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Meadow Canyon

Nye County

The first reference that I could find for Meadow Canyon was in the summer of 1867. A rancher by the name of Leo Schumacher took out an ad in the Belmont Silver Bend Reporter. He warned the citizens not to purchase goods from a Meadow Canyon ranch that he claimed to own. Schumacher basically claimed that the ranch had been stolen from him. The Belmont to Jefferson route via Meadow Canyon was established in 1874. Although Jefferson had been discovered much earlier, a massive boom occurred there in 1874. The road was first surveyed in March by men on skis. The road was laid out by George Ernst and built by F.&T. Newland. The first wagon was driven over the road in September by Jas. Mee and Lew Hanchett. It was first established as a toll road. On November 25th, the route was leased to a man named John Young. It appears that the toll road was owned by a company called the 'Belmont and Jefferson Turnpike and Toll-Road Company". When Young gave up the lease in May of 1875 the toll-road became a public road. In November of 1874, stage driver Thomas Lee was given a $600 check to cash in Belmont by Jefferson merchants Price and Lamb. Lee was supposed to deliver the money to them upon return to Jefferson. Upon arrival at Belmont, Lee and an accomplice by the name of Ed Ryon used the money to purchase saddle horses and flee the area. $600 in those days would have worth roughly $20,000 today. Nye County Sheriff Caldwell telegraphed the word to surrounding Sheriffs. Caldwell then began his own pursuit. Ryon was eventually arrested in Austin by Sheriff Sullivan. Lee was arrested in Palisade by Sheriff Rabbitts. On December 6th, a brewer from Belmont named Paul Faber was also robbed by road agents on the road in Meadow Canyon. In 1874, Meadow Canyon held a July 4th picnic and celebration attended by the citizens of Belmont and Jefferson. This would become an annual event. It was "free to everybody of respectability".

The Jefferson to Belmont route over the Toquima Mountains would have been a very tough trip. It climbed from 7,500 feet at Jefferson to almost 8,800 feet at the peak of the route. The road then dropped back down to 8,000 by the time they hit the crossroad in Meadow Canyon. All of this would have occurred within a 4 1/2 mile stretch between Jefferson and the Meadow Canyon crossroad. Factor in massive winter snow and this route gets much tougher. It was reported in April of 1875 that snow melt-off was so bad that it washed out all of the bridges at the crossings. A massive storm in August of 1875 again made the road impassable. For at least ten days, towns like Jefferson and Tybo were unreachable via Belmont. This caused massive food shortages in those towns. From the Meadow Canyon crossroad, the impressive stone building is located another 1 3/4 miles down the canyon. This would have been an ideal location for a stage station or resting point at a friendly ranch. The area around the stone building has good water, lush grass meadows and corrals. As you travel down Meadow Canyon to the valley floor, there is another very old stone cabin sitting right on the side of the road. These two locations are right at 4 miles apart. I have no historical proof that these buildings were used as part of the toll road or stage route. But it would make a lot of sense if they were. I'm going to keep researching this route and will add details if I find them.

Post Office: None. Mail would have gone to Belmont or Jefferson.

See pages related to Jefferson, Belmont, East Belmont, etc.

Last Trip/ Road Conditions: The portion of the road to the actual site of Jefferson, via Meadow Canyon, is no longer passable. I've heard that there are a few off-road savages that have gotten it done, but unless you're amongst the best, don't try it. I've been up Meadow Canyon several times. The last trip was in the Fall of 2020 while deer hunting. It is an awesome drive. It is a pretty well-maintained dirt road. This area gets a lot of winter snow, so take that into consideration. If you go beyond the upper stone building and don't make the turn towards Jefferson, you will eventually hit the old Forest Service cabin. Traveling beyond this point will require a better vehicle. The road starts to get much worse. I attached one photograph of the upper end of that road so that you can assess it for yourself. If you can get that far though, it will provide you with million- dollar views.

Sources: Belmont Silver Bend Reporter (Newspaper); Eureka Daily Sentinel (Newspaper); Territorial Enterprise (Newspaper); Belmont Nevada (By: Alan H. Patera); Preserving the Glory Days- Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Nye County, Nevada (By: Shawn Hall); Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camps (By: Stanley W. Paher); Nevada Place Names- A Geographical Dictionary (By: Helen S. Carlson).

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