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Reese River Valley

Lander County

During the early 1860's, the mining rush to the area was on. Mining was very lucrative in the mountains and canyons surrounding the Reese River Valley. Austin sat at the forefront of this boom. But the Reese River Valley itself would become more well-known for its agricultural operations. Miners working the mountains and canyons needed to be fed. This valley was a prime location for raising livestock, crops and feed. During the earlier days at Austin, the Reese River Reveille wrote an article on July 29, 1863 titled 'Meats': "Our markets are only supplied with beef at present... isn't it strange that no person has thought it safe to bring in young cattle or sheep from Salt Lake, herd them awhile on the rich meadows which cover the slopes of Reese River Mountains, and then furnish the people with nice, tender beef or mutton of a quality equal to California's best? Would not the speculation pay?" After this, the big livestock and alfalfa operations appeared in the Reese River and Grass Valleys, south and north of Austin respectively. Ads in the Reese River Reveille exclaimed: "BEEF! BEEF! BEEF! The subscriber has on hand a large lot of FAT CATTLE! Which he offers to this market at EIGHT CENTS PER POUND. Apply at Sherman's old stand, upper Austin. J.R. Withington." ..... and..... "Cattle For Sale. 700 head of cattle in good condition, consisting of work oxen, cows, steers and heifers, (two and three year olds) and calves, which will be sold in lots to suit purchasers. Inquire of Gilbert & Sons, Al Norton's Ranch on Reese River, or of Dinsmore & Co., Austin." After the mining booms died in the mountains and canyons surrounding the valley, agriculture continued to operate and thrive here. One of the more well-known and photographed abandoned ranches in Nevada is the Hess Ranch. Much like my paternal namesake (Meade) opening the first Iron Foundry on the Comstock, Hess is my maternal namesake. Therefore, my family takes great pride in seeing photographs of it on the internet. Driving through the Reese River Valley is a great drive. You can still see active agricultural operations, abandoned homesteads and ranches, wild horses and antelope everywhere. About two thirds of the valley sits in Lander County. The southern third sits in Nye County. At the southern end, you can drive over the forested Ione Summit in the Shoshone mountains, and down into the Ione Valley. The turn is located right as you enter the sparsely populated area of the Yomba Reservation. As I always remind people who plan to travel to places like this, you are a long way from anywhere out here. Once you hit Ione Summit, you will likely have no phone service and your nearest supplies will be 50 miles away in Austin (population 200).

Post Office: June 5, 1946 to August 7, 1951 (At Yomba- Nye County)

Last Trip/Road Conditions: My last trip through Reese River and over Ione Summit was May of 2018. This dirt road is a pretty good road. But it is very lonely and a long way from any modern convenience. It may be a long time before you see another vehicle. Go prepared and make sure that your spare tire is good.

Sources: Eureka Sentinel (Newspaper); The Central Nevadan (Newspaper); Reese River Reveille (Newspaper); Weekly Elko Independent (Newspaper); The Silver State (Newspaper).

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