In Part 1 of my series on Eastern Nevada Pony Express Stations, I described Prairie Gate/Eight Mile Station (1), Antelope Springs Station, (2) and Spring Valley Station (3) The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of stations from the Utah State line. There will be one Pony Express Station article each month.
Schell Creek Station (4)
generally agree on the identity of Schell Creek, also known later as
Schellbourne or Fort Schellboure. George Chorpenning and Howard Egan
established a station at the site in late 1859, which served the Pony Express
during its existence and the Overland Mail Company line until 1869. English
traveler Richard Burton stopped at Schell Creek on October 5, 1860, and
identified Francais de France Constant Dubail as stationkeeper at the
bullet-scarred log structure. Several months earlier, on June 8, 1860, Indians
had attacked the station. According to one source, they scared away the
station's residents and destroyed the building. Another source claims that
Indians killed three people at the station before scattering the station's
livestock. After the Pony Express ended, the Overland Mail Company established
its Utah-to-central Nevada district headquarters at Schell Creek in 1862-1863.
Stone and log structures housed craftsmen who kept the coaches and other
equipment in good repair, and the station compound grew into Fort Schellbourne,
a town of 500 by the 1870s. Two log structures, as well as other buildings,
remain from the old fort. Local belief suggests that one of them served as the
Pony Express station, but no actual proof exists.
Canyon Station (5)
station is located about 30 miles north
of Ely west of US 93 on Egan Canyon Road. Take White Pine County Road west to
CR 23 and Egan Canyon Canyon Road Junction, turn southwesterly about 2 miles.
Station is marked with a stainless steel stake and once you find it, you will
likely see the foundations of the old station building.
The canyon was named for
Howard Egan who had been in the area since the 1850s. He later became a Pony
Express agent. Egan Canyon was the site of many Indian ambushes. In July 1860,
U.S. troops traveling from Fort Ruby to School Creek came upon an Indian
attack at the station barely saving the lives of the 2 station masters. Indian
survivors of that skirmish took revenge on the next Pony Express stop, Schell
Creek Station, killing the station master and 2 assistants and ran off the
livestock. The original Pony Express trail through Egan Canyon is suitable for
motor vehicle travel, hiking and horseback riding. When you travel through the
canyon, you can easily see why it was an ideal ambush place. Travel time by
vehicle through the canyon and back is about 1 hour.
Bates'/Butte Station (6)
station is mentioned in the 1861 mail contract, and sources generally
agree on the identity of this station as either Bates' or Butte Station, which
they locate between Egan and Mountain Springs. The station began in 1859
as part of George Chorpenning's mail route and continued to serve the Pony
Express. In the spring of 1860, Indians burned Butte Station. When Richard
Burton visited the site on October 5, 1860, an English Mormon named Thomas
managed the rebuilt station. At that time, Burton described life at this
station in great detail during his travel account. Burton described a 15 x
30 feet, two-room structure, built of sandstone, wood, and mud. Parts of the
fireplace, a wall, and other stone foundations still marked the site of Butte
Station as late as 1979. Today, the remains of the actual station may be very
difficult to find.
This article is by Dayton author and historian Dennis Cassinelli. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at denniscassinelli.com.