it gets a little washed out from traffic, but it's a thoroughfare. Even when it's bad, it's okay. That statement always changes with winter snow and heavy spring rain. I've been down this road during both. Be careful in those situations.