Dennis Cassinelli: Eastern Nevada Pony Express Stations, Part 2
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)
Sources 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.
Egan’s Canyon Station (5)
This 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)
Bates’ 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.