|Fairview Stage Station (Churchill Co.)|
N39.36420 W118.23275 - DRUMM SUMMIT quad
|VISITED||We Tried to Visit: January 31, 2015
We Successfully Visited: February 14, 2015
Our 1st Breakfast: Omelets at Courtyard Cafe & Bakery, Fallon
Our 2nd Breakfast: Meat-lover omelettes at Middlegate Station
Our 1st Lunch: Burgers at Middlegate Station, the one station we have no trouble locating
Our 2nd Lunch: Burgers at Cold Springs
|DIRECTIONS|| Take Highway 50 39.8 miles east to Dixie Valley Road; head north 2.7 miles; turn left (west) and continue on dirt road for 4.5 miles; veer left on dirt two-track for 0.2 miles.
From Fallon: 47.2 miles
Not to be confused with the mining camp of Fairview, the Fairview Stage Station was a freighting and-- some say--Pony Express stop, at least during the later part of the P.E.'s existence in 1861. Unfortunately, its location is a bit cloudy with the passage of time. An 1882 Wheeler map shows "Fairview Stage Station (abd)" outside the mouth of La Plata Canyon, near some roads that aren't there and elevations that don't match up. An 1866 General Land Office map- rather crude-- shows it to be nearer the Clan Alpine Range, about where Westgate is. Of the two, one might assume that the later map, drawn with greater detail, is more accurate.
A mining company prospectus says that folks from the Station regularly visited La Plata to obtain water, and that the station was about 7½ miles away.
The water, although not very abundant yet, owing mainly to the fact that no particular effort has been made to procure it, yet within the limits of our place [La Plata] we have three springs, which will not only furnish water enough for a ten stamp mill, with an abundant supply left to accommodate not only the citizens of this place, but also a neighborhood for many miles distant. In fact, teams come here almost daily from a distance to procure water for remote places, and the Overland Stage Company is compelled to haul water from here to Fairview Station, a distance of 7 1/2 miles, for their use.
And we all know how accurate a Nevada mining company prospectus is, ha ha ha.
A less flattering description of La Plata states it was 7 miles away.
THE MOUNTAIN-WELL DISTRICT A very dry and sparsely timbered region, without any arable land or pasturage, other than scattered bunch grass growing in the mountains. The scarcity of water is a serious drawback to the prospects of this district, as it is to those numerous other localities in Nevada. In the whole country, there is hardly a town worse off, in this particular, than La Plata, the principal place in the Mountain Well District, and county seat of Churchill County. Upon two or three small springs is devolved the office of furnishing the inhabitants with water-- a rather onerous task, seeing as how they have nowhere else to look for supplies-- the Fairview Station, seven miles below, also coming here for all the water needed for their stock, hauling it the whole distance.
Communication with the beautiful and talented Bunny Corkill of the Churchill County Museum reveals this excerpt from an article in the museums In Focus periodical:
Descending from the Sand Springs Pass Summit, Dixie Valley can be seen to the left and Labou [LeBeau] Flat stretches off to the right. French Canadians Michael and Mary Louise LeBeau, for who this flat was named, arrived in Nevada around 1864. They built a sod house or dugout on the side of Chalk Mountain and opened up a stage and freight stop named Fairview House, thus establishing themselves as permanent residents and legitimate businessmen. On November 24, 2866, LeBeau gained a permit to construct and maintain a toll road across several miles of desert sand, paralleling the old county road. His permit for the road, to be made of rocks, was for a period of ten years. The eastern end of the road was to be known as Fairview Mountain termination and the western end was known as Sand Springs termination. The rates of toll on said road were written or printed in a plain and legible manner on a bulletin board and posted at each gate according to law.
I have just talked to the man who has a mining claim at Chalk Mountain. He says he has never seen the remains of what could have been a Station and the toll road built with rocks. After I sent you an earlier message I went back into the Churchill County Assessment records and yes …. LeBeau did have “Fairview House” first listed in 1867. In 1868 it is listed as Fairview Station and ¾ Fairview Toll Road. It continues: 1869 –Fair View Station, 1870 – “ “ “ and toll road, 1871 – “ “ “ “.
Chalk Mountain is over 14.5 miles away from La Plata. Hard to mistake that for seven miles, especially when we don't know for sure if the station is seven or seven and a half) miles away from La Plata or La Plata Spring. Either way, Chalk Mountain would be double the distance. Note also that the rock road- which we're not sure was ever actually constructed- was supposed to parallel the existing road. So is the road that exists today the toll road, or the country road that was already there? Is it possible that when it was part of the Lincoln Highway it was graded and rocks were removed?
"The Lincoln Highway: Nevada Vol.5" shows that the road from Middlegate to LaPlata was once part of the Lincoln Highway, and they have marked "Fairview Overland Stage Station, 1862-1868" slightly NW of where the contemporary maps say it is. Since you're here wasting time anyway, check out this awesome, awesome Lincoln Highway map.
Apparently it wasn't in operation-- or was bypassed intentionally- when Sir Richard Burton made his trip around 1860 or 1861, as he did not mention it:
From Cold Springs Station to Sand Springs Station, October 15
Hugh Shamberger briefly describes a mention of Fairview Station:
Measuring back the 12 miles from Middle Gate, to Fairview Station would put that station near the spot where the town of Fairfield (see map 2A) would be promoted 43 years later. However, it would seem more logical to assume that the station actually was situated at what later become West Gate, where the only water was available.
-Hugh Shamberger, The Story of Fairview, Early History, Development, Water Supply.
The USGS gets its location from John Mark Townley's book, "The Pony Express Guidebook, Across Nevada with the Pony Express and Overland Stage Line" (Reno, Nevada: Jamison Station Press, n.d., 57 pp. Route maps and location descriptions of stations. p33.)
While it may not have been logical to place a stage station in a place with no water, I would imagine that its location was perhaps dictated more by distance between existing stations than it was water supply. I find it doubtful that there would have been another station at West Gate if there was already one at Middle Gate. The distance between the two geographical features is less than three miles. Apologies to My Shamberger, but 12 miles from Middlegate Station puts Fairview Station at the approximate location that the Lincoln Highway book shows.
The reader should keep in mind that all mileages are derived from roads which still exist, in whatever condition, and it's entirely possible that in the space of one hundred and fifty years roads that existed back then could have faded back into the desert landscape.
So there you have it. We know for a fact that it's in Nevada. We know for a fact that it's somewhere between the site of La Plata and Middlegate. We're reasonably sure it's on or near the old road between those two places. The 1870 Federal Census lists Michael LeBeau and his family as Churchill County residents. By 1882 the station was abandoned, although it could have been and probably was abandoned before that, as the LeBeau's were living in Nye County in 1875, according to a Nevada State Census.
We couldn't really trust the maps, so all we really have to go by are the measurements provided by the articles of the time. The first two, "7 miles and 7.5 miles from La Plata," could be either the distance from La Plata itself [the intersection of the two roads], or the water source for La Plata, 1/3 of a mile NW of that intersection.
The newspaper article's figure, "12 miles west of Middlegate," should be measured from the historic station location, whose hamburgers we can taste even now. However, the list also shows the distance between Sand Springs Station and Fairview Station to be 14 miles. Using a somewhat convoluted route heading NE out of the Sand Springs Pass over existing dirt roads, the distance to the Lincoln Highway suggestion and the USGS selection is roughly 15 miles and 14.5 miles, respectively. Going from Sand Springs but heading NE through a canyon across from the Summit King Mine results in an almost exact 14 mile trek to the the USGS selection. Hmmmmm. Tracing back from Middlegate using existing roads, the USGS location seemed to fit the description more closely. That puts our Serious Search Area somewhere between the location that the USGS map suggests, and the seven miles or so from La Plata and its spring, give or take a mile or two.
Naturally, an actual serious search would take weeks or perhaps even months, and we had, basically, an afternoon, during most of which were thinking about Middlegate Monster Burgers, so cut us some slack.
We checked out six possibilities. Shamberger's idea, since it didn't make any sense to us, was ignored. We also ignored Chalk Mountain, since it was just too big an area to attempt to cover. Sunday morning, after we returned, naturally, we received an email from Ken proclaiming the location to be right between the 7.5 mile mark and the Lincoln Highway suggestion. Could be! If anyone wants to send me some large, in-focus photos of any historical debris at this location, let me know and I will include them here!
UPDATE February 14, 2015 Forgotten Nevada Field Correspondent Ken slipped us the coordinates for the exact location for Fairview Station, and we slipped out of town unnoticed to confirm. All indications are that this is the exact location of the famous stage station. Off what it now the main road, the site is bare section, cleared of sagebrush, with debris scattered just about everywhere. The debris of which we speak consists mostly of rusted barrel hoops and metal bits, a tiny bit of glass, and that's about it. But there is enough of it here to indicate that something relatively major was going on at one time. There don't seem to be be any indications of a building or corrals, but that could have all slipped away in the last 150 or so years. We hereby declare everyone else wrong, and Ken right. This is the location of Fairview Station.