Established in 1887, it was originally located at the Bonham Ranch in the Smoke Creek Desert. The school closed in 1919 for lack of students. In 1929, it was resurrected at Flanigan in the Honey Lake Valley. It closed on June 20, 1969 and at that time it was the only remaining one-room school in Washoe County. Standish resident Ed Bass purchased the school and moved to his property.
The Smoke Creek Ranch is one of the oldest ranches in Nevada, first settled by T.T. Kingsbury on May 30, 1857. It is also one that I have not had the best of luck finding information, so I am doing this post to see if anything surfaces. During the late 1800s it was owned by the Winters family of Washoe Valley. They even acquired the Shinn Ranch and George Winters planted the cottonwood grove there. One of the next owners were the Pon Brothers. I was recently in contact with some Pon descendants but they had no information. Then there was Patrick Flanigan and Rees T. Jenkins outfit among others. In 1949, Albert Freeman, then owner of the Smoke Creek Ranch, had the reservoir constructed. If anyone can enlighten me and others about this place, I would truly appreciate it.
My grandmother Purdy was an avid rock hound, so I experienced some interesting outings as a child. One of these adventures was to the Apache tears mine in the Smoke Creek Desert. The mine dates back to World War I when Smoke Creek resident Gordon Mott while exploring a small canyon came across a mica deposit. He developed a tunnel and a vertical shaft hoping that he would find gold. What he did find was small pieces of obsidian embedded in the soft mica, sometimes referred to as Apache tears or Black Diamonds.
In 1912, when an agreement between the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Red River Lumber Company was reached to build the Fernley & Lassen Railroad from Fernley, Nevada to Westwood time was important consideration. The Southern Pacific had two years to construct the line.
The demise of the railroad was a slow, lingering process. In 1963, a 60 mile segment from Fernley to Flanigan was abandoned. In 1978, the segment between Mason Station and Susanville experienced the same fate, though it would be rehabilitated into the Bizz Johnson Trail. It should be noted this segment had not been in use since 1955 due to extensive flood damage and the Westwood mill closure, Southern Pacific deemed it was not in its best interest to make costly repairs. In 2006, the tracks between Susanville and Wendel were removed.
After nearly 100 years after Lassen County was created in 1864, some historians thought it really should have been named Roop County. However, that would have been problematic, since across the stateline in Nevada was Roop County. Nevada officials were critical of the Roop name, J. Wells Kelly, who compiled the First Directory of Nevada Territory questioned the choice of the name and stated that it should have been named Lassen County. Kelly wrote: “Every dictate of gratitude and propriety, suggested the name of Peter Lassen—the noble old pioneer who, the first to enter, finally lost his life in exploring these wild regions—as that which should have been bestowed upon the county.” The after effects of the Sagebrush War reduced Roop County to a long narrow strip of land from Pyramid Lake to the Oregon border. Since it was a sparsely settled territory, with no town, the Nevada Legislature, on February 18, 1864, attached it to Washoe County for judicial and revenue purposes. On January 16, 1883, it was officially abolished and made a part of Washoe County
Those who know me well, are aware that I have a special affinity for cemeteries. The Buffalo Meadows Cemetery in the Smoke Creek Desert, I know very little about, and I would certainly like to know more. According Asa M. Fairfield he noted that an immigrant girl by the name of Susan DeWitt died near the salt marsh and was buried near there. Fairfield went on that some thought that it was this Susan for whom the Susan River was named for. If anyone can shed more information about this cemetery I would certainly like to hear from you.
On April 29, 2015, I wrote a post concerning Camp Smoke Creek, a military post of the 1860s, and this is a follow up on that topic.
One remnant of Camp Smoke Creek is a small cemetery that was established on the hillside across the creek from the camp for the four soldiers who died there while in service. On January 18, 1863, Pvt. John Smith Co C2 Calif Cav died from gunshots at Deep Hole, Nevada, over an argument with his commanding officer Second Lt Henry W. Williams. On November 9, 1863, Pvt. Gustavus W. Platt Co. C2 Calif Cav died of typhoid fever at Smoke Creek. On July 3, 1864, Sergeant William McCoy, age 28, died from an unknown illness. On November 17, 1865, Pvt. David O’Connell Co. B2 Calif. Cav was killed in action at the Pine Forest battle near Black Rock.
Nearly a 100 years after the last internment, members of the Lassen County Historical Society went to locate this site. In 1964, on their first excursion they located it. Over time they decided that something needed to be done as a memorial. In June 1968, they ventured again, this time erecting a large cross on the hillside.
Flanigan, was a railroad town in far eastern Honey Lake Valley, in Washoe County.
In the fall of 1909, the Western Pacific Railroad established a station in eastern Honey Lake Valley that they designated as Flanigan. Patrick L. Flanigan was a prominent rancher and former Nevada Senator who had also granted the railroad a right of way across his lands. In 1912, the Southern Pacific began construction of its Fernley & Lassen line, and at Flanigan, their tracks crossed those of the Western Pacific’s. On July 22, 1913, the Flanigan Townsite was recorded with Washoe County on lands that had been recently purchased by Charles A. Ross and George L. Warnken of Oakland, California. As land speculators, Ross & Warnken had high hopes for this town, but they never transpired. In 1916, there was the bright prospect that Flanigan would be linked to a third railroad—the Surprise Valley Railway—but it never materialized. In 1921, a hopeful oil discovery in the area fizzled. Flanigan existed only as a railroad town, its promoters hopes of grandeur diminished as the years passed by. On March 31, 1961, the Flanigan Post Office closed.
On January 2, 1969, the town’s most notable landmark, Gertrude Milne’s combination store and residence, was destroyed by fire. This was followed with another event that year that marked the end of the community. On June 19, 1969, the Bonham School, located at Flanigan, closed. It was the last one-room school house in operation in Washoe County.
Note: This article originally appeared on April 3, 2015. I am selecting some early posts, to fill in while I get my Mother’s affairs organized.
Patrick L. Flanigan was one of those rags to riches to rags stories. In 1877, at the age of 17, he came west to Reno where he found employment milking cows. Five years later he obtained a loan from the Washoe County Bank to purchase 1500 sheep. Thus, like many before and after him became an itinerant sheep man and moved his sheep from place to place where ever he could find feed and water. (When the Taylor Grazing Act came into effect in 1934, put an end to this practice.) Flanigan, like so many others, lost over 50% of sheep during the harsh winter of 1889-90. Continue reading Pyramid Land & Stock Company→
A military encampment located in the eastern portion of Honey Lake Valley on the Nevada side. “Fort” is a misnomer since it was actually a military camp and not a fort. Military records refer to it as Camp Sage, but provide no dates of operation or an exact location, only township and range. The camp served as a rest stop on the military supply route from Reno, Nevada to Fort Bidwell, California. In June 1872, Perry Jocelyn was in charge of Company D, Nevada Calvary, marched the troops on foot from Reno to Fort Bidwell—a distance of 250 miles. The route went north and east of Reno over the Fort Sage Mountains, to the west side of the Smoke Creek Desert and then criss-crossing the California-Nevada border until it reached Surprise Valley. It was a difficult journey. Jocelyn found that out first hand, on the first day of the seventeen-day march, five soldiers deserted in the middle of the night. An attempt was made to locate them, but they were never apprehended. Unfortunately, Jocelyn’s diary only contained the following notation about the place: “June 2, 1872 – Rev. at 3. First wagon mired within one hundred yards of camp. At 8 o’clock train has not advanced more than one half mile. Cross large hill where it is necessary to double the teams. Newcomb’s ranch just on the other side with lake nearby. Four miles further with still heavier hills, Fort Sage is reached. The whole distance eight miles.”Continue reading Fort Sage→